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Island Community Split over Mobile Phone Plans

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A remote island off the northern end of the UK could be able to get mobile phone coverage for the first time, despite misgivings by some that they will disturb the peace of the residents.

The tiny island of Coll in the Inner Hebrides is home to around 200 residents, and as such the cost of deploying mobile phone coverage has been prohibitive for such a small population.

Now the Scottish government has agreed to pay for the construction of a single mast and microwave link, and the locals will be asked to pick up the £2,000 per year running costs. They hope to reduce that somewhat by renting capacity on the mast to other users, such as the medical and emergency services.

The island is well-known for its wildlife, basking sharks and recently secured stargazing "dark skies" status, which makes it a lure for tourists.

However, even among its supporters, there have been some concerns that the phone coverage will be directed at the tourist areas and wont significantly benefit the residents who are paying the maintenance charge.

Pat Graham, the secretary of the community council, said: "It'll cover some areas but not the areas we want it to cover.

"Tourists, because they're so used to having mobile phones, bless them, they come here and expect mobile service which is a shame because Coll is something different to that.

"You come here to unwind."

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Tags: UK