Menu
Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe

Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine

Subscribe

Subscribe to Holyrood
by Sofia Villegas
04 October 2023
Connectivity boost to Scottish islands in move to improve mobile phone coverage

The Shared Rural Network programme commenced in May 2021

Connectivity boost to Scottish islands in move to improve mobile phone coverage

Connectivity boost to Scottish islands in move to improve mobile phone coverage

Virgin Media O2 has used a helicopter to place 4G masts in the island of Islay in Argyll and Bute.

As part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme, the mobile network is deploying infrastructure across the UK to bridge the digital divide.

Currently only 60 per cent of the council area has access to coverage from the UK’s four mobile networks - Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, EE and Three.

The scheme aims to increase the figure to 85 per cent by building 60 4G masts in the region over the next three years.

MSP for Argyll and Bute Jenni Minto and Councillor Liz McCabe recently visited the sites welcoming the technology to the region.

“It is fantastic to see how the company is bringing mobile coverage to the beautiful island of Islay, which will have a positive impact on the businesses, residents, and visitors to the area. I believe that Virgin Media O2 is really setting an example of how to properly invest in rural networks,” Minto said.

“Argyll and Bute has languished behind other areas due to our geography and logistical challenges, including 22 inhabited islands. However, over the last number of years significant investment has been made and we have seen major coverage improvements. The Shared Rural Network programme will enhance this further with multiple operator coverage improvements to many parts of our remote rural areas,” McCabe added.

Supported by a £1bn fund from the mobile industry and the UK Government, the SRN aims to provide reliable mobile connectivity to 95 per cent of the UK by 2027.

Paul Kells, director of network, strategy and engineering at Virgin Media O2, said: “The industry’s Shared Rural Network initiative is making a real, tangible difference to people’s lives.

"At Virgin Media O2, we are committed to playing our part in bringing reliable 4G coverage to rural locations all over Britain to help bridge the digital divide between rural and urban communities."

The expansion comes after recent news that the network has secured consent to work at a further 100 sites across the UK.

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Sofia Villegas - UK employers optimistic about AI, poll finds.

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Subscribe

Popular reads
Back to top