• Customers and businesses across rural Scotland set to benefit from connectivity upgrades delivered through the Shared Rural Network (SRN)
  • The SRN – a £1bn joint initiative between mobile network operators and the government – will address the digital divide by improving the reliability of 4G coverage in the areas that need it most
  • In the south of Scotland, coverage from all four operators – Virgin Media O2, Three, EE and Vodafone – will rise to a minimum of 81%, up from 55%
  • John Lamont, the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, welcomed the investment during a visit to a Virgin Media O2 mast in the Scottish Borders

8 February 2023: John Lamont MP has welcomed the significant investment being made to upgrade connectivity throughout rural parts of Scotland during a visit to an existing Virgin Media O2 mast in the Scottish Borders.

As part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme, new masts will be built in the south of Scotland, while existing masts will also be upgraded. These network improvements will transform mobile coverage for individuals and businesses in the region, boost choice and productivity, and ensure customers are better connected than ever before.

By June 2024, 81% of the south of Scotland will have 4G coverage from all four operators, compared with 55% before the SRN was launched. Meanwhile, 74% of Scotland overall will have 4G coverage from all four operators – up from 44%.

John Lamont MP recently visited a mast in Denholm, a village in his constituency, to understand more about the works underway. The mast was first built several years ago for 2G mobile services and has recently been upgraded for 4G capability, providing customers with faster and more reliable connectivity fit for today’s needs.

John Lamont MP said: “This significant investment to upgrade the mobile network is fantastic news for people across the Scottish Borders. These new masts will boost connectivity and help more people to get better mobile coverage.

“The Shared Rural Network is a great UK initiative that will transform mobile coverage for local people and businesses.”

Bruce Ferguson, Mobile Network Delivery Manager at Virgin Media O2, said: “We’re continuing to deliver on our mission to upgrade the UK, investing billions of pounds in our networks to enhance the services we offer our customers – especially in rural areas where improvements are desperately needed.

“Through the Shared Rural Network, we’re working closely with government and industry to bridge the digital divide and transform connectivity for local businesses, residents and tourists in rural areas, allowing them to get online more easily than ever before. With more sites being upgraded and built throughout the year, people in rural Scotland will soon benefit from greatly improved mobile services.”


Notes to editors


  • The Shared Rural Network was developed by the UK’s four mobile network operators (VMO2, EE, Three and Vodafone) and Government, with the aim of improving rural connectivity.
  • By upgrading existing networks and working together on shared infrastructure and new sites, the MNOs and Government will transform mobile coverage in rural areas. Individually, each operator will reach 90% geographic coverage, which will result in 84% of the UK having 4G coverage from all four operators, increasing choice and boosting productivity in rural areas. Meanwhile, 95% of the UK will have 4G coverage from at least one MNO.
  • To deliver the programme, MNOs will invest a total of £532m to eliminate the majority of ‘partial not-spots’ – areas which receive coverage from at least one, but not all, operators. The UK Government will provide a further £500m to build new masts to eliminate ‘total not-spots’ – hard to reach areas where there is currently no coverage at all.
  • SRN is a sustainable approach to the challenge of delivering rural mobile coverage. The programme will transform 4G coverage without duplicating infrastructure, minimising the impact on our countryside.
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