EE, the largest mobile phone operators in the UK market, have taken a break from promoting their 4G ‘connected’ service through American actor Kevin Bacon, and instead demonstrating its power first-hand, bringing the high-quality signals to a rural area of the English county of Cumbria.
Focusing in particular on an area covering over 250km-sq in the ‘Northern Fells’ mountain range, an estimated 2,000 residents (recognised as having one of the highest rates of people ‘working from home’ in the country) are now able to enjoy the service at its highest quality and speed full-time, following a trial in the region that began last May.
The Orange/T-Mobile joint venture claims that the 20mbps potential speeds of their 4G offering (which began official roll-out in October 2012) is five times that of 3G. Along with a number of built-up areas, such services will now be usable for residents and businesses in the settlements of the Northern Fells, as EE aim to become accessible to 84% of the local area population within the next few months.
Average connection speed for 4G customers is estimated between 8-12mbps, and users in the Northern Fells (a previously unserviced area for such speeds) will be able to take advantage of this from £15.99 per month.
The move is also planned to be the first of many for rural areas in the market for EE, as they look to tailor plans in the future that are specific to the needs of such customers.
Local MP Rory Stewart (Penrith and Borders) claimed that his constituents have experienced a ‘major step forward’ in connectivity with EE’s launch, stating: “Superfast broadband is making a massive difference to the way that people live their lives and do business. 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.”
John Grainger, a managing director for ‘Invest In Cumbria’, noted: “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. 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.”
With a plan to have their service available to ’98% of the UK population’ by the start of 2015, will EE’s rural marketing be a beneficial long-term strategy, and will these areas become as quickly connected as Kevin Bacon says they can be?