EE has upgraded its network at all major London railway stations and alongside key rail routes, improving speeds and coverage for commuters as they return to the office following the relaxation of social distancing regulations.
The operator has built 69 new masts and upgraded 35 existing sites, with capacity increased at Victoria, Charing Cross, and Kings Cross and doubled at Euston, Liverpool Street and City Thameslink.
Coverage has been improved across eight key routes in and out of the capital, including key sections linking Gatwick, Heathrow, and Stansted airports and tunnel sections of HS1 used by Eurostar services.
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Train 4G coverage
Alongside these improvements, EE also recently renewed its contract with Virgin Media, which powers the Wi-Fi network at London Underground stations.
“We’ve made huge improvements to key routes in and out of London to keep our customers connected as restrictions begin to ease and the number of workers and visitors returning to the city increases,” said David Salam, Director of Mobile Networks, EE.
“Whether listening to music or podcasts, streaming the latest movies, or gaming with friends, our network has been built and upgraded to ensure seamless connectivity on commutes and at London’s busiest rail hubs.”
Mobile operators have long been urged to improve coverage on trains by customers and by the government but improving cellular connectivity is challenging because signals tend to bounce off train carriages rather than penetrate them.
Most train operators have therefore turned to Wi-Fi to alleviate the issue, but there is an acknowledgement that this is a compromise. Trackside masts are one way of improving the situation.
Network Rail is inviting bids from telecoms infrastructure builders for the right to upgrade its trackside telecoms network and use the excess capacity to support commercial deployments of full fibre broadband. This fibre could be used to provide backhaul for new masts that could support 4G and 5G coverage.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.