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EE UK Details 139 Mobile 4G Mast Site Upgrades for Northern Ireland UPDATE

Wednesday, Oct 25th, 2023 (9:49 am) - Score 2,096
ee rural mast

Broadband ISP and mobile operator EE (BT) has today announced that, as part of their work under the £1bn industry-led Shared Rural Network (SRN) project, they’ve upgraded 139 mobile mast sites across Northern Ireland and delivered improved 4G mobile coverage.

The SRN is an industry-led scheme – supported by £500m of public funding and £532m from operators – that aims to help extend geographic 4G coverage (aggregate) to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025 (the 5G rollout will also benefit). The scheme essentially involves both the reciprocal sharing of existing masts in certain areas and the demand-led building and sharing of new masts in others between the operators.

NOTE: EE claims to be on track to meet their UK-wide target of 88% 4G geographic coverage by June 2024.

The project’s target does, however, vary a bit between different parts of the UK. For example, 4G coverage from at least one MNO is expected to reach 98% in England, 91% in Scotland, 95% in Wales and 98% in Northern Ireland. But this falls to 90% in England, 74% in Scotland, 80% in Wales and 85% in Northern Ireland when looking at 4G coverage from all MNOs combined.

For its part, EE has so far upgraded more than 1,500 locations across the UK, which allegedly “[makes] it the only operator on track to meet its obligations under the SRN” – this is in light of last weekend’s media reporting that O2, Three UK and Vodafone will struggle to meet the June 2024 Ofcom deadline for coverage improvements in partial not-spot areas (here).

The Plan for Northern Ireland

According to today’s announcement, EE has just significantly expanded the reach of its 4G network by upgrading 139 locations across Northern Ireland as part of the SRN. The operator – working in partnership with WHP Telecoms – has also built a new mobile mast to deliver enhanced 4G coverage across the northern part of the Mid-Ulster district and the eastern part of the Sperrins – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This includes the villages of Moneyneany and Draperstown, Spelhoagh Mountain, as well as large sections of the B40, A6 and Glenshane Pass – one of the highest mountain roads in Northern Ireland.

By the end of the SRN programme, EE aims to have upgraded or built 164 sites in Northern Ireland – including the potential for a further 10 new mast sites – to ensure rural communities have the fast and reliable 4G connectivity they need.

Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer at BT Group, said:

“The Shared Rural Network is having a positive impact on the lives of people who live and work in countryside communities across the UK. At EE we’re expanding the reach of our 4G network to deliver widespread and reliable connectivity rural areas can rely on.

Northern Ireland is renowned for its rich history and heritage, as well as its thriving tourism and agricultural industries. Having boosted 4G connectivity across the country, we’re helping close the digital divide that exists between urban and rural communities and ensuring residents and businesses have the connectivity they need to thrive for decades to come.”

EE’s 4G network in Northern Ireland currently covers more than 88% of the country and is on track to reach 89% by the end of 2025 thanks to these new upgrades. But as usual with EE’s press releases, they talk about giving “details” of the 139 upgraded mobile mast sites, but then fail to actually list which sites have been upgraded – something we and many others would find useful to know.

Finally, while the SRN doesn’t specifically require 5G to be deployed, the infrastructure they’re building can often still be used to support it. All of this should help with EE’s ambition to deliver 5G connectivity solutions anywhere in the UK by 2028 – through a combination of permanent coverage (90% of the UK’s landmass) and on-demand solutions (to tackle the final 10%).

UPDATE 2:32pm

EE has not been able to furnish us with a list of the aforementioned sites, but we do have a regional split to – very roughly – show where most of them are (happy days in County Down):

County Antrim: 34
County Armagh: 17
County Down: 49
County Fermanagh: 5
County Londonderry: 19
County Tyrone: 15

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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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Comments
4 Responses
  1. Avatar photo SuperKipperFlipper says:

    Long overdue … Three & even O2 have had 5g here from 2020’ish

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Did you know EE tested 5G in Larne, N.I, around 6 months ago for a few months but still have not officially launched it. It has now disappeared back to 4G only!

  2. Avatar photo Joe says:

    Any word on 5G coming to Derry? One of the largest cities in NI and seems to be only one mast that has 5G enabled.

  3. Avatar photo Jon says:

    Radio sites themselves are not technology-specific and can support any “G” from 2G > 5G. What matters is primarily the antennnas and associated site build. Antenna selection & config drives the available frequencies, which inturn impacts what radio modules can be installed at ground level.

Comments are closed

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