UK-based operator EE started the year with its foot on the pedal by announcing that it has already hit the 2 million mark for LTE subscribers, and is therefore well ahead of its original target to reach 1 million users by the end of 2013.
The company attributed the rapid adoption, which it said is the fastest outside of South Korea, to its network coverage, which now exceeds 70 per cent of the UK population, as well as the introduction of shared data plans, pay-as-you-go offers, double-speed LTE services in some cities and some reductions in contract tariffs.
"We continue to have particular success converting our existing base to 4G, with approximately two out of three new 4G customers moving over from Orange and T-Mobile plans," CEO Olaf Swantee said in a statement.
EE also said adoption by businesses continues to grow significantly, with over 4,000 corporates and three-quarters of all new and upgrading SMEs now choosing LTE.
EE, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom and Orange and also operates the Orange UK and T-Mobile UK 3G brands in the UK, has certainly benefited from its head start on the UK LTE market. The company launched its LTE services in October 2012, and did not face any competition until both Vodafone UK and O2 UK launched their respective LTE offers in August 2013.
Vodafone reported in October that 100,000 people had signed up for its Red-4G ready plans. O2 UK said it does not break out actual LTE users as yet, but confirmed it has around 1 million customers who are enabled for LTE including those with an LTE-compatible device. O2 UK also said its LTE coverage is currently at 30 per cent of the population,
3 UK launched LTE service in December 2013, and its all-you-can-eat data services are expected to give the Hutchison Whampoa-owned operator a competitive edge on the LTE market.
EE said average data use across the EE network grew by 70 per cent over the course of 2013, with social media and video driving the biggest increases. It also saw a 25 per cent increase in voice calls and reiterated that it is investing £275 million (€333 million or $452 million) in its voice network this year with pledges to set a new benchmark for voice quality and reliability.
Nonetheless, EE still has some customer service issues to deal with. A report by the Daily Telegraph in late December cited research from YouGov as saying that EE was the worst-rated mobile phone company for service in Britain during 2013.
- see this EE release
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