Hidden among the new handset press releases is the news that EE is expanding a wireless trial it has been running since May 2012. The Northern Fells in Cumbria or at least 100 square miles of it will benefit from an expanded trial that will bring 4G LTE mobile and fixed wireless solutions to the area.
The Northern Fells may only have around 2,000 residents in this 100 square miles, but EE claims it has the UK's highest concentration of home workers and the trial is aiming to reach 84% coverage by the summer. The speeds likely to be delivered are in the 8 to 12 Mbps region though the previous trial demonstrated 'frequent performance above 20 Mbps'.
"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. 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. EE is a great British business that is investing in sharing the power of connectivity with citizens living in some of the most remote parts of the UK."Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and Borders
The trial will involve a fixed aspect, which means either a 4G router in the home, or a router with an external antenna and will utilise the 1800 MHz frequency band, so not carry any of the interference worries of the 800 MHz band that Ofcom has just auctioned. Plans will start at £15.99 but there is no information from EE on the usage allowance, other than usage will be monitored to help produce specific plans for rural areas in any future roll-out.
Interest can be registered for the trial on a Northern Fells Broadband page. Northern Fells Broadband is a group that is chasing RCBF funding to improve broadband across seven parishes and was one of the original technical pilot locations with the aim of rolling out fibre optic broadband to premises in the area. The project as of 15th March 2013 has been taken over by Cumbria County Council due to the complexities and financial requirements.