EE Hits 1 Million 4G Subscribers

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EE passes the 1m subscriber mark on its 4G network, but a GSMA study finds Europe lagging in 4G penetration

EE said on Monday it has surpassed 1 million customers on its 4G network four months earlier than its year-end target, contributing to a UK 4G adoption rate that it said is one of the fastest in the world.

The news came shortly after a report released by the GMS Association which found that Europe is far behind other regions in its adoption of 4G, with less than one percent of connections using the technology, compared with 11 percent in the US and 28 percent in South Korea.

Network extension

EE was the first operator to launch 4G on 30 October 2012 and has since moved to extend the technology to more than 100 towns and cities. EE said its network is faster than those in the rest of Europe, the US and Japan.

4G (c) De Mango, Shutterstock 2013“We know that all communities across Britain want 4G, not just those in the big urban centres, and we’re committed to continuing to roll out superfast mobile at this record breaking pace,” said EE chief executive Olaf Swantee, adding that the company is preparing to launch a new range of pricing plans.

EE said it will mark the occasion by offering customers a 50 discount on phone accessories in-store, with details of the offer to be sent to users via text message.

The company found that 4G is lessening users’ reliance on other technologies, with nearly half of respondents to the company’s first 4G Mobile Living Index saying they are using fewer or no public Wi-Fi hotspots since adopting 4G.

The survey also found that one-third of UK 4G users stream more content over 4G than they did with 3G, using services such as BBC iPlayer, Neflix and Sky Go, while 19 percent of 4G users said they are shopping more on their smartphone or tablet than they did with 3G.

Limited penetration

EE, Vodafone and O2 now offer 4G services in the UK, although penetration is still limited. Three has said it will launch a 3G network by the end of this year. At the end of August EE said its network extended to 105 UK towns and cities.

However, the GSMA’s Mobile Economy Europe 2013 study, released on Thursday, found that at the end of 2012 less than 1 percent of total connections in Europe were 4G.

Even with adoption growing rapidly, the GSMA predicted penetration to reach only 2 percent by the end of 2013, compared to an expected 20 percent in the US.

Speaking at the Mobile360 event in Brussels on Thursday, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said Europe “missed 4G” and should focus its investments on 5G.

“Even as we roll out the latest networks, I know we also need to look ahead to invest in researching the next generation of networks – I am talking about 5G,” Kroes said. “OK, we missed 4G, we were the leader in 3G, now let’s take over the 5G.”

In July, ahead of the launch of rival 4G services from Vodafone and O2, EE introduced larger data allowances, new shared plans and doubled speeds in 12 cities.

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