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By Hugh Boag
Residents at the south end are celebrating getting one of the best mobile signals on Arran in what was one of worst phone coverage blackspots.
The O2 signal from the Shannochie mast has been connected in the last few days giving a strong 4G mobile signal, and when the Home Office equipment installed is up and running it will also significantly improve the communication of emergency services in the area.
Arran Community Council chairman Bill Calderwood said: ‘The community council are pleased to note the introduction of 4G mobile coverage under a community ownership scheme which will provide service and a small income to the Kilmory community.
‘It has taken a lot of work from many groups to bring these services to the community but we thank everyone for their assistance and co-operation over the time. A good example of working together at all levels.’
Mobile users have taken to social media to express their delight at the new service from only the second 4G mast on the island, which is sited 2km east of Kilmory. The other is in Brodick.
One long time resident posted: ‘You would not believe how much this means I’ve been in Kilmory for 14 years and now get a signal in my house.’
Another added: ‘Full signal and 4G. I never thought I would see the day we would have high speed broadband and a 21st century mobile service at the South end. Well done to everybody involved.’
Kilmory Hall posted on their community noticeboard: ‘This will hopefully make life easier for our residents and for the vital services which have to reach us in times of need.’
The initiative started back in 2015/16 when a working group was looking to improve the digital coverage and mobile services for the island and was initially led by Dr David Hogg and Samantha Payn with support from other community representatives.
The community council have been involved since then working with government bodies such as Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Futures Trust who facilitated a community grant to establish a service under community ownership.
Kilmory Hall committee agreed to participate and with a willing land owner providing ‘pepper corn’ rental to allow the mast and infrastructure to be erected this was progressed by the small steering group. The arrangements will also provide an income to the community as more operators connect.
Following extensive form filling and legal negotiations the funding was granted and the mast erected in September 2017 and, with the support from Arran MSP Kenneth Gibson and MP Patricia Gibson, the various service providers have been lobbied to supply the transmitting equipment and capacity.
Scottish and Southern Energy’s local team have also helped in extending the power supply to the site and SFT’s technical team have now worked with the service providers to establish a much welcome mobile coverage for the locality which will all be under the management of the Kilmory Hall committee.
The Home Office are also planning to use the mast and negotiations/ pressure continues to encourage other service providers to expand the coverage and range of services available to the residents.
Mr Calderwood added: ‘This has taken a long time to deliver but the learning and experience will be of use for other communities who may look to install similar system should funding be made available.
‘The community council have been involved throughout the programme and are very pleased to have played a part in delivering a much needed service.
‘Many thanks to everyone for their perseverance and commitment to the completion of this innovate solution to provide services to communities.’