New £1 billion scheme to end mobile phone ‘black-spots’

Local MP John Lamont has welcomed a new £1bn scheme which will tackle mobile phone black spots in rural areas like the Scottish Borders.

The new Shared Rural Network Scheme, announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport today (Friday 25th October) will bring 4G phone signal to 95% of the UK. The scheme, which is a world first, will require all 4 mobile phone operators to share existing masts and invest in a new network of masts that they would all similarly share. It will be paid for by £530 million of funding from the networks, to be matched by £500m from the Government.

The Government will also allow commercial providers to use the Home Office’s network of nearly 300 masts across the UK which currently provides mobile coverage for the emergency services.

The scheme will extend mobile phone coverage for 95% of the UK’s landmass by 2026 and provide additional coverage to 280,000 homes and 16,000km of roads.

The latest Ofcom data shows that barely half of the Borders has 4G signal from all 4 operators and that 15% of the Borders has voice signal coverage from no or just one operator.

The UK Government has said the benefits of this scheme will be felt across all four nations of the UK with the greatest coverage improvements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Local MP John Lamont, who has been lobbying the UK Government to take action on this, says the scheme will finally tackle the problem of mobile phone black spots in rural areas like the Scottish Borders.

John Lamont MP said: “A lack of mobile phone signal is a huge source of frustration for far too many communities in the Borders.

“This new £1 billion scheme, backed by £500m from the Government will finally fix the problem of mobile phone black spots. Mast sharing between networks will mean people get good 4G signal no matter where they are or which provider they’re with. I hope this deal can be finalised quickly and work begins very soon.

“A lack of mobile signal is holding businesses back, it’s frustrating to visitors and it is also really unfair for consumers who pay the same as everyone else for a worse service. And a lack of signal means people are unable to switch providers.”