Holiday makers planning to take on Scotland’s most well-known road trip are being advised to adequately plan and prepare before setting off, after a new map has highlighted the lack of 4G coverage available along parts of the North Coast 500 route.
Created by digital connectivity consultancy FarrPoint, the new map outlines the level of 4G coverage offered by the UK’s mobile network operators (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone) throughout the 516 miles of road.
After surveying the length of the route which circles northern Scotland with its Coverage Mapping solution, FarrPoint identified more than 34 miles of road without 4G coverage from any provider. In addition, more than a quarter of the route is only covered by either one or two of the four mobile providers.
The digital not-spots extend across some of the most popular tourist hotspots on the road trip – including Inverewe Garden and Estate, the Applecross Peninsula, Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve and the stunning Clachtoll Beach. In addition, the road hugging the shoreline of Loch Eriboll – the deepest sea loch in Britain – was found to be the worst area for mobile coverage along the route, with more than 18 miles of continuous road without any 4G coverage. This will leave travellers with real connectivity issues when trying to access mobile data and making calls and texts.
Despite its undeniable beauty and fantastic scenery, drivers can quickly run into issues navigating the winding country roads, especially if they deviate off the main road to visit nearby businesses or beauty spots. FarrPoint is encouraging drivers to consider downloading digital maps before setting off on the epic road trip so they can be accessed in not-spot areas, as well as checking the level of coverage that specific mobile operators offer.
According to FarrPoint’s analysis, EE was found to offer the best coverage (89% of the route includes access to its network), closely followed by O2 (77%) and Vodafone (76%). Three came last, only providing coverage for 51% of the route – leaving more than 252 miles without 4G coverage.
Andrew Muir, CEO, FarrPoint said: “With stunning scenery and views, the North Coast 500 provides the setting for one of the world’s best road journeys right here in Scotland. But without adequate preparation, the trip could turn into difficulty in parts given the remote nature of the surrounding area and the limited connectivity across the route.
“With more than 34 miles of the route having no 4G coverage from any operator, and hundreds of miles of road only being covered by certain operators, undoubtedly people will experience connectivity issues during their journey. This may appeal to some travellers who are looking to have a break from their digital devices, but it could equally cause issues if drivers get lost or run into trouble. To help provide better peace of mind, we recommend that drivers check their mobile connectivity and download any maps of areas before they set off to ensure they don’t get lost in this remote, albeit undeniably beautiful part of northern Scotland.”
FarrPoint has made an interactive version of the map available for use on its website, and visitors are encouraged to look at what their operator’s coverage levels are in advance so they can make informed decisions before they travel.
FarrPoint has mapped 4G coverage in other locations across Scotland, the UK and Canada, working with local authorities and governments to assist them in building an accurate picture of connectivity so that infrastructure investment decisions can be made more effectively. To date, the business has advised on more than £3.5bn worth of connectivity infrastructure projects, including £1.5bn in the past year.