Mobile operator EE has switched on its 4G services in a remote region of Cumbria, representing one of the first rural superfast mobile networks to be available.
The 4G network has rolled out in full across the region after a trial in the Northern Fells area. It uses EE’s 1800MHz spectrum to broadcast signals that can provide speeds of between 8-12Mbit/s on average, and as high as 20Mbit/s, the firm said.
EE said that by the summer, around 84 percent of properties in the region should be able to access the service. The operator intends to use the lessons learned from the trial in the region, which began in May 2012, to inform the basis of more rural rollouts.
Services will be offered as both consumer and business packages, starting from £15.99 per month.
James Walker, a local businessman who runs a commercial photography business in the are, has been trialing the service since last summer said it has been a real boon to the business.
“We do have conventional broadband here but it’s not very fast and as we’re often handling very large image files this can be slow, but with the EE 4G service we have seen a marked improvement,” he told V3.
“We saw speeds of around 30-32Mbit/s download and even the same on upload. This was via a wireless router with a 4G SIM, and we also have a Mi-Fi device we can use out and about too.”
Walker said he also has an iPhone 5 and iPad Mini on 4G now from EE, so impressed has he been with the service.
MP for the area and vocal rural broadband campaigner, Rory Stewart, welcomed the move from EE as a key step forward in developing rural areas.
"This is a major step forward for my constituents. Superfast broadband is making a massive difference to the way that people live their lives and do business," he said.
"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."
The rollout adds to the 37 cities already hooked up on EE’s network as it rushes to build a sizeable coverage lead over future rivals. O2 and Vodafone are both set to come online with their own 4G networks from the summer.
Fibre services should also come to Cumbria in the near future, as BT won a £51m bid to roll out connections to the region late last year.
Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal.