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Connectivity pledge

New masts to tackle rural mobile ‘notspots’

Phone mast

Masts will erected in a number of locations (pic: Terry Murden)

Rural businesses are promised better mobile connections after the government announced an additional £3.75 million investment in new masts.

Nine have been earmarked for the Scottish Borders, Highlands, Angus and island communities, along with three to replace masts removed earlier this year.

Marking the latest phase of the Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI) infrastructure programme, the masts will provide more rural homes and businesses with 4G mobile connectivity for the first time.

It takes the total funding package for the programme, being delivered by WHP Telecoms, to £28.75 million.

Kate Forbes new

Kate Forbes: connectivity (pic: Terry Murden)

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “Digital connectivity is crucial to Scotland’s economic recovery and this latest investment in rural areas furthers our commitment to tackle the nation’s mobile ‘notspots’

“Extending the programme’s reach brings lasting economic, social and environmental benefits. As we move out of lockdown, increased mobile connectivity will help bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas, allowing people to work more flexibly and sustainably while keeping communities safe and connected.

“This in turn advances the Scottish Government’s wider green development goals in the run up to COP26 in November.”

Martyn Cheyne, WHP’s strategic development director, said: “WHP welcomes confirmation of this additional funding and this is excellent news.

“By extending the programme’s reach into more communities it will bring life enhancing connectivity to residents and businesses.

“It is also a sound endorsement of the programme’s success to date, which WHP is pleased to have played a part in, and has paved the way for the Shared Rural Network.”

Rural 5G hub

The Crichton, a business and academic campus in Dumfries, will host Scotland’s first rural 5G connectivity hub.

The hub will bring together technological expertise, academic research and local businesses in order to accelerate the potential of 5G to transform communities and economies throughout the south of Scotland.

The S5GConnect Dumfries hub, part of the S5GConnect programme, is being equipped with a dedicated 5G network with advanced capabilities including a testbed that will enable SMEs to test products, services and solutions.


The projects include the development of agritech solutions, where sensors and drones are used to measure crop growth, animal behaviour and wellness; and remote healthcare initiatives including the use of 5G technology to support assisted living.

This will mark the third S5GConnect hub, following the establishment of hubs in Forth Valley and Dundee. 

The choice of Dumfries for the first rural hub of the Scottish Government funded £4 million programme to establish a network of 5G innovation hubs to accelerate 5G across the country, reflects the longstanding commitment to deliver enhanced connectivity across all areas of Scotland. 

Created by the Scotland 5G Centre, the national centre for encouraging use of 5G, the S5GConnect programme is seen as a catalyst that will increase awareness about 5G and lead to the development of new products, services and applications.

A dedicated team has been recruited for the S5GConnect hub at The Crichton to work with local partners and businesses.

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