MOBILE network operator EE is to upgrade 4G coverage in 28 rural locations across the Scottish Borders by June 2024, as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme agreed last year.
The upgrades announced last week are part of the first phase of the SRN programme, where EE will invest to significantly reduce ‘partial not-spots’ in mobile coverage.
EE has already upgraded its 4G network in 265 rural locations across Scotland since the SRN deal was signed in March 2020 and the company have now pledged to extend 4G in a further 359 locations across the country, bringing the total to 624 in this phase of the programme.
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, said: “Today we’ve made a renewed commitment to boost rural connectivity, helping improve mobile performance regardless of location. The investment BT has made in rural areas means we have the infrastructure in place to extend our 4G coverage footprint even further, minimising the number of new sites we need to build to ensure everyone has access to reliable connectivity.
“EE is still the only provider of 4G coverage in many places across the UK, and we encourage other operators to recognise the opportunity sharing our sites offers to fill gaps in their networks.”
Bob Carruth, NFU Scotland’s Communications Director, said: “For modern farming businesses to fulfil their potential, fast, reliable connectivity is crucial. The ability to manage both mainstream farming activities, and any diversified income stream from mobile phones, is a key element to success. The delivery of significant improvements in 4G coverage in rural parts of Scotland will be welcomed by those who live and work in Scotland’s countryside.”
UK Government Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “We know the incredible impact better connectivity will have on countryside communities. That’s why we struck a £1 billion deal, jointly funded by the government and mobile firms, to bring fast and reliable 4G mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the UK.
“EE’s plans show good progress and will increase choice for consumers and boost productivity in rural areas. We will continue to work closely with them to close down further gaps in rural mobile signal.”