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Telecommunication Masts

Volume 407: debated on Tuesday 24 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many telecommunications masts there are; and how many of these are shared between different operators. [119600]

The total number of telecommunications masts in the UK is not recorded nor is it possible to state how many are shared. Some are owned and operated by the communications operators themselves and others are leased from specialist companies. Operators are required always to consider the possibility of sharing mastsor other structures in order to minimise their number. Many structures such as power transmission pylons are shared with telecommunications equipment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many new masts she estimates will be required to fulfil the telecommunications obligation under the 3G licences by 2007; and how many of them she estimates will be shared. [119602]

It is not possible to give a reliable estimate of the number of new masts that will be needed to fulfil the obligations of the 3G licensees, nor the number that will be shared. The total number of masts will be affected by the level of demand for 3G services, by commercial decisions related to the design of the networks and by the requirements of planning authorities. The four operators with existing GSM networks will also be able to reduce the number of sites required by co-locating the 3G and GSM antennae. Two of the operators, T-Mobile and MMO2 have entered into an agreement to share parts of their networks and this will significantly reduce the numbers of masts required. All operators are required to consider the sharing of masts and this has a significant effect in reducing the total number required.