4G mast means gran on remote island can Christmas shop online for first time

5 December 2023, 10:24

Alice Arthur
Alice Arthur. Picture: PA

Alice Arthur, 63, said mobile internet access means she does not have to make a six-hour round trip to buy presents.

A grandmother on a remote island is able to shop online for Christmas for the first time, saving herself a six-hour round trip, thanks to a new 4G mast.

Alice Arthur, 63, said mobile internet access has “opened up a whole new world” as she shops for her seven grandchildren this festive season.

Mrs Arthur lives on Bruray, one of the Out Skerries islands which are the easternmost part of Shetland.

She previously had to make a lengthy trip to Lerwick, on mainland Shetland, to do her Christmas shopping, but can now shop online thanks to an EE 4G mast installed on the island as part of the Scottish Government’s 4G Infill programme.

4G mast
The mast has been installed in the Out Skerries (WHP Telecoms/PA)

Mrs Arthur, whose grandchildren are aged between five and 24, 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 £28.75 million Scottish 4G Infill programme (S4GI) is delivering 4G infrastructure and connectivity to rural and island communities across Scotland, which previously had no or extremely limited mobile coverage, while respecting the rural landscape.

Scottish innovation minister Richard Lochhead said: “Thanks to our £28.75 million 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.

“This is about creating opportunities for businesses, improving daily life and ensuring no-one – even the hardest to reach – is left behind in the digital era.”

In addition to the mast in the Out Skerries, EE has recently activated a 4G mast as part of the S4GI programme on the island of Foula, Shetland.

Through EE’s partnerships with the Scottish Government, WHP Telecoms, Cellnex UK and Scottish Futures Trust, EE 4G connectivity is now available on 51 of 55 S4GI mobile masts across Scotland.

Greg McCall, chief networks officer at BT Group, said: “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 like banking, healthcare, and shopping, while empowering rural Scottish businesses to take mobile payments and offer new digital experiences.

“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.”

By Press Association

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