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December 2, 2014

EE banks on micro network to fix rural black spots

The operator unveils plans to boost rural connectivity over the next three years.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

EE has promised to boost voice, 4G and 3G coverage for 1,500 rural communities across the UK by the end of 2017 using its latest micro network technology.

The mobile operator claims the technology "changes the economics of mobile coverage" as it is low cost, low impact and does not rely on masts or cables.

The mesh network has been designed by Parallel Wireless, an equipment provider, and can cover roughly 100 to 150 properties across an area of 0.5 miles using just 3.4 antennas, which can be installed on a building in just a matter of hours.

"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," said EE’s CEO Olaf Swantee.

The technology has already been tested in the village of Sebergham in Cumbria, which has 129 households and small businesses.

Cumbria’s councillor Duncan Fairbairn said: "The mobile service here is either non-existent or spasmodic at best. And the broadband is incredibly slow and very unreliable.

"In rural communities like Sebergham, being connected to good, reliable mobile coverage can make a significant difference to everyday life and we need fast broadband.

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"We’re delighted to be the first community in the UK to benefit from this EE initiative, and there are more villages in my parish that I know will benefit hugely from this, and they’re excited to be connected next."

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