EE reaches 70% geographic coverage with 4G network

BT still promotes its own mobile services alongside EE, using actors such as Willem Dafoe.

BT said EE was on track towards meeting its pledge to cover 95 per cent of the UK landmass with its 4G network by 2020 after it reached 70 per cent geographic coverage and 98 per cent population coverage by the end of September 2016.

In April, EE said its ambition is to increase its 4G coverage from 60 per cent of the UK landmass today, "taking 4G to the very edges of the UK" by filling in outdoor not spots in current 4G areas and expanding 4G coverage by constructing 750 new sites. That would go beyond government targets for operators to provide voice and text coverage to 90 per cent of UK landmass by the end of 2017.

The latest update on the UK mobile operator’s network rollout targets were unveiled as part of BT’s results announcement for the group’s second fiscal quarter that covers the months from July to September.

The figures for the quarter also revealed the impact of EE on the overall group results: BT acquired EE in January this year, and the mobile operator has brought in considerable extra revenue as well as integration costs.

For example, BT said its reported revenue increased 35 per cent year on year to £6 billion (€6.68 billion/$7.28 billion) in the quarter, “mainly as a result of the contribution of EE.” Underlying revenue growth, which excludes EE and transit, was up by 1.1 per cent. BT noted that growth in consumer and global services was partly offset by declines in business and public sector and wholesale and ventures.

Adjusted EBITDA increased by 31 per cent to £1.88 billion in the quarter, while underlying EBITDA growth adjusted for the acquisition of EE was up 0.9 per cent. Adjusted pre-tax profits were 24 per cent higher at £873 million.

The total BT mobile base stood at 30.2 million by the end of the quarter. The group added 280,000 postpaid mobile customers, taking the postpaid base to 16.4 million. EE contributed almost half of these additions, while the operator’s 4G customer base also reached 17.6 million. Monthly mobile ARPUs were £27.40 for postpaid customers, and £4.40 for prepaid customers.

EE is operated as a separate unit within the BT group while the operator’s existing MVNO, BT Mobile, falls within the consumer unit. BT noted that it has continued to expand the BT Mobile offering, including the recent launch of the Family SIM service that allows households to subscribe up to five SIM cards, each with their own data allowances. In June, BT Mobile also extended its service range beyond SIM-only deals and now offers new mobile contracts together with the latest 4G smartphones.