EE plans on expanding 4G coverage to 95% of UK landmass by 2020

EE announced that it plans on expanding 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass by the end of the decade.

The mobile phone operator’s 4G network currently covers around 60% of the UK landmass, providing 96 percent outdoor population coverage.

EE’s plans to expand coverage will make its 4G service available to 99.8 percent of the UK population.

woman using mobile phone
All four major of the UK’s main mobile phone operators pledged to spend a combined £5 billion in providing voice and text coverage to 90 percent of the UK’s area.

EE’s chief executive Marc Allera, who joined EE in December 2011 from Three UK, said the project would “go further than any operator has ever gone, with the aim of covering the whole of the UK with 4G”.

Mr Allera added: “There’s no doubt being part of a large group gives us scale and long term surety over our investments.”

4G will also be available in the Shetland Islands and the Isles of Scilly later this week, EE said.

Allera told the BBC that increasing demand for 4G could help ease public opposition to infrastructure required to provide the service, such as transmitter masts.

“The barriers we need to overcome are around how fast and easy we can get access to these sites [where the masts can be built], and also how we ensure we don’t have landlords who can charge ransom rates which make it prohibitive for us to put in a solution,” he said.

“We’re working on those reforms but we can’t do this by ourselves.”

According to Allera, the government is working with EE to overcome the issue.

EE’s plans to expand coverage will be difficult unless the British government makes reforms to tackle limited rights to access sites.

Mr. Allera was asked by TechWeekEurope whether the company’s expansion plans were dependent on reforms.

He said: “We can achieve this without the barriers removed, but it would be quicker and faster if we could gain access to the sites we have difficulty getting to,” he replied. “A lot of people did not want masts ten, fifteen years ago. These days, we are inundated with requests from MPs and local communities.

“[But] we have some landlords charging ‘ransom rents’. Unlike gas and electricity, [landlords] can be prohibitive. We need partnership with handset manufacturers, governments and regulators.”

EE is will onshore 100% of service calls

The mobile operator also plans on bringing all of its customer service operations back to the UK and Ireland by the end of the year.

“People look at off-shoring as reducing costs but when you look at the added cost of unhappy customers… actually this isn’t going to be an enormous incremental cost,” Allera was quoted by the BBC as saying.