February 20, 2020
By Gregor Cunningham, Marketing Manager
Improving digital connectivity in rural areas is seen as a critical element to assist economic development in these communities. The Scottish Government has committed £15 million of funding along with a further £10 million from the European Regional Development fund to address Scotland’s mobile ‘notspots’ – areas with no mobile coverage.
The Scottish 4G Infill Programme, managed by Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), has delivered its first 4G mast in New Luce, Wigtownshire, an area with no mobile coverage from any of the four major mobile operators.
FarrPoint assisted SFT map existing coverage in a number of identified rural communities with the help of the company’s extensive GIS and radio mapping expertise. From the detailed coverage mapping, Consultants discovered coverage gaps and how they related specifically to each of these communities. Further analysis pinpointed potential sites for masts that would make an optimal impact, covering the most premises and geographic area. FarrPoint’s support informed SFT’s procurement process for a third-party provider to implement the connectivity infrastructure - which WHP Telecoms was subsequently awarded.
The first mast is one of up to 24 planned over the next two years, with further mast sites under consideration.
Vodafone is now providing 4G, 3G and 2G services from the new mast in New Luce. EE is expected to do so later this year, and will provide service from a majority of sites in the programme.
Connectivity Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
“While telecommunications is a responsibility of UK ministers, improving mobile coverage is vital to achieving the Scottish Government’s ambition to make sure everyone in Scotland has access to high-speed, reliable coverage.
“People in New Luce are the first to benefit but we hope that, like Wigtownshire, many more remote and rural parts of Scotland and Scotland’s islands will soon enjoy improved, cost-effective connectivity as a result of the Scottish Government’s work with industry and other partners, and our investment in the £25 million S4GI Programme.”
FarrPoint is committed to improving rural connectivity not only in Scotland and the UK but also in Canada, where the business has opened its latest subsidiary. The similarly varied topography and large number of rural communities in Canada mirrors the challenges experienced in the UK. FarrPoint’s experience providing connectivity to the most remote places in the UK positions the business well to make a difference in Canada.
FarrPoint was also recently awarded a new 4-year contract to support Scottish Futures Trust in the delivery of keys areas of the Scottish Government’s 5G strategy. With the Scottish Government’s aspirations for Scotland to be at the forefront of the 5G revolution, there is great potential to enable ground-breaking advances in technology uptake in rural communities. FarrPoint has been working on key pilots as well as researching the real potential for IoT to help develop economic activity and improve delivery of public services in rural communities. In addition, the organisation has developed an innovative Mobile Coverage Mapper that has provided a number of local authority clients with the ability to receive an independent view of the true coverage provided by the major mobile operators.
The organisation is growing from strength to strength with a firm focus on delivering the best digital connectivity possible for both urban centres and the most rural geographies.
• Advised on over £2bn invested in digital connectivity
• Enabled Superfast Broadband in 250 towns & villages across the Highlands & Islands
• Delivered next-generation access to 1 in 4 Scottish homes (750,000 properties)
• Advised on the UK’s first analogue to digital Telecare solution - 175,000 users across Scotland