A series of new telephone masts will be erected in locations across Scotland with no existing 4G mobile coverage to improve connectivity for rural communities and businesses.
An initial 16 so-called ‘notspot’ sites have been identified, and about 60 to 70 areas will be targeted throughout the 4G Infill project.
The majority of the £25m 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.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The procurement process for the programme has now opened, with the successful bidder expected to work with the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) on delivering the project on behalf of the Scottish Government.
“Over the last 3 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,” said SFT chief executive Peter Reekie.
“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.”
Last week it was revealed residents and businesses in Orkney look set to enjoy some of the fastest and most advanced mobile broadband connections anywhere in the UK after it was chosen as a test site for the rollout of groundbreaking 5G technology.
The archipelago is one of only a handful of locations across the country selected to take part in the trials, overseen by the UK government, to determine how the next generation of wireless networks might revolutionise day-to-day life and work.