A plan to increase and improve mobile coverage in Scotland has been agreed with mobile operators, Cabinet Secretary for Connectivity. Fergus Ewing announced today.
The plan will see the Scottish Government work with the industry and other partners to maximise commercial investment in 4G mobile in Scotland, and ultimately, to support 5G-ready infrastructure across the country. This will help to ensure the Scottish Government uses its powers to guarantee people benefit from better mobile coverage, even though the primary responsibility lies with the UK Government.
The announcement was welcomed by Shirley Spear, founder of The Three Chimneys in Colbost who chairs the Scottish Food Commission. She said on Twitter: "Great! Long overdue. My 5* business is in one of those remote, rural areas in great need of improved infrastructure."
Mr Ewing said: “Ensuring high quality digital connectivity for people across Scotland is a priority for the Scottish Government. That is why we are doing everything we can to improve the case for investment in Scotland, despite this being the responsibility of the UK Government.
“We have been working closely with the UK mobile network operators, and they have demonstrated a clear commitment to maximising coverage. Already significant progress is being made towards meeting 4G coverage obligations, but we collectively recognise that coverage gaps will still remain in some of the most rural and remote areas.
“We will identify where those gaps will be after the commercial rollout, and together with the industry will jointly design technology solutions and business models that will allow services to be delivered by operators in a sustainable way.”
Chief Executive Officer of EE Marc Allera said: “EE has set a clear ambition to cover 95% of UK geography with 4G by 2020, with significant investment planned to cover many of the most rural areas of Scotland. The Mobile Action Plan, developed with mobile operators, will help overcome some of the challenges of extending our network and is a great example of how government and industry can work together to deliver real improvements for our customers and the broader digital society.”
Dave Dyson, Three Chief Executive Officer, said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s proposals to extend mobile phone coverage. The changes to the planning régime should act as a benchmark for other parts of the UK which want to improve rural connectivity.”
Chief Technology Officer of O2 Brendan O’Reilly said: “O2 welcomes this Mobile Action Plan and the on-going dialogue we have with the Scottish Government to help our investment in Scotland’s mobile infrastructure proceed further and faster.”
eroen Hoencamp, Chief Executive of Vodafone UK said: “Vodafone welcomes the constructive dialogue we have had with the Scottish Government which has resulted in the Mobile Action Plan. Vodafone is investing heavily to improve mobile coverage in Scotland and bring the mobile internet to the vast majority of Scottish people, in some rural areas for the first time but we need to work in partnership to ensure the Scottish people get the best possible mobile coverage."
Alongside today’s announcement, the Scottish Government is also publishing new research which provides evidence-based recommendations on extended Permitted Development Rights for telecoms infrastructure and on updating planning advice. It will consult publicly this year on proposals for changes to planning legislation.