An initial 16 'notspot' sites have been prioritised as the Scottish 4G Infill programme progresses
A £25million project to address mobile ‘notspots’ across Scotland – including areas in the Western Isles – has been launched by the Scottish Government.
The procurement process for the Scottish 4G Infill Programme was announced this week as the project aims to fund new mobile telephone masts in locations with no existing 4G mobile coverage to improve mobile connectivity for communities and businesses.
An initial 16 ‘notspot’ sites have been identified – including one in South Lochs and one in Harris –with about 60 to 70 areas in total being targeted throughout the programme; and the majority of the programme will focus on sites completely without coverage in the Highlands and Islands.
Connectivity Secretary Fergus Ewing announced the launch of the procurement process at the Convention of the Highlands and Islands. Scottish Futures Trust has developed the programme on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Mr Ewing said: “Widespread high-speed and reliable mobile coverage is just as vital as broadband, and ensures that people, communities, and businesses are able to stay connected.
“Improving mobile coverage across Scotland is key to achieving our ambition to become fully digitally connected. Our innovative Mobile Action Plan outlines how we are working with industry and other partners to improve coverage.
“The Infill programme will target the areas where it can make the most difference, achieving better and cost-effective connectivity in some of our most remote and challenging areas.”
Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) Chief Executive Peter Reekie added: “Over the last three years, SFT has been working closely with Industry to create a collaborative platform for the development of a publicly funded intervention to extend 4G coverage into the more remote rural areas of Scotland.
“This has enabled SFT to take into consideration their feedback, build on the experience gained from our pilot projects and incorporate the lessons learnt from similar programmes.
“After the successful bidder has been selected, SFT looks forward to working with them and the mobile network operators to identify as many 4G notspots that can be addressed within the programme’s budget.
“The deployment of future proofed mast infrastructure will then act as the catalyst to deliver good quality 4G coverage to those areas for the benefit of the local communities, businesses and tourists.”