Proposals to simplify the planning process for operators who want to introduce or expand 4G network coverage are to be considered in a public consultation.

The Scottish Government wants to make it easier to install phone masts and other equipment to help roll out the latest mobile and digital technology across the country.

The public are being asked to put forward their views on the changes, which would encourage developers to make better use of existing sites.

Minister for planning and local government Derek Mackay said: "This consultation represents a further step on Scotland's journey to becoming a world-leading digital nation by 2020.

"It will run for six weeks and suggests changes to support the rollout of digital infrastructure across Scotland.

"It will simplify the planning process for the installation and maintenance of important infrastructure and apparatus."

Mr Mackay stressed that the proposals will encourage operators to make use of existing sites and do not relax the planning requirements for new masts.

He said: "Our £410 million Step Change programme is already increasing the availability of superfast broadband across Scotland.

"Alongside commercial coverage, Step Change will ensure that 95% of premises across Scotland will have access by 2017/18. The proposals in this consultation could speed up this process even further."