Holyrood notes: Mobile phone providers must invest more

A new report from regulator OfCom has revealed the extent of mobile phone coverage and customer satisfaction in rural parts of Scotland.

It will come as no shock to residents of Berwickshire to learn that both coverage and customer satisfaction are considerably worse in rural parts, but what I thought the most interesting part of this report was how much of a difference in coverage there was between different providers.

I know it is frustrating that you can travel for miles around Berwickshire without even a single bar of signal. This is annoying for customers, but it is also damaging to businesses and my concern is that we risk getting left behind in the modern era where communication is so vital.

I will continue to press mobile phone providers to invest more in both mobile and broadband infrastructure, but this report shows that customers can act too, by shopping around and ditching the worst providers.

With the referendum less than a month away, Britain’s leading centre for independent social research, ScotCen have published a report. This should be taken seriously, because ScotCen strongly protect their reputation for never being compromised by any political agenda. Their latest survey points to the concerns Scots have about separation.

Nearly 40% fear a separate Scotland’s global influence would be diminished, compared to a third who think our voice in the world would improve. And also 44% believe the economy would get worse compared to only a quarter who think it would be better.

This mirrors what I have been hearing on the doorsteps in Berwickshire. Borderers fear that separation will harm the economy, particularly when there is so much uncertainty about what currency an independent Scotland would use. But to turn away from concerns and end on a more positive note, the study also shows most Scots think of themselves as both Scottish and British. With less than a month to go to the independence referendum, only a small minority of Scots do not identify themselves as British citizens.

This summer I completed an ironman triathlon in what was one of the toughest days physically I have ever experienced. After months of getting up at 4am to train, I was delighted to complete the race in a time of 12 hours 47 minutes.

I must also thank everyone in the Borders, from my coaches to my bike mechanic, who helped me become the first politician in the UK to complete the race.