EE will upgrade 4G in more than 500 areas in 2021 as part of the Shared Rural Network initiative to extend coverage in rural areas across the UK.
SRN is a programme between the UK’s four mobile network operators and Government to extend 4G coverage to 95% of the UK’s geography by the middle of this decade. The upgrades announced today fall under the first phase of the Shared Rural Network, where EE will invest to significantly reduce ‘partial not-spots’ by 2024.
EE has upgraded its 4G network in 110 areas since the SRN deal was signed in March 2020 to bring improved connectivity to each UK nation. A further 469 upgrades will follow by the end of this year, meaning a total of 579 areas will benefit from extended EE 4G coverage by the end of 2021 – 333 in England, 132 in Scotland, 76 in Wales, and 38 in Northern Ireland.
All sites have been made available for other operators to share under the SRN scheme.
Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said: “I’m delighted to see the great strides EE is making to boost 4G services in countryside communities as part of the Shared Rural Network agreement, which was brokered and is part funded by the government.
“We’re investing half a billion pounds in this landmark deal to extend mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the UK and it will help us build back better from the pandemic.”
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, said: “Reliable connectivity is important wherever you live, work or travel, and we’re committed to improving and adding coverage to even the most remote areas. The investment BT has made in rural areas to date means we already have the infrastructure in place needed to extend our 4G coverage footprint further, minimising the number of new sites we need to build. There are many places where EE is the only provider with 4G coverage today, offering the other operators an opportunity to share our existing sites to plug gaps in their networks and improve mobile performance for everyone.”
EE has extended its 4G network to cover areas with high summer demand, including all 15 of Great Britain’s National Parks*, coastal locations and roads. Coverage in National Parks has increased by more than 200KM², the equivalent of more than 40,000 football fields, and EE’s 4G network now covers 94% of roads in Great Britain.
Mike McKinley, Chair of National Parks England, said: “The extension, and introduction, of 4G coverage across more rural areas is welcome news for National Park communities and visitors, and will help meet increased demand for fast, reliable connectivity.
“Digital connectivity is a vital part of modern life, and this news will also benefit the residents of National Parks, many of whom currently live in isolated areas with no access to mobile coverage.
“As we look ahead to this summer 2021, National Parks is anticipating a large influx of visitors. These visitors will now have access to better and more reliable mobile coverage, giving them the opportunity to use important tools such as ‘SaferLakes’ which helps visitors enjoy these special landscapes, while ensuring they are protected for future generations.”