EE plans £1.5bn 4G network boost

A three year, £1.5bn investment goes toward speeding up 4G and providing reliable voice and data services for 99 per cent of the UK's population.

Telecom company EE has said that it is committed to investing £1.5bn in its telecoms infrastructure over the next three years as "the second phase" of its ambitious plans for the network.

In this phase it aims to make its network accessible "to more than 99 percent of the UK's population and 90 percent of the UK's geography", the company said in a statement.

Other aspects of the plan include the rollout of "double-speed 4G" to reach the 90 percent of the population "with the highest capacity 4G+ in 20 of the busiest UK cities by 2017".

By double-speed 4G the company means twice the normal speed of EE's 4G network which it calculates on average as 12-15 Mbps. Double-speed 46, by contrast, delivers an average download speed of 24-30 Mbps while upload speeds average around 11 Mbps compared to 5-6 Mbps on standard 4G.

Also the company announced that its rural investment programme aims to provide coverage enhancements for both voice and data services to 90 percent of the UK geography with "99.6 percent reliability".

"We are investing in 5G so that we can define the next step, and keep both us and the UK mobile industry one step ahead," said EE's principal network architect, Professor Andy Sutton. He added that the company is working with academic institutions such as the University of Surrey and Lancaster University on new mobile technologies.

Meanwhile BT is moving ahead with its bid for EE. On Thursday the telecoms giant announced plans to raise £1bn through a new share placing to help fund the takeover. Earlier this month BT agreed to pay £12.5bn for EE, an announcement that followed some weeks of negotiations with the two previous owners, Deutsche Telekom and Orange.

BT said that if its planned merger with EE could not move forward because it failed to gain approval it would nonetheless keep the proceeds of the share placing "for general corporate purposes".

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