A helicopter has helped bring improved 4G coverage to the island of Islay.
Virgin Media O2 has used a helicopter to deliver new 4G masts to the remote island, which has been welcomed by Jenni Minto, the MSP for Argyll and Bute, and councillor Liz McCabe, policy lead for islands and business development at Argyll and Bute Council, during a visit to the site.
As part of its commitment to the £1bn Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme, Virgin Media O2 will be building six new partial not-spot masts on the island.
Argyll and Bute is one of the areas that will benefit most from SRN upgrades, with over 60 sites set to be built in the area that will boost 4G coverage across the region by 25%.
During a visit to one of the company’s new 4G masts on the island, the MP and councillor were updated on Virgin Media O2’s progress in building more than 60 sites in Argyll and Bute as part of the Shared Rural Network Programme.
Thanks to upgrade works under way, the region is set to benefit from a complete transformation in mobile connectivity which will tackle countless not-spots and areas of patchy signal.
Islay is the latest part of Argyll and Bute to receive a mobile boost and represents Virgin Media O2’s first new island mast as part of the upgrade programme.
These new upgrades will provide residents, as well as businesses and visitors to the area, with faster and more reliable mobile connectivity than ever before, making it easier to access online services and stay connected with friends and family, while also offering them a greater choice of provider.
Currently, just 60% of Argyll and Bute benefits from 4G coverage from all four mobile network operators – Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, EE and Three. This will increase by 25% after all Shared Rural Network upgrades have been delivered.
Minto said: “I welcome Virgin Media O2’s investment in Argyll and Bute that will help ensure that my constituents have access to reliable mobile connectivity. For too long, many rural areas like this one have been at a disadvantage when it comes to connectivity.
“It is fantastic to see how the company is bringing mobile coverage to the beautiful island of Islay, which will have a positive impact for the businesses, residents, and visitors to the area. I believe that Virgin Media O2 is really setting an example of how to properly invest in rural networks.”
Councillor McCabe add: “It is fantastic to see the investment that is being made by Virgin Media O2, bringing much needed rural mobile connectivity to Argyll and Bute as part of the Shared Rural Network programme.
“Argyll and Bute has languished behind other areas due to our geography and logistical challenges, including 22 inhabited islands. However, over the last number of years significant investment has been made and we have seen major coverage improvements. The Shared Rural Network programme will enhance this further with multiple operator coverage improvements to many parts of our remote rural areas.”
Paul Kells, director of network, strategy and engineering at Virgin Media O2, said: “The industry’s Shared Rural Network initiative is making a real, tangible difference to people’s lives. At Virgin Media O2, we are committed to playing our part in bringing reliable 4G coverage to rural locations all over Britain to help bridge the digital divide between rural and urban communities.
“Many rural parts of Scotland are already benefiting from our rollout of new and upgraded masts, and nowhere will benefit more from our investment than the Argyll and Bute area, where we are working to upgrade more than 60 sites as part of our commitment to the Shared Rural Network programme.”
The Islay visit took place just months after Virgin Media O2 announced it had reached a landmark 50th Shared Rural Network site, bringing reliable 4G coverage to an area approximately the size of Lanarkshire.
The company has also secured planning consent for works at a further 100 sites, meaning work can begin in even more communities in the near future.
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