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EE adds over 400 small cells to improve 4G capacity

EE has now successfully deployed over 600 street-level mobile sites, known as small cells, across the UK, delivering on its commitment to add hundreds of new sites to the 200 announced just over one year ago.

A further 411 small cell installations are now delivering enhanced capacity in high demand areas, including in major cities such as Birmingham, Brighton and Sheffield, ensuring customers can take advantage of download speeds of up to 300Mbps even at the busiest of times.

Other new locations to benefit from EE’s ongoing small cells deployment include the cities of Swansea, Leicester, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Southampton and York. Meanwhile a host of seasonal hotspots have also received a timely connectivity boost ahead of the Summer, including Newquay, Paignton, Salcombe, Southend-on-Sea and Clacton-on-Sea.

Small cells take advantage of existing street assets, such as BT’s iconic red telephone boxes, to help enhance street-level mobile coverage in busy areas where it’s impractical to build larger sites, such as city-centres and transport hubs. As well as being located on phone boxes, lamp posts and CCTV columns, EE has installed approximately 60 small cells on BT’s innovative new digital Street Hubs, further maximising the benefit of these assets to communities.

EE’s 611 small cell sites currently carry 20TB of data traffic every day – the equivalent of streaming 8,000 hours of HD video or 280,000 hours of music – demonstrating the substantial value they offer to customers in high demand areas, as well as the importance of EE’s strategy to build prior to the arrival of any congestion whenever possible.

Sites are identified via advanced network analytics, which highlights specific locations that would most benefit from the performance boost enabled by a small cell. Then, working alongside Nokia, EE deploys a 4G small cell solution which couples its licenced 1800MHz and 2600Mhz spectrum with unlicensed 5GHz spectrum to deliver standout speed and capacity.

James Hope, Director of Mobile Radio Access Networks, EE: “As demand for data continues to rise, small cells are becoming an increasingly integral part of our mobile network. Our partnership with Nokia ensures customers continue to benefit from our fastest 4G speeds even at the busiest times and in the most congested of locations, and we’re proud to pass another milestone in this project as we continue to invest in improving the UK’s best mobile network* up and down the country.”

Mark Atkinson, SVP, Radio Access Networks PLM at Nokia: Nokia has an extensive portfolio of high-capacity outdoor and indoor small cells that deliver premium 4G and 5G network performance in dense urban and in-building environments. This latest deployment will ensure that EE’s customers benefit from seamless connectivity particularly in congested or high-demand areas at multiple cities across the UK. We are delighted to continue our partnership with EE and support their ambition to deliver the country’s best network.”

EE’s continued network investment will see hundreds more small cells deployed in the coming months, both in existing and new towns and cities. EE is also trialling the extension of small cells to accommodate its 5G network, with Nokia’s AirScale portfolio able to seamlessly upgrade to 5G.

Last year, EE announced its first such small cell deployments, which brought additional 4G capacity to cities including Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham and Scarborough.

In Newcastle, EE has worked with the City Council to deploy over 20 small cells so far, making use of existing street furniture to boost capacity in busy locations including the city centre, Newcastle University, and in proximity to St James’ Park stadium.

Cllr Alex Hay, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for a Resilient City: “We’re really pleased to be working with EE to improve infrastructure and increase digital connectivity across the city. Matchdays see more than 50,000 people concentrated in a small area, and anyone who has attended football matches and other large events will know it can be difficult to obtain a mobile signal in those environments. By enabling the use of our assets for EE to deploy small cells, we’re boosting connectivity and giving residents and visitors alike an improved experience in our city. We’re proud of our reputation as a leading smart, modern city and are always willing to work with others to further develop local infrastructure.”

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