British mobile network operator EE has announced a significant expansion of its 4G network by upgrading 139 locations across Northern Ireland as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN). The company stated in a release yesterday that residents and businesses across Northern Ireland will experience improved 4G mobile coverage following these network upgrades.
Shared Rural Network Program
The Shared Rural Network is a program involving the UK's four mobile network operators and the UK Government with the goal of extending 4G coverage to 95 percent of the UK's geography by the end of 2025. SRN is a GBP 1 billion initiative aimed at expanding 4G mobile connectivity to the rural communities across the UK that need it the most.
Improved Coverage in Scenic Regions
As part of its latest upgrades, EE, in partnership with WHP Telecoms, has erected a new mobile mast to provide enhanced 4G coverage in the northern part of the Mid-Ulster district and the eastern part of the Sperrins, which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
This coverage includes the villages of Moneyneany and Draperstown, Spelhoagh Mountain, as well as large sections of the B40, A6, and Glenshane Pass - one of the highest mountain roads in Northern Ireland.
EE stated that, despite hundreds of thousands of tourists and hikers visiting the Sperrins and the surrounding towns and villages every year to enjoy their scenic beauty and local heritage, mobile coverage has been inadequate until now.
Future-Proofing with 4G Upgrades
According to the statement, by the end of the SRN program, EE will have upgraded or constructed 164 sites in Northern Ireland, with the potential for an additional 10 new mast sites to ensure that rural communities have fast and reliable 4G connectivity.
EE points out that these 4G upgrades are coming at a time when the UK's mobile providers are preparing to retire 3G, followed by 2G networks. EE said it offers countryside communities the largest and most reliable 4G network in the UK.
EE has already upgraded more than 1,500 locations across the UK and is on track to meet its nationwide target of 88 percent 4G geographic coverage by June 2024, with further upgrades planned to achieve 89 percent by the end of 2025.