Reid criticises poor Vodafone service in Islay
The problems Islay has endured with its Vodafone mobile phone service over the past year were raised in the House of Commons by Alan Reid MP during a major debate on rural telecommunications.
He said Vodafone's performance on repairs has been poor: "For example, last summer it took 18 days to repair a fault on the Isle of Islay, and another fault on Islay in December took even longer to repair.
"These are not isolated cases. There is now yet another fault on Islay that is taking ages to repair, and there have been several instances in other parts of Argyll and Bute of long delays. When challenged, Vodafone dodged responsibility by blaming the many other companies involved in tracking down and repairing faults.
"A mobile phone service is not a luxury these days, but a necessity—for example, if someone’s car breaks down on a quiet country road or a farmer has an accident. I am aware of a farmer who broke a leg. He was conscious and able to use his mobile phone, but because he had no signal, he had to lie in severe pain until somebody found him. That shows the importance of mobile phone coverage these days. It is an essential, not a luxury."
Mr Reid also called for the Government to get tough with BT and impose fines for lengthy delays in repairs; he said that the delays in repairing faults this winter were a sign that the telecoms giant should be employing more engineers in the area.
"Broadband and mobile phone services are essential these days. Investment in infrastructure and much speedier action when faults occur are essential.
"BT and Vodafone must drastically improve their performance when repairs are needed. The loss of both landline and mobile phone services in Argyll and Bute this winter have been unacceptable. I call on the Government to beef up the regulations so that phone companies can be fined for poor performance when repairs to the phone infrastructure are needed."