Concerns have been raised over patchy mobile network coverage in Fife and the impact poor connectivity is having on the region’s businesses.
Ofcom data on mobile coverage has revealed a number of gaps throughout Fife, and a study by the RAC Foundation has revealed nearly 10 per cent of the region’s road network – 157 miles – is in ‘partial not-spots’, not having coverage from all four mobile network operators.
Councillor Lesley Laird, Fife Council’s depute leader and spokesperson for economy and planning, has written to Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy & Tourism, calling for information on the Scottish Government’s plans to address mobile ‘not-spots’ and ‘partial not-spots’ in Fife, and for action on improved connectivity to further boost business growth.
She said: “Mobile broadband needs to be urgently improved if we are to achieve our aim of making Fife the best place to do business.
“Patchy mobile signals continue to affect users across Fife, and unreliable mobile coverage is one of the biggest issues affecting Fife’s businesses, as well as residents.
“It was hoped the lack of mobile coverage would be addressed in part by Broadband Delivery, the UK’s mobile infrastructure project.
“Unfortunately, this project has failed to meet its targets, with only three new sites being confirmed in Scotland – none of which are in Fife.
“Fife’s Chamber of Commerce and our Federation of Small Businesses have raised concerns around poor mobile coverage, particularly the coverage of Fife’s road network.
“Fife has one of the largest roads networks of any Scottish local authority covering a significant rural area where phone signal is critical in the event of emergencies as well as general business operations.”
Through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme and the Community Broadband Scotland project in north east Fife, the council is aiming to ensure that businesses, both rural and urban, have access to the best fixed line connectivity possible.
Fife Council and the Fife Economy Partnership say they have had significant success in attracting new businesses to the region, in part due to improvements to services, such as reducing processing times for major planning applications and expanding online access to business services.
Cllr Laird added: “Mobile connectivity is necessary for businesses to succeed. Good broadband and mobile phone coverage aren’t just a convenience these days – they’re an absolute economic necessity. They can really be a lifeline, and businesses need to know that they will be well connected before they invest.”