Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, has today challenged the Minister for Communications to do more to improve 4G mobile coverage, in Scotland’s rural communities.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:
“Ofcom figures show that rural 4G roll out across the whole of the UK is now at 52%, up from 38%, but in Scotland that figure is only 29%, up from 15%. When can we expect Scotland’s coverage to catch up with that of the rest of the country?”
Responding on behalf of the Government, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Margot James MP said:
“I think that if you take coverage of at least one provider, at least 50% of Scotland does now have mobile coverage. I accept that is obviously not enough, but it does give coverage for indoor voice for at least 90% of Scottish premises but we still have a great deal more still to do.”
Commenting after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“I am not sure what question the Minister thought she was answering, but it certainly wasn’t the one I asked. That only 90% of Scots can make a voice call from their home on their mobile is hopelessly inadequate. In the 21st Century that figure should be 100%. I was asking about 4G, and the statistics from that make uneasy reading for the Government.
“In Northern Ireland 70% of rural areas have 4G. In England the figure is 68%. Clearly Scotland’s rural areas are larger, and more geographically challenging, but the Minister failed to take this opportunity to show a comprehensive plan to close that massive gulf.
“More investment is needed in the rural 4G network, and that ought to be a priority before delivering 5G to London and large conurbations, as the Government is currently planning on doing.”