back to article Sod hedgerows and fields, build more base stations

The Commission For Rural Communities is calling for less restrictive planning laws to encourage comms networks to build out, for the sake of the rural economy. Having spent a few years talking to rural businesses the Commission has published recommendations, entitled Action for Change, concluding that rural development is …


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  1. Lionel Baden

    Doesnt have to look horrible

    I have seen some pretty impressivly disguised mobile phone towers.

    There is no need for them to look like shit, but the phone companies most likley arnt prepared to pay the extra.

    For example spot the mast

    This is more Fun than WHERES WALLY !!!!!

    1. Daniel Evans


      Is it that plastic christmas tree-looking thing on the right, with what looks like some sort of dish 2/3rds the way up?

      If not, their plan must be to place their disguised masts near artificial looking trees, in order to divert attention... A cunning plan... Albeit unlikely.

      1. Lionel Baden


        Try googling disguised mobile antenna

        Some of them are right shit, but others are really very well crafted.

        And to be hohnest i think its a good comprimise to get the countryside covered.

        Im lucky if i get a full days battery out of my phone because from 5:00pm till 8:45AM all it does is search for base stations. maybe gets 1 bar !!!

        Would be happy to have 1 wierd looking tree if you looked closely, If it solved those issues

        1. paulf

          @Lionel Baden

          I agree - a well crafted tree/antenna is a great way to get coverage out to the wilderness areas, while also not leaving a hefty grey antenna mast in the middle of the skyline pissing on the view. I, for one, welcome our new non-ionising radiation emitting tree styled over lords.

          Unfortunately I seem to recall at least one incident where the raging NIMBYs (and BANANAS* too I 'spek) objected even more voiciferously to the disguised aerial because it was considered that the mobile operator was trying to install the aerial by stealth and had disguised it so that people wouldn't realise it had been installed.

          You just can't help some people!

          *BANANAs (for the uninitiated) are "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere [or] Near Anyone". Super charged NIMBYs who look out for the back yards of others too whether they want it or not - oh how kind!

  2. Liam Johnson

    Bloodie townies

    No doubt the people complaining are a load of townies who only moved there for the views but never had the hassle of having the work there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Quite - wind farms too.

      Always lived in the country but work in Cambridge. We have a number of wind farms that people constantly complain about, but look fine to me. I get a shite mobile phoned reception at home, but nothings happened. Considering some of the other eyesores things that have got planning permission because of housing backhanders, a few mobile mast would be most inconspicuous.

      And we harvest at least twice a year around here, and it's the bloody moles frolicking not rabbits. My lawn looks like shit.

  3. Tom 38

    It is crap

    and not just for the 'no signal' reason - spent a weekend away from the smoke, and my phone battery just plummeted non-stop.

    It wasn't until talking to my old boy, who still lives the rural life, that I twigged it was constantly searching for 3G, and failing to find it. The constant 3G searching makes the battery life atrocious - from a week or more of standby to a day and a half of standby.

    Plus I couldn't watch the cricket, so very sucky.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be careful what you wish for...

    You never know what you may get.

  5. tigoda


    Rather than convincing the NIMBY’s to have these things put in why not make a simple change to the planning process,

    There is loads of time for the morally indignant to protest and get the planning permission refused, but its really not that easy to add you view that you agree with what’s being built and give it your thumbs up,

    If this is added, yes, it might be abused (I’m thinking of tesco asda and similar who can use there clout to push it,) but if you make it a simple only people on the electoral register living within X miles of the site can have a say then where is the issue? (Might stop all the people who protest at the building of nuclear power plants regardless of where they are in the country if you only let those who it affects directly have a say)

    If it’s something like this to add better infrastructure to rural areas I'm sure you can find more who will welcome it than will hate it on principal to get it put up

    1. Martin 19

      That'd put the cat amongst the pigeons

      especially in road planning; the current several hundred objections to the extension of the Mxx from Greenpeace etc could be contrasted by however many 'supports' from people who get stuck every day on the nearby notorious bottleneck on the Azz.

      A good idea I'd say.

    2. Grivas Bo Diddly Harm

      @why? - Why not indeed?

      I agree, although at least round our way the planning system requests comments. It's up to anyone who wishes to to write in and say what a spiffing idea that radio mast/Safebury supermarket/conservatory/conversion of pub into luxury homes (sore point) is, just as much as getting out the green ink and objecting.

      Precious few people do either, of course, but - like the doors to the RItz - it's open to rich and poor, pro and anti, alike.

      One of the phoneco's - Orange I think - put up a mast in line of sight of Brunel's Box Tunnel entrance so that people could continue their mostly inane conversations for the 3,212 yards of dead straight brilliance that is the tunnel. To be honest I feared the worst as it was going to be over the entrance to Middle Hill tunnel in a field - I'd have objected if I could have got off my arse (see above) - but they fulfilled their promise of making it look as unobtrusive as feasible and disguised it as a couple of telegraph poles with an electricity transformer between them.

      Now, I know that doesn't sound too great, but actually it does fit in with the other rural wooden telegraph poles nearby that are an accepted part of our field furniture, linking farmhouses to civilisation, and fair play to them, you don't notice it.

      Ah - the phone's ringing - which pocket did I put it in?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Maybe they could share with O2

        I get dropped every time I go through Box tunnel.

        Maybe this is looking at the problem from the wrong perspective it could be largely solved by forcing the MNOs to share infrastructure. It would limit the number of towers needed and improve coverage for everyone at a stroke.

  6. JasonH
    Paris Hilton

    Shared infrastructure?

    I'm certain the NIMBYs main complaint is not against the single MNO mast, but the half-a-dozen that follow from each of their competitors.

    I've always wondered whether a shared infrastructure approach may the best solution in the future.

    I can understand how we got here (after all, coverage was a major selling point in the mobile telco wars a decade or two ago), but surely it must be time to move on now that mobile connectivity is a vital part of our country's infrastructure and reasonably ubiquitous?

    A little like differentiating the rail network from the train operators, a shared infrastructure would allow the MNOs to focus on differentiating themselves with the latest smartphone handsets, MiFi service or mobile data package. Reduced network costs (due to less duplication/triplication) should allow for better back-of-beyond coverage and continuous investment in newer technologies (increased land-based network bandwidth, improved over-the-air bandwidth: 4G/LTE, and so on). This also give the government a reasonable chance to deliver on their broadband-for-all commitments.

    After all, MNOs are in a Red Queen position regarding bandwidth consumption: smarter handsets, greater content consumption, falling data prices, falling margins - yet they still have to keep spending more and more money upgrading their networks to cope with this extra bandwidth being demanded and consumed.

    Whether they like it or not, MNOs have become utility companies. Time to separate the infrastructure from the service: we did it with gas and electricity, now it's time for the MNOs.

    And Paris looking sad, as no-one has talked about mobile phone mast erections yet...

  7. Bluenose
    Thumb Up

    I was once a townie...

    but now class my self as a country bumpking having lived in this hereby village for over 10 years and the reality is that it is not planning permission that creates problems for phone masts, broadband providers and other such very useful tools that can benefit us yokels, it is business cases and economics.

    There is a small town just over a mile away from our village which has great broadband speeds (up to 8MB and they really mean more than 3MB). Meanwhile I suffer from an 800kbps throughput on an up to 8MB connection. My provider is not interested in LLU for only 350 houses and 75 businesses and nor are BT or anyone else. The same is true of the mobile phone companies, they have the M1 (about 3 miles away) covered and our little village is not really of much interest, so much thanx to Vodafone who do have a local mast which gives a great signal but boo to all the others who don't.

    So thanks the libcons who have scuppered my chances of getting decent broadband by insisting that I pay full price for a broadband service that will never give me 4MB and will struggle to deliver 2MB on a consistent basis (and I can always deam of getting 24MB or move back to town) by getting rid of the broadband tax. My best hope is to get the local parish council to support an approach to Rutland Telecom or similar to see if they can help and I am sure when it comes to planning permission no one in the village will give a twopenny f whether the cabinets are big and green or big and brown.

  8. JaitcH

    No need to destroy what's left of rural Britain

    The electricity network has done a wonderful job of ruining the vistas of Britain.

    To get a paltry 2 Mbyte network signal can easily be achieved by using ploughed-in fibre cable or disguised antennae. There is absolutely no need for yet more visible masts. Canada has thousands of miles of ploughed fibre cable, what's the problem in the UK, apart from BT's mindset?

    Has anyone even considered co-siting cell and data antennae?

    If you want to see a terribly located cell tower, take a ferry from Athens/Piraeus to the Milos islands and as you pass The Temple of Sounio there is a illuminated cell tower overlooking the temple. A worse location would be hard to find. Thank you, Vodafone!

    1. Equitas


      A rather large country. Which may indeed have thousands of miles of ploughed fibre cable ( or thousands of kilometers of plowed fiber cable if you prefer it that way) but has vastly greater amounts strung droopily on wooden electric poles through cities, towns, villages and stretches of countryside.

      And in a very great many areas of Canada, broadband is just a dream. They're only just acquiring mobile/cellphone service in many areas. In many areas of Canada a computer in the home is almost a rarity.

      It's only about thirty years since the last of the magneto telephones with up to 99 homes sharing a party line were withdrawn as part of a programme to reduce the party line sharing to eight homes per line with four rings coming in on one wire and the other four on the other wire.

      There IS life outside the "Golden Triangle" -- but it may be very different from your picture of it.

  9. Andrew Oakley

    Rural planning permission is totally broken

    The main problem is that the planning system does not really distinguish green belt land - patches of fields bordering directly onto large towns - and the deeper countryside far away from any large towns or cities.

    Contrary to popular misconception, the UK is not short of countryside, as anyone who has looked out of an aeroplane window on a cloudless day can confirm. Whilst green belt regulations are important in preventing urban sprawl, applying those same regulations to places which don't have any "urban" let alone any "sprawl" - say, Shropshire, Herefordshire or Gloucestershire - is a fundamentally flawed idea.

    In Gloucestershire we have now got to the astoundingly stupid position whereby remote village primary schools - state schools - are taking out adverts in local rags to attract pupils, in order to prevent their numbers falling so low that they will close. They're asking parents in towns to drive their kids out to their remote primary school where they can enjoy "pupil to teacher ratios as low as 6 to 1" (this is Withington Primary). How has this come about? Because planning regulations and NIMBYs have prevented the building of new family homes or the conversion of other buildings into family homes. Because offices can't get decent cheap broadband so there are no office jobs for prospective parents. Because small factories have been told they can't move heavy lorries down those roads anymore so the factory relocates, and the families with it.

    After living all 38 years of my life in the countryside, I finally gave up last January and moved to a suburban new development on the outskirts of a local town. My wife and I decided to have "just one more" child, it turned out to be twins, and that was it... we ran out of bedrooms. The price difference between 3 bedrooms and 4 bedrooms in our Gloucestershire village was 150k. That's insane. So the school lost another of its dwindling number of pupils, the playgroup lost not one but two prospective recruits, the pub, post office, garage, bus and village shop lost a whole family of customers. Our house was bought by some rich old lady. Can't imagine she'll make much use of the school, or the pub, or the garage... maybe she might use the bus, once a week. Oh wait, they cancelled the bus route already.

    We are strangling our countryside to death.

    And me? I now live in a massive Bovis box. It's got all the character of a concrete slab but it's big enough for everyone to have their own room. Plus the broadband is so fast I could actually run my own business from home. Mind you, I'm rather enjoying the shorter commute to work, especially as I can listen to streaming audio on my 3G phone as the frequent bus service shuttles me back and forth to the town centre.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    I think you'll find...

    "...who think the countryside is somewhere where crops are harvested once a year..."

    I think you'll find that this is largely true, certainly where I come from.

    Where on earth do they think all the veg/grain comes from?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    wouldnt it be ....

    cheaper to dig all the effin roads up and lay a fibre feed to the heart of all rural vilages, then replace the traditional red phone box with a tall blue one (in the same decorative style and shape(ooh how about one that looks like the tardis, wont get any complaints about one of those dotted around the country) that would act as a relay point to all the local houses for the last mile copper down link.

    That way we dont all have to be zapped with Babcocks ever expanding tactical death ray weapons installations, (so at least some of the human population might still be alive after the activate it and clear out the undesirable lower life forms plagueing the planets citys)

    wot next, offcom upps the output power to 1kw/m2 for all masts (for test purposes only like), dont really matter, as the bit that will really kill you is the signal modulation frequency waveform, get that tuned just right at 8-17hz and they'll be dropping like flies....

    though if utilized at 2.30am it will take down 98+% of the population in thier own homes, so less mess to clean up after...

    what a perfect decreet weapon, that kills off all higher vertebrates and leaves the infrastructure perfectly standing, even better result than a tactical neutron bomb.

    give the being that thought that one up a middling sized island to rule as his own, oh the UK is just the size...

    so, i wonder what the new tennants of earth will look like....????

    1. Daniel Evans




      I see what you did there.

  12. David 45

    Cake and eat it

    Seems to me that you can't have it both ways. If you want rural living, there are going to be disadvantages. Communications firms are loath to spend their hard-earned cash on decent facilities for the country dweller, along with transport and other amenities and if they ARE all provided, we might just as well change the name of the area's see now - ah yes.......a TOWN, that's it!

    1. Equitas
      Thumb Down

      Facilities for the country dweller?

      David 45 wrote

      "Communications firms are loath to spend their hard-earned cash on decent facilities for the country dweller"

      Hardly surprising. On the other hand, a coverage requirement should be part of a universal service agreement as a licence condition.

      However, most of this discussion misses the point. I'm a country-dweller, but though where I live is a large part of the equation with regard to my landline connection -- no LLU likely to be available here -- it's only a small part of the equation as regards my mobile phone. Does no-one realise that the question is not simply "Where do I live?" but rather "Where do I want to use my mobile phone?" The answer to the latter question takes in not just where I live, but both urban and rural areas of the UK, Australia, NZ, USA, Canada and even, on occasion, in the odd South African township.

      I have no love of Vodafone, but in terms of both UK and worldwide coverage, there's simply no meaningful competition. I'm on call 24/365. I'm not interested in the percentage of the homes of the residents of the country have mobile signal coverage -- what I'm interested in is the percentage of the area through which I may be travelling is covered. I buy my services according to the ability to get service 24/365 wherever I may be. Looked at in that light, an examination of coverage maps takes on a whole new perspective.

      There's another angle on this, too. An electricity meter was replaced here last week. With built-in mobile phone. And if they couldn't get a reliable Orange or Vodafone signal, then the customer is obliged to put in a landline at the customer's expense. Interesting problem in some rural properties.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here Here

    Reception in my village and the surrounding area is appalling; and we're only 8 miles out of Salisbury.

    I know of a few perfect sites well out of sight of my garden that would do perfectly. Anyone from the Network Operators want to give me a call and I'll point them out...

  14. Master Baker
    Thumb Down

    Stop moaning

    Just use pigeons.

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