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EE promises 95% 4G coverage across UK

Mobile group EE plans to extend its 4G coverage from 60% of the UK landmass to 95% by 2020, eradicating "not-spots" to cover customers wherever they go.27 Apr 2016

The group, which was bought by BT earlier this year, will take 4G coverage "further than any mobile operator has ever gone, and significantly beyond the furthest reaches of any 2G or 3G signal today", it said.

EE has now turned on 4G service in Shetland and the Isles of Scilly, "enabled by the fibre broadband links that BT has deployed", it said.

If EE is to reach its goal, however, the UK will need policy reform, it said.

Proposed changes to the Electronic Communications Code must support operators’ coverage ambitions, EE said. All parts of the UK will need to "build on the recent positive announcements on planning changes for England"; and industry, government and Ofcom will have to work together to "improve network operators’ financial incentives to invest", it said.

The UK government recently set out plans to "bring forward provisions in England to provide greater freedoms and flexibilities for the deployment of mobile infrastructure", by extending permitted development rights and allowing higher masts and antennae.

4G connectivity is now being made available for voice calls, EE said. 4G was originally only for data, with users switching to 3G for calls, but EE is now rolling out 4G calls across the UK, it said. 4G Calling is now 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.

EE is also "challenging the mobile industry to measure vital coverage metrics by UK geography, rather than the outdated population score used today", it said.

All EE customer service calls will be handled in the UK and Ireland by the end of this year, EE said, with 600 new jobs created.

BT was given clearance to complete a £12.5 billion takeover of EE by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in January. The regulator said the merger is "not expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market or markets in the UK, including in relation to the supply of retail mobile, wholesale mobile, mobile backhaul, wholesale broadband and retail broadband services".