An MP has welcomed the ‘significant investment’ in upgrading mobile phone masts across rural Scotland as part of a £1bn UK-wide connectivity programme.

John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, visited the site of a 2G phone mast in in Denholm that has been upgraded to 4G – thanks to the Shared Rural Network programme.

The SRN is joint initiative between mobile network operators and the government and aims to close the digital divide by improving the reliability of 4G coverage in areas that need it most.

In the south of Scotland, coverage from all four operators – Virgin Media O2, Three, EE and Vodafone – will rise to a minimum of 81 per cent by June 2024, up from 55 per cent when the SRN was launched in March 2020.

Meanwhile, 74 per cent of Scotland overall will have 4G coverage from all four operators – up from 44 per cent.

In Denholm, the mast was first built several years ago for 2G mobile services and has recently been upgraded for 4G capability, providing customers with faster and more reliable connectivity fit for today’s needs.

John Lamont MP said: “This significant investment to upgrade the mobile network is fantastic news for people across the Scottish Borders. These new masts will boost connectivity and help more people to get better mobile coverage.

“The Shared Rural Network is a great UK initiative that will transform mobile coverage for local people and businesses.”

Bruce Ferguson, mobile network delivery manager at Virgin Media O2, said: “We’re continuing to deliver on our mission to upgrade the UK, investing billions of pounds in our networks to enhance the services we offer our customers – especially in rural areas where improvements are desperately needed.

“Through the Shared Rural Network, we’re working closely with government and industry to bridge the digital divide and transform connectivity for local businesses, residents and tourists in rural areas, allowing them to get online more easily than ever before. With more sites being upgraded and built throughout the year, people in rural Scotland will soon benefit from greatly improved mobile services.”