News | 03 May 2023

Borders residents and businesses get 4G mobile signal boost thanks to UK government investment

A Shared Rural Network mast, near Lockerbie and funded by the UK government, is the first of 120 planned upgrades to bolster 4G reception across Scotland.

Vodafone customers living and working in parts of the Scottish Borders are benefiting from reliable and fast Vodafone 4G thanks to the completion of the first Shared Rural Network (SRN) mast funded by the UK government.

The mast, located close to Lockerbie, is the first of more than 120 planned mast upgrades across Scotland resulting from the Government’s £75m investment into the SRN programme. Residents, businesses and visitors are now enjoying faster and more reliable data speeds, as well as better-quality voice calls, with the arrival of Vodafone to the area.

The mast hosts equipment installed by the Vodafone team on behalf of Three and Virgin Media O2, with EE 4G also available on the mast. The four operators are improving 4G coverage across the UK as part of the wider £1bn SRN programme.

Customers and businesses in rural Scotland benefit from mobile upgrades as Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone collaborate to tackle signal not-spots

Traquair in Peeblesshire and Balmacara in Ross-shire have benefited from a partnership between Vodafone, Virgin Media O2, the Shared Rural Network and the Scottish Government.

This particular mast is also one of 292 Extended Area Service (EAS) masts that are being built for the Home Office-led Emergency Services Network (ESN). This system will enable fast, safe and secure voice, video and data across the 4G network to give first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images and information in live situations and emergencies on the frontline.

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 £75m 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 £1bn 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.”

Vodafone investment in South West to bring benefits to local communities, businesses and visitors

Beachfront and rural locations in Cornwall are among the first in the UK to benefit from new OpenRAN 4G technology.

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.”

The investment is part of an ongoing network modernisation programme which will see Vodafone retiring its 3G network in 2023 and replacing it with strengthened 4G and 5G services, so customers can access a more reliable connection.

3G switch-off is coming: Here's what you need to do

In 2023 Vodafone is retiring 3G in the UK, so it’s time to check your phone – and to check-in on your relatives and neighbours – to see if and how you’ll be affected by the switch-off.

Andrea Dona, Vodafone’s UK Chief Network Officer, said: “We remain committed to improving rural connectivity across the UK. The Shared Rural Network programme, is ensuring that we can now bring connectivity to the remotest parts of the country – connecting places for the first time and offering communities a wider choice of networks.”

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