As part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) project, EE will be expanding their 4G network’s reach across the UK
The SRN is £1 billion scheme, £500 million of which is public funding, aiming at delivering 4G to 95% of the geographic area of the UK by 2025. Vodafone, O2, EE, and Three are all taking part in the scheme, which will see them share existing infrastructure and build and share masts in new locations when required.
The scheme was first announced in March last year, but has seen limited progress. The biggest movement in the project in fact came earlier this year, with O2, Vodafone, and Three announcing they would be building and sharing 222 new 4G sites as part of the SRN. At the time, EE were quick to note that they did not need to build and share additional sites at this point in order to reach their SRN obligations.
“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,” said BT’s CEO Philip Jansen.
EE notes it has already upgraded its network in 110 locations since the SRN’s announcement last year, with 469 further upgrades planned for 2021, aiming to reduce.
The new locations will focus primarily on rural areas of high demand, such as National Parks, roads, and coastal locations, which are expected to receive high traffic, especially as lockdown restrictions begin to be eased. EE’s 4G network already covers around 94% of roads in Great Britain.
England will see the majority of the upgrades with 333 planned, while 132 will take place in Scotland, 76 in Wales, and 38 in Northern Ireland.
“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,” said Matt Warman, UK Minister for Digital Infrastructure.
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