The UK’s biggest mobile network has announced plans to make 4G available to 99 per cent of the population by 2017.
Double speed 4G (up to 60Mbps) will be rolled out to 90 per cent of the population while 4G+ – EE’s marketing term for LTE-A – will be set up in 20 of the UK’s busiest cities by 2017. These faster speeds are currently live in parts of London and provide average download speeds of 90Mbps and top download speeds of 150Mbps.
EE will be sinking £1.5 billion into this new venture. CEO Olaf Swantee said: “This revolution of the mobile landscape has made the UK a leader in global communications once again.
“Today we’re announcing the next stage with a commitment to, once again, radically improve mobile coverage, this time with a strong focus on rural UK, all while continuing to increase speeds and capacity with deeper coverage in more cities.”
Alongside increasing the reach and speeds of 4G, EE will also launch WiFi Calling on iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices before 2017, letting people with poor signal at home leverage the signal of their wireless routers.
“Alongside every home, we will continue our focus on roads and rails and parts of the country that people spend their daily lives. It means that we will begin to see geographic coverage for both voice and data of 90 per cent of UK.” – EE CEO Olaf SwanteeEE will also launch 4G voice calling before 2017. This now only promises faster, clearer voice calls, but will also allow for greater indoor coverage and reception. Rural customers in particular are set to benefit, as EE will be expanding the reach of its rural 4G network by more than 1,500 square miles – an area bigger than the Lake District and Peak District National Parks combined.
EE owns licences to operate 4G services on the low 800MHz frequency, which can travel long distances making it better suited to reach scattered rural communities. This will be supplemented by EE’s continued rollout of micro cells to over 1,500 rural locations across the country.
The network is also committing itself to a call completion rate of 99.6 per cent by 2017 as a measure of its success. According to Ofcom, EE’s current UK rate for successful made calls is 97 per cent.
If that wasn’t enough, EE is also aiming to provide adequate voice coverage for 90 per cent for of the UK’s 245,000 miles of roads by 2017, up from the current 82 per cent.
Motorways will be upgraded first, with the less-busy A and B roads getting some attention later. The UK’s busiest train routes will also be covered by additional 4G expansion, presumably using Network Rail fibre as backhaul.
EE’s principal network architect Professor Andy Sutton, said: “We’ve invested in 4G and taken the UK back to a position of leadership in mobile, and now we’re investing in 5G so that we can define the next step, and keep both us and the UK mobile industry one step ahead.
Sutton also spoke of EE’s close work with the University of Surrey’s 5GIC lab, a cross-industry effort that aims to put the UK at the forefront of the 5G revolution. Early tests of so-called ‘5G’ technology have hinted that we could enjoy gigabit speeds on future mobile devices, whether we’re sitting still or in a moving vehicle.
EE is currently planning to reach 95 per cent of the population with 4G by the end of this year.