BT-owned EE has announced plans to expand its 4G coverage in more than 500 areas this year to boost rural connectivity.
The expansion is part of the government’s Shared Rural Network (SRN) initiative signed by the UK’s four major operators: EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three.
Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said:
“I’m delighted to see the great strides EE is making to boost 4G services in countryside communities as part of the Shared Rural Network agreement, which was brokered and is part-funded by the government.
We’re investing half a billion pounds in this landmark deal to extend mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the UK and it will help us build back better from the pandemic.”
As part of the SRN initiative, the operators will extend coverage to 95 percent of the UK by 2025. The expansion announced by EE today falls under the SRN’s first phase.
EE has upgraded its 4G network in 110 areas since it signed the SRN deal in March 2020. 469 more areas will be upgraded by the end of the year, resulting in a combined total of 579 areas benefitting from improved 4G coverage.
Here are the numbers of areas being upgraded by region:
- England – 333
- Scotland – 132
- Wales – 76
- Northern Ireland – 38
Philip Jansen, CEO of BT Group, commented:
“Reliable connectivity is important wherever you live, work or travel, and we’re committed to improving and adding coverage to even the most remote areas.
The investment BT has made in rural areas to date means we already have the infrastructure in place needed to extend our 4G coverage footprint further, minimising the number of new sites we need to build.
There are many places where EE is the only provider with 4G coverage today, offering the other operators an opportunity to share our existing sites to plug gaps in their networks and improve mobile performance for everyone.”
Under the SRN initiative, the four operators expect to cover an additional 280,000 premises and 16,000km of the UK’s roads. Furthermore, coverage in areas of natural beauty should increase to 79 percent and of national parks to 74 percent.
Mike McKinley, Chair of National Parks England, said:
“The extension, and introduction, of 4G coverage across more rural areas is welcome news for National Park communities and visitors, and will help meet increased demand for fast, reliable connectivity.
Digital connectivity is a vital part of modern life, and this news will also benefit the residents of National Parks, many of whom currently live in isolated areas with no access to mobile coverage.
As we look ahead to this summer 2021, National Parks is anticipating a large influx of visitors. These visitors will now have access to better and more reliable mobile coverage, giving them the opportunity to use important tools such as ‘SaferLakes’ which helps visitors enjoy these special landscapes, while ensuring they are protected for future generations.”
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