Mobile giant EE vows to cover the entire country with 4G
BT-owned mobile operator EE is seeking to dial up its coverage advantage over rivals with a pledge to expand its 4G network to 95pc of the country by 2020, as it reaps the benefit of a lucrative contract with the Home Office to to connect the emergency services.
EE is seeking and capitalise on the deal it made last year with the Government to replace the Airwave radio network by promising to eradicate to eradicate “not-spots” for consumers too.
The operator’s 4G network currently covers around 60pc of UK landmass, but must be rapidly expanded to provide voice calls and fast data communications police and ambulances working in rural areas. The taxpayer will subsidise the rollout as part of the deal, which cut hundreds of millions of pounds from the Home Office’s communications spending.
Mr Allera, who stepped into the top job following the BT takeover, added: “There’s no doubt being part of a large group gives us scale and long term surety over our investments.”
He unveiled the coverage pledge alongside plans to bring all of EE’s customer call centres back to the UK by the end of this year to improve service. It is the most complained about broadband provider and third most complained about mobile operator, according to Ofcom data. EE also came bottom in a recent customer satisfaction survey by the regulator.
To improve service it said it will shut its Indian call centres and create 600 new jobs in the UK and Ireland, echoing BT’s strategy for improving its own poor record.
But EE’s rival’s – Vodafone, O2 and Three – have blamed slow progress on planning rules that they say prevent them from creating the necessary infrastructure, such as new mobile masts.
However, EE insists this latest project will go ahead “with or without” reforms to the way networks build and maintain their own mobile masts. But Mr Allera said: “Reform that gets us access to sites and stops landlords paying ransom rents would certainly help.”
Rural campaigners, however, have expressed concerns that EE could use its financial firepower to stifle competition in the countryside, citing poor customer service at the company.