News

Better mobile coverage for rural areas

Published: 19 Feb 2020 10:00

4G programme delivers first mast.

Residents in New Luce, Wigtownshire, are the first in Scotland to benefit from a programme to provide 4G to areas with no mobile coverage from any operator.

The mast is one of up to 24 scheduled to be rolled out over the next two years, with further mast sites under consideration.

Vodafone is now providing 4G, 3G and 2G services from the new mast. EE is expected to do so later this year, and will provide service from a majority of sites in the programme.

The Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI) Programme is backed by £15 million of Scottish Government funding and £10 million from the European Regional Development Fund. It was set up in 2018 to address Scotland’s mobile ‘notspots’ – areas with no mobile coverage – and is being delivered by WHP Telecoms, managed by the Scottish Futures Trust. 

Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:

“While telecommunications is a responsibility of UK ministers, improving mobile coverage is vital to achieving the Scottish Government’s ambition to make sure everyone in Scotland has access to high-speed, reliable coverage.

“People in New Luce are the first to benefit but we hope that, like Wigtownshire, many more remote and rural parts of Scotland and Scotland’s islands will soon enjoy improved, cost-effective connectivity as a result of the Scottish Government’s work with industry and other partners, and our investment in the £25 million S4GI Programme.”

WHP Telecoms Strategic Development director Martyn Cheyne said:

“This is a great achievement for all involved and another important moment in WHP Telecoms’ growth. Providing connectivity to mobile ‘notspots’ is transformational but challenging, it takes a truly collaborative approach to succeed. Thank you to the fantastic S4GI teams at WHP, Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust, to Vodafone, Cornerstone, Openreach, Scottish Power, the landowner and tenant farmer, and to the New Luce Community Trust who have all supported WHP in making this possible.”

Background:

Vodafone UK Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery said:

“More than a quarter of the UK population live in rural areas. We are investing heavily to extend the reach of our network to these communities such as those living in New Luce. No one should feel cut off from online services whether educational or recreational. This is why we pioneered network sharing and are keen to support this programme, as well as similar ones, in order to provide fast mobile services in remote locations while minimising the environmental impact.”

BT consumer division Chief Executive Officer Marc Allera said:

“We’re pleased to be playing a leading part in this exciting initiative by the Scottish Government to help expand mobile coverage in rural Scotland. EE already has the largest 4G network in Scotland and this programme will allow our superfast 4G network to reach even more of the country. 4G is helping to transform Scottish communities, allowing consumers, businesses and the emergency services to connect in new ways.”