EE announces major investment to achieve 95% 4G geographical coverage by 2020

Newly-acquired UK MNO EE has announced the start of a major coverage initiative with the aim of providing 4G to 95% of the UK landmass by 2020.

The announcement was made by new CEO Marc Allera, who replaced Olaf Swantee once the BT acquisition completed. The fact that this announcement is being made so soon after the acquisition isn’t a coincidence either, with the stability provided by BT’s patronage making EE more inclined to be ambitious with its network investment.

“The expectation now is to be able to access the internet wherever you go and we want to cover 95% of the UK land mass,” said Allera at a press briefing. “We have a phenomenal network that had more 4G customers than any other in Europe, yet we only cover 60% of the UK land mass today. So we’re going to increase our 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by 2020, which is further than anyone has gone before and will put us on a par with countries like Japan and South Korea. We’re declaring war on notspots.”

Much of this will take place over the next 18 months, with EE aiming to get its geographical coverage up to 92% by the end of 2017. The UK government has demanded 90% geographical voice coverage by the end of 2017. Symbolically EE switched on 4G in Shetland and the Scilly Isles this weekend.

The key to this rapid geographical expansion is the 800 MHz spectrum EE acquired in the 4G spectrum auctions. It only has 2×5 MHz of paired spectrum, and the aim was always for it to be used for rural coverage as well as filling some urban notspots. This will also mean some areas are covered by 4G so EE will be rolling out VoLTE to the rest of its network by this July and EE will have enabled around 4,000 sites with 800 MHz by 2020, including 750 new sites..

EE is also overhauling its customer service operations, with the headline move being that all of its customer service calls will be handled in the UK, which means the creation of 600 customer service positions. Things already seem to be headed in the right direction according to a recent Ofcom report and EE is keen to build on that momentum.


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