PLANS to upgrade phone masts across the district to prepare for the rollout of 5G have been submitted to Bradford Council.

But there may need to be many new phone mast sites in areas like the city centre for the network to reach its full potential.

5G - or 5th generation, technology is being rolled out across the UK this year, and will provide much faster download speeds for mobile phones and other wireless technology.

A recent report by Barclays claimed a strong 5G network could boost Yorkshire’s economy by £1 billion by 2025.

In the past week Bradford Council has received its first 5G phone mast planning applications for the the district.

They include applications to replace a mast at the top of New Devonshire House, Devonshire Street, Keighley, replace a mast at the top of Jowitt House, 153 Sunbridge Road, and replace a mast standing at Idle Cricket Club.

The Keighley application has been submitted by EE and 3G UK, and the other two applications have been submitted by WHP Wilkinson Helsby.

A decision on the three applications is expected to be made late next month.

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Many smartphones in the UK currently operate on 4G, 4th generation technology. 5G is intended to be the next step up, and, according to phone companies, will improve the speed people are able to stream on their phones.

The planning applications point out the importance of the technology, adding: “Although 5G will undoubtedly bring new opportunities and huge benefits to society, we cannot escape from the requirement that new structures, antennas and ancillary equipment will be needed.

“5G has to be deployed smoothly and effectively, and as such many existing rooftop and stand alone greenfield towers will need to be upgraded and redeveloped to accommodate new equipment and antennas.

“The signals that are broadcast are more prone to the shadowing effect of adjacent buildings or structures. Consequently the location of antennas on existing rooftops is critical to its effectiveness.

“Central government has expressed a support for new Telecoms installations and the deployment of new technology.

“It is seen as essential for the country to develop and exploit the advantages of such new technology to the direct benefit to the public and the economy.”

The planning documents say it is likely that more masts, and not just replacements, will be needed to be installed in cities like Bradford for the network to work effectively.

It adds: “The higher frequencies that 5G will use can provide more bandwidth and this greater capacity, but the signal will not travel as far as those of previous generations. The implications to the built environment will be that more infrastructure needs to be deployed with the added significant increase in capital required. Additional structures and ancillary equipment on existing sites will also be complemented by new sites and it is anticipated that in high demand areas, such as city centres, further new installations will be required.”