EE plans to make sure its 4G mobile broadband services are available virtually everywhere in the UK by 2020.
The network says that over the next three years and eight months it’ll increase the reach of its mobile network, which currently covers around 60 per cent of the nation’s landmass, so that 95 per cent of the UK’s geography is covered.
Right now, EE says that over 95 per cent of the British population can currently get 4G services and this near-nationwide rollout will see 99.8 per cent of people covered – an everso slight increase on its plans to hit 99 per cent population coverage by 2017.
EE’s plans for 4G and WiFi calls: No more not spots, HD Voice everywhereThis will involve the construction of over 750 new sites, with a specific focus on rural not spots. It’s unclear if this is in addition to the 1,500 plus micro cell sites that EE’s been using to plug predominantly rural coverage gaps since 2014.
However it’s achieved, EE’s CEO Marc Allera says that the plan isn’t just about making sure people can access faster Internet services on their phone; it’s as much about making sure people can get 4G voice calls in more places as it is HD Netflix streams on their Galaxy S7s.
“For the average smartphone user, not-spots aren’t tolerated and 2G doesn’t deliver what they need,” Allera said. “Customers want 4G speeds everywhere they go, and mobile operators are too used to saying ‘no’ to new coverage. Today, I’m saying ‘yes’, with an ambition to go further than any operator has ever gone, and with the ultimate aim of covering the whole UK with 4G.”
4G Calling from EE, or VoLTE (Voice over LTE) to give it its proper name, is already available in and around EE could plug gaps in 4G network with drones and balloonsBelfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Newcastle and will switched on across the rest of the network by July.
In addition to WiFi Calling, which lets EE customers on selected phones benefit from greater coverage when connected to WiFi, the rollout of 4G will boost call quality as well as reception.
The most recent places to benefit from EE’s 4G rollout are the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall and the Shetland Islands. In both cases, delivery of 4G services has been made possible thanks to the Superfast Cornwall and Digital Highlands and Islands, two public-private initiatives that have seen EE’s now-owner BT run sub sea fibre optic cables to the islands.
EE says it will continue to switch on 4G sites throughout 2016 with a view to completely covering across all islands by summer 2017.