EE Partners with Scottish Government to Connect Rural Locations with 4G


EE has partnered with the Scottish Government and the Home Office to bring 4G to some of Scotland’s most rural locations for the first time. Strathconon, Blairmore and Reawick have been connected to 4G, with a further 32 locations across rural Scotland to follow.

These sites are all part of the Scottish Government’s £25 million Scottish 4G Infill programme (S4GI) which is delivering 4G infrastructure and services in so-called ‘not-spots’ in rural Scotland, providing 4G connectivity to areas which previously had no coverage.

Delivered by the S4GI programme and connected as part of EE’s Emergency Service Network partnership with the Home Office, the new sites will provide vital connectivity in some of Scotland’s most rural areas. Scottish Emergency Services and Mountain Rescue will be able to access a reliable 4G mobile service for the first time, as well as residents, visitors and businesses.

Little Mill (Highland) is the next location due to benefit from 4G, with more sites across the Highlands and Islands, Aberdeenshire, Morayshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders set to be connected in the next six months*

Strathconon is one of the most recent sites to be switched on, providing vital connectivity to ambulance, police, fire and mountain rescue emergency services, as well as the local community. For resident John Turner, who also lets a holiday cottage in Strathconon, 4G has transformed both his home and working life.

John commented: “Improved mobile connectivity has made such a difference to myself, my wife and the local community. Thanks to the S4GI programme we can now connect to faster reliable speeds, which is crucial during the current pandemic. Like many people living in Strathconon and the surrounding area, I work from home and now I’m able to take part in online meetings without experiencing time lags and colleagues talking over each other due to the poor connection.

“Strathconon is a beautiful spot to live in, however staying in a remote area of Scotland can be especially challenging in the winter. Improved mobile coverage will be really useful in emergencies, when travelling or for tourists visiting the local area.”

By the summer of 2023, the Scottish Government’s S4GI programme is anticipated to deliver up to 40 masts, including the Emergency Service Network roll-out. In Strathconon, 69 homes and businesses are now receiving mobile coverage from this network.

Scotland’s Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse, said: “It’s great that local communities and Scotland’s emergency services will benefit from improved mobile coverage, and my thanks go to our partners including EE for their work in making this happen. The Scottish Government’s £25 million S4GI programme in extending the 4G coverage to 40 not spots across Scotland from the Highlands and Islands to Ettrick in the Scottish Borders, also is enabling the Emergency Services Network to reach more rural places than ever before, ensuring more people keep connected and remain safe.

“We are currently dealing with a global health emergency, and during this, digital connectivity is crucial in ensuring Scotland’s social and economic recovery. With the S4GI roll-out providing local residents and businesses with mobile connectivity for the first time, this network will help future-proof the health and livelihoods of local rural communities.”

Richard Harrap, Managing Director of ESN, at EE, said: “We’re committed to bringing reliable coverage to communities for the first time, and providing the much-needed reassurance that the emergency services and first responders can stay connected in even the most remote areas. We are already well ahead of other operators in delivering rural 4G coverage, and these new sites will further expand accessibility. These 35 sites delivered by the S4GI programme add to the portfolio of over 600 new sites we have built in rural areas across Great Britain. his portfolio represents a great opportunity for other operators to share our infrastructure and increase coverage availability for everyone.”

Martyn Cheyne, WHP Strategic Development Director, added: “WHP Telecoms is committed to facilitating reliable coverage to these communities for the first time by providing infrastructure that is robust and future proofed. EE has been a fantastic sponsor of the S4GI programme since the outset and these sites will further expand their 4G accessibility thereby enabling the emergency services and first responders to stay connected in the remotest of areas. We, at WHP, also welcome other operators to share these sites to reduce the amount of infrastructure in the landscape, increasing coverage and choice for everyone.”

EE has recently completed the build of its 600th new site for the Emergency Services Network, and upgraded more than 19,500 sites to 4G, as EE continues to invest in providing dedicated 4G voice and data coverage for more than 300,000 emergency service users across Scotland, England and Wales.

EE’s network has been named the UK’s best network for seven years running. EE continues to dominate in UK wide overall mobile network testing, winning six of RootMetrics’ awards outright – overall performance, reliability, accessibility, speed, data, and call – and taking joint first for text.