The isle of Colonsay has been without mobile phone coverage since 23rd March – eleven days. Vodafone has not bothered to get the signal back into operation.
Argyll and Bute’s MSP, Michael Russell, is sick and tired of this treatment. He has been campaigning since the major and enduring outages in December 2011 on the contempt with which mobile phone service providers treat those in rural areas like Argyll and the Isles.
Focusing on the practical consequences for residents of such notional ‘services’, Mr Russell says:
‘This incident on Colonsay has been very difficult for Vodafone customers on the island.
‘Lack of service is not just an inconvenience. I have spoken to several doctors who are aware of injuries being made worse, and even deaths occurring , because of mobile phone signal failure or poor coverage, with victims of accidents being unable to contact the emergency services.
‘Certainly the inadequate response of the mobile providers led to complications in communication for those trying to restore power supplies in Argyll in January – and delays in their work.
‘Mobile phone subscribers in Argyll & Bute pay the same bills as every other customer, yet what they receive is very much poorer than is provided elsewhere. I have been arguing that there should be no 4G licences awarded until all of Scotland has 3G coverage , not least because no part of Argyll & Bute has such coverage except for a small spill over signal on the Clyde shore.’
Mr Russell is hoping that the public in Argyll and the Isles will insist upon the arrangement he proposes – no 4G for anywhere in Scotland until we all have 3G.
This means some sharp thinking about quite what leverage we can collectively exert.
Vodafone’s co0verage is not universal. It is not, on the evidence, prompt to act responsibly in restoring to operation the services for which it charges.
But in the Highlands of Scotland, Vodafone’s coverage has the best reach by far of any of the providers.
What leverage does the Scottish Government have? Might planning consents for masts have service conditions attached which would apply to all users of the mast?
What leverage do customers and potential customers have? Not a lot.
Non-Vodafone customers could beneficially transfer to Vodafone – but what about Vodafone clients? All we could do wold be be to go to an even less able provider.
Is there a commercial opening for a specialist highland provider to which we could all transfer our accounts?
It is unacceptable for citizens to be prey to any irresponsible provider of anything.