Rural mobile phone coverage solutions welcomed
NEWCASTLETON'S MP Calum Kerr has welcomed new technologies which will give better mobile 4G coverage in parts of rural Scotland.
Mobile provider EE held a major launch to showcase innovative solutions to improve mobile coverage at the Oval Cricket Ground in London and Mr Kerr met officials as part of his ongoing efforts to tackle the challenges of getting better coverage in his Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency.
The exhibition showcased new solutions to deal with outages and coverage blackspots in hard-to-reach areas and Mr Kerr was briefed on uses for the network’s new mini-mobile sites which are attached to a helium balloon and can give wide area 4G coverage in areas where permanent sites have been damaged or in areas where there is no 4G coverage at all.
Mr Kerr discussed how the use of drones with mini-sites, each including a base station and antenna, could be used to give targeted coverage, particularly in search and rescue operations. He was shown how EE’s rapid response vehicles, designed to offer vital capability to keep networks running through maintenance and site outages, operate.
He said: “It’s great to see that the industry is really starting to take rural mobile data coverage seriously.
“For too long, a failure to invest and the wrong regulatory decisions on spectrum have left communities in Scotland lagging beyond other European nations when it comes to 4G coverage.
“These innovative designs are not a substitute for the permanent infrastructure an area like the Borders needs but they demonstrate that the mobile network operators are starting to realise the vital importance of comprehensive and resilient mobile data coverage.
“The floods we’ve seen in recent years in our region make the rapid response vehicle a particularly welcome innovation.”
Mr Kerr is in talks with EE about how to expand the number of permanent 4G masts in the Borders.
"Having worked in telecoms, I know this industry well enough to work with them to map out the best solutions for our region. I hope to be able to announce some significant progress on mobile coverage over the coming year.”
Richard Wainer, head of public affairs at EE, said: “EE is delivering the UK’s biggest 4G mobile network, building new sites in rural areas, upgrading more than 100 existing sites every week and innovating to create new ways of getting connected.
“Coverage in areas like the Borders grows and working with communities and their representatives helps us to identify areas where we can improve the service.
“I was pleased to welcome Calum to our balloon and drone technology demonstration. We presented some of the emerging approaches which will be used to improve coverage further.”