Island mobile connectivity in Shetland has been boosted by the arrival of new 4G masts.

Virgin Media O2 has made a multi-million pound investment to improve connectivity for rural communities on the island.

Part of the £1bn Shared Rural Network programme, the telecoms giant has committed to ither build or upgrade a total of six masts over the next few months.

The new masts will provide much-needed improvements to 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services in the area where, until recently, large swathes of the islands have experienced little to no mobile signal from most mobile network operators. 

Currently, just 26 per cent of the Highlands and Islands benefits from 4G coverage from all four mobile network operators – Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, EE and Three. This will more than double to 68 per cent after all Shared Rural Network upgrades have been delivered.

The upgrades will provide residents, businesses and visitors to the Shetland Islands with faster and more reliable mobile connectivity than ever before, making it easier to access online services, work and stay connected with friends and family, while also offering them a greater choice of mobile provider.

Beatrice Wishart, the MSP for Shetland, said: “Modern life is increasingly dependent on good digital connectivity, and I believe that every area of the UK should have access to it. Island communities such as Shetland deserve and require quality mobile connectivity, so I welcome Virgin Media O2’s work to bring that to them.”

“It is fantastic to see how the company is bringing mobile coverage to a ‘not spot’ area benefitting the local community which will have a positive impact for businesses, residents, and visitors. Virgin Media O2 is setting an example of how to properly invest in rural networks and long may it continue.”

Paul Kells, director of network, strategy and engineering at Virgin Media O2, said: “Our Shared Rural Network rollout is making a real, tangible difference to people’s lives. We’re continuing to play our part in bringing reliable 4G coverage to more rural locations across Britain and helping to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban communities.

“Rural Scotland is one of the places benefitting most from our investment, with new and upgraded masts already significantly improving the region’s mobile coverage. We are committed to continuing this rollout and bringing reliable mobile connectivity to more rural areas throughout 2024 and beyond.”

Alastair Davidson, director of strategy and regulation at WIG, said: “Wireless Infrastructure Group are proud to deploy this site with VirginMedia O2 as part of the Shared Rural Network in Shetland. It’s a great example of how we deploy new multi-operator wireless infrastructure to hard-to-reach communities and adds to our portfolio of more than 3,000 towers across the UK.”