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Community / Further investment in 4G coverage

EIGHT areas in Shetland are in line to receive improved 4G coverage over the coming few years.

Mobile provider EE is expanding 4G in more than 600 locations across Scotland by June 2024 as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme.

A spokesperson for EE said the eight areas in Shetland are: “Scousburgh, Voe, Hestingott – Toab, Easterhoull To Puffin Rookery, Quarff, B9074, Veensgarth, Heylor, Brae”.

The £1bn SRN scheme is an agreement between the UK’s four mobile network operators – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – and the government to extend 4G coverage in the country.

A key aim is to reduce partial ‘not-spots’ in mobile coverage, which are areas that have coverage from at least one but not all mobile operators.

After the SRN programme concludes nearly 70 per cent of the Highlands and Islands should have 4G coverage from all mobile providers – a vast increase on the current 26 per cent.

That figure for 4G coverage from at least one operator should rise from 73 per cent to 91 per cent.

The news of further investment in rural areas has been welcomed by the Scottish National Farmers’ Union.

Communications director Bob Carruth 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.”

Philip Jansen, chief executive of EE’s owner 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.”

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.”