EE insists 4G is a success as it targets million

THE UK’S biggest mobile operator, EE, yesterday claimed that its launch of Britain’s first 4G network had been a success, saying it had signed up almost 400,000 customers.

The owner of Orange and T-Mobile said it was on track to hit a target of 1m customers paying for 4G by the end of the year, and that it would continue to maintain the lead it has on its rivals even after O2 and Vodafone launch 4G this summer.

Since launching 4G services – which currently offer mobile download speeds around five times faster than 3G – towards the end of last year, EE had refused to reveal how many customers have signed up. But yesterday the operator said it had reached 318,000 by the end of March, and chief executive Olaf Swantee said he expects to hit 400,000 later this week. Although this is just 1.5 per cent of EE’s 26.4m customers, Swantee said: “It’s a strong number and we feel good about it. We are definitely on track and momentum is building further as customers become more aware.”

EE’s first-quarter results yesterday underlined the need for companies to launch more lucrative 4G networks. The impact of regulatory changes, which have affected how much operators can charge for calls to other networks and for using mobiles abroad, meant that service revenues were down 5.4 per cent. Without these effects, the fall was 0.4 per cent.

EE’s subscriber base also fell, as a rise in customers on contracts failed to offset a steep decline in pay as you go users. The most popular 4G plan – £41 per month – is more than double EE’s average revenue per user of £18.20 per month.