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Scotland Gives Rural 4G Mobile Infill Project a GBP3.75m Boost

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021 (4:56 pm) - Score 1,296
ee_rural_mobile_mast_uk_mountains

The Scottish Government‘s (SG) 4G Infill Programme (S4GI), which via WHP Telecoms aims to improve rural mobile voice and broadband coverage by building new mast sites (mostly tackling notspots across the Highlands and Islands), has been given a £3.75m boost to construct a further 12 masts.

The programme has so far completed around 11 new masts, with a further 18 currently in the build phase, 11 more in pre-build for a future deployment and 6 others being considered for future inclusion (March 2021 data – before today’s announcement). Mobile operators including EE and Vodafone have already agreed to provide service via many of the new mast sites, once built.

However, not all the originally proposed mast sites have been able to attract enough support from mobile operators to proceed (these were previously removed from the programme), while a few others were unable to proceed due to having their planning permission rejected (e.g. Pennan), or finding that a commercial operator had already covered the area or was planning to do so (e.g. Carrick Castle).

Nevertheless, the SG has today announced that they’re putting another £3.75m into the 4G Infill pot (total now £28.75m) in order to help build 9 additional mast sites across the Scottish Borders, Highlands, Angus and island communities. On top of that 3 other mast sites have been agreed to help replace some of those removed earlier this year.

NOTE: The funding includes £17.48m from the SG and £11.27m from the European Regional Development Fund.

Kate Forbes, Finance Secretary, said:

“Digital connectivity is crucial to Scotland’s economic recovery and this latest investment in rural areas furthers our commitment to tackle the nation’s mobile ‘notspots’

Extending the programme’s reach brings lasting economic, social and environmental benefits. As we move out of lockdown, increased mobile connectivity will help bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas, allowing people to work more flexibly and sustainably while keeping communities safe and connected.

This in turn advances the Scottish Government’s wider green development goals in the run up to COP26 in November.”

The 12 new mast locations are: Deanburnhaugh; Ham; The Craigs; Kinlochard; Inverie (formerly referred to as Mallaig); Kenmore; Ellemford; Berneray Harbour; Rottal (formerly referred to as Clova); Stronachlachar; Achnosnich; Kilchoman. As usual these locations remain subject to the programme successfully obtaining planning permissions, landowner agreements approval and mobile network operator commitments.

By the summer of 2023, the programme is now anticipated to have delivered “up to” 55 masts across Scotland’s rural regions. All of this should also help to complement the new £1bn Shared Rural Network (SRN), which aims to extend UK geographic 4G mobile coverage to 95% by the end of 2025. Not to mention the 10Mbps+ Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband, which often falls back to a 4G fix.

Sadly, the S4GI coverage map hasn’t yet been updated to reflect today’s news, but it does still reflect the progress made up until March 2021.

scotland_4g_infill_map_march_2021

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
1 Response
  1. Bloke in Pennan says:

    But how will the tourists Instagram their photies o’ the phone box?
    https://www.pennanharbour.com/local-hero

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