Rural village at forefront of 3G scheme

Picture by JANE BARLOW. 8th March 2012. 'A Question of Independence: How will the Referendum work?' was the title of The Scotsman Conferences Debate held at The Scotsman offices in Edinburgh. Pictured is Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore.
Picture by JANE BARLOW. 8th March 2012. 'A Question of Independence: How will the Referendum work?' was the title of The Scotsman Conferences Debate held at The Scotsman offices in Edinburgh. Pictured is Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore.

NEWCASTLETON is the first place in Scotland to trial a community-led network which has brought 3G mobile phone coverage to the village.

Locals joined with Borders MP Michael Moore on Friday to launch the pilot scheme, which has the backing of the area’s businesses.

Barbara Elborn, a partner in NSC, a local business operating self-catering properties, said: “Newcastleton is a beautiful, yet remote, idyll which increasingly relies on visitors to help sustain our local economy.

“Visitors love coming, but in the past our connectivity has let us down. Everyone expects to be in touch 24/7, and this is particularly true of our visitors.

“Today is huge for our community, for our businesses and for our visitors. We can now compete with other destinations on a more level playing field.”

The scheme, using “open femto” technology, came about after Mr Moore recommended the village for the pilot programme.

Vodafone, working with the local community, has now installed small units on properties around the village which use existing broadband services to deliver a 3G signal.

Mr Moore said: “Here in the Borders, poor mobile phone signal is a huge issue for individuals and businesses so projects like these are a step towards improving the service local people receive.

“I was extremely pleased when Newcastleton was selected for the trial.”

He added: “As a result of the femto technology, I am glad that local Vodafone customers in Newcastleton will receive better mobile phone signals and I will continue to campaign for similar such investments across the Borders to deliver a better service for everyone.”

Christian Cull of Vodafone UK said: “Newcastleton has shown how partnership is the answer to not-spot problems.”

He added: “Where Newcastleton leads, others can follow – across Scotland and beyond.”