UK operator EE launched a 4G home broadband system it said could boost the speeds in half a million homes currently unable to access parent BT’s fibre network.
The company said a trial in a rural area of northern England showed its 4G antenna combined with a 4GEE home router could deliver broadband speeds of more than 100Mb/s in areas previously only able to receive speeds below 10Mb/s.
In late January, the UK’s government announced 95 per cent of the country had access to home broadband speeds of at least 24Mb/s. However, connecting the remaining 5 per cent – mostly in rural areas – has proved problematic for Openreach, BT’s affiliate charged with fibre rollout across the UK.
BT is frequently criticised by politicians, regulators and the media for broadband speeds and availability in the country. In March 2017, the company was fined £45 million by Ofcom for failing to meet obligations on rollout for wholesale customers.
In a statement, EE said its new solution could address 580,000 homes which presently lack access to superfast broadband.
The company, however, only currently covers 90 per cent of the UK’s landmass with 4G, with many of the gaps likely to be in the same remote areas without access to fibre. EE said it was still in the process of improving 4G coverage on its way to a target of serving 95 per cent of the landmass.
The move to use wireless to plug fixed coverage gaps comes seven months after BT announced it would integrate EE into its wider consumer unit alongside its fixed and broadband divisions.
At the time, BT Group CEO Gavin Patterson was bullish on the power of combining its units into one strong customer-facing company, stating it made BT the UK’s “only truly converged player”.