4G in the Glen

Just as the rest of the world discovers 5G mobile networks (which is a whole other story), we finally have 4G coverage in the Balquhidder area. That is on the EE network, and via their new masts that were installed for the new Emergency Services Network (and don’t get us started on THAT). 

So, if you’re thinking of moving to EE to take advantage of this, be aware that there are a few things to consider:

  1. The network locally, as in many rural areas, runs at 800MHz, a lower frequency than most 4G networks (including most of the rest of EE’s). That has two effects – it reaches further (good) and has a lower data bandwidth (less good). Anywhere else, your phone will automatically choose whichever frequency is available. At Stronvar, I’m getting about 5Mb/s download and 2-3Mb/s upload indoors and about 5Mb/s both ways out of doors.
  2. It’s 4G only, which means that you either have 4G or nothing – unlike other places, it doesn’t fall back to 3G when you run out of 4G coverage. Again, that’s only an issue where a base station is 4G only, such as in the glen. This means that there may be some dead patches in the glen, particularly heading up towards Monachyle Mhor – I haven’t had a chance to test this out yet.
  3. Latency is ridiculously bad here – around 650ms and about 10x worse than it should be – which could cause problems for some online services. I have no idea why that’s the case – there’s no good reason for it.
  4. If you buy an EE SIM for your phone, EE doesn’t automatically configure your account/SIM for the 800MHz network, so it appears that you have no coverage. It takes a call to EE support to get this sorted.

There’s no sign yet of Vodafone or O2 getting their act together on 4G for the local area yet, despite the latter putting in for planning consent several years ago. So if you need data coverage when you’re away from your broadband’s Wi-Fi and the coverage works for you, EE seems currently to be the only game in town. 

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