Scotland's Economy

Mobile coverage must reflect far higher level of ambition

March 18, 2019 by No Comments | Category Economy, innovation

Mobile coverage in Scotland will continue to lag behind the rest of the UK unless Ofcom sets more ambitious coverage targets, the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust have warned.

In a joint response to Ofcom’s consultation on the forthcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction, both organisations have urged the regulator to look at all options to improve coverage in rural Scotland.

Connectivity Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said:

“While, legally, access to telecommunications is the responsibility of UK Ministers, I welcome the recent engagement between Ofcom, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Futures Trust in exploring alternative approaches beyond what is proposed. However, I believe current proposals fall far too short for Scotland – something we’ve been saying for a considerable time now.

“Although we will see coverage improve as a result of Ofcom’s proposals, the proposals will still leave coverage in Scotland lagging behind Wales, Northern Ireland and England. On top of that, the target of 2 Mbps is not sufficiently aspirational, does not leave enough scope for future growth in service demand and should be reconsidered.

“The Scottish Government’s response to the 2018 consultation was also very clear that we didn’t believe Ofcom’s proposals were sufficiently ambitious. This must be heeded and this new spectrum auction represents one of the most valuable regulatory levers at Ofcom’s disposal and, given that, we urge Ofcom to act now to drive an ambitious geographic coverage level for Scotland, that is equitable across the UK.

“Even though it is not, for now, our responsibility, the Scottish Government is already investing £25 million of our own resources to improve mobile coverage through the Scottish 4G Infill Programme and we believe there are opportunities to test innovative technologies through our programme to improve coverage in Scotland. However, there is an essential role for Ofcom, as the UK-wide regulator, to work alongside that investment in order to maximise consumer access to services.

“I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with Ofcom and the Scottish Futures Trust to explore solutions and, ultimately, to ensure that Scotland is ready for the roll-out of 5G services.”


Read a copy of the joint consultation response from the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust: SG Response to Ofcom 700 MHz Consultation Response – March 2019 (003)

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