Vodafone says it will provide 5G Standalone (5G SA) technology to 89% of Scotland by 2034 following its proposed merger with Three UK.

Andrew Wooden

March 20, 2024

3 Min Read

Scotland stands to gain £9 billion in productivity benefits by 2030 from the rollout of 5G SA technology, Vodafone told a reception at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood.

The operator also said it will exceed the UK Government’s Shared Rural Network minimum target of bringing 4G to 74% of Scotland’s geography, and instead bring it to over 89% by 2027. A merged Vodafone and Three would then upgrade the network to 5G Standalone by 2034, the firm said.

It also cited some of its research which claims that 91% of Scotland’s rural areas are total 5G not-spots, compared to 20% of urban areas. Vodafone also identified that a rural area in Scotland is 62% more likely to have no 5G at all, compared to a rural area in England.

As well as the obvious benefit of Scottish customers being bale to get signal, a big 5G SA rollout will bring benefits to healthcare, growth in rural economies, and wind power, claims the operator.

“Connectivity is vital for everyone – whatever their postcode – and this new research reveals the extent to which people in rural Scotland are experiencing digital exclusion,” said Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone UK. “Evidently, we need to accelerate the rollout of 5G infrastructure to all of Scotland. With our proposed merger with Three UK, we would be able to bring 5G SA to over 89% of the Scottish landmass by 2034, ensuring rural Scotland is not left behind.”

Rachael Hamilton, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands added: “I was delighted to sponsor Vodafone UK’s Digital Society event in the Scottish Parliament. Sadly, there is a digital divide between urban and rural areas in Scotland, with 42% of rural properties in 5G total not spots. I was therefore pleased to hear about Vodafone UK’s plans to roll out a 5G network across Scotland. This would deliver significant benefits and opportunities for people, communities and businesses in rural areas, such as in my constituency in the Borders.”

As with any comms that Vodafone puts out now, this is all at least partly in service of reminding everyone why its proposed merger with Three should be allowed to go through, but the Shared Rural network scheme is a hot topic as well.

Yesterday DSIT put out a release boasting that the first of 86 upgraded 4G masts has been turned on in rural Wales, promising some improved coverage in the region.

The UK government set the goal of extending 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass by 2025, providing £500 million of public money to do so, while UK operators provide another £532 million to the pot.

There is a bit of controversy however as to the pace at which this is being achieved. In January, BT hit out at its UK mobile operator rivals over their likely inability to hit these targets, with Howard Watson, Chief Security and Networks Officer at the UK stating: "We've delivered these promises in the face of tough economic conditions, a global pandemic and a wide range of digital transformation within our own networks. Which is why it’s surprising to see those very same problems being used as an excuse by other networks for their slow progress.”

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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