Mobile operator EE has pledged to extend its 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK’s landmass by 2020 as it switches on the high speed service in the Shetland Islands and Isles of Scilly this week.
The investment drive will dovetail with a relocation of EE’s customer service department back to the UK and Ireland following the imposition of a £1m fine by communications watchdog Ofcom over failings in this area.
At present 4G coverage is mapped as a percentage of population as opposed to geographic reach, asserting an inherent investment bias for urban areas over the further flung corners of the British Isles.
Outlining the change in focus EE chief executive Marc Allera said: “The Isles of Scilly have 2,000 residents but 200,000 visitors. Increasingly, the expectations from customers are that they can get access to the internet wherever they go.
To meet this 95 per cent target EE is calling on the government to step in and ensure that mobile operators are given ‘fair and reasonable access and site rentals’ for the positioning of masts and other infrastructure.
Allera continued: “The barriers we need to overcome are around how fast and easy we can get access to these (mast) sites, and also how we ensure we don't have landlords who can charge ransom rates which make it prohibitive for us to put in a solution."
"We're working on those reforms but we can't do this by ourselves.”