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EE UK Officially Launch 4G LTE Home Broadband Service in Rural Cumbria

Monday, Nov 11th, 2013 (8:34 am) - Score 6,418
askew_rigg_farm_cumbria_ee_4g_mobile_broadband

Mobile operator EE (4GEE) has today launched their special 4G (LTE) based fixed wireless home broadband service, which focuses on rural areas and will cost up to around £25 per month for a data allowance of 25GB (though smaller packages start at £7.50). The first to benefit will be residents in remote parts of Cumbria (England).

As expected the service is based off the operators £1.5 million project in Cumbria’s Northern Fells and Threlkeld area of the Lake District (here and here). EE claims that the final network can deliver average speeds of 24Mbps (i.e. close to the government’s definition of “greater than 24Mbps” for “super-fast broadband“) and will cover a significantly wider area.

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In fact the final deployment will be extended to cover more than 100 square miles – spanning from Wigton in the north to Threlkeld in the south – by March 2014. Come summer 2014, EE also plans to bring its fixed 4G service to a similarly isolated part of Bodmin Moor in the rural South West of England.

Olaf Swantee, EE’s CEO, said:

Our goal is to enhance the digital lives of everyone in the UK, and this major expansion of our superfast broadband service in one of the most rural and geographically challenging areas of the country is a big step towards that goal.

There is a lot of work to do in 2014 to reach more people and businesses in rural areas, and investment-friendly government policies have an important role to play in supporting this, but today we have proven that 4G has the capability to connect this country’s unconnected, and EE intends to continue to be at the forefront of that.”

The new service is expected to be made officially available from 6th December 2013 and it will be accompanied by a series of special packages (i.e. 2GB for £7.50, 4GB for £10 and 10GB for £15). It should also be noted that the 25GB package is currently being offered at the ‘promotional‘ price of £25 a month until 31st January 2014 (£30 thereafter).

Customers who order the service will also have to pay £69.99 for a special Huawei B953 router, which includes several high-gain internal antennas that have been designed for exactly this sort of application. The router supports maximum 4G download speeds of up to 100Mbps but is otherwise much like any other budget home router with the usual wifi support, LAN ports, USB port and one RJ11 port for attaching an analogue phone line.

According to EE, the new fixed 4G network cost around 10% less than would have been required in order to build a new fixed line setup to deliver superfast broadband over the same area. The press releases states that the cost of an alternative fixed line network would have been around £10 million but it doesn’t provide any specifics for a useful comparison.

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However EE warned that it would be difficult to extend this platform to other areas. In particular the operator noted Ofcom’s huge licence fee hike for the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands that could cost them a whopping £82m per year (here). It also wants the government to re-focus their Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) budget to include mobile operators and for the Electronic Communications Code to be reformed so that it can reflect “the importance of mobile to users, and the challenges that mobile operators face in maintaining and upgrading networks“.

Generally speaking this new service is good news but it appears to be arriving a little late to the party and well after most of the BDUK leg work has already been done. Thankfully there might still be an opportunity for mobile operators via the £250m that has been set aside to help superfast broadband reach 99% of the United Kingdom by 2018 (95% if you only include fixed line services).

The other question is whether or not EE’s new fixed 4G network is as capable, in terms of raw Internet access, as a comparable fixed line broadband product. Mobile based platforms often make use of features like IP address sharing that can cause problems and a usage allowance of 25GB is already beginning to look rather meagre.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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