Davidson renews mobile phone plea

SCOTTISH Borders Council’s executive member for economic development has repeated calls for watchdog body Ofcom to press mobile phone operators to extend their coverage.

Vicky Davidson was reacting to news that the media regulator plans to auction off fourth-generation spectrum which should boost mobile phone internet and download speeds in the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys, where many areas have no coverage.

Operators who buy in the sale will have to extend their mobile reception to 95 per cent of the UK population – which should improve rural reception, according to Ms Davidson.

She said: “I wrote to Secretary of State Michael Moore some time ago about setting conditions on the sale of the spectrum to help rural areas, and Ettrick and Yarrow Community Council lobbied for the Scottish Parliament’s support on this as part of our submission to the petitions committee on improving mobile coverage.

“Only 87 per cent of the Scottish population can get basic mobile reception (2G) and only 66 per cent have mobile internet reception (3G), so there is a great deal of room for improvement.

“Ofcom will need to work hard to ensure operators extend coverage beyond their existing network of masts.”

Mr Moore said: “The lack of mobile and internet coverage in the Borders is a constant frustration for people and businesses, and I have been campaigning on these issues for many years.

“I welcome Ofcom’s decision to auction off this spectrum and the conditions that they have promised to put in place to ensure that people in rural areas do not lose out on the new service.

“I will be keeping an eye on the auction in 2012 and I will want to see rural areas getting the best deal possible from the new spectrum.

“I welcome Ofcom’s emphasis on these areas and I am looking forward to Borderers benefiting from improved mobile phone coverage and quicker download speeds as a result.”