EE commits to stg£1.5bn 4G network investment plan in the UK

11 Feb 2015

Everything Everywhere, the 4G operator that is about to be acquired by BT, has committed to a new stg£1.5bn network investment plan that will deliver 4G to 99pc of the UK’s population by 2017.

The expanded 4G footprint will overtake 2G by 2017 and the highest capacity 4G+ connectivity will be available in 20 of the busiest cities in the UK.

The plan includes a rural investment programme that will boost voice and data quality to 90pc of the UK’s geography.

EE is also working on a multi-year programme to make the UK a leader in 5G mobile technology.

Connecting every home in the UK

EE said it will be investing in innovation and new technologies that will make it possible to connect every home in the UK and get rid of wireless “not spots” where network coverage isn’t available.

Last week, BT confirmed plans to acquire EE for stg£12.5bn.

“Stage one of our network strategy saw us overhaul UK mobile networks, launching 4G and changing the way people and businesses use their smart devices,” said EE CEO Olaf Swantee.

“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 the while continuing to increase speeds and capacity with deeper coverage in more cities.

“Smart devices are playing an ever-increasing part in our customers’ lives in every part of the UK. With the stg£1.5bn investment plan, and our unceasing desire to continually improve the breadth and performance of our network, we are at the forefront of the new mobile era that is changing customers lives every day.”

EE’s technology manifesto

The plan involves doubling the speed of 4G to 60Mbps for 90pc of the UK’s population while in 20 key cities the speeds possible will be increased to 150Mbps.

EE has unveiled a technology manifesto whereby as well as 90pc 4G coverage it will use Micro Network technology to boost mobile voice calls and mobile data in 1,500 communities not currently connected by reliable mobile or high-speed broadband.

It plans to deploy mobile voice coverage along 90pc of the UK’s 245,000 miles of road by 2017, up from the current 82pc. The plan involves focusing on motorways first and then A and B roads, as well as the country’s busiest train routes.

EE will also deploy low-frequency 800MHz spectrum across 1,500 sq miles of rural areas – an area bigger than the Lake District and Peak District National Parks combined.

The final network will be capable of call completion rates of 99.6pc on 150m calls per day.

4G Voice, or VoLTE, will be rolld out, as well as Wi-Fi Calling on iOS, Windows and Android devices.

A minimum of 2Mbps data speeds will be possible in every home, office or public venue.

“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,” said EE principal network architect Andy Sutton.

“Working closely with academic institutions such as the 5GIC at the University of Surrey and the EU’s Horizon 2020 ‘TWEETHER’ project at Lancaster University on technologies that are truly ground-breaking, EE will continue to change the way people think of what’s possible with mobile. We will continue to evolve new 4G technologies, as they lay the perfect foundation for being a global leader in 5G.”

UK wireless image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years