EE switches on superfast 4G broadband in rural Cumbria

  • Over 2,000 residents and businesses in rural Cumbria to have access to superfast home and office broadband for the first time, powered by 4G from EE
  • New rural wireless broadband plan offers best value data package with 20GB for £25
  • Roll out demonstrates economic advantage of using wireless technology to bring superfast broadband to rural Britain
  • Government and regulatory policy that supports investment critical to advancing rural 4G roll out

EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company, has switched on its expanded 4G network in rural Cumbria, bringing superfast home and office broadband to over 2,000 residents and businesses for the first time.

The rollout follows EE’s 4G commercial trial in the area of Threlkeld, where users experienced average speeds of 24Mbps. The network has been extended to cover more than 100 square miles, spanning from Wigton in the north to Threlkeld in the south.

Local MP Rory Stewart said:

“Cumbria is again taking the national lead in technology. This is a major step forward for us and, of course, for rural communities across the country who will benefit from our pilot. Superfast broadband is making an enormous difference to the way that people live their lives and do business. The 4G trial that started last year has already made a substantial difference to people in the Northern Fells community, and it is a hugely positive step to see this being moved to a full launch.

“EE is a great British business that is investing in sharing the power of connectivity with citizens living in some of the most remote parts of the UK. But as we upgrade our rural communities and switch to superfast fibre and 4G technology, we mustn't become complacent; the hard work is not over. Government needs to meet its target to deliver the best rural broadband to our communities, to encourage more local community broadband projects, and to assess the implications of increased mobile data on our mobile infrastructure."

New rural wireless broadband data plan

From 6 December, residents and businesses covered by EE’s 4G network in Cumbria will be able to sign up to a great value 4GEE wireless broadband data plan for their home or office, with a promotional offer of 20GB for just £25 per month*. Additional data bundles are available at 2GB for £7.50, 4GB for £10, and 10GB for £15.

The new wireless broadband plan comes with a home-based device for £69.99. Connecting to the new service is simple - customers just need to plug in the router and turn it on. The device, the Huawei B593, has high-gain internal antennas and is selected specifically to suit the needs of rural locations. It delivers a Wi-Fi broadband signal, just like a being connected to a fibre broadband network.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee 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.”

Rural economics – 4G vs. Fixed

4G presents a new opportunity to enable superfast mobile broadband in areas where the provision of fixed services has been largely ruled out due to economic challenges.

The Northern Fells Broadband Group estimated that the cost of delivering superfast broadband to this area of Cumbria using fibre would be around £10m. The cost of delivering superfast broadband wirelessly using 4G is approximately 10% of this.

At the Cumbria network launch event taking place today in St John’s in the Vale, Olaf Swantee will highlight how 4G makes connecting rural Britain a possibility, and will detail some fundamental policy considerations necessary to improve rural coverage in the final 10%:

  • Reduction of the proposed spectrum Annual Licence Fees, currently set to increase for EE by £82m per year – equivalent to the cost of delivering superfast broadband to an area the size of Wales
  • Re-balancing of Government’s broadband funding to increase support for wireless technologies for rural communities, rather than maintaining focus on fixed infrastructure
  • Broad reform of the Electronic Communications Code to reflect the importance of mobile to consumers, and the challenges that mobile operators face in maintaining and upgrading networks

Future plans for superfast rural 4G mobile broadband

EE plans to roll out 4G across another 100 square miles of Cumbria by March 2014. By summer, EE also plans to bring 4G to Bodmin Moor in the South West of England, an area that has never been serviced with superfast broadband.

Environment Minister Dan Rogerson said:

“Nothing will have a more spectacular effect on the rural economy than the roll out of superfast broadband, which is why government is investing £1.2bn in delivering it.

“I don’t believe any rural business should be held back because of its location, so it’s great that more than 2,000 Cumbrian homes and businesses are now covered by a superfast network.

“Improving access to broadband will help us build a stronger economy and fairer society, allowing communities to grow and profit by getting online and investing in modern projects and technologies.”

Mal Hilton, Chairman, Northern Fells Broadband:

"Northern Fells Broadband has been working tirelessly for the past 3 years to ensure that the rural parishes in this hard to reach area of Cumbria do not miss out on the high speed broadband developments that are taking place across the UK. It has been a frustrating time and most commercial companies have demonstrated a complete lack of interest.

"It is with real gratitude and excitement, therefore, that we welcome the announcement that EE is launching its 4G broadband service in the region and that it will reach a high proportion of the people and businesses that so badly need this service. For the residents of the northern fells this is a significant milestone in the journey towards a complete superfast broadband service and one we welcome wholeheartedly."

A year into the launch of its 4G network, EE already has 1.2million 4G customers, and a 4G network that covers approximately 60% of the population. As announced in October, the UK’s first 4G network is now also live in Carlisle, in north Cumbria – one of 131 towns and cities covered by the superfast mobile network.

EE’s 4GEE plans are available from £18.99 per month and offer data bundles up to 50GB. Last week, EE launched the world’s fastest mobile network in London’s Tech City, offering theoretical maximum speeds of 300Mbps. 4G from EE is being rolled out to meet the digital needs of all types of users, everywhere in the UK.

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Notes to Editors

*Promotion running until 31st January 2014, when price will be 20GB for £30

4GEE is available in 131 UK towns and cities today – Accrington, Aldershot, Altrincham, Amersham, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Ashford, Ashton-under-Lyne, Aylesbury, Barnsley, Basildon, Basingstoke, Beaconsfield, Bedford, Belfast, Benfleet, Berkhamsted, Bicester, Billericay, Bingley, Birmingham, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Bracknell, Bradford , Brentwood, Bristol, Burton upon Trent, Caerphilly, Camberley, Cardiff, Coalville, Caldicot, Canvey Island, Carlisle, Crawley, Chatham, Chelmsford, Chepstow, Chester-le-Street, Chorley, Colchester, Coventry, Cwmbran, Derby, Dewsbury, Doncaster, Dudley, Edinburgh, Farnborough, Farnham, Fleet, Gerrards Cross, Gillingham, Glasgow, Grays, Guildford, Halifax, Harlow, Harpenden, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, High Wycombe, Hinckley, Hitchin, Houghton-le-Spring, Horsham, Huddersfield, Hull, Kenilworth, Leatherhead, Leeds, Leicester, Letchworth, Lichfield, Liverpool, London, Loughborough, Luton, Lytham St Annes, Maidenhead, Maidstone, Manchester, Marlow, Merthyr Tydfil, Milton Keynes, Newbury, Newcastle, Newport, Nottingham, Oldham, Oxford, Pontefract, Preston, Rayleigh, Reading, Redhill, Reigate, Rochdale, Rochester, Rotherham, Runcorn, Sale, Sevenoaks, Sheffield, Shipley, Slough, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Southport, Stevenage, St Albans, Stafford, Stockport, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Telford, Thame, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Walsall, Warrington, Watford, Welwyn Garden City, Weston-super-Mare, West Bromwich, Wigan, Windsor, Woking, Wolverhampton and Worksop, and EE is aiming for 98% of the UK population to be covered by the end of 2014.

Double speed 4GEE is available in 20 cities - Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

About EE

EE is the largest and most advanced digital communications company in Britain, delivering mobile and fixed communications services to consumers, businesses, government and the wholesale market. With approximately 15,000 employees and 600 retail stores, EE serves more than 27 million customers on EE, Orange and T-Mobile mobile and broadband plans.

EE runs the UK's biggest and fastest mobile network, having introduced the UK's first and only superfast 4G mobile service in 2012. EE's 4G coverage has reached approximately 60% of the UK population, with plans to cover 98% of the population by 2014. EE’s 2G coverage today reaches 99% of the population and 3G reaches 98% of the population. EE's superfast fibre broadband service covers 54% of the UK population, and ADSL broadband service covers 98.7% of the population.

EE has received extensive independent recognition including being ranked the UK's best overall network by RootMetrics®, Best Network at the 2013 Mobile Choice Consumer Awards and Best Network for Business at the 2013 Mobile Industry awards.

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