EE unveils new LTE plans, has a dig at rivals

EE unveiled the UK's first LTE shared data plans and said it has reached 500,000 LTE subscribers after seven months of providing service. The operator also took the opportunity to provoke its rivals by saying it feels "a bit lonely" as the UK's only LTE provider to date.

Building on its first-to-market advantage, EE announced further advancements in its LTE services with the forthcoming launch of new "Shared 4GEE" plans to allow LTE data bundles to be shared between devices and people, and the availability for the first time of pay-as-you-go mobile broadband services on tablets and laptops. The company did not detail the prices of the plans but said they will be available this summer.

The operator also confirmed previously announced plans to roll out "double-speed 4G" in 10 cities "within weeks." This innovation will boost theoretical peak speeds to 80 Mbps, and will more than double the current average speeds to 24-30 Mbps, EE added.

The company's director of RAN development, Mansoor Hanif, also used the press briefing to knock rival operators for their slow rollout of LTE services, accusing them of "complacency" and saying they did not share EE's "sense of mission," according to a Mobile World Live report.

"I think they've [O2 and Vodafone] been a little bit unfair with us. We all got a fair shot at rolling out 4G networks fast," Hanif said, according to TechRadar. "We're happy and we're actually quite surprised the others have been slow, we're feeling a bit lonely."

According to Mobile World Live, Hanif also raised questions about whether Vodafone and Telefónica's O2 UK would be able to work together under their network sharing arrangement and said the "split network responsibility in the UK" makes it difficult to be consistent.

Vodafone was quick to respond, telling Mobile World Live that the network-sharing venture is going very well and insisting it is focused on rolling out its LTE network after the summer. The operator recently said it will spend £900 million (€1.06 billion) on its network this year. "It's interesting to see that EE appears to be obsessed with what its rivals are up to instead of thinking about its customers," a Vodafone spokesperson told Mobile World Live. "That's great news for us as we prepare to launch our 4G service."

Vodafone has also strongly rebutted claims by network monitoring firm RootMetrics that its network is the worst performing in London, after the network-testing company put Vodafone in fourth place after EE, O2 UK and 3 UK following comparisons of calls, texts and mobile data connectivity.

"Vodafone spends almost £5 million every year testing the performance of its live network across the UK," the company said on its blog. "Our latest round of data is from April of this year, covering 26 cities across the UK… In April's independent tests, Vodafone led the pack in London, fairing significantly better than EE's and O2's 3G network."

Vodafone told IT Pro that RootMetrics showed no signs of following standard industry practices during testing, claiming that the methodology is so flawed that the results are rendered "laughable."

Naturally, EE embraced the RootMetrics findings: "EE ranked first for overall combined performance, mobile internet and text, as well as joint first for call performance," the company noted proudly in its press release.

RootMetrics said it is 100 per cent independent of any operator, and provided a detailed response to Vodafone, telling IT Pro "that it explains exactly which tests are performed, how they are conducted and what happens during them on its site. All test on all operators are conducted at the same time and same place to ensure an apples to apples comparison. In the case of London, this encompasses over 80,000 tests across the four networks reviewed."

For more:
- see this Mobile World Live article
- see this release
- see this Vodafone blog
- see this TechRadar article
- see this IT Pro article

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