“This is just the first of more than 120 planned mast upgrades across Scotland, with more to follow over the next year.”

People living and working in the Lockerbie area in Scotland are to benefit from significantly improved mobile phone connectivity as the first UK government-funded rural mast upgrade is completed.

The mast will deliver strong and reliable 4G coverage to residents in the east of Dumfries and Galloway, benefitting people living in Boreland, Eskdalemuir, Lochmaben and other neighbouring villages.

This is just the first of more than 120 planned mast upgrades across Scotland, with more to follow over the next year, through a £75 million UK government investment from the Shared Rural Network, a £1 billion project with the UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) – EE, VMO2, Three and Vodafone – to improve 4G coverage and level-up connectivity across the UK.

Through both public and private investment, the Shared Rural Network is seeing new and existing phone masts built or upgraded across the UK to close down rural mobile ‘not spots’. These are areas of poor or patchy coverage that cannot receive a 4G signal from all four MNOs, or any signal at all, which holds back rural communities from experiencing the full benefits of digital technology.

Chloe Smith, UK Science and Technology Secretary said:

“We are investing in the things that matter to the people of the UK, and this includes funding strong, reliable 4G signal for rural communities struggling with poor coverage.

“Our £75 million investment means people across Scotland will benefit from upgraded infrastructure that is fit for the future, starting with the first mast upgrade in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Growing our economy is one of the Prime Minister’s top priorities and this includes bringing fast, reliable mobile signal to wherever people are, giving them all the connectivity they need to work, shop and keep in touch online.”

Photo: Chloe Smith, UK Science and Technology Secretary.  Photo credit: Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence.

The mast, located in the Boreland area to the north of Lockerbie, is part of the Home Office’s Emergency Services Network (ESN), which will give first responders faster, safer and more secure voice, video and data on the 4G network, for better access to life-saving information in emergencies.

But upgrading the mast also makes it usable by the four MNOs, meaning they can host and share equipment on it for the first time, offering improved signal and greater choice of provider for residents and businesses. This will enable people in the area to better seize the benefits of the internet at home and on the go in order to stay connected with friends and family, work remotely, shop and bank online and stream entertainment.

The investment is a further example of how the UK government is growing the economy by helping people set up and run businesses from anywhere in the country and creating more job opportunities in even the most rural areas.

UK Government minister for Scotland John Lamont said:

“A reliable phone signal is one of the biggest issues faced by our rural communities around Scotland and I am pleased the UK Government has committed £75 million to upgrade 120 masts across the country. The public and private sector are coming together to make sure people are better connected.

The upgrade in Lockerbie is just the start and I look forward to other rural communities benefiting as part of our £1 billion Shared Rural Network programme in the UK.”

Ben Roome, CEO of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) said:

“Today’s news is only possible thanks to meaningful collaboration by the government and mobile operators. This site will benefit local people and businesses, but is also a major milestone heralding the rollout of hundreds of similar shared sites across the UK.”

Councillor Gail Macgregor, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council, said:

“This is great news as good connectivity is now critical for citizens and businesses in our region. We all need a reliable service, from keeping in touch with friends and family to ordering online. This is part of our modern way of life and is an essential requirement, particularly in our rural area of Dumfries and Galloway.”

Source: Building Digital UKDepartment for Science, Innovation and TechnologyThe Rt Hon Chloe Smith MP, and Julia Lopez MP.

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