The Northern Fells, north of Keswick, has so far been ignored by commercial roll-outs of superfast fibre due to its location and relatively small population. However, EE has been trialling its technology there for almost a year, and now plans to make its broadband available on a commercial basis.
Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and Borders, and rural broadband campaigner, said: “The 4G trial that started last year has already made a substantial difference to people in the Northern Fells community, and it is a hugely positive step to see this being moved to a full launch over the coming months.
“This is a major step forward for my constituents, as superfast broadband is making a massive difference to the way people live their lives and do business.”
Running across the 1800MHz spectrum owned by EE, customers will be able to access average speeds of 8-12Mbps in their homes without digging up the roads.
EE expects to offer the connectivity to 84% of the population – equating to roughly 2,000 residents – by the end of summer 2013, and plans to use the experience as a test case for other rural regions in the UK.
“For many years we have lobbied companies and governments to bridge the digital divide to connect Cumbria, yet a lack of investment and commitment from service providers has for too long left us technologically isolated,” said John Grainger, managing director of Invest in Cumbria, an organisation that offers help to businesses wanting to set up a base in the county.
“EE delivering high-speed broadband connectivity to large parts of the Northern Fells is great progress and a big moment for us. This will be a massive benefit to the local community, changing the way we live and do business,” he said.
Contracts for the broadband will start from £15.99 per month.