Mobile broadband speeds have become the subject of increasing attention of late – particularly in light of a Which? report that indicating 4G speeds in the UK are not necessarily as reliable as might be hoped.
Network carriers appear to be responding, with EE confirming that it will endeavour to bring faster 4G services to more parts of the country.
EE, founded after the merger of Orange and T-Mobile and the largest mobile operator in the UK, has announced it has switched on superfast 4G mobile broadband in Shetland and the Isles of Scilly.
With the two sites situated almost 1,000 miles apart at opposite ends of the UK, the move reaffirms EE's commitment to delivering 4G coverage to the most remote parts of the UK. This was made possible by fibre broadband links deployed by BT.
It also forms part of EE's ambition to achieve UK-wide 4G coverage. To this end, more than 750 new sites are planned to be built. Almost 60 per cent of the UK's landmass is already covered by EE's 4G – and this is roughly the equivalent of 95 per cent of the population.
However, EE hopes to take this figure to 95 per cent of the country, thereby accounting for 99.8 per cent of UK residents – a near-complete coverage of the population. This is further than existing 2G and 3G coverage from any provider.
Initially, 4G was only used for data connections, with customers transferred to 3G while making a traditional voice call. EE is aiming to switch all of these services to 4G with 4G Calling, which will enable the transmission of both voice and data over 4G.
Customers will therefore still benefit from superfast 4G data speeds while on calls. Furthermore, they will also be able to make calls in new areas of the network that are 4G-only. London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds and Newcastle already benefit from 4G Calling – and this will be extended to the rest of the EE network by July.
Marc Allera, chief executive of EE, which is part of the BT Group, said it is important for his firm to eradicate 'not-spots' where users cannot get any data coverage.
“For the average smartphone user, not-spots aren't tolerated and 2G doesn't deliver what they need. Customers want 4G speeds everywhere they go, and mobile operators are too used to saying 'no' to new coverage. Today, I'm saying 'yes', with an ambition to go further than any operator has ever gone -and with the ultimate aim of covering the whole UK with 4G.”