On behalf of the Scottish Government, on 25th March Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown proudly announced that 4G Mobile Phone has been installed in Coll, the favourite island (which also enjoyed RET for four years in the “pilot” programme for most-favoured islands) . This new development sits nicely with Coll’s heavily subsidised freight service and no doubt we can shortly expect to see that their income tax has been abolished too. It will be remembered that Colonsay only receives a mobile service of any sort in fits and starts, and can frequently go for weeks without one.
The Government Press Release is so good that it is worth savouring in full:
“Ultrafast mobile network is live on the Isle of Coll. The inner Hebridean island has become the first off Scotland to have access to 2G, 3G and 4G telecommunications services.
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Keith Brown described the roll-out as “a massive breakthrough” which could “help transform the local economy”.
The switch-on – in partnership with Vodafone and community organisations – means local people, businesses and the wider community can have faster and more reliable mobile access, ultimately boosting business opportunities for islanders.
Mr Brown said:
“The Isle of Coll project is a great example of what can be achieved when a community has the ambition and the commitment to making such a development work.
“A state-of-the-art telecoms mast – funded by the Scottish Government as part of our Demonstrating Digital programme, which supports our digital world class 2020 vision – allows communities and businesses on Coll to access mobile services for the first time.
“It’s very encouraging to see a local community and a service provider – in this case Vodafone – work with the government to develop an innovative solution for an area that is otherwise unlikely to receive mobile coverage.
“This community ownership model provides a template that has the potential to be adopted in other remote areas across the country, improving connectivity to Scotland’s islands and rural towns and villages.”
Vodafone UK Chief Technology Officer Jorge Fernandes added:
“Our partnership with the Scottish Government and the local community is the ideal business model to be able to deliver ultra-fast 4G mobile communications to remote locations, such as the Isle of Coll.
“Thanks to the enormous effort of our engineers, we can now give islanders high-speed mobile data access to services that will enable greater economic development and improved social inclusion. This initiative is real evidence of what we can achieve together, when the required fixed connection is in place to link our 4G network in remote places to the national fixed line infrastructure.”
Lavinia MacLean-Bristol, Chair of Development Coll, said:
“The ability to communicate has a real impact on families and businesses within small, remote communities such as ours and this project will help to make a big difference.”
Derek Graham, Programme Director with the Demonstrating Digital team at Scottish Futures Trusty, stated:
“This is a great example of what can be achieved in a collaborative environment, allowing locals and visitors to the Island of Coll access to mobile and data services for the very first time. We very much look forward to seeing the many benefits that the introduction of mobile technology will have on the lives of those visiting, living and working on Coll.”
The project has resulted from a successful collaboration between the Scottish Government, Scottish Futures Trust, Vodafone, Mono Consultants, Wireless Infrastructure Group and the local community.
The Coll project is the first of several pilots that the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust will use to evaluate the potential for this approach to be replicated to address mobile not-spots in other remote communities in the future.
This pioneering project demonstrates community ownership of telecoms infrastructure. Development Coll, a local community trust established to generate income through local enterprise is taking ownership of the mobile mast and has assumed responsibility for its maintenance.”