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EE leads Europe with 1 million LTE subscribers

EE has announced it now has one million LTE subscribers using its network

UK operator EE now has more one million LTE subscribers, the highest of any European operator, according to research firm Informa Telecoms and Media.

The operator said it reached the one million milestone just ten months after launch, and four months ahead of target. It had previously forecast it would reach the one million mark by the end of 2013.

According to Dario Talmesio, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, EE’s success is due to executing its strategy well in a tech savvy market.

“I think UK customers have become quite savvy and very technology aware,” he said. “The other thing is that EE was very fast in penetrating the LTE potential demand, and I think they knew that because they were in a monopoly position in terms of 4G, they had to squeeze the market as much as they could and as quickly as they could. They have a very assertive strategy in a very fertile market.”

Informa’s forecasts also suggest that by December 2018, EE will have the highest number of mobile subscribers in the UK by a distance. According to Talmesio, this is partly because EE – with its Orange and T-Mobile subsidiaries – is the largest operator in the UK. He said that even if all of the UK’s operators converted an equal proportion of existing subscribers to 4G, it simply would result in EE having a larger number of customers in absolute terms.

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“The other thing is they started earlier so they have that advantage and they are also well positioned in spectrum terms. In future, we expect the competition to be between EE and Vodafone; O2 will naturally lag behind given the spectrum they have access to, unless it manages to somehow leverage its BT spectrum.”

EE said that nearly half of its LTE subscribers are now using fewer or no public wifi spots since faster and more reliable mobile speeds are giving people the freedom to stream, share and download more on the move.

A third of UK 4G users also stream more content over 4G than they did on 3G, the operator added, and 19 per cent of users shopping more on their smartphone or tablet, than they did with 3G.

4G is also proving to be a catalyst for business growth, the operator claimed. It cited London’s Air Ambulance cutting down critical response times and construction group Kier reducing the time it takes to set up remote construction sites.

“The UK mobile sector saw a huge shift ten months ago with the launch of 4G from EE,” said EE CEO Olaf Swantee. “We have seen one of the fastest adoption rates in the world and …EE has the most attractive 4G pricing in the world.

Swantee added that EE is now gearing up to launch a new range of innovative plans, to provide more ways for people to get the faster speeds and value plans.

Informa’s Talmesio also commented on European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes’ recent comments encouraging the region’s operators to focus now on developing 5G technologies. He said that while Kroes’ statements are encouraging, it is deferring some of the issues that the European region is facing now.

“I think Europe and its policy makers should focus on now rather than something that might happen in five years time,” he added.


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