BT’s EE upgrades more than 500 rural areas to 4G


More than 500 areas across the countryside will be upgraded to 4G, providing relief to those living in rural communities who have suffered from poor mobile phone and data coverage.

EE’s expanded coverage will include Great Britain’s 15 national parks, where the demand for bandwidth surges in the summer due to the high number of visitors. The operator states it has upgraded 110 areas already since the Shared Rural Network (SRN) deal was signed in March 2020, with a further 469 to follow this year.

SRN is a programme agreed by the UK’s four mobile network operators and Government to extend 4G coverage to 95% of the UK’s landmass by the middle of this decade.  

The second phase of the SRN will receive £500 million (€579.37 million) in government funding to eliminate total not-spots – areas that are hard to reach and lack any 4G coverage.
Says Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure:

“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.”

Adds BT chief executive Philip Jansen:

“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. ”  

The initial roll-out is expected to increase the turnover of rural firms by £187.7m per year, according to a Development Economics report. 

Concludes Phil Sorksy, SVP, Service Providers for EMEA at CommScope:

 “The news that BT is upgrading more than 500 rural areas to 4G coverage is a promising step for mobile connectivity. We believe all homes and businesses should be on a level playing field in terms of connectivity – regardless of location. As we upgrade our networks, we must ensure no areas are left behind and have the necessary network infrastructure to enable greater growth throughout the UK.

“Such connectivity could be the difference between success and failure in rural communities, particularly for smaller, home-based businesses, as it enables them to reach a global audience. And with the lines between “home” and “office” increasingly blurred due to the rise of remote working, having access to reliable connectivity is crucial so that local economies and communities can truly thrive.”

Chris Price
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