Consultation begins over poor mobil ecoverage

No mobile phone signal in the Ettrick Valley.
No mobile phone signal in the Ettrick Valley.

Borders politicians have welcomed the launch of a public consultation into the provision of mobile coverage in the region.

The consultation could result in providers being forced to share infrastructure to help eliminate so-called signal ‘not-spots’, which at present cover around a third of the Borders.

Proposals, announced this week, include the idea of national roaming. This would mean phones ‘roamed’ onto another network’s signal when their usual one is not available.

Networks could also share transmitter masts in the future.

Michael Moore,local Liberal Democrat MP, is encouraging Borderers to have their say on the Government’s plans.

He said: “I have been campaigning for better mobile phone coverage for the Borders for many years. Far too often, our region has been at the back of the queue when it comes to improvements in digital services and as part of the Borders Digital Forum I hold every year, I have been campaigning to address this.

“I am extremely pleased that in Government, Liberal Democrats have delivered more than £120 million of funding to support the spread of high speed internet across Scotland. There is however still much more to be done with 30% of the Borders still in partial not-spots.”

He added: “The consultation will also seek views on the introduction of minimum coverage requirements for networks that would see them obliged to cover a certain percentage of the UK.”

At present, over 30% of the Borders falls within partial mobile phone ‘not spots’, where there is only service from one or two mobile phone providers. An Ofcom report published in August found that rates of failed calls in rural Scotland varied between 15 and four per cent.

Mr Moore continued: “The proposals in the consultation to introduce national roaming and minimum coverage requirements could make a huge difference for mobile signal in the Borders. The consultation closes on 26 November so I want to urge individuals, businesses and community groups to take part and make their views known.”

Conservative MSP John Lamont added: “Poor coverage is a nuisance for residents, but it is also a serious problem for businesses and those living in more remove areas. Without improved signal the Borders risks getting left behind.”

Residents can raise concerns online at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/tackling-partial-not-spots-in-mobile-phone-coverage.