FSB Calls for Scottish Government Action on Digital Connectivity
FSB’s Scotland policy chair, Andrew McRae, called on the UK Government and Ofcom to address “long-standing problems” with 4G coverage.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for greater action to boost digital connectivity in Scotland following the publication of an Ofcom report.
Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2018 report shows that despite improvements in the availability of superfast broadband in Scotland, businesses and households north of the border still experience the poorest 4G mobile coverage in the UK.
Just over one-third (38%) of Scotland’s geographic area can access high-quality 4G services from all operators, compared to a coverage rate of more than 80% in England.
Stronger Action Needed
The Federation says the Scottish Government must come good on its pledge to deliver universal superfast broadband, and called on the UK Government and Ofcom to take stronger action to improve Scottish mobile coverage.
Andrew McRae, the FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Consumers and businesses in Scotland are paying as much for their mobile phones as counterparts elsewhere in the UK for a service, which this report illustrates, is far worse.
“While it is good to see Ofcom note that this is unsatisfactory, we need to see action from them, the UK Government and mobile operators to address this long-standing problem.
McRae conceded that, while greater action is needed, the report underlines the progress achieved thus far in boosting digital connectivity in Scotland.
“On the other hand, this publication also underlines that Scotland is making good progress on superfast broadband provision, though we still lag both England and Wales,” he said. “We strongly support the Scottish Government’s ambition on this front – though we would underline that expectations amongst communities and firms are very high and they must deliver.”
Ofcom’s study highlights that 92% of Scottish premises can now access superfast broadband connections, which marks a 5% increase on the year previous.
In England, however, 94% of premises have access to superfast connections, also marking a 2% increase on 2017 statistics.
Superfast broadband coverage rates in Wales and Northern Ireland both range in the 85-95% range, with 89% of homes in Northern Ireland receiving access to superfast connections and 93% in Wales.
In March this year, the Scottish Government allocated £25 million in funding to address Scotland’s ongoing issues with 4G network ‘notspots’.
The Scottish 4G infill programme aims to fund new telephone mats in locations across Scotland with no existing 4G coverage.