The mobile network EE has announced that it aims to connect rural areas currently without voice, 3G and 4G services by 2017.
Right now there are still pockets of the UK without mobile connectivity. These are largely located in areas far from main antennae masts, or in valleys, and would be expensive to connect by building new ones or running cabling. EE is going to use a mesh of micro networks to connect more than 1,500 rural communities.
The micro networks will wirelessly connect to larger antennae masts already in place without the cost of cabling.
The first community to get connected will be Sebergham in Cumbria whose 347 residents sit deep in a valley where connectivity is difficult to offer. The micro network is made specifically for this size of community with enough range to cover around 100-150 homes across an area of 0.5 square miles. It can manage this with just three or four small antennas which can be installed on any building in a few hours without need for planning permission.
EE says its currently analysing areas in the UK that can benefit from these micro networks and will begin rolling out nationwide in 2015.
EE CEO Olaf Swantee said, "With this innovative new technology, we have the capability to connect every community in the UK, and we estimate that we’ll be able to bring reliable voice coverage and high speed mobile broadband to more than 1,500 places for the first time by 2017."