EE to expand 4G coverage to 95 percent of UK

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UK-based telecom network operator EE today announced its investment strategy to expand its 4G coverage to 95 percent of the UK’s landmass by 2020 from 60 percent.

EE to add more jobs

The mobile operator in a statement said that UK and Ireland will be handling 100 percent of customer service calls by end of the year. EE, a part of BT, will create 600 new jobs across UK and Ireland, including roles in Plymouth, South Wales and North Tyneside. EE has approximately 14,000 employees.

“We’ve already seen a major boost in customer satisfaction by creating 1,400 new service jobs here since 2014. Now we’re creating 600 additional jobs to handle all EE customer service calls in the UK and Ireland by the end of this year, providing the best possible experience for our customers,” said EE CEO Marc Allera.

At present, EE has 550 retail stores, and serves more than 31 million connections across its mobile, fixed and wholesale networks.

EE on 4G expansion

EE claims that its 4G coverage reaches more than 95 percent of the UK population, with double speed 4G reaching 80 percent. EE’s 2G coverage reaches 99 percent of the population while 3G reaches 98 percent.

As part of its investment strategy, EE will be setting up 750 new telecom sites across the country. The technology major did not share investment figures. EE said it will complete 4G coverage across all of the islands by summer 2017 by switching on 4G sites.

EE CEO Marc Allera said: “For the smartphone user, not-spots aren’t tolerated and 2G doesn’t deliver what they need. Customers want 4G speeds everywhere they go, and mobile operators are too used to saying ‘no’ to new coverage.”

EE is also making investment in rolling out 4G Calling (VoLTE) across the UK to enable both voice and data over 4G. 4G Calling is already live in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds and Newcastle, and will be switched on across the rest of the network by July.

4G investment tips to EE

OpenCloud marketing head Jonathan Bell, Ian Langley, SVP and GM of Cobham Wireless and Boosty CEO Paul Evans have shared their suggestions to EE before making investment for expanding 4G and VoLTE.

In order to deliver the benefits of VoLTE, EE will have to focus efforts on a smooth transition of the services in the circuit switch network to the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network. These are still many services delivered on the circuit switch that businesses and consumers worldwide use, often without being aware that they are separate network services, such as various voicemail services, number translation, least-cost routing and mobile roaming. Equivalent services must also be available for customers using VoLTE.

“EE will probably want to re-implement many of these services in due course, but until it does so, their absence in the IMS network will act as a brake on customer migration. An evolutionary transformation of the service layer by providing access to the existing services whilst transforming the network could be a good option for EE as it transitions to VoLTE, with no negative effect on the subscriber,” said Jonathan Bell, VP Marketing at OpenCloud.

For BT’s fixed broadband business, growing its fibre network is a difficult task, requiring engineering in order to extend fiber lines to UK homes and business, which can be particularly difficult in remote or dense urban areas. Mobile phone coverage on the other hand has grown exponentially over recent years and is only set to increase.

“This trend has created an opportunity for hybrid access solutions that combine 4G with fixed line broadband, which naturally suits BT-EE given its network growth. This model creates a more resilient broadband offering for consumers, who can maintain a fast connection at all times, even in the event of a broadband outage,” said Paul Evans, CEO at Boosty.

Meeting customer demand for 4G connectivity goes far beyond land mass coverage proposed by EE. As it is also essential that service providers maintain quality coverage in built up areas.

“One of the main reasons that built-up areas of Britain struggle with consistent connectivity is that many common building materials used in the UK prevent high capacity RF signals getting in from the outside, from dense stone that blocks the signal to modern glass which reflects it. DAS technology can help service providers reach remote areas but also maintain quality of experience in towns and cities,” said Ian Langley, SVP and GM of Cobham Wireless.

Baburajan K
editor@telecomlead.com