Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin and Gordon MP Richard Thomson have written to the UK Government, Openreach and mobile networks calling for assurances about the resilience of telephone networks following recent storms which battered the north-east.
It comes ahead of plans by the UK Government to shut down the landline network by 2025, and a resultant reliance on fibre-optics and mobile networks.
Thousands of homes across the north-east were left without power during storms Arwen and Corrie leading to widespread and prolonged power cuts across Aberdeenshire in recent months.
And during those cuts, a number of areas were without mobile phone coverage as various networks were affected.
Now Ms Martin and Mr Thomson have called for reassurances from the UK Government, Openreach and mobile telecom networks to ensure fibre-optic and mobile networks are robust enough to continue functioning during adverse weather events.
Mobile phone networks that cover Aberdeenshire – Vodafone, O2, EE and 3 – have also been contacted to ask what steps they are taking to ensure their networks are suitably robust to continue to function during power cuts.
Openreach, which manages the UK's phone and internet network have also been asked to provide further explanation on how people who consider themselves vulnerable whose homes have telecoms provided through fibre optic cables will be provided with adequate backup to ensure telecommunications work during a power outage.
Finally, Ms Martin and Mr Thomson have written to the UK Government – which remains responsible for telecommunications – to ask what steps it is taking to ensure that mobile and fibre optic networks are suitably resilient to remain functional in power cuts after the landline network is shut off.
Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said: “The recent storms have caused huge devastation across the north-east and one of the biggest challenges faced by many people was being able to access information as networks were down, and some roads were impassable for significant periods of time.
“It meant many people were not able to find information about where to find hot food and showers or keep in contact with relatives.
“Adverse weather events are going to continue and if we are to enable people to stay updated on announcements we have to make sure our telecoms system is fit for purpose.”
Commenting, Richard Thomson MP said: “Many of my constituents have felt anxious about the reliability of the telecoms network and how it will manage in the future given recent experiences as a result of Storms Arwen and Corrie.
“In particular, those people with telecoms provided through fibre-optic cables must be provided with adequate backup to ensure they have a phone service during a power outage. It is of particular importance that the UK Government and service providers make sure vulnerable people have access to communications.”