Need for greater 4G coverage in rural Scotland

Rural areas across the north of the UK have been found to have the worst 4G connections, with the country’s regulator Ofcom stating that the Highlands and Islands and Wales were “most likely to have neither a decent fixed or good mobile service available.”

This issue has sparked concerns that the lack of mobile internet could negatively impact industry in these areas, with business, tourism and general way of life being the top three areas feared to fail without proper 4G connectivity.

Ofcom’s report found that only 41 per cent of all rural homes and offices had access to full 4G coverage, in comparison to 83 per cent in urban areas.

David Richardson, the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Highlands and Islands development manager, has noted that these areas, in particular the Highlands and Scottish Isles, could be “left behind” without significant funds dedicated specifically to digital technologies.

He further went on to say poor internet reception in rural areas could impact the “whole of society” with the “remoteness barriers [making] us less appealing as a place to live and work”.

With particular reference to the tourism industry, Richardson said: “With the closure of Tourist Information Centres it becomes all the more important that visitors of all types can access information and make calls and bookings simply and easily on the move with their smartphones if our vast and highly dispersed region is to sustainably maximise the benefits that tourism can bring.”

Adding to this, David Groundwater, FSB’s north-east Scotland development manager, commented: “This region is seeking ways of diversifying away from oil and gas, and top-notch digital connectivity must be in place if businesses are to take advantage of the many opportunities out there.”

Ofcom’s study concluded that it was in the process of establishing rules and regulations that would improve reliable mobile coverage to the rural areas so as to reduce the digital divide between urban and remote locations.