4G arrives on the Isles of Scilly as EE aims to connect 95% of the UK
A major new investment in high-speed communications technology has just been completed on the Isles of Scilly, confirming their status as some of the best digitally connected islands anywhere in the world.
EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator and part of BT, today announced it had switched on its superfast 4G mobile network on the isles. With access to speeds 50% quicker than any other UK network, residents, businesses and visitors on each of Scilly’s five inhabited islands can now benefit from superfast internet access on smartphones, tablets and a range of other 4G enabled devices.
Councillor Amanda Martin, Chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: “The arrival of 4G on the Isles of Scilly is another example of important investment in our community. In our increasingly connected world, such technology will help transform the lives of local people and provide a vital boost for our economy.”
One of the people who will benefit from 4G on the Isles of Scilly is small business owner John Peacock of St Agnes Boating, who can now take advantage of mobile payments on board his boats as well as remote access to his online office.
John Peacock, owner of St Agnes Boating, said:
“4G from EE will radically alter the landscape of the islands. It will enable businesses to totally connect with their customers and vice versa. In terms of our business, it’s really important our customers have connectivity all the time. Now they can pay while on board, or even order a boat while they’re sitting on the beach.”
The new service arrives on the islands as new EE chief executive, Marc Allera, announces ambitions to connect 95% of the UK landmass, including the most extreme reaches of the country. With over 100,000 annual visitors and a population of about 2,300, bringing 4G to the Isles of Scilly demonstrates EE’s growing focus on delivering 4G to areas of the UK that people visit, not just where they live. Today, superfast 4G was also switched on in Shetland – almost 1,000 miles away at the opposite end of the country.
EE’s switch on of 4G on Scilly was made possible by the multi-million pound investment in a superfast fibre broadband network on the isles by Superfast Cornwall, a partnership between the European Regional Development Fund, BT and Cornwall Council.
Fibre broadband went ‘live’ on Scilly in November 2014 following the completion of a pioneering project which involved diverting an unused 939-kilometre undersea cable previously used for carrying international communications between Porthcurno, Cornwall, and Santander, Spain. The Isles of Scilly has some of the best take-up of fibre broadband in the UK with 40% of local households and businesses already using the high-speed technology.
In a further South West development, EE has also announced that Plymouth will be one of the areas to benefit from the creation of 600 new customer service roles in the UK and Ireland – the mobile operator already employs 782 people at the site in Plympton, just six miles from the city centre. The number of people to be recruited at EE’s Plympton site is yet to be finalised.
Marc Allera, EE chief executive, said:
“When my colleagues at BT talked to me about the incredible achievement to deploy fibre to the Isles of Scilly, I knew we had to use that technology to ensure that residents and businesses on the islands also got an amazing 4G experience. We’ve seen the difference that 4G can make right across the UK, and I’m delighted to be able to continue making that difference in one of the most remote parts of the UK. This project shows the power of the BT Group as a digital champion for the UK, making new investments to bring high-speed communications to even the most challenging locations.”