£75m for 4G coverage boost in Scotland

Completion of first government-funded rural mast upgrade improves mobile phone connectivity and choice for Lockerbie area. 

The upgraded mast will deliver strong, reliable coverage to residents and businesses in the east of Dumfries and Galloway. It will also be shared by the UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) – EE, VMO2, Three and Vodaphone – meaning customers in the area have greater choice of service.

mobile telephone mast, tower, sunset

What’s more, the mast is part of the Home Office’s emergency services network (ESN), so first responders will now have faster, safer and more secure voice, video and data via the 4G network, providing them with better access to life-saving information in emergencies. 

And this is just the first of more than 120 masts in Scotland to be upgraded over the coming year, with £75m of investment from the UK government’s shared rural network programme. 

This £1bn programme aims to improve 4G coverage and connectivity across the UK. To do so, the government is working with the UK’s four MNOs, who are collaborating for the first time. 

The shared rural network aims to use both public and private investment to tackle rural mobile ‘not spots’ – areas of poor or patchy coverage that don’t receive a 4G signal from the four MNOs, or in some cases any signal at all. This means that some rural communities miss out on the benefits of digital technology other regions increasingly take for granted. 

The goal is to ensure 4G mobile coverage across over 95% of the UK landmass by the end of 2025. In Scotland, coverage will rise to 74% from all four operators (a big increase on the current 44%), and 91% from at least one operator (up from 81%). 

Chloe Smith, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, says: ‘We are investing in the things that matter to the people of the UK, and this includes funding strong, reliable 4G signal for rural communities struggling with poor coverage.’ 

‘Growing our economy is one of the Prime Minister’s top priorities and this includes bringing fast, reliable mobile signal to wherever people are, giving them all the connectivity they need to work, shop and keep in touch online.’ 

John Lamont, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Scotland Office), adds: ‘A reliable phone signal is one of the biggest issues faced by our rural communities around Scotland and I am pleased the UK Government has committed £75m to upgrade 120 masts across the country. The public and private sector are coming together to make sure people are better connected.’ 

‘The upgrade in Lockerbie is just the start and I look forward to other rural communities benefiting as part of our £1bn Shared Rural Network programme in the UK.’

Photo by Onkelglocke


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