A £28.75 million programme has ensured 4G mobile phone coverage has been expanded in dozens of rural areas in Scotland.
Improved digital connectivity has been delivered by the Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI) programme to help people across the country gain access to improved phone coverage, from the Shetland Islands to the Borders.
The programme has reached a milestone halfway point, building and activating 28 phone masts, with the remaining 27 on track to be connected by 2023.
Residents and businesses in Bogton, in Turriff in Aberdeenshire, were the latest to benefit from the rural 4G programme. Other areas include the Western Isles, parts of the Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway.
Mobile network operator EE is providing 4G services across all bar one of the new sites, including the new Bogton mast, but all sites are capable of supporting multiple operators in the future.
S4GI is delivered in partnership with WHP Telecoms Ltd and the Scottish Futures Trust.
Commenting on the results, Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The Scottish Government is helping more residents and workers get online and tackling some of Scotland’s longest standing mobile phone signal black spots.
“The availability of 4G services has proven transformational for members of these communities, who have taken advantage of new connectivity to enhance how they work, communicate with friends and family, access public services, purchase products and services and consume entertainment.
“The Scottish Government wants to build on that, through our National Strategy for Economic Transformation, to capitalise on the ability of enhanced digital connectivity to encourage innovation and growth. We will all need to work together to create a more prosperous, fairer and more sustainable nation.”
S4GI is a Programme for Government 2021-22 commitment, backed by £17.48 million Scottish Government funding and £11.27 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support activity in the Highlands and Islands.
Howard Watson, Chief Technology Officer at BT Group, added: “In an increasingly digital world, bringing reliable connectivity to remote areas of Scotland is ever more important. EE is now delivering 4G from 27 of the 28 masts built to date, boosting quality of life, local economies and helping to keep residents and visitors safe, by providing the Scottish Emergency Services with reliable ways to communicate.
“EE looks forward to bringing this essential infrastructure to more locations across the country through our partnership with Scottish Government and WHP Telecoms.”