EE CEO Mark Allera has called for the government to help mobile networks improve coverage by enabling quicker access to mast sites.
There has been much debate over the issue of landlords charging prohibitive rents that block networks from developing infrastructure sites. The government’s recent budget promised to address the issue following a number of parliamentary debates.
Speaking to Mobile for the first time since taking the EE hot seat Allera said that the network was talking to government about resolving the issue: ‘We are finding in some areas that landlords are charging prohibitive rents that make it uneconomical for us to provide that service. We’re also calling for some change there; we’ll keep working on that. But I believe we can make this plan happen. We’ve got the next three and half years or so to make it work, and hopefully we will.
‘We’re talking to government and the regulator about landlords charging ransom rents. I think in a world where consumers are demanding coverage from us as operators and access to 4G, internet on the move for customers in these areas this is a very important thing.
‘We are calling for the barriers to be removed to give us faster access to these sites. Sometimes it can take years and I’m saying it shouldn’t. It should be taking days, week’s maximum, we need some help with that.’
4G the key
As ever Allera was keen to emphasise the importance of 4G when it came to rural coverage. The EE CEO said that the brand wanted to build out 4G into more locations and to increase the number of customers with access to the service: ‘Our customers are demanding that we provide coverage for them wherever they are. This is something that’s just becoming expected of customers. I think saying something is covered with 2G or indeed 3G is not covering a place. In a society where smartphones more and more, need access to the internet.
‘Our definition of coverage and the country’s definition of coverage should be 4G as the standard. I think if we can do that our customers will be happier. We’ve got 20 plus million customers that expect us to provide this coverage and we are working really hard to give them what they’re asking for.
‘We’ve got a lot of customers on 4G but there’s still large numbers in our customer base not yet on 4G devices. These handsets, especially the most recent ones, open up access to all our spectrum which is helping us to roll out the coverage. This isn’t just about sites, we’re also opening up the 800MHz frequency spectrum and switching on Voice over LTE which is giving customers a better overall experience, particularly indoors in urban areas. And obviously the 800MHz works well for rural areas.’