All things mobile

Mobile connection comes to Garvald!

Tuesday, 30 April 2024

The Scottish Government’s Scottish 4G Infill Programme (S4GI) is a £28.75 million initiative (including £10.7 million from the European Regional Development Fund) which has delivered 4G infrastructure and services in 55 mobile “notspots” in rural and island Scotland.

One of the S4GI masts has been activated in Garvald, East Lothian, and it is a great example of how the S4GI programme has improved digital connectivity in rural Scotland. This new mast has provided much needed coverage to the village and surrounding areas.

We spoke to a local couple, Jim and Sheila, who moved to the area aiming to retire there for a more quiet and rural lifestyle. Originally from Haddington, they moved to their home in Garvald in 2010. 

When they first moved, they managed to get a connection to the internet via satellite but mobile phone signal was very weak to non-existent. Jim tells us:

“People would drive to the top of the road just to get a phone signal, you would see them sitting on the side (quite dangerously) just trying to get signal to make calls.” 

There is a phone line but, unfortunately, there have been regular power cuts due to the location and unpredictable weather in the area. Sheila explained:

“When the power goes out you are completely cut off, I had to walk down the road to phone the emergency Scottish Power line to let them know there had been a power cut, thankfully they could fix it remotely and quite quickly but that isn’t always the case.” 

Sheila is self-employed and works from home doing finance work and phone interviews, for which she needs a mobile connection. 

“I do a lot of accounting for my role and that requires two-factor authentication, which 90% of the time is a text code sent to your phone. I have emailed or called the banks to try to work round it but some of them just refuse, making it impossible for me to do my job. Thankfully with the new mast I can get the notification quickly and easily.

“Some of my work also involves conducting interviews over the phone. This has been a challenge as I had to call from my house phone and if they don’t recognise the number they won’t answer – most people would like a text to be sent before the call. Now that I am connected, I can send a text letting them know my number and when to expect me. It has made things a lot easier and less time consuming for me and my clients.” 

Both Jim and Sheila are close with a lot of members of the community and have said that a lot of people have seen a big improvement in signal strength throughout the town. 

You can learn more about the programme and read more stories here.