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EE Micro Network Brings Better Mobile Cover to 1,500 Rural Communities

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 (8:41 am) - Score 878

Mobile operator EE has today announced that its new “Micro Network” solution, which is based on technology designed by Parallel Wireless, will be used to expand their 3G and 4G based Mobile Broadband and voice coverage to reach more than 1,500 rural communities, without the need for new cabling, by 2017 (i.e. locations where existing coverage is unreliable and fixed line home broadband is slow).

Apparently the new “world-firstMicro Networkchanges the economics of mobile coverage” (i.e. lower cost coverage) by removing the requirement to build large wireless radio masts and install sub-ground cables. Instead the network wirelessly connects small mobile antennas, which form a mesh network, to a suitable macro site.

The micro network can connect communities of around 100-150 homes and businesses, across an area of 0.5 square miles with just three or four small antennas. An antenna can be installed on to any building in just a few hours, and crucially Planning Applications are not required. The service has already been successfully trialled in the Cumbria (England) village of Sebergham, with 129 homes (347 residents) and businesses.

Duncan Fairbairn, Cumbria County Councillor, said:

The mobile service here is either non-existent or spasmodic at best. And the broadband is incredibly slow and very unreliable. In rural communities like Sebergham, being connected to good, reliable mobile coverage can make a significant difference to everyday life and we need fast broadband. We’re delighted to be the first community in the UK to benefit from this EE initiative, and there are more villages in my parish that I know will benefit hugely from this, and they’re excited to be connected next.”

Olaf Swantee, EE CEO, added:

With this innovative new technology, we have the capability to connect every community in the UK, and we estimate that we’ll be able to bring reliable voice coverage and high speed mobile broadband to more than 1,500 places for the first time by 2017.

We’ve been working closely with Government on the long-term ambition to bring voice coverage to more of the UK, and we believe that this world-first technology will demonstrate significant advancements against that vision.”

Mesh networks are nothing new but we don’t often seem them being deployed in such a significant way. Never the less EE said that they’re currently surveying areas across the United Kingdom and planned to be in “full deployment” sometime during early 2015, when hopefully we’ll also get the first coverage plan.

No doubt EE also sees this as a useful counter or compliment for Vodafone’s rival Open Sure Signal project, which by comparison uses existing fixed broadband lines and Femtocell technology to help boost local mobile coverage (here). Lest we not forget that it’s also another bullet that can be used for firing towards the Government’s National Network Roaming proposal, which has operators quite worried (here).

Aside from boosting mobile coverage it also sounds as if EE’s new service might be used to support their Fixed Rural 4G Home Broadband solution, which was launched last year (here) after a separate trial in another part of Cumbria. But since then we haven’t heard anything new about their plans to expand its coverage.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar Tim says:

    Hmm they better develop some more discreet antennas if they are going to be sticking them up on buildings in rural areas.

    1. Avatar Kevin says:

      lol 😀

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