Rural scene with mobile mast

4G comes to rural Scotland as infrastructure plan marks halfway point

Image credit: Dreamstime

Dozens of rural locations in Scotland can now enjoy 4G access, as the Scottish Government plan to expand coverage to remote areas reaches its halfway point.

The £28.75m 'Scottish 4G Infill' (S4GI) programme has been designed to improve digital connectivity from the Shetland Islands to the Borders.

The programme has reached its milestone halfway point, building and activating 28 phone masts, with the remaining 27 on track to be connected by 2023.

Residents and businesses in Bogton, in Turriff, Aberdeenshire, were the latest to benefit from the programme.

Mobile network operator EE is providing 4G services across all bar one of the new sites, including the new Bogton mast, but all sites are capable of supporting multiple operators in the future.

Scottish economy secretary Kate Forbes said: “The Scottish Government is helping more residents and workers get online and tackling some of Scotland’s longest-standing mobile phone signal black spots.

“The availability of 4G services has proven transformational for members of these communities, who have taken advantage of new connectivity to enhance how they work; communicate with friends and family; access public services; purchase products and services, and consume entertainment.

“The Scottish Government wants to build on that, through our 'National Strategy for Economic Transformation', to capitalise on the ability of enhanced digital connectivity to encourage innovation and growth. We will all need to work together to create a more prosperous, fairer and more sustainable nation.”

Rob Tanner, a farrier and online table-tennis coach near Bogton, said: “Being able to post videos and carry out coaching sessions without any problems is fantastic. I can now download a TV programme in seconds instead of hours, which is amazing.”

S4GI is backed by £17.48m Scottish Government funding and £11.27m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support activity in the Highlands and Islands.

Even during the early rollout of 5G networks in 2019, many rural areas were still lacking 4G coverage some seven years after it was first introduced.

Ofcom has since relaxed the rules around telecoms masts, allowing operators to make them wider and taller in a bid to improve connectivity in remote locations.

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