EE doubles 4G speeds as it targets 1m users

THE UK’S biggest mobile network operator, EE, has said it will double the speed of its 4G network in a bid to stay ahead of its competitors.

The company, which owns Orange and T-Mobile as well as its self-branded high-speed service, pledged yesterday to increase download speeds over 4G from an average of 10 megabits per second to 20, starting this summer.

The company claimed the move would keep EE a step ahead of Vodafone and O2, which are preparing to launch their own 4G networks in the coming months.

EE also said that the move would “future-proof” its network against the exploding demand for mobile data, as consumers demand high-definition video and instant loading of web pages on the move.

The firm said it anticipates a 750 per cent rise in network traffic over the next three years.

The 4G service will be upgraded in 10 cities, including London, in the summer, with other areas to follow.

Yesterday, EE also gave its first indication of how many people are signing up to the service, which typically costs around £5 per month more than an equivalent 3G contract.

Chief executive Olaf Swantee said he is targeting 1m customers on the 4G networks by the end of the year, or about eight per cent of his pay monthly customers, and that one in four new customers choose the 4G EE service rather than Orange or T-Mobile plans.

Matthew Howett of telecoms analyst Ovum said that the company’s forecasts suggested that customers had signed up to 4G in greater numbers than many had expected. EE, which launched the UK’s first 4G service at the end of last year, has refused to disclose how many people sign up for the service, leading to suggestions that the launch has not been a success despite an expensive advertising blitz headed by US film star Kevin Bacon.

“We are starting a revolution that others cannot match and re-instating the UK as a global leader in mobile communications,” Swantee said.