Rural communities in the Borders and across Scotland will enjoy the biggest uplifts in mobile coverage under the UK government’s world-first £1 billion programme to level up digital connectivity across the UK.
The Shared Rural Network (SRN) will see EE, O2, Three and Vodafone build and upgrade phone masts to end so-called partial not-spots: areas where only some, but not all, mobile network operators (MNOs) provide 4G coverage. These not spots mean local people cannot connect unless they are signed up with a provider who has coverage in the area.
This scheme is a major part of the government's plan to level up all parts of the UK and will bring economic and social benefits for people no matter where they live.
Thanks to this huge UK Government investment, rural areas like the Borders are set to benefit from a boost to mobile 4G coverage as 91% of Scottish landmass will be within range of 4G signal.
It will help those who live and work in the Scottish Borders enjoy the benefits of improved connectivity and seize the benefits of technology, such as using a 4G phone signal for work video calls as well as accessing vital services, shopping and streaming TV shows online on the go.
Scotland will benefit the most of the four home nations with coverage from all four MNOs to be delivered to three quarters (74 per cent) of Scotland’s landmass by the end of the programme. This is an increase of two thirds and up from 42 per cent currently.
With a high proportion of rural communities, the Scottish Borders is set to benefit hugely - areas with coverage from all four operators will dial up by 26 per cent in the South of Scotland alone.
John Lamont MP said:
“As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the UK Government has reaffirmed its commitment to rural areas like the Borders through huge uplifts to 4G mobile coverage.
“This £1 billion announcement will improve the lives of hundreds of people across the region who have been blighted by poor connectivity for too long.
“I am encouraged that Scotland will see the majority of coverage and infrastructure improvements that will be vital to giving our communities the connections they need to work, access services and keep in touch – both at home and on the go.
“This is really positive news for Borders communities, but after the SNP’s botched rollout of the R100 broadband programme, we also need to see the Scottish Government step up to deliver for rural communities like ours.”
UK Government Digital Infrastructure Minister, Matt Warman MP said:
“In today’s interconnected world, access to fast and reliable mobile coverage is not a privilege but a necessity, so I am delighted that our plans will bring a huge uplift in connectivity to many rural areas in Scotland.
“This will bring new opportunities to work remotely, improve people’s ability to stay in touch with family and friends, and stream entertainment on the go.
“Once the network is built, no government will have done more to amplify 4G coverage in Scotland. It demonstrates loud and clear how our plan to build back better is delivering for every part of the UK, no matter how rural or isolated.”