Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

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Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by mintokames »


Which network provider ( O2, Vodafone etc ... ) have people found gives the best mobile coverage in North West Scotland ( Skye, Hebrides, Sutherland ) ?

Mainly for weather forecasts, email etc ...



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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by MikeB »

For Skye and the Hebs, I've always had decent enough results with Vodaphone. That said, it does vary enormously and while it's usually ok for phone / text, it's far less reliable for web browsing. 3g is usually non-existent.

I'd certainly not rely on a mobile for weather access via the web. By text it might be better, but even then not 100% reliable, unless you are on high ground and/or near a center of habitation.

That said, at Cnip on the west of Lewis this year though, very poor coverage. Then again, that area was masked from the mast by the hills. On Barra, by the Airport, there was some coverage at the terminal but nothing on the area where people used to camp. At Lochmaddy I can get signal on a high spot on the way to N.Uist Outdoor center, but not at it.

My experience with Orange (admittedly some years ago) was so dire that I dumped them. Mike.

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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by Ian.Adey »

Allways found vodaphone best up there, Far better than 3 at any rate!!

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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by sleepybubble »

from my own experience on Lewis and Harris everybody is with vodafone for a reason... Orange is ok around Stornoway and in line of sight of the main mast but the signal strength is dire and any minor defect in the terrain will make you drop calls.

You can get signal in the strangest of places but not in some of the most commonplace ones. For example you can get signal on most of the islands in the sound of Harris but not on the ferry slip in Leverburgh.

I have personally found the converse to be true of Skye, I have had better reception there on orange than on vodafone.

payg sims are wonderful things....


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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by SeaSkye »

Vodafone does it for me, NW Skye.

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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by StewartR »

Hi Rob

I did the "Uig test" before choosing network. Check coverage maps for Uig in NW Skye and Uig in SW Lewis. I also checked other remote areas. You could also do the Tarbert test! There's at least four of them. Alas though coverage in rural Scotland is not brilliant. I have found that phone coverage is often better in northern Norway and and Greenland!

I went for Vodafone. O2 coverage is not far behind. I have been in places where vodafone got reception and someone with O2 did not. With both, you can often get coverage from higher ground.

Orange (also used by Three and Tesco) often has a very different coverage. It tends to be more urban centred, although there are local exceptions. I believe Orange use a larger number of less powerful masts, therefore where there is coverage, it is less likely to have blindspots. Conversely, large parts of remote areas have no coverage.



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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by PeterG »

I've found O2 fine almost everywhere, not for a call, that would be asking too much, but texts come and go even if there is apparently no signal. Sometimes it needs a 5 minute walk up hill or to paddle 100m out from the cliffs. Leave the phone switched on for 10 minutes and my wife's condensed inshore waters forecast usually arrives and I can reply with my grid reference. What more do you need for 2-3 weeks away? W Skye is maybe the weakest area, don't anticipate getting anything in Moonen Bay for instance.

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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by mintokames »

Hi folks

Many thanks for the replies - much appreciated.



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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by Jim »

About 12 or 13 years ago we all used different networks, but over a couple of years of noting who had reception where (driving around with various phones on the dash to compare) we worked out that for outside of the main cities the only networks to consider in Scotland are Vodafone and O2 (except it was called cellnet in those days), Ironically O2 has the best coverage around Loch Lomond and the area I live, but overall we found Vodafone to have best coverage in the north and west.

For what it's worth the vodafone coverage map is spot on for my dads house near loch Ewe - several coverage circles almost meet over his house on the map, the reulst being that it shows that the house is outside the coverage area, but most of the garden is in it, whcih is exactly what we find, it is sometimes possible to get a signal beside a window but not in the house, yet it is fine in the garden.

Met office SMS service sometimes works OK, although it seems if you are out of range when it is sent you just don't get it (but are not charged either). Expecting full 3G is pretty unrealistic, but if your phone can handle GPRS and GSM data services you should be able to get email but web browsing will be painful. A better plan is to SMS a friend who can check the forecast online and text a summary back to you.

Despite the issues, it is definitely worth having a mobile these days, even in areas we think of as having poor reception people have successfully managed to call the coastguard by mobile (summer isles springs to mind but I'm sure I have seen other reports).

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Re: Mobile Coverage North West Scotland

Post by Scots_Charles_River »

orange and T Mobile are now combined and that's increased my coverage. I was up Glencoe and got an intermittent signal but had a good signal on the summits of the ridge, even though they are out of coverage according to the map, but line of sight at a high point obviously helps.

On the River Dee we got poor reception down on the river but a walk on to the bank got a signal, I think the Coastguard would still recommend VHF first, as they can contact you through a relay with a nearby VHF on a ship.

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