More than 500,000 UK homes plagued by painfully slow internet speeds are to be given a new option, as mobile giant EE launches special antennae promising to be "as fast as fibre".
4G antennae go on sale today after a successful trial that saw EE deliver superfast broadband to the remote Cumbrian fells for the first time.
Customers desperate for speedy internet can use a checking service to decide whether to opt for a standard fixed line or EE’s wireless alternative.
Some 580,000 homes, many located in rural locations, could be in line for broadband speeds more than 10 times faster than they can currently access by moving to an external antenna around the size of a shoe box.
EE’s launch follows plans for several fixed line providers to invest in upgrading Britain’s "century-old" telecoms infrastructure.
Vodafone agreed a tie-up with CityFibre to plug 1m homes directly onto a fibre network. The majority of the UK accesses fibre broadband through old copper connections to fibre cabinets.
Openreach, BT’s infrastructure subsidiary, rolled out similar plans last week to upgrade millions of households and businesses. And yesterday TalkTalk announced a £1.5bn joint venture with M&G to develop lay its own fibre network.
“Fast and reliable internet is just as essential in the countryside as it is in urban areas, but unfortunately it is not currently as widely available," said Countryside Alliance head of policy Sarah Lee.
"This is a major issue for everyday life at home – students rely on a decent internet for research, parents need to bank online and thousands of rural families are missing out on a wealth of on-demand entertainment. We welcome this innovative 4G solution from EE and believe it will have a big impact on some of the most remote communities across the UK.”
EE marketing managing director Max Taylor said: “As our network continues to expand into some of the most remote parts of the UK, we’ve seen the amazing impact that 4G connectivity can have on rural communities.
"Our newest 4G home broadband router and antenna takes this one step further, ensuring thousands of families in rural areas across the UK could enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband inside their home for the very first time – whether video-calling the grandparents or streaming their favourite TV series.”