Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator programme

Information about the DCIA programme, with guidance on how to get involved and find out more.

The accelerated rollout of advanced wireless networks, including 5G, will bring benefits to the UK economy and communities across the country. There are a number of challenges in deployment of wireless networks, and this programme specifically explores those involved in using publicly owned infrastructure assets to support the roll out of advanced wireless connectivity

The programme comprises four workstreams, with information on each provided below.

1. Digital asset management

The digital asset management workstream seeks to support national adoption of online platforms which digitalise and as much as possible automate the process of finding and securing rights-of-use of suitable locations for deployment of advanced wireless equipment. The aim is to make the site acquisition transactions between public sector asset owners and telecommunications infrastructure providers more efficient and that they meet the needs of all stakeholders. workstream is moving through several steps to engage with key industry and public sector stakeholders. A nationally unified view of requirements has been produced and eight pilots are underway.

Specifications development

In 2021, DCMS jointly developed a technical specification with mobile telecommunication infrastructure providers (including all four major mobile network operators), UK regions and their constituent local authorities, government partners (such as the Geospatial Commission), and potential solution providers.

This specification represents a broad stakeholder consensus, endorsing a common approach to national adoption at scale. It is a base reference for the DCMS supported pilots, and the first draft was released in early September 2021 in support of the DCIA pilot competition.

Adoption pilots

DCMS allocated £4 million of funding to pilots to support the implementation of digital asset management solutions. The regions and their local authorities funded through the open competition are now working with industry partners to pilot digital asset management platforms and to build evidence of how digital mapping and brokerage of assets can benefit mobile network operators and their network delivery partners, users of mobile services (businesses and consumers), and the public sector bodies as the primary providers of property assets for hosting of network equipment.

Read more about the funding competition, including details of pilot objectives, success criteria and high-level test cases contained within the competition guidance.

Outcomes of the pilots will be measured using a rigorous Benefits Realisation framework and through continuous capture of Lessons Learnt. In the current early stages of delivery, all pilots have submitted their Benefit Realisation metrics as agreed with their industry partners including all four major Mobile Network Operators. The metrics are focused on improving effectiveness of interactions between asset owners and telecommunications infrastructure providers, and the impact this has on utilisation of assets and acceleration of network deployments. Each metric will be measured at the beginning, end, and at regular intervals throughout the duration of the pilots.

Market dissemination

Parallel to the delivery of the pilots, DCMS is actively promoting all the related findings, recommendations, and best-practice guides in near-real-time. All the regions participating in the pilots and their industry partners are collaborating with each other through a series of dedicated workshops and regular dissemination events, generating a body of practical experience and shared know-how.

To further support national adoption of digital asset management, DCMS have also established the early adoption group. The main aim of this working group is to provide practical support to other regions and local authorities that have demonstrated an ambition to digitalise and improve their processes related to telecommunications site acquisition of public sector assets.

Quarterly dissemination events are taking place from June 2022, via a mixture of in-person and online formats. These dissemination events are attended by lead authorities representing all pilots, their industry partners, early adoption group members, and key cross-government stakeholders. Their aim is to share current outputs from the programme, reflect on the emerging best practice and future adoption, and to seek opportunities for further collaboration between the industry and the public sector.

Ongoing information and supporting materials from the pilots will be released in due course. This will include a summary of the first dissemination event and a link to the follow-up materials posted here in summer 2022. If in the meantime you have a specific interest in learning from the pilots and would like to discuss this with the DCIA programme team, then please contact:

2. PFI contracts

Analysis of the impact of public finance initiative (PFI) contracts, relating to the use of street furniture assets, is ongoing. The Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) jointly undertook a survey with local authorities to ascertain the scale of the problem (i.e. understand if PFI projects prohibit the rollout of telecoms infrastructure).

Almost half (42%) of local authorities have a contractual issue, which prohibits the installation of telecoms equipment on the PFI assets. 59% said that they have been approached regarding the installation of small cells.
DfT and DCMS have worked closely with 3 ‘pilot’ local authorities to support short term and long term contractual solutions to facilitate the deployment of telecoms equipment.

Best practice knowledge from this experience is shared with all the local authorities that have PFI’s at quarterly networking events. These local authority networking events have proven to be an excellent forum to share knowledge, support the local authorities and accelerate connectivity.

A temporary ‘de-accrual’ solution has been finalised and shared with local authorities and long-term options including ‘deed of variation’ and ‘change mechanism’ are being worked on.

If you have a question on PFIs, or would like more insight on this workstream, please contact:

3. Standard contracts

We have engaged with a selection of local authorities, to explore options to take best practice from existing small cell legal agreements and make them available to a wider network.

Two examples of best practice have been identified and published on the respective local authority websites, including standard redacted agreements and small cell toolkits. Links to these contracts can be found on the DCMS Connectivity portal

The aim is that other local authorities will be able to use these standard contracts as a starting point for developing their own contracts.

4. Standards for smart infrastructure

Publicly available specifications (PAS) for smart lamp posts are in development, with support from BSI on this workstream. Feedback received from local authorities and Industry partners confirms that the workstream is beneficial and will deliver value.

The scope of the PAS documents is as follows:

  1. Develop a PAS design specification of multi-functional lighting columns (“Design PAS”). This design specification will help local authorities understand what smart lighting columns are needed to support their long-term community plan.

  2. PAS code of practice for the assessment of lighting columns for multi-functional use (“Appraisal PAS”). This PAS will support decision making as to whether existing lighting columns are suitable to be connected, and/or potentially upgraded with modifications, to accommodate advanced technologies.

As a precursor to the PAS work a Physical Security study was conducted, to explore the physical security landscape of street infrastructure.

Initially we looked at physical security standards, with interviews taking place with industry experts and stakeholders during early 2022. The physical security report is complete.

For more information on any of these workstreams, please email:

Published 23 June 2022