Rural 4G Expansion Continues


EE is continuing the expansion of its 4G network and is bringing superfast mobile internet to a number of rural locations. In an article entitled ‘From whisky valley to the land of clotted cream, more 4G coverage across the UK’s rural towns’, EE explained that it was rolling out 4G to an additional 14 towns, in every corner of the UK.

Rural 4G

EE’s latest 4G rollout includes remote areas of Western Scotland and Devon. The towns that will now be benefitting from 4G are Mansfield, Swinton, Jarrow, Kirkby, Wishaw, Ilkeston, Castleford, Walton-On-Thames, Totton, Carrickfergus, Newton Abbot, Wimborne Minster, Ramsbottom and Dumbarton. This brings the total number of cities and large towns that have 4G coverage from EE to 229, and the number of small towns and villages to over 2,500, with the network claiming to provide coverage to 73% of the population.

According to EE CEO Olaf Swantee, “We’re continuing to invest in bringing superfast 4G and the best quality of phone calls to more places in all four corners of the UK. We are switching on hundreds of 4G sites, and upgrading as many 2G and 3G sites, each month, and many of those are in rural areas where there is a real demand for voice and data services.”

The Question of Rural Coverage

Coverage in rural areas is an important subject for the 4G networks. In 2012 Ofcom increased the national coverage that networks were obliged to provide from 95% to 98% in an attempt to ensure that they rolled out 4G to the more remote parts of the UK.

The Countryside Alliance is one of the many organisations campaigning for better coverage in rural areas. It has set up the Sick of No Signal campaign which encourages users to take signal samples on their smartphones, using the free RootMetrics CoverageMap App, to identify areas of the countryside with poor signal. The data will be used to create a realistic coverage map that can be used to lobby the government and network providers to improve coverage in rural locations.

According to Sarah Lee, Head of Policy at Countryside Alliance, “Mobile phone reception is vital for rural homes and businesses, but the reception you get on the ground can vary distinctly from that predicted by your provider. That’s why we launched our Sick of No Signal campaign earlier this year to try to map the reality of no-spots in the countryside.”

Can 4G Cows Provide the Answer?

EE were providing 4G coverage in a unique rural location last week, when they set up a WiFi network at the Glastonbury festival. 4G WiFi was delivered via a herd of life size painted cow statues, with each one acting as a 4G WiFi hotspot. Festival goers were able to connect via the cows and could upload photos and videos of the festival using 4G. Spencer McHugh, Director of Brand at EE said “we wanted to have some fun this year while providing a much-needed service.”

Fields full of 4G WiFi cows? It’s certainly food for thought for rural 4G!