5G phone mast set for school site in Milton Keynes

The mobile phone mast at the school
The mobile phone mast at the school

A phone mast at a Milton Keynes school is set to be made more than 3m taller to get it ready to provide superfast 5G  internet services.

There is already a 16.65m tall mast in the grounds of The Redway School, in Netherfield, but a planning application has been lodged with MK Council to increase it to 20m tall and upgrade the equipment cabinets.

Applicants MBNL Limited – a joint venture between EE (UK) Ltd and Three (UK) Ltd – had wanted to make the mast in Farmborough more than 9m taller so the radio signals did not suffer interference from buildings and trees. But they had talks with council officers and have reduced their ambitions.

5G technology is currently in development but it is already expected to represent a significant upgrade, allowing the blink-of-an-eye downloading of films and data to mobile phones.

A report from planning agent, Daly International, says the school, for pupils with a range of learning difficulties, has raised “concern about the potential impact” of the site the corner of its much-needed car park.

But they add: “It is hoped that the latest proposal featuring a smaller scale mast will help to alleviate concern. Lines of communication will remain open throughout the application process.”

The site already provides mobile services for people using Everything Everywhere and Three networks.

“The upgrade will provide higher mobile download speeds and more reliable, quicker mobile phone connections,” says report author Mark Flaherty. “There would be an increased capacity to provide services to a higher number of people at the same time.

“These improvements can only be provided by using a higher number of antennas that are also larger in scale than the existing.”

There would be 12 antennas on the site, all larger in size and weight, and they need to be at a high position to avoid signal interference.

Mr Flaherty added: “The proposed new installation and upgraded equipment provides the latest technology and the ability to prepare for new technology such as 5G.”

They looked at two other alternative sites, Landland House, in Landland Road, and putting the mast on top of residential blocks in Beadlemead, but ruled those out.

The base station would provide mobile phone coverage to Netherfield, Tinkers Bridge, Coffee Hall, Beanhill, Eaglestone, including Milton Keynes University Hospital, and also the high volume of commuters using Standing Way.

This planning application and others are available now for public comment on the MK Council website.