UK operator EE has announced a new £1.5 billion investment plan between now and 2017, with an emphasis on rural coverage.

The investment is part of its new ‘Signalling the Future’ manifesto which has the aim of extending voice and 4G data coverage “across 90 per cent of the UK’s geography.”

This strategy, which is consistent with its approach of pushing coverage as its differentiator from other operators, will see EE commit to making micro network technology and mobile data available in 1,500 communities that are not connected by either reliable mobile or high speed broadband.

The money will also be used to introduce VoLTE and make Wi-Fi calling possible on smartphones with access to 2Mb/s broadband, along with the deployment of 800MHz spectrum across its rural network.

According to EE CEO Olaf Swantee, the new agenda has “a strong focus on rural UK, all while continuing to increase speeds and capacity with deeper coverage in more cities.”

The announcement also calls for 4G+ to be made available in 20 cities and the setting up of “a foundation for technology and research leadership to position EE and the UK as global leaders in the 5G future.”

Policy priorities for the next government to help accelerate the rollout of digital infrastructure in the UK are also included in the manifesto.

Earlier this month, the operator claimed to have become “Europe’s largest 4G operator”, as its total reached 7.7 million customers at the end of 2014 – ahead of its 6 million target.

Last week BT agreed definitive terms to acquire EE for £12.5 billion, with the deal expected to be completed by the end of BT’s 2015/2016 financial year.

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