EE plans rural coverage with new technology


Micro network technology able to connect rural communities at low cost

EE says it will connect more than 1,500 rural communities which currently have no reliable mobile or high-speed broadband.

This will be achieved through new ‘micro network technology’ that will wirelessly connect small mobile antennas to suitable macro sites. It will cover voice, 3G and 4G with the first deployments starting early 2015 and the rollout being completed by the end of 2017.

The technology can cover 100-150 properties across an area of 0.5 miles using just 3-4 antennas. The antennas can be installed in just a couple of hours without the need for planning permission. The technology has been designed by Parallel Wireless.

The operator, along with its UK rivals, has come out strongly against proposals for national roaming in areas where just one or two operators signals are active. This could be a way of showing the government that it is up for the challenge of connecting more rural sites without the need for regulation.

EE said the technology will allow rural areas to be covered at a lower cost than a more traditional network rollout. The first place to be connected with the technology will be Sebergham in Cumbria.

“With this innovative new technology, we have the capability to connect every community in the UK, and we estimate that we’ll be able to bring reliable voice coverage and high speed mobile broadband to more than 1,500 places for the first time by 2017,” said chief executive officer Olaf Swantee.

“We’ve been working closely with Government on the long-term ambition to bring voice coverage to more of the UK, and we believe that this world-first technology will demonstrate significant advancements against that vision.”