An Oxnam resident has pleaded with politicians to focus on bringing mobile signals to rural areas before bothering about broadband.
Mike Pedersen, pictured, who lives in the village near Jedburgh, says it can only be desc ribed as a “black hole” when it comes to getting a signal on his mobile phone – and has urged the powers that be to provide a new telecommunications mast.
He said: “Having lived in the Borders for 20 years, and now a retired physicist, I have decided it is time to examine the communications in the Borders.
“It is shocking. There is no signal in Oxnam. But lots of people live there.
“We have had years of BT and the politicians waffling on about getting broadband to remote areas. They need to wake up, we are not remote ... we just need a phone signal.
“Over the last few years, I have obtained better phone signals in the Arctic Circle, the remote regions of Patagonia, and the Western Australian desert.
“To be honest it is embarrassing when we have friends stop over.
“Can we have a mast, please?”
Mr Pederen’s comments came in the week that mobile phone operators were urged to make better use of existing infrastructure in order to boost mobile signal in the Borders.
The issue has been raised by Upper Liddesdale & Hermitage Community Council. While BT-owned EE has recently installed its own masts in the area, the emergency service masts – one at Singdean on the Hobkirk to Newcastleton road and one at Powisholm, just north of Newcastleton – are not being used by any mobile provider.
John Lamont MP has written to mobile phone operators to urge them to make use of these ready-made masts.
He said: “I understand that mobile phone operators are sometimes reluctant to make use of existing masts because of the costs associated.
“However, it is hugely frustrating for residents to be putting up with poor mobile signal in places where they see these masts are already up.
“There is a simple fix for sorting out these mobile phone black spots and that is for us to make better use of existing facilities, be that publicly owned buildings or masts already in place.
“As with broadband, residents in many rural parts of the Borders are paying the same as everyone else for a much poorer service. Mobile phone operators need to work much faster to sort this unfairness out.”
Robert Scott, vice-chairman of Upper Liddesdale & Hermitage Community Council, added: “A lack of mobile phone signal has been a huge issue for many communities in my area.
“Having mobile phone and broadband coverage is a necessity for businesses in the area and a lack of signal will be putting people off moving here.
“Having a mobile signal for the safety of people working on rural farms and in forestry is also really important.
“It is surely good practice for mobile phone providers make sure there is a signal especially where there are already mobile masts constructed to provide the signal to the rural areas rather than just the more densely populated areas.”