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EE rolls out FWA to compensate for BT inadequacies

EE FWA

EE has launched a Fixed Wireless Access solution to provide tolerable broadband speeds to the 580,000 homes across the UK that BT fails to adequately service.

Following trials across the Northern Fells in Cumbria, the 4G antenna and installation service is available nationwide from today (February 9) with EE claiming speeds could exceed 100 Mbps. The quoted speeds are of course drawn from results of the trial and whether the reality lives up to the promise remains to be seen.

This is of course a funny little loop-hole. Connectivity providers are no-longer allowed to use the ‘up to’ metric in the irresponsible manner it did before, instead having to use an average reading in advertising, but EE has no alternative. In the vast majority of instances trials dramatically exceed performance in the real-world, but as this is the only data which EE has available it is free to use it. Maybe EE will deliver on the promise, only time will tell.

“As our network continues to expand into some of the most remote parts of the UK, we’ve seen the amazing impact that 4G connectivity can have on rural communities,” said Max Taylor, Managing Director of Marketing at EE.

“Our newest 4G home broadband router and antenna takes this one step further, ensuring thousands of families in rural areas across the UK could enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband inside their home for the very first time – whether video-calling the grandparents or streaming their favourite TV series.”

EE has predicted there are 580,000 homes with slow or no fixed line access across the UK. This could prove to be a useful opportunity for EE’s 90% 4G coverage to bail out its lethargic big brother BT.

While there have been a couple of examples of FWA across the UK, it is more prominent in Europe and the US. It has been lauded as the saviour of the unconnected though there has only be glimpses of the promise so far. In this example, the EE FWA proposition could be used as an alternative solution for the areas which BT deems too expensive, tedious or strenuous to connect. They are only famers after all, why should Gavin Hasselhoff Patterson interrupt Baywatch recitals for the commoners in the countryside.

This is of course how many of the telcos are viewing FWA. Orange said the other day it was going to be testing out various FWA initiatives in Romania, as this is one of the countries where the fibre roll-out has not been as extensive. Should operators be able to find a suitable alternative to the expensive task of trenching and laying fibre it would certainly be welcomed.

Considering the amount of fibre Orange has laid across France and Spain, we can see why Orange is seeking an alternative solution to throw into the mix, BT does not have this excuse however. Perhaps this is just another way to force the fibre rollout down the list, but Gav and his buddies must be running out of ideas.

Generally, this is a pretty good idea. Considering the 4G coverage EE currently offers it is a feasible to a problem which has largely been ignored by all the telcos in the UK; rural connectivity. No-one seems too bothered about connecting field-dwellers so EE could collect a useful number of subscriptions. The antenna is attached to the outside of the house and a cable run through to the router, so customers won’t have to worry about thick walls causing issues either.

The plan also takes EE into the eagerly sought world of convergence. If the customer has an existing EE pay monthly phone plan or 12 month SIM only plan, EE will boost their phone’s monthly data allowance by an extra 5GB. Packages range from £35 to £60 which include the 4GEE Home Router.

One final concern regarding the speeds delivered is whether this will live up to customers’ expectations. Of course customers who experience 30-40 Mbps will not find any services are sub-par, but there are those in the world who want the best available, irrelevant as to whether the extra speed will be useful or redundant. If there is a 70 Mbps service out there, they won’t be happy unless they get it. But nothing can be done about these people.

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