HC Deb 13 February 1996 vol 271 cc566-7W
Mr. Donohoe

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if the mobile communication, network supported by the Scottish Office in the highlands and islands will be capable of handling both digital and analogue calls. [14919]

Mr. Kynoch

The £46 million mobile telecommunications investment programme in the highlands and islands will extend coverage to some 95 per cent. of the region's population, including covering almost all major arterial transport routes. The networks will use global system for mobile communications— GSM—technology, which is the European-led standard for digital cellular networks now operating in more than 40 countries worldwide. GSM gives users improved speech quality and greater security over the older analogue technology and access to a range of added value services similar to those available on the digital fixed network. The new GSM networks will complement the highlands and islands fixed network, which is already substantially digital as a result of upgrading by BT in the early 1990s.

The existing analogue networks offered by Cellnet and Vodaphone in the highlands and islands will be maintained, but will not be extended further.