EE is launching a pilot scheme with Facebook in the Scottish Highlands. The project aims to bring 4G coverage to some of the most remote islands. Originally, the project will run in two villages from August for six months. If successful, the project could be implemented in other villages across the country.
The Director of Radio Networks at EE said that the Scottish Islands and Welsh Valleys are ‘the most challenging areas’ for mobile networks. EE is aiming to have 98% 4G connectivity in the UK by the end of this year, so the company’s next step is to amend the problems with rural connectivity.
The scheme is part of Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project which is designed to get telecom network infrastructure up to scratch ahead of the launch of 5G. The social network has teamed up with a range of mobile providers, like EE, as well as the likes of Intel, Nokia and Deutsche Telekom. It aims to help networks better handle operations which require more data, such as video streaming.
The first product of the partnership will be a base station with an integrated mass and transmission equipment which the local community can maintain, without the need for engineers. The notion is to make the mast mobile (on wheels) so that it can be moved to a sheltered space in certain instances, such as storms. According to the radio networks director, this mobility would mean that although you would still lose coverage in a storm, the damage wouldn’t be as long term as it is now.
Facebook is allegedly going to help by integrating new products into its IT systems in order to maintain a ‘good quality of service’.
The Scottish Highlands won’t be the only area to benefit from increased 4G coverage. EE is also working alongside the Home Office to use 4G balloons, the first of their kind in the world. The balloons will provide 4G coverage to areas of Northern England like Yorkshire, during bad weather. The EE spokesman said that during the December floods, a number of stations went down. The balloons would enable EE to put in place a contingency plan to keep the network running even in the worst cases. Ultimately, the network provider is testing what they are calling an ‘airborne system’.
For more information about EE 4G network coverage, call EE customer services.