Press Release | 16 Feb 2023

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.

Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone have expanded their 4G networks to two rural Scottish communities, Traquair (Peeblesshire) and Balmacara (Ross-shire), as part of a collaboration between the Scottish Government’s Scottish 4G Infill Programme (S4GI) and UK Government’s Shared Rural Network (SRN).

Upgrade works have been completed at a mobile site in Traquair and a new mast has been built at Balmacara – both of which now host Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone 4G network equipment. The new equipment means residents, businesses and visitors in the area are now benefiting from better mobile coverage as well as greater choice of provider.

The roll-out is part of a commitment to the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme. Created and funded by the mobile industry, Ofcom and UK Government, the SRN programme invests in new and existing phone masts to increase operators’ UK 4G coverage footprint in rural areas and signal not-spots.

Vodafone connects Welsh village with UK’s first Shared Rural Network site

Devauden, a small village in the Wye Valley, Wales, is the first rural community to receive new mobile coverage under the £1bn programme.

The masts at Traquair and Balmacara follow upgrades at other sites such as New Luce (Dumfries and Galloway) and Ettrick (Scottish Borders), where both Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone have recently boosted coverage in partnership with the Scottish Government. The Government’s S4GI programme is delivered in partnership with WHP Telecoms and Scottish Futures Trust, and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Business Minister Ivan McKee MSP said: “This is great news and will be welcomed by the local communities. Our successful S4GI programme continues to deliver life-changing mobile connectivity to 55 rural and island communities that wouldn’t otherwise get access to this vital service.

“Thanks to the infrastructure deployed by our S4GI programme, Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 are now able to provide improved connectivity to local residents, businesses and visitors in these communities, enhancing the way they work, communicate and access public services.”

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “We’re committed to investing in our network and providing seamless connectivity for all our customers across the UK. By working closely with industry partners and across government, we are delivering upgrades that will significantly improve 4G networks in rural communities, providing local people and businesses with faster and more reliable coverage than ever before, while also delivering benefits for the local economy and tourism.”

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.

Andrea Dona, Vodafone’s UK Network and Development Director, said: “We remain committed to improving rural connectivity across Scotland. Vodafone played a leading role in the conception of the Scottish 4G Infill Programme when it was the first to go live with 4G at the New Luce site and that, alongside the Shared Rural Network programme is ensuring that we can now bring connectivity to the remotest parts of Scotland – connecting places for the first time and offering communities a wider choice of networks.

“We’re looking forward to announcing more locations going live as part of the programme in the future.”

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About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

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