News

New scheme to increase connectivity unveiled

Published: 07 Mar 2021 00:01

Wider roll-out of 4G and 5G technology.

A “game-changing” initiative which will pave the way for greater 4G and 5G mobile connectivity across Scotland has been unveiled.

Communities and businesses will benefit from the launch of a new toolkit by the Infralink programme which will help identify sites on public buildings for masts and antennae - easing the process of reaching agreements to install them. 

The toolkit aims to break down previous barriers to the rollout of 4G and 5G infrastructure, and is expected to lead to significantly faster deployment and increased investment in digital technology. It means Scotland will be the first part of the UK to have national pricing guidance for telecoms.

Scottish Government Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:

"Infralink has been a game-changing move for Scotland’s mobile connectivity ambitions and will accelerate our commitment to next-generation connectivity, as set out in our 5G strategy for Scotland.

“The changes in the way we use digital technology to stay connected over past twelve months have shown how vital reliable digital connectivity is in all of our lives.

"Continued investment in mobile infrastructure, and the tools to remove barriers and make collaboration straightforward for all parties involved is essential to Scotland’s social and economic recovery from the pandemic."

The new approach will apply to potential sites on land, building and streets, as well as 4G and 5G technology across the country.

The programme is led the Scottish Futures Trust and is funded by The Scotland 5G Centre.

A connectivity ‘marketplace’ will also launch later this year allowing the public sector and other land and property owners to break down previous legal obstacles and ease the process of striking commercial agreements.

Hamish MacLeod, Director of Mobile UK, which represents the UK’s mobile operators, said: 

“Infralink is a welcome and innovative programme that will build new partnerships between the public and private sectors while breaking down barriers towards achieving Scotland’s digital connectivity ambitions.”

Sarah Eynon, Infralink Programme Lead at Scottish Future’s Trust, said:

"The Infralink programme provides the ideal opportunity for forward thinking local authorities and public sector organisations to reap the huge benefits from improved connectivity without overburdening their current resources.

"It offers a win-win situation for both the public sector and operators, but Scottish citizens and businesses will reap the ultimate rewards.” 

Background

Infralink is one of the Scotland 5G Centre’s three key ‘Wave 1’ projects.

The new initiative follows the recent announcement under the £1billion Shared Rural Network programme that 124 mobile masts will be erected in a bid to improve coverage in rural areas of Scotland and to reduce ‘notspots’ – places without mobile phone service. The exact number and location of masts will be subject to the companies finding suitable sites, agreeing the commercial terms and securing the necessary planning permissions - the Infralink programme will provide crucial support to help facilitate this.