North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins has urged the UK Government to show more ambition on rural connectivity, as a new study revealed that Scotland is lagging behind much of the UK on mobile access to a 4G signal.
Access to superfast broadband is also sporadic across the constituency, with many residents and small businesses suffering as a result.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Stephen Gethins said: “Rural communities and small businesses like those in North East Fife rely on broadband and there are concerns that the current plans do not go far enough. I want to know if there are any plans to extend the service so everyone gets faster speeds.”
The North East Fife MP is also concerned about poor mobile phone signal, especially in many small villages and coastal locations.
A report has found that mobile users in Scotland can only access 4G signal 50 of the time.
Scotland is ranked 8th out of 12 UK regions for 4G access.
“Many constituents have expressed concerns about poor signal in several areas. This has a negative impact on people’s lives and their livelihoods. It is also concerning that while this problem continues BT is also looking at removing public telephone kiosks from some areas where they could actually be a lifeline service.”
This stands in comparison to London, which topped the table, where mobile users are able to access a 4G signal 69.7% of the time.
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home & Legal, said: “This latest research confirms that Scotland is lagging behind London when it comes to getting 4G signal. It’s clear mobile providers must do much more to improve their networks if they are to provide greater access to their customers.”
Stephen Gethins added: “Rural areas such as the East Neuk and Howe of Fife have for a long time lost out to more urban areas due to poor infrastructure and weak connectivity. This is why the UK Government needs to show more ambition when it comes to developing strategies for the future.
“A key way this can be achieved is by ensuring that future technology licences specify that rural communities must be prioritised. It is not good enough to only take into account the technology mobile connectivity that is currently available.
“The UK Government must plan for the next big development and the technologies that are about to come on stream.”
“The SNP Scottish Government has been taking a lead in developing connectivity – and Westminster should follow their example and work with providers to help improve coverage.”