Twelve ‘not-spot’ areas with poor mobile reception in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders have been connected to new infrastructure thanks to a government-backed 4G ‘infill’ programme.

Corrie Common (Dumfriesshire), Ellemford (Duns), Sourhope (Kelso) and Deanburnhaugh (Hawick) are the latest communities in the South of Scotland to get connected to 4G thanks to the Scottish Government’s SG4I scheme.

The £28.75m S4GI programme is delivering 4G mobile coverage to 55 rural locations across Scotland. The programme is delivered in partnership with WHP Telecoms and Scottish Futures Trust.

As infrastructure provider for the programme, WHP Telecoms is deploying the infrastructure in these areas, as well as running a ‘community benefit fund’ to allow communities to fully realise the potential of their new 4G connectivity. 

Scottish Government Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead said: “These masts are providing vital mobile connectivity to communities, businesses and visitors in areas of the South of Scotland where economic challenges make investment by the telecoms industry unlikely.

“The S4GI programme is making improvements to people’s lives by enabling remote working, access to public services or online shopping and maintaining connections with friends and family.

“Small businesses also benefit from this future-proofed digital connectivity through improved efficiency and productivity.”

Martyn Cheyne, WHP group chief strategic officer, said: “WHP Telecoms is pleased that our shareable structures are now facilitating reliable coverage and choice to many of the more remote communities across the South of Scotland.

“Digitally Levelling Up” these not-spots is transformational, unlocking the latent talent and creativity allowing businesses and communities to not just retain but also attract people to grow and thrive. Those of us in the telecoms industry are redoubling our efforts to meet the challenges ahead on the SRN (Shared Rural Network), as for every not-spot we have covered so far there are many more which still urgently require this life enhancing connectivity.”

The S4GI mast in Cairngarroch, Dumfries & Galloway, has provided much needed 4G coverage to the village and surrounding areas. For Steve and Sarah Austin, who own Stoneykirk Aviation Museum, it has proven transformational.

“Prior to the mast being installed, we didn’t have mobile phone coverage which left us feeling isolated and being left behind technically.” 

“We can now enjoy the freedom of going online, being able to make and receive calls, not afraid of missing any business calls, which is especially reassuring for our business.

“Having the mast allows our visitors to remain online during their visit and allows them to post pictures to friends, etc., on social media. It really enhanced the museum experience.”

The availability of 4G services has also been life-changing for the local community in Ettrick, Scottish Borders. Local resident Ogilvie Jackson said: “The Ettrick mast has been a fantastic help to build resilience in many ways. Our valley is prone to serious flooding and motorists have now been able to call for help when needed.

“Having a reliable connection in our area is so reassuring, especially when forestation and farming are our main employers. Tourism is important to our community so visitors such as hillwalkers feel safe should they need to call for assistance or go online.”