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Virgin Media O2 cracks Eigg with helicopters, boats and 4×4’s

Staff Reporter
May 15, 2024

Hits 150 sites as part of its Shared Rural Network rollout.

The Isle of Eigg, a community-owned island in the Hebrides, has beome the 150th site to benefit from improved mobile connectivity after Virgin Media O2 used helicopters, boats, and off-road vehicles to deliver and install a new 4G mast on the island.

The SRN is a £1 billion joint initiative between mobile network operators and the UK Government to extend 4G connectivity to 95 per cent of the UK’s landmass by the end of 2025.

Eigg has a population of fewer than 100, The island previously had coverage from just one provider, so the upgrade offers residents choice and will help visitors stay connected for the first time.

Of the 150 rural sites built or upgraded by Virgin Media O2 so far, 117 are in some of Scotland’s most remote areas, including Shetland, Ardross, and Argyll & Bute. Additionally, 28 are in rural parts of England, including parts of Yorkshire, Suffolk, and Kent, while three sites have been upgraded in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.

While these 150 sites are controlled by Virgin Media O2, Three and Vodafone users also benefit from the 4G rollout at more than 200 rural locations.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “We are continuing our Shared Rural Network rollout at pace to ensure more rural communities can access reliable mobile connectivity. Having delivered more sites than any other operator, our commitment to delivering this ambitious programme and levelling up rural areas is clear. The 150 sites we have delivered will enable more residents, businesses, and visitors in rural areas to benefit from better mobile coverage, with dozens more locations set to go live in the coming weeks. This work is vital in tackling the urban-rural digital divide that exists in the UK.”

York: “the 150 sites we have delivered will enable more residents, businesses, and visitors in rural areas to benefit from better mobile coverage”

Julia Lopez, Minister of State for Data and Digital Infrastructure, said: “Backed by government funding, Virgin Media O2’s rapid rollout of the Shared Rural Network is delivering better 4G coverage to rural communities across the UK. The completion of its 150th mast on the Isle of Eigg in Scotland involved the use of helicopters, boats, and off-road vehicles to get the build done and shows the UK Government’s commitment to rural residents and businesses, so the British public can enjoy good connectivity wherever they live.”

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