Scottish Borders rural mobile 'not spot' plea made

Image caption,
People from rural parts of the Borders want action take to tackle mobile phone 'not spots'

Concerns about the lack of mobile phone coverage in remote parts of the Borders have been taken to the Scottish Parliament.

Daphne Jackson of Ettrick and Yarrow Community Council spoke at a session of Holyrood's petitions committee.

She told MSPs that so-called "not spots", with no signal, were a key concern in areas such as the Borders.

However, she said companies appeared to be reluctant to take steps to try to address the issue.

"We welcome the work being carried out by Ofcom who have made mobile 'not spots' one of their 2010/11 annual plan priorities," she said.

"According to them Scotland has the greatest scale of complete 'not spots' in the UK, with 87% population coverage and only 64% geographical coverage.

"This means that 13% of the Scottish population has no 2G coverage and, according to Ofcom, 2G operators have no significant plans to extend their coverage."

Selkirkshire councillor Vicky Davidson told the committee there was a lack of research into the economic disadvantages to rural areas without mobile phone coverage.

"It is very hard to diversify your business if you are a farmer, for instance, and you have to keep going back into the house to answer the phone," she said.

"I think it would be good if there was more research done on that and it would then help to make the case for public subsidy for rural areas."

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