As its rivals prepare for their LTE deployments later this year, the UK's first LTE service provider is turning up the pressure by doubling its network speeds and revealing further enhancements to its plans, including the introduction of shared data plans.
"The updates EE has announced for its LTE service offering in the UK are clearly aimed at giving it a competitive edge as other players launch LTE later this year," Ovum analyst Emeka Obiodu wrote in a research note. "EE's choice of a summer promotion to push these initiatives attests to this."
EE said it will officially switch on the new higher-speed LTE in 12 cities on July 4, meaning that average speeds will increase to 24-30 Mbps and theoretical speeds will reach up to 150 Mbps. EE said the higher-speed service will be available to all existing 4G customers in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, and Sheffield.
While the introduction of higher LTE speeds "is a nice headline," Obiodu noted that speed on its own is not a game changer: "Its merit is that it gives EE a base from which to offer LTE packages tiered on speed and usage which are far more acceptable to customers. That is going to be the interesting thing to watch out for and if its rivals do not have the capability to do that, EE could have quite a solid marketing message."
EE also unveiled priving for its LTE shared data plans--also a first for the UK--and said they will be available start July 17, and will allow users to connect up to five separate devices to one 4GEE plan. Other new plans will include pay-as-you-go 4GEE mobile broadband tariffs and a mobile payment service called Cash on Tap.
EE CEO Olaf Swantee continued to claim that the operator's strategy to charge a premium for LTE plans compared to 3G is working. "When we exceed our 1 million 4G customers by the end of this year we will have proven that we can get an adoption that is faster than other markets while maintaining a premium," Swantee told Reuters.
"Fleshing out its shared plans for customers, and positioning it as a way for families to save money, is a canny move in today's austerity-dominated society," noted Obiodu. "The ability to cap costs should appeal to families who will get better clarity on what their telecoms spend will be. We also liked how EE is going to use the shared plans as a nudge to push customers into a higher-prized plan. This is what Verizon Wireless has done successfully in the US and is one reason why their ARPU is rising."
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