Trafford Centre gets its own 4G network for shoppers.
EE has recently announced a partnership with Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) to bring 4G access to a number of different sites across the UK over the next 18 months.
This is separate from EE’s general 4G rollout, as while EE is otherwise focussed on towns and cities, this is designed to bring a strong 4G signal to smaller locations like shopping centres and office complexes. The other difference is that these will be open signals, accessible to anyone with a 4G-ready device and 4G SIM card, regardless of what network they’re on.
The first site to receive this new open 4G network is the intu Trafford Centre in Manchester. It’s a shopping centre with around 31 million visitors annually. The 4G roll out happens today and provides coverage to the whole centre, allowing a lot of people to take advantage of 4G whilst shopping, but not only does this new infrastructure allow shoppers to access 4G, it should also improve their call and text experience.
While it’s not known how many other sites will receive this open 4G treatment, WIG has already completed a similar project at MediaCityUK (also in Manchester), so with that in mind there’s a good chance that this project will extend to offices and other busy locations, rather than just shopping centres.
It’s feasible that 18 months down the line many of the countries airports, major shopping centres and other locations which a lot of people pass through could have dedicated 4G infrastructure that’s usable whatever network you’re on. It all depends on just how ambitious EE and WIG’s plans are.
Fotis Karonis, Chief Technology Officer at EE, said: “We’re focused on bringing 4G to the whole country, and that goes beyond where people live and work to include spaces like the intu Trafford Centre in Manchester that are about leisure and retail.
“We know that shoppers want to stay connected, keeping in touch with friends, sharing on social media and checking online retail sites, and our 4G rollout is about connecting people where they need it most.”
Of course while you won’t have to be on EE to use these sites, EE still gets something out of it. If nothing else it gives the company a serious amount of advertising and even demonstrates its 4G network to the public, which is more than a TV advert or billboard can do.