EE, the UK’s largest cellco by subscribers, has outlined a commitment to connect more than 1,500 rural communities across the country within three years by investing in what it has termed a ‘unique micro network technology that provides coverage to remote areas with no need for broadband or cables’.
From early next year the operator aims to make voice services, as well as 3G/4G mobile broadband, available in communities which currently have no reliable mobile or high speed broadband access. To achieve this EE has said it will construct new micro networks that wirelessly connect small mobile antennas to a suitable nearby macro site, without the need for cabling. An initial trial of the technology is already underway in the small village of Sebergham, in Cumbria, which is located in a deep valley and comprises just 129 dwellings with a total of 347 residents.
Comparing its technology to similar rival products, EE has been keen to highlight the fact that its rural micro network solution –which is based on technology designed by Parallel Wireless – does not require any fixed broadband to connect into the wider network, meaning it can be deployed in more remote areas. The operator claims such micro networks can connect communities comprising 100-150 premises, across an area of 0.5 square miles, with just three or four small antennas.
With the solution expected to be in full deployment in early 2015, EE chief executive Olaf Swantee was cited as saying: ‘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.’