EE steps up ESN coverage in remote areas

EE has completed its 500th new site for the Emergency Services Network (ESN) as it continues work to ensure police, fire and ambulance crews can “communicate across some of the most hard-to-reach areas”.

Aug 10, 2020
By Paul Jacques

Once activated, the new site in Glencoe, Scotland, will deliver 4G connectivity to more than 65 sq km of the Highlands on an 800MHz signal, providing stronger mobile coverage in very rural areas. A popular tourist destination, EE says this will ensure that the emergency workers have access to reliable technology to best serve local communities and visitors.

Minister for Lords Baroness Williams said building increased coverage in rural locations throughout the UK was “an essential part” of the ESN programme.

In addition to the Glencoe site, EE has continued the extensive network roll-out for the emergency services in the hardest to reach areas across the UK, building more than 30 sites throughout June and July alone. This includes five new sites in England across the Lake District and South Downs National Parks, as well as Devon and Cornwall. A further five sites in Wales, including Pembrokeshire, and an additional 18 sites in remote locations across Scotland, such as Cairngorm and Lock Lomond National Parks, have also been completed.

This comes on top of upgrading around 19, 000 of EE’s existing sites to 4G ready for ESN.

EE says it is now working to build more 100 more new ESN sites in rural areas in the coming months.

In addition to site builds and upgrades, EE has complemented the mast sites with a fleet of 4G rapid response vehicles and cells, equipped with satellite backhaul technology to provider further reassurance to emergency services workers that they will be equipped with the mobile coverage and capacity needed to save lives, even in the most remote areas.

Once rolled out, the ESN will provide dedicated 4G voice and data coverage for more than 300,000 emergency service users across the UK.

Richard Harrap, managing director of ESN at EE, said: “With ESN, we are focused on building the coverage where the emergency services need it most to ensure they can best protect and serve society. Often this is in rural areas.

“We are already well ahead of other operators in delivering rural coverage, but our new site builds and upgrades to existing 4G masts for the ESN have also meant further expanded coverage in rural areas, and improved coverage in hard to reach areas and along key roads, such as our 500th site in Glencoe.

“We’re also welcoming other operators to come in and share these sites to reduce the amount of infrastructure on the ground and increase coverage for everyone. This is in advance of the UK Government’s Shared Rural Network, which will also help us to reach even more ‘not-spots’ to ensure that everyone benefits from improved coverage and choice.”

With the increasing trends pointing towards UK tourists choosing to stay within the country for their holidays, EE says the emergency services will need “strong rural coverage” to manage the influx of tourists anticipated this year.

Baroness Williams said: “ESN will provide an innovative, mobile-based communications system to transform the response of our emergency services.

“Building increased coverage in rural locations throughout the UK is an essential part of the programme, and this milestone means we are ever closer to ensuring our dedicated police, fire and ambulance crews can communicate across and access some of the most hard to reach areas.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “We’re creating a world-class communication system for the emergency services and this significant investment from EE provides resilience and assurance for the residents, businesses and tourists of Glencoe.

“We are also opening up these masts for other mobile companies to use as part of our plans to bring 4G to every corner of the UK by 2025, so people in every part of the country will get good coverage wherever they live, work or travel.”

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