Mobile provision is unacceptable

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I Agree entirely that the breaks in Vodafone’s mobile phone service in our area are completely unacceptable. Hav-ing the service, then losing it unexpectedly for weeks on end, causes widespread problems as more and more individuals and businesses have come to rely on using mobiles.

I would want to emphasise, however, that there is still no service provision, at any time, in large areas surrounding Hawick, and I find this also completely unacceptable. There are impacts on the business economy and on safety. The expectation nowadays is that travellers will be able to make contact with others wherever they are, for example when booking up accommodation or services. Our area is trying to promote outdoor tourism, e.g. in recreational cycling and walking, yet, should any mishap occur on more remote rural roads or on trails, it is not possible to get coverage to call for help. I stated ‘more remote’ but that situation also affects the A7 south of Hawick and the B6357 between Hawick and Newcastleton. Both vital lifelines.

Coverage does not exist in these areas as there are too few residents to make provision by the companies cost-effective. This does not allow for the needs of the additional visitors attracted to our area. Newcastleton could be a good example of the problem. Locals know they need to subscribe to Orange. Visitors to the 7 Stanes cycling at the village don’t know that! Surely, however, we should be aiming at full national coverage. There should not be ‘not-spots’. Let’s push for shared use of masts and other existing structures. Let’s push for agreement between companies on shared networks in ‘remoter’ areas. Let’s even have government subsidise coverage, at least, to begin with, alongside connecting roads.

COUNCILLOR RON SMITH