More than 120 mobile phone masts are to be built in Scotland in a bid to improve coverage in rural areas.
The 124 masts will be constructed in a partnership by O2, Three and Vodafone in areas including Orkney, the Cairngorms and the Borders.
They are being built as part of the first stage of the Scottish Rural Network, a £1 billion programme of investment to improve rural mobile coverage across the UK that was agreed by mobile network operators, the UK Government and Ofcom in March 2020.
The partners said the SRN will increase 4G coverage across Scotland to at least 74% of landmass, from 42%.
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It is expected to virtually eliminate so-called partial not spots (PNSs) – areas where at least one, but not all four, of the UK’s mobile networks provide 4G coverage.
Scotland’s Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “I welcome this investment being made by O2, Three and Vodafone to help improve mobile coverage across Scotland.
“Alongside the Scottish Government’s £25 million 4G Infill programme, the Shared Rural Network will help expand Scotland’s digital infrastructure, providing local communities and businesses with better connectivity.
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“For Scotland, digital connectivity plays an important role in the nation’s social and economic recovery.
“During the current pandemic, this investment in mobile infrastructure, together with commercial builds and Government-funded programmes, will keep people safe, protect livelihoods and offers local communities and businesses a vital lifeline.”
The construction of the masts will start this year and is scheduled to be completed by 2024 in line with the agreement reached with the UK Government and Ofcom.
The exact number and location of masts will be subject to finding suitable sites, obtaining power supply and securing planning permission.