Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has tabled a parliamentary question regarding 4G mobile phone coverage.

The UK Government announced a deal in December that will deliver 90% geographic coverage from each mobile operator by 2017.  Edward Vaizey MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in a previous answer to Angus MacNeil MP, indicated that there would be 90% mobile phone coverage for 4G.   Mr MacNeil asked when this coverage will apply to our islands.

Due to the high data speeds of 4G, it could also be a useful tool for accessing the internet as the speeds can be 5 to 6 times higher than the current broadband speed available domestically.

Commenting Angus MacNeil:

“The UK Government has ambitious targets of 90% geographical coverage for 4G.  I am anxious that this 90% should apply to the Western Isles also, particularly as 2G and 3G failed to achieve anything close to 90% geographical coverage.  In the recent storms we saw just how important mobile phone coverage is, particularly when many people were unable to use their landlines following the lightning.

“With the arrival of the high speed fibre there is the potential for the islands to have a 4G network but the UK Government has to be aware the mobile phone market, as they currently regulate it through Ofcom, has failed miserably as regards mobile phone coverage.  The high speed fibre will help improve broadband in many areas, but it can also enable 4G which due to the high data speeds enable people to get online where cable cannot reach them.

“Recently we have seen that mobile telephones are no longer a luxury, but are a social utility and it is high time that the UK Government recognised that in island and rural areas.  For too long they have allowed piecemeal patchy network to exist in our islands, something that would not be tolerated in other northern European countries.  The Faroe Islands for instance, with a mountainous geography, more challenging than ours, manages to have comprehensive coverage, including their two under sea tunnels.”

Parliamentary Questions below:

Asked by Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil

Asked on: 07 January 2015

Department for Culture Media and Sport

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he is taking to ensure that mobile coverage up to 4G levels is provided in rural areas to ensure communication resilience in the event for lightning.

Answered by: Mr Edward Vaizey

Answered on: 12 January 2015

It is for mobile network operators (MNOs) to plan their networks to provide the best service for their customers, including appropriate measures to provide resilience in a variety of scenarios.

The issue of mobile coverage is a key concern for Government and on December 17 Government announced a landmark deal that locks in £5bn of investment by MNOs and will deliver 90% geographic coverage from each mobile operator by 2017. The agreement will be made legally binding through amended licence conditions and will improve mobile coverage across the UK. Details of the agreement are available online at

Asked by Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil

Asked on: 12 January 2015

Department for Culture Media and Sport

Welcome answer to Qu 220134, that 90% 4G geographical coverage will be given by each mobile phone operator, will he give a close approximation of the date when this coverage he has promised will apply to 90% of the Outer Hebrides especially given 1) the social need of such services amply demonstrated this winter a fact understood in other Northern European countries and 2) the market failure to as yet provide adequate 2G and 3G services.