Virgin Media O2 expands rural connectivity to boost Scottish small businesses

04/01/2024

VIRGIN MEDIA 02 has undertaken a substantial effort to improve digital connectivity for small businesses in rural Scotland. Research revealing the importance of small businesses to rural communities, coupled with economic analysis from Cebr for Virgin Media O2, underscores the potential positive impact on the UK economy.

Virgin Media O2’s efforts involved 4G upgrades and the introduction of 5G connectivity in over 3,000 rural postcodes in Scotland. The move aims to alleviate connectivity issues faced by small businesses, enabling smoother operations, including reliable card and online payments.

Cebr’s economic modelling indicates that enhancing rural connectivity could contribute an additional £16.3 billion to the UK economy, creating over 100,000 jobs. The announcement aligns with Virgin Media O2’s commitment to the UK Government’s Shared Rural Network (SRN) program.

Research commissioned by Virgin Media O2 highlights the digital divide affecting rural areas in Scotland. Connectivity challenges, such as difficulties in making card or contactless payments and a lack of online purchase options, have been identified. In response, Virgin Media O2’s network upgrades are expected to address these issues and support small businesses in rural communities.

To date, Virgin Media O2 has deployed high-speed 5G networks to 1,427 rural areas and enhanced its 4G network in 2,158 postcodes across the Scottish countryside in 2023. The company’s commitment to rural connectivity aligns with the findings of “The Great Rural Revival” report, suggesting that improved connectivity could unlock an extra £65.1 billion for the UK economy.

Jeanie York, Chief Technology Officer at Virgin Media O2, emphasised the significance of small businesses and their role in rural communities. She stated, “Our Great Rural Revival report demonstrates the transformational power improved connectivity could have for these rural small businesses. This is why we are committed to enhancing connectivity in these areas.”

Helen Morgan, MP for North Shropshire and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Levelling up, Housing and Communities), welcomed Virgin Media O2’s efforts to improve connectivity in rural areas. Morgan highlighted the potential impact on small businesses, making them more efficient and improving customer experiences with digital technology.

In conclusion, Virgin Media O2’s initiatives to enhance rural connectivity reflect a broader commitment to address connectivity challenges, supporting small businesses and contributing to the economic growth of rural communities.

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