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Mobile network operators brief MSPs on mobile coverage in rural Scotland

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Mobile network operators brief MSPs on mobile coverage in rural Scotland

17 November 2011

Mobile network operators today briefed MSPs in Holyrood on mobile coverage in rural Scotland. The briefing was about both explaining the challenges of providing coverage in rural areas, and listening to MSPs’ views about the priorities and needs of their communities. The meeting was chaired by Dr Aileen McLeod MSP (South of Scotland).

John Cooke, Executive Director of the Mobile Operators Association said: “MSPs across the parties already understand the economic and social benefits of good digital connectivity. In rural Scotland, geography, population density, and economics combine to make it more challenging to provide the same level of mobile coverage as we have in our major cities, although Ofcom has recognized, earlier this month, that operators are deploying more infrastructure per capita to serve rural users.”

Aileen McLeod said: "The issue of mobile phone coverage is important in many rural areas across Scotland, so I was delighted to chair the Mobile Operators Association briefing. Mobile phones in rural areas are not just about convenience. They can also be a key safety aid for people who enjoy the outdoors as well as for First Responders, Mountain Rescue and the like. For me, that is a compelling argument in favour of more widespread coverage.

She added: “I am pleased that the event also had the support of the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil and his officials, who I know are keen to progress these issues at Government level.”

John Cooke added: “There won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ solution to improving rural mobile coverage in Scotland. That’s partly because landscape will mean different technical solutions will be more appropriate for different areas; and partly, it’s because different local communities will have different priorities – some will want the quality of coverage improved where it already exists, while others will want coverage extended to localities that don’t currently have any.”

Operators are keen to extend the benefits of mobile connectivity, but any progress in doing so will need a range of stakeholders – operators, local communities, Ofcom, Scottish Government, and UK Government - to work together.

Notes for Editors

1.            The Mobile Operators Association (MOA) represents the four UK mobile network operators – Everything Everywhere (Orange & T-Mobile), Telefonica UK, Three UK, and Vodafone – on radio frequency (RF) health and safety, and related town planning issues associated with the use of mobile phone technology. It provides information on these issues to policy-makers, including elected representatives and officials at UK, national, and local level, journalists, residents’ groups, and the wider public.

2.            For more information please contact Christine Jude 0207 331 2029, 07736 110787 email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

61% of UK adults access the internet from mobiles

Mobile phones cannot work without a network of base stations (masts). There are approximately 52,500 base station sites (excluding microcells) in the UK. Only a third of these are large, free standing masts. A YouGov survey for MOA (Sept 2014) showed that nearly 8 out of 10 people recognise the link between masts and good mobile coverage. Mobile telecommunications are vital for the UK’s economic competitiveness and in promoting social inclusion. There are now 89.9 million mobile subscriptions in the UK. In Q1 2015 61 per cent of UK adults used their mobile phones for internet access. Tablet ownership is 54% of UK households.

No Established Health Effects

Mobile phones operate by using radio waves, similar to those that have been widely used for decades, for example in radio, TV and radar signals. A large number of studies over the last two decades have found no clear evidence of adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones or from phone masts.