Emergency helicopter © Jura Medical Practice
  • EE, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Futures Trust and WHP Telecoms Ltd. bring reliable connectivity to 13 new highland locations, helping close signal blackspots and connect emergency services across the most remote areas of Scotland.
  • Local medical centre on the Isle of Jura shares how the new mobile coverage has enhanced patient care and day-to-day operations at the practice.

Patient safety and critical medical care has been boosted across the Highlands and Islands as new 4G coverage connects Scotland’s most remote emergency services.

Jura Medical Practice is just one of the organisations that is seeing an end to signal ‘blackspots’ thanks to EE’s partnerships with the Scottish Government, WHP Telecoms and Scottish Futures Trust. The new high-speed 4G connectivity, provided by two new masts on the Isle of Jura, will see the Jura Medical Practice able to communicate more effectively with its helicopter landing pad in the event of an emergency, as well as ensure on-call doctors can be reached.

These positive changes are a direct result of 13 new 4G masts that have been installed across the Highlands and Islands this year. These 13 ‘blackspots’ have been connected as part of the Scottish Government’s £28.75 million Scottish 4G Infill programme (S4GI), which is delivering 4G infrastructure and services to areas in rural Scotland which previously had extremely limited mobile coverage.

The project will be activating a further six remote areas across the Highlands and Islands in 2023.

The new sites will provide vital connectivity to Scottish emergency services and Mountain Rescue. Residents, visitors, and businesses will also be able to access and benefit from a reliable 4G mobile service.

Jura Medical Practice has already seen a significant difference since the installation of the Craighouse and Ardlussa masts on the island, enabling it to switch to a modern VoIP phone system and providing reliable connectivity for on-call and locum staff.

The medical practice often uses the life-saving helicopter to transfer patients to mainland hospitals. Previously, the landing site was a signal ‘blackspot’, preventing effective communication between Jura medical teams and the pilots. Yet, with the new 4G coverage, the team can communicate with the helicopter as well as track the progress of the flight, using the flight tracker app over 4G.

Dr Martin Beastall at Jura Medical Practice said: “The new connectivity has delivered a hugely important boost to our day-to-day operations. Our helicopter landing site is used in the most critical situations, and so the importance of fast and reliable communication cannot be underestimated. Having access to EE’s 4G network means we can operate more effectively and ensures that we have a reliable connection to communicate when we need it most. The local area is popular with walkers and hikers, so to have access to 4G in an emergency is reassuring for both our staff and the public.”

The Scottish Government’s S4GI programme is delivering 55 masts, including those also being used by EE as part of the ESN roll-out.

Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer at BT Group, said: “Together with the Scottish Government and our industry partners, we are delivering the connectivity boost rural communities so desperately need in the digital age. These new sites represent an important step forward in our mission to provide local people, businesses, and emergency services with fast and reliable 4G mobile connectivity across the Scottish Highlands and Islands.”

Scottish Government Innovation Minister Richard Lochhead said: “Our new 4G masts in the Highlands and Islands demonstrate once again our commitment to providing future-proofed digital connectivity to residents and businesses in all parts of the country, no matter where they live.

“Thanks to this £28.75 million Scottish Government programme, local residents, businesses and visitors in all these communities can access 4G for the first time, enhancing how they work, communicate and access public services. Availability of 4G services also creates more opportunities for businesses in the area, helping them improve their efficiency and productivity.”

Martyn Cheyne, Group Chief Strategic Officer at WHP Telecoms Ltd, said: “WHP Estates is pleased that these shareable structures are now facilitating reliable coverage to many of the more remote communities across the Highlands and Islands. ‘Digitally Levelling Up’ these not-spots is transformational, unlocking the latent talent and creativity allowing businesses and communities to not just retain but also attract people to grow and thrive. Those of us in the telecoms industry are redoubling our efforts to meet the challenges ahead on the SRN (Shared Rural Network), as for every not-spot we have covered so far there are many more which still urgently require this life-enhancing connectivity.”

The 13 ‘blackspots’ connected across the Highlands and Islands are:

·       Inverie (Knoydart)

·       Kenmore

·       Achosnich

·       Brecklate

·       Elgol

·       Inverchoran

·       Rackwick

·       Ardlussa

·       Craighouse

·       Lochbuie

·       Stronsay

·       Stronachlachar

·       Cawdor

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

  • 4G service is accessible via compatible devices on EE PAYM plans
  • The Stronachlachar mast, located within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, is physically located outside the Highlands and Islands boundary. The coverage radiating from this mast is, however, providing benefits straddling both H&I and non-H&I areas.

For more information, please contact:

Liam Andrews or  07552 236 724     

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 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 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.


About EE

EE runs the UK's biggest and fastest mobile network, offering superfast connections in more places than any other operator. EE brought the first 4G network to the UK in October 2012 and launched the UK’s first 5G network in May 2019.

EE’s mobile network has received extensive independent recognition, including being named the UK’s no.1 5G network by RootMetrics® in 2020 and 2021, and the 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.

As well as delivering mobile services to consumers, small and medium businesses, corporate customers and Government programmes, EE also provides home and business broadband using both 4G and fixed line connections.

EE is committed to being number one for service in the industry and has nearly 600 shops 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.

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