London,
09
March
2020
|
10:54
Europe/London

Mobile coverage boost in rural Wales after EE mast investment

4G coverage in rural areas of Wales is now at record levels thanks to a big boost in the number of new masts built in recent years.

EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator and part of BT Group, has revealed today that it has switched on nearly 1,000 4G sites across Wales since 2012, bringing coverage to areas which had no mobile coverage before.

In Dwyfor Meirionnydd, for example, 10 new 4G sites have been switched on since 2017. The rural constituency in north Wales – which includes a large part of the Snowdonia National Park – has a further 17 new 4G sites planned, with seven due to be switched on, and four awaiting planning consent.

The area is also due to receive 13 new Extended Area Service (EAS) masts built by the Home Office to provide Emergency Services Network coverage in the most remote and rural parts of the UK. These sites are in addition to those new sites being provided by EE.

As a result of the new mast builds, 81% of rural areas across Wales can now receive a 4G service from EE. Across the whole of Wales, 82% of the landmass can now receive the service, higher than any other mobile network. This figure is set to improve with more mast sites due to be built or switched on in the next 12 months.

In order to bring 4G to more places, EE has switched on its low-frequency 800MHz signal – which improves indoor mobile coverage – in around 360 sites across Wales. This lower frequency signal has filled in large areas that were previously 4G ‘not spots’.

The improved 4G coverage also allows people in areas struggling with slow home broadband speeds – or those not able to get fixed broadband installed – to get home broadband via a 4G home router. EE's 4G Home Router can give average speeds of more than 30Mbps, which is faster than many standard broadband connections.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said: “In the last few years, our investment across Wales has resulted in a huge increase in rural mobile coverage. These new 4G mast sites have brought coverage to parts of the country that were previously unconnected. People living in and visiting rural parts of Wales are now increasingly able to access this essential part of modern life.

“But there are still major challenges to building masts in very rural areas. The UK government’s Shared Rural Network plans should help us reach some of these final not spots. As part of that, we will share the benefits of EE’s investment in Wales with other operators, and ensure that everyone benefits from improved coverage and choice. But it’s important also that planning rules for mast building are improved to make the process less complex and time consuming. This is a real issue in Wales.”

Dafydd Gruffydd, Managing Director of enterprise agency Menter Môn, said: “We welcome the increase in 4G access in rural Wales. For many years we have been extoling the benefits of digital technology to businesses in sectors such as food, tourism and agriculture. However, our efforts were often in vain without sufficient coverage to meet their expectations.

“Access to digital technology is also vital from an innovation perspective and it’s important that rural areas aren’t left behind. Recently we’ve introduced Internet of Things and Wi-Fi analytics to business in Ynys Môn and Gwynedd. We believe that there is significant potential to develop new products and services using this new technology, and good connectivity is obviously a basic requirement.”

EE’s ongoing investment in rural masts will also provide coverage for the new Emergency Services Network – to be delivered by EE – which will connect 300,000 UK emergency services personnel.

EE coverage in other rural parts of Wales:

Ceredigion

  • 3 new 4G sites switched on since 2017
  • 4 new 4G sites planned
  • 1 new 4G site due to be switched on
  • 11 UK Home Office Extended Area Service (EAS) sites planned

Brecon & Radnorshire

  • 9 new 4G sites switched on since 2017
  • 13 new 4G sites planned
  • 4 new 4G site due to be switched on
  • 3 sites awaiting planning consent
  • 25 UK Home Office Extended Area Service (EAS) sites planned

Preseli Pembrokeshire

  • 2 new 4G sites switched on since 2017
  • 7 new 4G sites planned
  • 5 new 4G sites due to be switched on
  • 2 sites awaiting planning consent

Montgomeryshire

  • 1 new 4G site switched on since 2017
  • 2 new 4G sites planned
  • 2 existing 4G sites due for upgrade
  • 15 UK Home Office Extended Area Service (EAS) sites planned

 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact: Gareth Morgan at Gareth.2.Morgan@bt.com or on 07483 325753

EE’s ongoing investment in rural masts will also provide coverage for the new Emergency Services Network (ESN) – to be delivered by EE – which will connect 300,000 UK emergency services personnel. The EAS programme is responsible for providing ESN coverage in the most remote and rural areas of Great Britain by building a new network of masts. These sites are in addition to those new sites being provided by EE. EAS will extend ESN coverage and transform mobile working for police, fire and rescue, and ambulance crews in the most rural or remote areas of Britain.

About EE

EE runs the UK's biggest and fastest mobile network, offering superfast 4G in more places than any other operator. EE brought the first 4G network to the UK in October 2012, and launched the UK’s first 5G network in May 2019.

EE has received extensive independent recognition, including being named the UK's best network every year since 2015 at The Mobile Choice Awards, The Mobile News Awards, The Mobile Industry Awards and by RootMetrics®.

As well as offering mobile services to consumers and small and medium businesses, EE also provides home and business broadband using both 4G and fixed line connections. Today, EE’s retail presence exceeds more than 600 shops across the UK.

EE is committed to being number one for service in the industry. It remains the only mobile provider to answer 100% of customer calls in the UK and Ireland, and was recognised as the UK’s Best Large Contact Centre by the UK Customer Experience Awards 2018 and Welsh Contact Centre Awards 2019. EE was awarded The Sunday Times’ Best 100 Companies to Work for in 2018 and 2019, as well as being named Best Employer 2018 by the European Contact Centre & Customer Service awards.

EE is part of BT’s Consumer business unit which provides products and services to all of BT’s consumer customers in the UK.