I had the pleasure of spending last week in the Western Isles of Scotland. Out here the scenery is wonderful, the weather is brutal and the beaches are absolutely amazing. All in all a great place to spend a holiday except that is for one small issue – mobile phone coverage.
This is not a problem specific to just the Western Isles as there are large parts of the Scottish mainland that has the same problem. In the Western Isles though it seams more extreme (I guess like everything else out here!!).
As an example we camped on the west coast of Lewis (nice spot next to the beach!!) where my phone had nothing – not even SOS coverage. The nearest place my phone had signal was about 15 miles away and then it only had GPRS (2 bars) so internet was definitely out. In fact over the entire week I didn’t get 3G at all (my wife did once). On the mainland I sometimes get no signal even though my phone is on Vodafone (one of the best for coverage in Scotland) but even my wife who is on T-Mobile had the same issue.
Before I left for my holidays I sorted out work cover so that all my phone calls would be diverted to another person who would hold the fort until I got back. I do like to check my emails though (I know I am on holiday) and I also like to keep up with news too (this was the first time in ages I actually bought a newspaper). Not having access to the internet to check simple things like the weather forecast was something I had not expected so I had to resort to asking the locals. Responses were generally in the order of wait and see what happens which is not much use when trying to plan some climbing on sea cliffs. Personally I would not want to be half way up a cliff for the heavens to open knowing that I now have to do the remaining climb on wet rock. Not my idea of fun!!
Hopefully things are about to change with the rollout of 4G. Offcom has set some pretty stringent rules stating that 98% of the population should get 4G coverage. This may not cover everyone but it should cover most of the isolated areas of the UK (like the Western Isles) which means mobile working, rather than office working, can at last become a choice for so many people which it isn’t at the moment.
And the Western Isles? I would move there tomorrow!!
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