O2 deploys 4G in an additional 800 Scottish locations

James Pearce
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Telefónica UK has used helicopters and off-road vehicles to provide 4G coverage in remote areas of Scotland as part of a major expansion in 2017

O2 has deployed 4G services to over 800 towns and villages in Scotland this year, using helicopters and off-road vehicles to deploy masts connecting some of the most remote regions in the UK.

Telefonica’s UK division has deployed new masts I rural locations around Inverness, urban Aberdeen and even on the UK’s largest mountain, Ben Nevis, as it looks to connect remote and challenging parts of Scotland.

In Aberdeen city centre, O2 partnered with the Wireless Infrastructure Group to install what it claims is the UK’s first fibre connected small cell network. The cells are positioned on street lights, boosting 4G connection speeds and capacity.

O2 also deployed a new mast at Fort William, known as the gateway to Ben Nevis, bringing 4G to customers in the area. The operator also unveiled plans to install another mast further up the mountain before the end of the year.

Derek McManus, chief operating officer at O2, said: “Of all the ingredients that keep our economy and society moving, arguably top of the list is mobile. Mobile motors our modern world. The need for 4G connectivity is an integral part of modern daily life. A good connection can make all the difference to how we communicate with each other as individuals and it is a key factor to the success of local businesses. 

“At O2 we are constantly challenging ourselves to develop and deploy new technology to deliver better connectivity for our customers across Scotland regardless of landscape or weather conditions.”

O2 said it currently invests more than £2 million every day to boost its 2G, 3G, and 4G coverage. Its 4G network now covers 98% of the UK outdoor population, the operator added.

In addition, O2 has installed 85 new generators in some of the most isolated and hard to reach locations across the country, in an effort to reduce down-time caused by power cuts, which often occur because of adverse weather conditions.

The move is being backed by Scottish authorities. Connectivity secretary Fergus Ewing said: “High quality mobile communications for people across Scotland is a priority for the Scottish Government.  Our mobile action plan sets out a clear commitment to working with the mobile industry to deliver improved mobile coverage in Scotland. 

“Today’s announcement is an example of the substantial private sector investment in mobile rollout currently taking place in Scotland and represents an important step towards filling mobile coverage gaps across the country, connecting Scotland’s so-called ‘not spots’ to a fast and reliable mobile internet connection. I am delighted that more businesses and consumers across the country can now take advantage of the benefits of 4G.”