Highlands & Islands

EE and UHI working on mobile phone coverage project

Miniature mobile network provider Image copyright EE/Lime
Image caption The project involves using technology that acts as mobile phone network provider

A Scottish university is working with mobile network operator EE on a project designed to improve mobile phone coverage in remote and rural areas.

The initiative involves using a small computer that can provide a mobile network in locations where the coverage is poor, or non existent.

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) is involved.

The project forms part of EE's wider work with Facebook in sharing technologies that improve connectivity.

UHI involves colleges and research institutions in Argyll, the Highlands, Moray, Northern Isles and Western Isles.

Prof Clive Mulholland, UHI's principal and vice-chancellor, said: "We are excited to be working with EE to explore the opportunities this development can offer to the university and the communities we serve.

"The technology could be particularly relevant to our work in remote and rural health and digital innovation.

"As a regional university, we aim to have a transformational impact on the Highlands and Islands so we welcome any initiatives which have the potential to benefit our area."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption There have been calls for greater improvements in mobile connectivity in the Highlands and Islands

The Highlands and Islands is a region where making connections by mobile and over the internet can be challenging.

In January, some businesses on Skye said they had gone back to using post instead of the internet after becoming frustrated by slow broadband speeds.

There had been a total network loss in the north west of the island followed by reduced speeds at the time.

Last year, better phone coverage was flagged up as a factor that would encourage more young people to stay in the area.

A survey carried out for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) found the region's 15-30 year olds did not think mobile phone connectivity was good enough, and would prefer that to be improved rather than broadband.

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