The Scottish Government has announced the procurement process for a new £25 million project to address Scotland’s mobile phone ‘notspots’ – locations which currently have no 4G coverage.
An initial 16 notspot sites have been identified, and about 60 to 70 areas will be targeted throughout the project. The majority of the programme will focus on sites completely without coverage in the Highlands and Islands.
Developed by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), on behalf of the Scottish Government, the programme was launched by Connectivity Secretary Fergus Ewing at the Convention of the Highlands and Islands.
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 Chief Executive Peter Reekie said:
“Over the last three years, the Scottish Futures Trust 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.”