UNST residents can now enjoy faster 4G mobile phone signals thanks to a recent update to network provider O2’s mast.
The improvements will also mean more reliable coverage for the 600 residents of Britain’s most northerly isle, improving 4G coverage not just where people live, but also where they might work – extending the network to farmers working in unpopulated areas of the island, according to O2.
Improved coverage will also help the thousands of tourists who visit Unst every year, allowing them to access local walking routes via their smartphones and to discover local attractions.
Scottish connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “O2 has shown innovation and commitment to bring improved mobile coverage across Scotland and we welcome that.
“2018 was a year where good progress was made in 366 Scottish communities such as in Unst and it is really encouraging to see O2 continuing that momentum in 2019 with potentially up to 72 communities in Scotland, including the Isle of Coll, benefiting from O2’s investment in the year ahead. It is vital for Scottish business and consumers in all parts of the country that they and other mobile operators do so.”
Chief operating officer at O2 Derek McManus said: “The upgrade to our Saxa Vord site, and our new mast on the Isle of Coll, are part of our ongoing investment activity in Scotland. At O2 we are constantly challenging ourselves to deliver better connectivity for all of our customers, regardless of landscape or weather conditions.
“We are committed to helping build a fully mobile Britain. The need for 4G connectivity is an integral part of modern daily life. We know mobile has the power to make a real, positive difference to people’s lives and businesses in rural communities across Scotland.”
Last year O2 delivered high-speed 4G mobile coverage to 366 new locations across Scotland,with the operator covering a total of 2,387 cities, towns, villages and hamlets across the country.
To achieve this coverage O2 has used a number techniques and vehicles such as helicopters and off-road vehicles to overcome Scotland’s varied terrain and weather conditions.
Over the next 12 months, O2 will again use this experience to connect up to 72 Scottish communities to its 4G network in 2019, which aims to take the operator’s level of indoor 4G coverage throughout Scotland to 94.6 per cent.
It also plans to deliver “enhanced connectivity” to the Isle of Coll – a small Hebridean island of 220 inhabitants.
Last year research commissioned by O2 found that Scotland would receive an overall boost to its economy of up to £20 million a year from the enhanced 4G connectivity delivered by the mobile network operator in 2018.
The report, entitled The Benefits of Connecting Rural Communities, predicted that improved 4G connectivity will benefit over 14,000 rural businesses across the UK, boosting their collective revenue by up to £141m a year. After another year, the revenue boost to rural businesses could also inject as much as £44.6m in additional “gross value added”.
As part of it plan to improve reliability OT has installed 85 generators across the Highlands and Islands to help ensure uninterrupted mobile coverage even when the power goes down due to poor weather – a move which saved customers 500 hours of connectivity.