EE has revealed plans to fill in rural not spots in a big to boost 4G broadband and voice coverage.
Over the next three years, EE promises to install over 1,500 micro cells, which the UK’s biggest mobile network says will improve coverage with no need to install cables or set up new masts.
The micro cells can be quickly installed on the side of virtually any building in just a few hours. The cells can provide coverage across an area of half a square mile and will provide coverage for roughly 100-150 premises.
The first community to be connected through trials is the small Cumbrian village of Sebergham, with 129 premises and a population of 347.
Cumbria County Councillor, Duncan Fairbairn, said: “The mobile service here is either non-existent or spasmodic at best. And the broadband is incredibly slow and very unreliable. In rural communities like Sebergham, being connected to good, reliable mobile coverage can make a significant difference to everyday life and we need fast broadband.
“We’re delighted to be the first community in the UK to benefit from this EE initiative, and there are more villages in my parish that I know will benefit hugely from this, and they’re excited to be connected next.”
Cumbria, one of the most poorly served areas for mobile and broadband coverage has been home to EE trials in the past.
Last September, EE launched a fixed-location 4G broadband service, allowing residents and businesses in Threlkeld to connected to superfast broadband without having to install several kilometers of fibre optic cable.
EE is also looking to bring services to the Mungrisdale area and is seeking customers to take part in a four month trial.
Elsewhere in the UK, Vodafone and Three are busy trialling rural mobile broadband access in the Shetlands with the Open Sure Signal project and the Scottish Highlands with Three’s Rural Broadband Working Group.
Rural not spots are now something of a hot political issue with culture secretary Sajid Javid pushing for UK networks to enable national roaming, meaning if you weren’t an O2 customer, but could get O2 signal in your village, you’d be able to get signal from them and your network provider would bear the cost – just as if you were roaming abroad.
Given that the £150 million Mobile Infrastructure Project has, of this October, has set up just two base stations, it’s possible that the UK Government is looking for other ways to achieve its self-imposed target.