EE contract LTE sales outstrip 3G for first time

UK operator EE said it has reached a new tipping point after sales of LTE contracts exceeded 3G contract sales for the first time.

The company, which is jointly owned by Orange France and Deutsche Telekom, also said it now has 3.6 million LTE customers. The company still sells 3G plans under the Orange UK and T-Mobile UK brands, but those two operators have now been absorbed into the online and high street retail presence under the EE brand.

In terms of its LTE network coverage, EE said it has completed the second phase of its LTE rollout, bringing the higher speed services to 2,588 villages and small towns.

"We're committed to remaining one step ahead--adapting our network to make 4G available where it matters most, with a focus on more rural areas, transport links and offering our customers the best network experience and great value, innovative devices and plans," said EE CEO Olaf Swantee.

In addition to residential zones, EE said it is focusing on areas of high usage, including airports, roads, and train lines and stations. It said 47 major train stations and 22 of the busiest airports are now LTE-enabled, along with upwards of 50 per cent LTE coverage on 50 of the busiest motorways and A-roads across the UK.

Other announcements include the introduction of EE-branded devices and plans to promote the company's so-called "double-speed" LTE network, which it said will be available in 40 towns and cities by the end of the year. Such devices include the Eagle tablet, an in-car LTE Wi-Fi device called the "Buzzard" and two new LTE Wi-Fi devices called the "Kite" and the "Osprey". These will also be accompanied by new plans combining LTE and Wi-Fi usage.

EE faces competition on the UK LTE market from Vodafone UK, O2 UK and 3 UK, as well as from MVNOs such as Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile.

Vodafone UK also announced a new exclusive deal with Netflix this week as it seeks to attract new users to its Vodafone Red 4G plans. Former UK incumbent BT also announced plans to start offering LTE services to UK business this year and consumers next year. The company has signed an MVNO arrangement with EE for the consumer LTE services.

For more:
- see this EE release

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