A national mobile connectivity programme is aiming to boost infrastructure investment across the Tay cities region.

Infralink, set up by infrastructure agency Scottish Futures Trust, is working with four local authorities – Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth & Kinros – to foster greater links with the big mobile network operators.

The project aims to stimulate investment by the MNOs in critical mobile connectivity infrastructure – such as masts and smaller base station units – to fulfil long term aspirations to bring reliable 4G and eventually 5G coverage to the region.

The new working relationship is being part funded by The Scotland 5G Centre and The Tay Cities Deal region is well placed to take this initiative forward with its varied urban and rural geographies, significant commercial activity and interest, and public sector initiatives such as Shared Rural Network.  

Infralink has built on the work of Glasgow City Council which established the Telecoms Unit last year.  The work of Glasgow City Council has resulted in increased deployment of new infrastructure, including major new fibre rollouts and small cell agreements, across Glasgow. Standard leases and payment guidance for use across geographies in Scotland were published by Infralink in March 2021 on its website to provide landlords with a balanced starting point for discussions. 

To kickstart the commitment in the Tay Cities Deal region, Infralink will facilitate regular meetings between the local authorities and industry. The aim is to build a working relationship and enable the Tay Cities to achieve their collective goals of optimising conditions for digital infrastructure deployment. The new working relationship will result in a more strategic coordination of supportive council policies and processes to grow digital connectivity. 

Sarah Eynon, Infralink programme lead and associate director at Scottish Futures Trust, said: “Working with the Tay Cities local authorities will allow us to demonstrate the benefits of the Infralink approach at a regional level. Infralink will work with Tay Cities and their representatives to ensure the policies, processes and documents are in places to make efficient strategic, proactive decisions that will shape the connectivity of the region. We will be encouraging the mobile industry to work with the Tay Cities authorities as an exemplar region in the UK.”

Councillor John Alexander, chair of the Tay Cities Region Deal joint committee, said: “We are delighted to be working with Infralink as they begin engagement with mobile operators to encourage investment and promote the ongoing rollout of cutting-edge digital connectivity across the Tay Cities region. This commitment will allow us to achieve our collective goals of creating a smarter, fairer region and will benefit urban and rural communities alike.”

Paul Coffey, CEO of The Scotland 5G Centre, added: “At the moment, there is a disconnect between network operators and landowners and bringing these two groups together is an important step in creating our next generation of communications networks. I’m delighted that these four local authorities are making the commitment to increasing mobile infrastructure and collaborating through the Infralink programme to help drive mobile connectivity and aid the development of 5G in Scotland.”