• Alice Arthur is Christmas shopping online for her seven grandchildren for the first time thanks to a newly installed EE 4G mast, as part of the Scottish Government’s 4G Infill programme
  • The grandmother from Out Skerries, an island of just 70, would previously have to make a six hour round trip by boat, bus and foot to do her Christmas shopping

A grandmother on Out Skerries, one of the UK’s most remote inhabited islands, is doing her Christmas shopping online for the first time ever thanks to a new EE mast introducing 4G mobile coverage to the isolated area. 

The island of roughly 70 inhabitants includes Alice Arthur, age 63, who said that the new mobile internet access has “opened up a whole new world” as she shops for her seven grandchildren this festive season.

Alice, who has grandchildren ranging from 5 to 24 years old, would previously have to make a six hour round trip to reach Lerwick on mainland Shetland to do her Christmas shopping.

The new high-speed 4G connectivity is available from a new mobile mast that has been activated for 4G by EE to connect the island community as part of the Scottish Government’s £28.75 million Scottish 4G Infill programme (S4GI). The programme is delivering 4G infrastructure and connectivity to rural and island communities across Scotland, which previously had no or extremely limited mobile coverage, while respecting the rural landscape.

In addition to Out Skerries, EE has recently activated another 4G mast as part of the S4GI programme on the also hard-to-reach island of Foula, Shetland.

Alice said: “Gift buying for my grandkids was never easy as I was only able to choose from what was available on the Shetland mainland – and without many options to choose from, I was always worried that some of what I found wouldn’t be very exciting to them. But now, with this new connectivity, there’s just so much choice. I can find such a wide range of toys and clothing, at good prices, and have them delivered right to my door. It’s made things so much easier.”

Alice is just one local resident on Out Skerries to benefit from the new 4G connectivity thanks to EE’s partnerships with the Scottish Government, WHP Telecoms, Cellnex UK and Scottish Futures Trust. EE 4G connectivity is now available on 51 of the new 55 S4GI mobile masts across Scotland, with these widespread sites providing vital connectivity to not only residents, but local businesses and Scottish emergency services.

Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer at BT Group, said: “Alice’s story is a powerful reminder of how reliable 4G connectivity can transform the everyday lives of people in rural communities, especially those living in some of the UK’s most isolated areas. These new 4G sites provide residents with fast and reliable access to online services like banking, healthcare, and shopping, while empowering rural Scottish businesses to take mobile payments and offer new digital experiences. Together with the Scottish Government and our industry partners, we are helping close the UK’s digital divide and deliver the connectivity boost countryside communities can rely on.”

Scottish Government Innovation Minister, Richard Lochhead, said: “Thanks to our £28.75 million S4GI programme we've brought 4G to these Shetland islands, showing our commitment to providing future-proofed connectivity to rural and island communities.

“These phone masts mean residents, businesses and visitors in these communities can work, communicate and access services more efficiently. This is about creating opportunities for businesses, improving daily life and ensuring no one - even the hardest to reach - is left behind in the digital era.”

- ENDS -



Notes to editors:


About EE

EE is one of UK’s largest subscription businesses, backed by the UK’s biggest and fastest mobile network, offering superfast connections in more places than any other operator. 


Built on the foundation of decades of mobile and broadband leadership, EE is on a mission to be the most personal and customer-focused brand in the UK by playing a more meaningful role in customers’ lives, with a suite of exciting products and services open to all UK consumers, available via a new ‘EE ID’ digital platform. 


EE’s mobile network continues to receive extensive recognition including UK's best overall network by RootMetrics® every year since 2014, as well as being named Network of the Year at the 2022 Mobile Industry Awards.


EE is committed to offering first class service in the industry and has over 400 stores across the UK. EE remains the only mobile provider to answer 100% of customer calls in the UK and Ireland and was recognised as the UK’s Best Large Contact Centre by the UK Customer Experience Awards 2018 and Welsh Contact Centre Awards 2019.  


EE was awarded The Sunday Times’ Best 100 Companies to Work for in 2018 and 2019, as well as being named Best Employer 2018 by the European Contact Centre & Customer Service awards. EE won Best Repair Service and Best Network Provider at the Mobile News Awards in September 2023 and was recognised as the provider that does more than any other to deliver a great service.  


EE is part of BT’s Consumer business unit which provides products and services to all of BT’s consumer customers in the UK. 


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About the Scottish 4G Infill (S4GI) programme:


The Scottish Government’s 4G Infill programme is a £28.75 million investment delivering life-changing mobile connectivity to the communities surrounding 55 masts across rural Scotland. The programme is a major success, building 55 4G masts in extremely challenging conditions in rural Scotland, in areas where it is unlikely that industry will invest in the near to medium term future given the economic challenges of doing so.


Delivered in partnership with WHP Telecoms, Cellnex UK and the Scottish Futures Trust and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for sites in the Highlands and Islands, S4GI is making a significant difference to the lives of the local residents, businesses and visitors, who have been able to improve the way they work, connect with friends and family, access public services, purchase products and services and consume entertainment. The S4GI pages on SG’s website contain a map and a site-by-site update.


About the Emergency Services Network (ESN):

ESN is a new 4G critical communications system set to replace the current Airwave service used by the emergency services in Great Britain. Collaboration between the UK and Scottish Governments has enabled EE commercial coverage in addition to ESN coverage being available in these locations.