Labour’s general election candidate for Argyll and Bute has called on the major mobile phone operators to take up an offer to share masts and base stations in the area with the UK’s emergency services network.
Mary Galbraith has written to all four major mobile companies in the UK asking them to share infrastructure with the Airwave network, following what she describes as “a period of constructive discussion” with mobile network operators.
The Airwave network is used by police, fire and ambulance services across the UK, providing officers and staff with communications handsets, vehicle units and mobile services - all of which pay usage fees which have helped finance the existing infrastructure.
“Because it’s a vitally important network, providing virtually one hundred per cent coverage to the emergency services, Airwave masts and base stations are already in all the right places,” Ms Galbraith said.
“They have invested heavily in the area, surveying sites, obtaining planning permission, putting in place road access and power supplies.
“I’ve been in discussion with Airwave and have received confirmation that their base stations and masts can be shared with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. At only relatively small cost to the mobile phone companies for their own energy usage, and available with immediate effect. So they have no excuses – there is nothing to stop mobile phone companies improving transmission in the area now.
“I’m determined that people across Argyll and Bute get access to 21st century technologies, and that living and working here should not put people at a disadvantage.
“Local businesses, such as haulage companies, tell me the intermittent mobile coverage is both inconvenient and costly. There are safety considerations too, and mobile workers like doctors, nurses and care staff would also benefit from mobile access when they’re on home visits.
“Whether you’re a teenager sharing photos with friends on Facebook, or a visitor reviewing a restaurant on Tripadvisor, it’s important that we don’t exclude people in Argyll and Bute through lack of mobile digital technologies.
“Ultimately, we all want to encourage young people to stay here, or return after their studies. And reliable mobile services that cover the whole area are part of the package that we need to reinvigorate our communities and sustain our population.”