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5G New Thinking Project: Workshop

Mobile Network Operations Workshop
The project held their third Workshop on 17th June 2021 with 53 attendees from community groups, rural organisations, government agency representatives and local authorities.

Dez O’Connor, Cisco set the scene, explaining the barriers to achieving full mobile coverage in the UK – including regulation, access to spectrum and the current poor business case of delivering services in rural areas.

To follow, Shona Croy from Orkney Islands Council gave a brief presentation on mobile coverage in Orkney, Alistair Braden from Federated Wireless gave a presentation on spectrum and David Owens from Virgin Media (VM) (formerly O2/Telefonica) gave a presentation from the industry perspective.

For the second session of the workshop five speakers gave valuable and diverse presentations of incorporating real life examples of the building and operation of small mobile networks in not spot areas.

First up, Brian Rasmussen of Faroese Telecom gave an overview of the operation of mobile telecoms in the Faroe islands.

Next, Anthony Timson of Wave Mobile provided a presentation on how to build mobile networks in the UK with an emphasis on local solutions to covering current not spots.

Peter Gradwell of Telet Research gave a presentation on delivering neutral hosting in Chalk Valley. He explained how neutral hosting operates, the business case for operating such a service in any area and their plans to expand their coverage in the future.

Brandon Butterworth from Bogons gave a presentation on the Balquidder experience – from building a broadband network and plans to trial a mobile network using 5G. He provided an insight in to the role of the community in developing and driving forward network builds and the risks associated with cost recovery.

The final presentation of the workshop was given by Daniel Heery from the MANY project on the business case for mobile networks. He provided a practical step by step guide on how to develop and build local networks, possible business models and key revenue and capital drivers to ensure viability.

There followed a lively debate from the panel members from the questions raised from the audience. They centred on the topics of spectrum licenses – how difficult they are to get, that the current process in not helpful and admin fees must be reasonable.

The panel gave their views on the roles of the community and the need for good community buy in in an area to improve the chance of successfully delivering local network solutions. They also provided advice on what the community can do themselves and when to call in professional services to support and guide.

The event was concluded with an overview of the next steps for the 5G New Thinking project, the development of a “toolkit” to aid communities wishing to build local networks and details of the final workshop which was being planned for February 2022.

The slides from the workshop can be viewed here.

Full summary of the event here.

Tags: projects innovation event