EE readies rural broadband mesh network in Cumbria

The Cumbrian village of Sebergham will be the first rural community to receive a meshed micro network from EE , due to go live in 2015

The Cumbrian village of Sebergham will be the first rural community to receive a meshed network from EE.

Due to go live in 2015, the network will offer households and small businesses data and voice connectivity.

EE said the micro network will change the economics of mobile coverage, removing the requirement to build large masts and install underground cables.

CEO Olaf Swantee said: "With this innovative new technology, we have the capability to connect every community in the UK. We estimate 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."

EE said it would make voice services, as well as 3G and 4G mobile data coverage, available in communities that currently do not have reliable mobile or high-speed broadband. These areas have remained unconnected by traditional approaches to network deployment that have relied on building large masts.

Antenna planning advantage

Cumbria County Councillor Duncan Fairbairn said: "The mobile service here is either non-existent or sporadic, at best. And the broadband is incredibly slow and very unreliable. 

"We’re delighted to be the first community in the UK to benefit from this EE initiative, and there are more villages in my parish that I know will benefit hugely from this, and they’re excited to be connected next."

Designed by Parallel Wireless, the micro network can connect communities of around 100-150 homes and businesses, across an area of half a square mile, using three or four small antenna. EE said an antenna can be installed on to any building in just a few hours, without the need for planning permission.

As Computer Weekly has reported, rural communities have struggled to get superfast broadband. New providers such as Gigaclear are building networks in areas where the larger providers struggle to justify investment. The fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) provider recently rolled out superfast broadband to the villages of Beckley, Ellsfield, Horton-cum-Studley, Noke, Stanton St John and Woodeaton, outside Oxford.

Last month Network Rail applied to regulator Ofcom to extend its electronic communications network and system of conduits, to improve mobile connectivity along the rail corridor and offer wholesale services to other telecom operators.

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