MIFfed mobile infrastructure players create UK lobby groupMIFfed mobile infrastructure players create UK lobby group
A handful of big names in the UK's mobile infrastructure market have come together to create a new industry body that will lobby regulators, lean on landowners, and other such activities.
October 19, 2023
A handful of big names in the UK’s mobile infrastructure market have come together to create a new industry body that will lobby regulators, lean on landowners, and other such activities.
The group, known as the Mobile Infrastructure Forum (MIF), official came into being today. It comprises four members, all of whom can lay claim to sizeable mobile infrastructure footprints in the UK: Cellnex UK, Cornerstone, MBNL and Wireless Infrastructure Group.
The body’s stated aim is “to support the delivery of world-class mobile infrastructure to improve wireless connectivity for society and businesses throughout the UK.” Essentially, it sounds like the companies are seeking to make their own lives easier by banding together under a ‘good for the country’ umbrella… and why not? It seems like a good idea and they wouldn’t be the first to take that approach.
MIF shared five key objectives (in full below), the first of which is around informing policy and regulatory activity. The group is also keen to make network rollout more efficient in the UK; it namechecks the government’s new Product Security Telecommunications Infrastructure (PSTI) Act, which mainly covers connected devices, but also aims to facilitate the rollout of Gigabit-capable broadband in the UK and as such has implications for infrastructure companies and landowners. Separately, the group seeks to foster closer relationships between landowners and infrastructure providers, and it has committed to working closely with UK mobile network operators and their industry body Mobile UK.
“The launch of the Mobile Infrastructure Forum is a significant milestone in our efforts to support the delivery of world-class mobile infrastructure throughout the UK. The four organisations are committed to working with our stakeholders to ensure that the UK has the mobile infrastructure it needs to thrive in the digital age,” said Belinda Fawcett, forum chair, and Director of Property & Estates and General Counsel at Cornerstone.
By now we’re used to hearing that kind of rhetoric regarding UK telecoms infrastructure, often from the government, but also from network operators. Only this week a UK Business and Trade select committee heard representatives from Vodafone and Three extol the virtues of their proposed merger at a nation level, raising the UK’s position on the world stage, from an infrastructure perspective.
It’s worth noting that the UK’s MNOs, Three and Vodafone included, are involved in the new Mobile Infrastructure Forum. The MBNL is a joint venture between EE and Three, while Cornerstone is owned by Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone, via Vantage Towers.
We may well roll our eyes at the ‘doing this for the benefit of the UK’ message, but that doesn’t mean this new alliance is without merit. Passive infrastructure specialists and neutral hosts have become a key component in mobile network development over the past few years and it is understandable that they want to have a greater say in policy, regulation and so forth.
And despite recent efforts from government to ease planning restrictions around the build-out of mobile masts, the companies building the actual network infrastructure still face many challenges when it comes to finding sites for their masts, brokering deals with landlords, and jumping through various remaining planning hoops. They are doubtless looking to the MIF to help smooth the way.
The market is awash with telecoms industry bodies. One more can’t hurt.
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