EE’s director of RAN and programmes, Mansoor Hanif, has told Mobile that his boss CEO Olaf Swantee is targeting 100% network reliability. Speaking after the network had announced a £1.5bn spend on improving infrastructure over the next three years, Hanif said: ‘Olaf challenged us as a technical team to reach 100% reliability across the country – this drives us to try to innovate to reach that goal. A few years ago networks would say it’s foolish for networks to aim for 100%; we feel we are challenging that notion.
‘It’s a three-year time period for the £1.5bn – we have longer-term plans but they’re quite specific – we have a three-year cycle in terms of the main achievements. We want 90% 4G coverage by the end of this year.’
The announcement on infrastructure comes at a critical time for the brand as a takeover deal with BT looms. Infrastructure was, of course, mentioned by the network as a critical reason behind the plans to acquire EE. Mansoor said that the decision to make the bold statement helped emphasise that the network’s long-term plans would be unaffected by any deal: ‘There is a lot of speculation and consolidation going on and we wanted to show that we are focused on our own plans to develop the infrastructure. We wouldn’t go public on it if there was any doubt about it going forward. In any case, we’re in the phase of regulatory approval, so it wouldn’t be right to change any of our plans.
‘I arrived at EE three years ago and what we planned out then is pretty much in place now. Once we were happy everything was in motion with the new infrastructure developments we moved ahead and announced them.’
Obviously a major development outside of EE’s control has been the agreement between the networks and the government to increase coverage in the UK to 90%. Hanif acknowledges that he and his team have had to adapt, but not discard their plans to fit in with the deal: ‘There was a lot of conversation but in the end common sense prevailed. What we all agree on is that while the quality and coverage has improved and the reliability of the networks has been better than ever, we don’t want to stop. All the operators want to improve and the government wants to spur us on to do that. We felt we should be able to continue to roll out what we are doing. There is a challenge in reaching out to some of the smaller rural areas where it’s not necessarily cost effective, but we have to look into ways to address that.’