Mobile phone providers say improvements are being made to network coverage in Scotland

Citizens Advice found three of the four largest mobile phone providers - Vodafone, EE and Three - continued to charge customers extra for a handset after it had been paid off as part of their fixed deal. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

MOBILE network providers have insisted rapid improvements are being made to coverage in Scotland.

Representatives from EE, Three UK, Vodafone and O2 were giving evidence to Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee as it continues its investigation into digital connectivity.

Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report found that mobile voice services from all four operators now cover 87% of premises in Scotland.

However it found too many people still struggle to get a sufficiently strong signal – particularly in rural areas and on roads and railways.

Meanwhile, geographic 4G coverage, where reception is available from all four mobile operators, is only available across 17% of Scotland’s landmass.

For calls and text messaging, 38% of Scotland’s geography does not receive a signal from all four operators.

Richard Wainer, head of public affairs at EE, said the report did not reflect recent improvements.

“The data from Connected Nations was in taken in June last year and published in December last year,” he said.

“From an EE perspective, the pace of improvement is quite significant.

“Within that six months we built over 50 new sites in Scotland and upgraded over 350 existing sites, so the progress is rapid.”

Simon Miller, deputy head of public affairs at Three UK, said the firm had “invested significantly”.

“I can certainly assure you that Three’s network is much bigger now than was recorded there.”

He added: “The key issue that we all face is the around the inherent costs in delivering to challenging geography and topography.”

Paul James, head of public affairs at O2, said the firm had upgraded or built over 800 sites in Scotland over the last year, and was looking at upgrading a further 150 sites to 4G this year.

“There is significant progress going on,” he told the committee.