EE’s focus might be 5G, but it hasn’t forgotten about 4G, as there are still parts of the country that don’t have even that, or that have it from just some but not all networks. It’s with that in mind that EE is planning to bring extended 4G coverage to 469 rural areas this year, following on from 110 such areas that it brought coverage to between March 2020 and now (February 2021), for a total of 579 areas.
It’s doing this as part of the Shared Rural Network initiative – an initiative that’s seeing the UK’s four main networks work together to bring shared 4G coverage to rural locations, with an aim of bringing 4G to 95% of the UK’s geography by the end of 2025.
The initiative is partially government funded, and that ‘Shared’ bit of the name is key, as it means that all networks will be able to share the coverage, so while EE is doing this particular upgrade work, it will benefit customers of every UK network.
The 110 places that have already been upgraded include parts of all 15 UK National Parks, plus numerous coastal locations and roads. The focus was on areas that would have increased tourist traffic in the summer months, and now that they’re ready, EE is turning its attention to other rural locations as well.
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It’s extending 4G coverage in 333 parts of England, 132 places in Scotland, 76 places in Wales, and 38 places in Northern Ireland by the end of the year, and it’s focused on ‘partial not-spots’ – those that have mobile coverage from at least one network, but not all of them.
While this is valuable work, it highlights just how far behind some parts of the UK still are, as while many towns and cities are now getting 5G coverage, these places still don’t have 4G – or at least don’t have it on every network.
And given that these areas are only now getting a 4G upgrade, we’d expect it will be a long time before many of them get access to 5G.