EE To Spend £1.5BN To Push 4G/LTE To ninety% Of U.Okay. By 2017
The U.Okay.’s first-to-market 4G/LTE community, EE, has at the moment introduced community enlargement plans in a bid to remain forward of the service competitors — revealing plans to spend £1.5 billion over the subsequent three years to beef up its excessive velocity cellular community.
The goal is to broaden its 4G community protection from the present attain of greater than eighty per cent of the U.Okay. inhabitants, to greater than ninety nine per cent of the inhabitants — and ninety per cent of the U.Okay.’s geography — by 2017.
Enhancing its rural protection is listed as a selected goal, with EE noting it plans to make use of Micro Community know-how “to make telephone calls and cellular knowledge out there in 1,500 communities that aren’t at present related by both dependable cellular or excessive velocity broadband”. And to deploy low frequency 800MHz spectrum throughout its rural community to broaden its attain by greater than 1,500 sq. miles.
It’s additionally planning to enhance cellular protection on roads (targeted on voice providers principally) and railways — with “particular 4G enlargement to cowl the nation’s busiest practice routes”.
The service was first to launch LTE within the U.Okay., again in October 2012, and was adopted throughout the course of 2013 by 4G community launches from the different three U.Okay. cellular community operators: O2, Vodafone and Three. EE is evidently hoping to retain its 4G headstart by increasing the attain of the community. In its outcomes for final yr, it reported rising its 4G base to 7.7 million, which it stated makes it Europe’s largest 4G operator.
It has additionally invested in upping its 4G community speeds because the 2012 launch — and has added an extra dedication on that entrance now, to double 4G speeds for ninety per cent of the U.Okay. inhabitants by 2017, switching on knowledge speeds of as much as 60Mbps.
It says it should additionally roll out its highest velocity and capability 4G+ tech, which gives as much as 150Mbps for these with suitable units, to 20 U.Okay. cities by 2017.
In associated information, earlier this month EE agreed to be acquired by U.Okay. fastened line incumbent telco and broadband supplier BT — with a worth-tag of £12.5 billion on the acquisition. The deal is predicted to shut within the first half of 2016, pending regulator and shareholder approval, so EE stays on the helm of its cellular enterprise for now.
BT has stated it plans to market its broadband, fastened line, and pay-TV providers to EE clients. On the finish of final month it additionally revealed its personal funding plans for increasing the attain and capability of its fastened line fibre broadband — setting out a plan to extend entry to as much as 500Mbps fibre broadband to a majority of the U.Okay. inhabitants by 2025.
If EE is pushing out larger capability excessive velocity mobile connectivity to extra of the U.Okay. inhabitants it might ease the strain on BT to improve its fastened line broadband community — whereas additionally giving the telco one other excessive velocity pipe to push providers down.
BT has been routinely criticized for dragging its heels on upgrading its infrastructure from legacy copper to full fibre. The fee and energy of changing in-the-floor broadband infrastructure positions cellular knowledge as a neater to implement various, particularly for more durable to succeed in rural places, although mobile tech can’t supply the identical futureproof guarantees as fastened-line fibre.
That stated, additionally immediately, EE stated it is going to be getting concerned with improvement work across the subsequent era of mobile tech, 5G, which may help speeds of as much as 1Gbps — working with the 5GIC on the College of Surrey and the E.U.’s Horizon 2020 ‘TWEETHER’ undertaking at Lancaster College.
Commenting in a press release, EE’s principal community architect, Professor Andy Sutton, famous that 4G supplies a “basis” for 5G, and added: “We’re investing in 5G in order that we will outline the subsequent step, and maintain each us and the U.Okay. cellular business one step forward.”