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SNP Consumer Affairs spokesperson, Patricia Gibson MP, has backed calls from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for the UK Government to improve Scotland’s poor mobile phone coverage.

Figures released by the UK regulator Ofcom show only 17% of Scotland’ has 4G mobile coverage, compared to 60% south of the Border. In more than a fifth of the country it remains impossible to make or receive a mobile phone call at all. In a third, people cannot access a mobile data service.

Representatives of the FSB gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster and are set to call for Scotland-specific coverage obligations to be attached to future mobile spectrum sales.

Patricia Gibson, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said:

“Sufficient mobile coverage for the whole of the UK, and particularly rural and island areas like those in North Ayrshire, should be a top priority. For too long, poor mobile phone coverage has gone unchecked and we need to see action to address this.

“The decision to offer mobile coverage in any given area is currently a commercial one for mobile network operators, is leaving huge swathes of Scotland with either a poor service, or no service at all. This impacts on local businesses, it impacts on tourism and it impacts on people’s everyday lives.

“While work is being undertaken to improve access to mobile voice and data services, it remains the case that less than half Scotland’s roads are covered by a mobile phone signal. It is imperative that these coverage blackspots are plugged to ensure the safety of those travelling for work and leisure and to aid the emergency services.

“As we are increasingly being told, society is changing and mobile services are vital for 21st century living. It is therefore unacceptable that so many communities are being left behind. If the UK Government cannot ensure delivery of an effective service, they should devolve the responsibility for mobile services to Scotland.”

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