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Vodafone makes the economic case for disempowering landowners

telecoms radio mast

Small towns and cities will miss out on £7 billion of economic output by 2030 unless mobile operators are allowed to plonk masts wherever they like.

This, in a nutshell, is the main conclusion of a study published by Vodafone this week, and it comes over as little more than a lobbying effort in favour of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Bill.

Currently at the report stage in the House of Lords, the legislation will give mobile operators even greater power to install and upgrade masts where needed, paying as little rent as they can get away with to landowners, who will be left with fewer avenues of recourse if they don’t like the terms on offer, which they probably won’t.

The PSTI Bill doubles down on the government’s amendments to the Electronic Communications Code in 2017, which significantly lowered the amount of rent landowners can charge operators for deploying masts and equipment on their property. A recent report by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) concluded that the government’s meddling soured relations between landowners and operators to such an extent that 5G network rollouts are actually being delayed rather than accelerated. Instead of address the problem by getting landowners back on board though, the PSTI Bill seeks to make it harder for them to oppose infrastructure deployment.

Funnily enough, Vodafone’s study doesn’t quite put it like that. Instead, it uses terms like ensuring a “good investment environment” and the need to level up smaller towns and cities by delivering the “full economic benefits of 5G technology”.

The telco’s study (PDF), carried out by consultancy WPI Strategy, identified 58 local authorities across the country – from North East Somerset to Midlothian – that would see a high or very high economic benefit from 5G, specifically standalone 5G. However, it also warns that these same locations could fall even further behind economically without access to 5G.

“Our new analysis shows that the difference between a good investment environment for full 5G and a poor one is worth as much as £2.6 billion per year by 2025 and £7 billion per year by 2030 in terms of economic output,” the report warns. “And this difference is not felt equally across the country, but sees smaller cities and medium-sized towns losing out in every region and nation of the UK except London: exactly the places the government wants its Levelling Up strategy to help.”

To make sure this doesn’t happen, Vodafone – in addition to being allowed to run roughshod over landowners – also wants the government to use its procuring power to create demand for 5G related services, such as mandating that public buildings install smart energy management systems, for example. Voda also wants to effectively do away with net neutrality so it can offer a broader range of network-based services and manage the load on its networks. It also wants to pay less in spectrum fees so the money can be reinvested in network deployment and definitely not used to prop up dividend payments, no sir.

Of course, Vodafone’s phrasing is far less explicit than this, but this kind of messaging comes over a lot better if it wears the cloak of public interest.

“As our research reveals, there is a £7 billion a year difference between getting this wrong and getting this right. The UK – and in particular our smaller towns and cities – risks missing out on the incredible benefits that the 5G revolution can deliver,” said Vodafone UK CEO Ahmed Essam, in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s not too late to create an investment-friendly environment, so we can all benefit from this powerful technology.”

Not all heroes wear capes.

 

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3 comments

  1. Avatar paul keenan 30/06/2022 @ 4:30 pm

    Sickening propaganda and lies.

    Not one safety test has ever been done. NO evidence of GHZ frequencies being safe for humans or any wildlife.

  2. Avatar emf expert 30/06/2022 @ 5:37 pm

    They are just hoping the 7 billion goes straight into the directors wallets, the additional cost to health services all this radiation will cause, will swallow that up, the public pay for industries pollution, the number of people suffering from wireless radiation, in the form of EHS is growing exponentially

  3. Avatar Irene 03/07/2022 @ 12:40 pm

    We must oppose the 5G rollout as it will be harmful to humans and animals

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