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MP demands action on mobile phone coverage
Arran’s MP Patricia Gibson has criticised the lack of mobile phone coverage on Arran and has backed calls from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for the UK government to improve Scotland’s poor mobile phone coverage.
Figures released by the UK regulator Ofcom show only 17 per cent of Scotland has 4G mobile coverage, compared to 60 per cent south of the border. In more than a fifth of the country it remains impossible to make or receive a mobile phone call at all. In a third, people cannot access a mobile data service.
Patricia Gibson, who is also the SNP consumer affairs spokeswoman, said: ‘Sufficient mobile coverage for the whole of the UK, and particularly island communities like Arran, should be a top priority. For too long, poor mobile phone coverage has gone unchecked and we need action to address this.
‘The decision to offer mobile coverage is currently a commercial one for mobile network operators, leaving huge swathes of Scotland with either a poor service, or none. This impacts on island businesses, it impacts on tourism and it impacts on people’s everyday lives.
‘While work is being undertaken to improve access to mobile voice and data services, it remains the case that much of Arran is not covered by a mobile phone signal, with much of Lamlash particularly notorious. It is imperative that these coverage black spots are plugged, not least to aid the emergency services.
‘Society is changing and mobile services are vital for 21st century living. It is therefore unacceptable that some island communities are being left behind.
Representatives of the FSB gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster and are set to call for Scotland-specific coverage obligations to be attached to future mobile spectrum sales.
Mrs Gibson continued: ‘Former UK communications minister Ed Vaizey MP promised that coverage of Arran would be rolled out by 2015, yet there is no sign of that happening despite the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service saying that mobile phone coverage for Arran is the number one priority for Scotland.
‘If the UK government cannot ensure delivery of an effective service, they should devolve the responsibility for mobile services to Scotland.’