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EE banks on small-antenna networks to fix its rural black spots

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Mobile phone coverage in some of the UK's most rural areas is often patchy and unreliable. While the major networks are quick to promote the latest 4G speeds in densely populated cities, their ability to cater for people in the countryside is no less important. Today, EE unveiled a new "micro networks" initiative that uses small, linked antennas to improve coverage in remote areas. Instead of waiting for traditional masts to be built, local residents can use these discreet base stations to amplify the signal from EE's nearest available tower.

Greater coverage will, of course, benefit EE as it seeks to grow its 4G subscriber base. The concept could also help its case against national roaming, though -- rather than share network infrastructure with its rivals, EE would much prefer to expand its own coverage and eliminate any of its remaining black spots. Unlike what Vodafone is doing with Rural Open Sure Signal, EE's micro networks work without an internet backbone. Considering rural areas are often struggling for a decent broadband connection, this could remove at least one potential obstacle.

EE has trialled the antennas in Sebergham, a small village in Cumbria, and says it's committed to connecting 1,500 rural communities the same way over the next three years. Each micro network should cover between 100 and 150 homes, or 0.5 square mile with three or four antennas. The solution isn't ideal, but residents will likely welcome anything that improves their signal -- at least until EE improves its traditional infrastructure.

[Image Credit: EE]

In this article: EE, Rural, uk-feature
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