4G can become an affordable alternative to fixed broadband for web access in countryside areas, claims EE telecoms company
- Rural homes stranded without broadband will soon be able to plug into the web via the 4G mobile network – by planting an antenna on the roof or simply switching on a router in the living room.
EE, Britain’s largest mobile operator, is planning to throw down the gauntlet to BT on 11 November by launching what it says will be the UK’s first commercially available 4G home broadband service.
Initially available in Cumbria, the offer will roll out to other hard-to-reach areas over the coming months.
“We think 4G can become an affordable alternative to fixed broadband in rural areas,” said EE’s chief executive, Olaf Swantee. “The government is fixated on fixed, but mobile can provide a solution economically.”
As with Wi-Fi, several devices, including laptops, tablets and phones, will be able to connect to the internet wirelessly via a router placed in the home. The only difference is that the router will be connected to EE’s 4G mobile network, rather than a fixed broadband line.
EE has been trialling home broadband over the airwaves in a pilot project in the Northern Fells district of Cumbria since 2012. EE will announce prices next month, but those participating in the trial were charged from £15.99 a month for a connection of 8-12 megabits a second. The speed is equivalent to a typical copper wire broadband service.
With an area of over 100 square miles and a population of 2,600, the Northern Fells is one of the most poorly connected areas of the country. Local MP Rory Stewart has been at the forefront of the debate over rural broadband, and nearly 900 out of the 1,400 premises have signed up for the service when it launches.
The government has come under fire for its management of the publicly funded project to bring broadband to the countryside. Delays mean the deadline to reach 95% of UK premises has now been extended to 2017, with no target for 100% coverage beyond then.
Mobile firms are lobbying now for a share of the £250m in public funds set aside to reach the most remote 10% of homes, saying 4G may offer a cheaper solution than digging cables over long distances.
Source: Juliette Garside The Guardian