A grandmother in the Out Skerries in Shetland is doing her Christmas shopping online for the first time due to a newly installed 4G mast.
Alice Arthur, 63, who lives on the remote island of around just 70 people, has benefitted from the new EE mast as part of the Scottish Government’s £28.75 million Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI) programme.
Previously, the island resident would have to make a six-hour round trip by boat, bus and foot to do her Christmas shopping in Lerwick on the Shetland mainland.
Due to their now being 4G mobile coverage on the island, the grandmother of seven – ranging from five to 24-years-old – said that the new mobile internet access has “opened up a whole new world” for her.
Buying gifts is never easy
Mrs Arthur said: “Gift buying for my grandkids was never easy as I was only able to choose from what was available on the Shetland mainland – and without many options to choose from, I was always worried that some of what I found wouldn’t be very exciting to them.
“But now, with this new connectivity, there’s just so much choice. I can find such a wide range of toys and clothing at good prices and have them delivered right to my door. It’s made things so much easier.”
The programme, which also involves Cellnex UK, Scottish Futures Trust and WHP Telecoms, is delivering 4G infrastructure and connectivity to rural and island communities across Scotland.
This is helping communities which previously had no or extremely limited mobile coverage, while “respecting the rural landscape” of these areas.
EE has recently activated another 4G mast as part of the infrastructure upgrade on the hard-to-reach island of Foula, which is also part of Shetland.
The 4G connectivity by EE is now available on 51 of the new 55 S4GI mobile masts across Scotland.
Innovation minister Richard Lochhead said: “Thanks to our £28.75m S4GI programme we’ve brought 4G to these Shetland islands, showing our commitment to providing future-proofed connectivity to rural and island communities.
“These phone masts mean residents, businesses and visitors in these communities can work, communicate and access services more efficiently.”
‘Transform the everyday lives of people in rural communities’
BT Group chief networks officer Greg McCall added: “Alice’s story is a powerful reminder of how reliable 4G connectivity can transform the everyday lives of people in rural communities, especially those living in some of the UK’s most isolated areas.
“These new 4G sites provide residents with fast and reliable access to online services.
“Together with the Scottish Government and our industry partners, we are helping close the UK’s digital divide and deliver the connectivity boost countryside communities can rely on.”