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The lack of mobile broadband coverage in Scotland is holding the nation back, a leading Member of the Scottish Parliament has claimed.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, the MSP for Moray, is concerned about the lack of 3G coverage north of the border, which makes dongle use impossible in large parts of the country.

Speaking at a parliamentary debate on Rural Connectivity, he called on the government to increase the obligation for mobile broadband coverage across Scotland, reports

"A large proportion of the areas currently not covered [with mobile broadband] across Britain are in rural Scotland," Mr Lochhead explained.

He said the government should direct Ofcom, the communications regulator, to instruct broadband providers to fill in some of the gaps on the network map.

"We wanted 90 per cent of Scotland to be covered, matched to 90 per cent of the UK. But if that's not immediately achievable, then we at least should have a specific target for coverage in Scotland," the MSP stated.

Mr Lochhead said the Scottish government is working hard to secure as large a share of the £530 million rural broadband fund as possible, in order that remote communities can move forwards.

"We need to ensure that a lack of ambition from the UK government does not lead to rural Scotland missing out on the digital revolution," he stated.

"This is vitally important to help bring global markets to our doorstep and create new opportunities for rural businesses."

Even after Ofcom auctions off 4G spectrum to the UK telecoms industry, there could still be some parts of the UK with no mobile broadband coverage.

The regulator will demand that long-term evolution networks using the 800MHz band provide services for 95 per cent of the population.

However, it is likely that people living in the Highlands & Islands, and other isolated Scottish communities, will be in the excluded minority due to the high cost of network construction and maintenance where they live and work.

Conservative MP Rory Stewart recently claimed that Ofcom would not demand 100 per cent mobile network coverage because this would lead to lower bids from participants in the radio spectrum auction.

Mobile broadband providers would see universal service delivery as an onerous obligation, reducing the amount they will be willing to pay for network access, he suggested.

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