mobile phone mast

O2 gets 4G to remote Scottish communities using helicopters and off-road vehicles

Mobile network operator O2 has deployed fleets of helicopters and off-road vehicles to install the technology and digital infrastructure required to bring 4G to remote Scottish towns and villages.

The company said that by the end of this year, more than 800 Scottish towns and villages will have been connected, from Ben Nevis in the Highlands to Aberdeen and rural areas around Inverness.

Derek McManus, chief operating officer at O2, said: “Of all the ingredients that keep our economy and society moving, arguably top of the list is mobile.

“The need for 4G connectivity is an integral part of modern daily life. A good connection can make all the difference to how we communicate with each other as individuals and it is a key factor to the success of local businesses.

“At O2, we are constantly challenging ourselves to develop and deploy new technology to deliver better connectivity for our customers across Scotland, regardless of landscape or weather conditions.”

O2 is taking a number of measures to boost connectivity in certain areas of Scotland.

It will construct a 50-metre mast just outside Inverness to improve the range and performance of 4G connectivity for customers in the area.

It has also installed the UK’s first fibre-connected small-cell network in Aberdeen, discreetly positioned on street lights, to improve network capacity and pave the way for 5G in the future.

Lastly, O2 introduced a new mast in Fort William, the gateway to Ben Nevis, bringing 4G to local customers. Before the end of the year, O2 engineers in helicopters will have installed a second mast higher up Britain’s highest mountain, so climbers can stay connected.

The mobile network operator has also set up 85 new generators in some of the most isolated and hard-to-reach locations across the country, in order to alleviate connectivity problems caused by power cuts.

The government has set itself a Universal Service Obligation for broadband, which should see internet speeds of 10Mbps come to every household in the country by 2022.

In July, BT offered to fulfil the obligation voluntarily in the hope that it could be met earlier than originally anticipated.

Last month, a government committee said that landowners should lose subsidies if they refuse to allow the construction of mobile phone masts on their land, along with a raft of other measures designed to boost internet connectivity. 

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