UK MOBILE OPERATOR EE added almost 500,000 4G customers in the last year according to the firm's third quarter financial results, a 72 percent increase over the third quarter last year and taking the firm's superfast mobile broadband users to 1.2 million.
However, despite the rise in 4G users, EE's total number of mobile customers, prepaid and postpaid combined, plunged by a million, tumbling four percent over the last year from 26.2 million to 25.1 million.
Despite what you might think, the decline isn't to do with EE's rather costly 4G services, as the firm posted a 5.7 percent increase in pay monthly customers year on year. The decline was attributal to EE's pay as you go sector, which saw a user decline of 14.3 percent year on year. This could be due to the general shift of users from pay as you go to pay monthly tariffs, or stiff competition from competitors.
With a total of 25.1 million mobile customers, 4.8 percent of the UK network's total mobile customers are taking advantage of its 4G services. EE were also keen to point out that they are one of few networks that are transparent about machine to machine customers, which they claimed increased 26.2 percent over the course of the year.
"4G accounts for 8.3 percent of the postpaid [mobile] base, which is the key indicator because successful 4G launches tend to reach 10 percent of their postpaid based within 24 months," an EE representative told The INQUIRER. "We're on track to do that in 12 months, so half the time of other successful 4G operators around the world."
Nevertheless, overall, EE's third quarter financial results showed a drop in total customers across mobile, fixed and machine to machine customers, declining 2.7 percent year over year.
The declines in users could be attributable to an increasing number of pay as you go mobile users that are moving away from EE and considering other options due to ever competitive contract prices from competing networks, such as Three.
Over the next year, Three's promise to roll out 4G services free of charge this December is likely to entice customers and sway them from EE. The network revealed last month that its 4G network will debut in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Reading first, with coverage also bringing LTE access to Oldham, Dudley, West Bromich and Wolverhampton, at no extra cost.
Vodafone's cheapest 4G offering starts from £26 for a 12-month SIM-only deal with 2GB of monthly data. For those looking for a monthly tariff, Vodafone's plans start at £34 a month, while those who are already a customer of the network can upgrade to an LTE contract for an extra £5 per month.
O2's Airtime Plans on O2 Refresh - the tariff designed to allow customers to upgrade their handsets during 24-month contracts - start at £22 a month for 1GB of data and go up to £37 a month for 8GB of data. The monthly device payment will range from £10 to £25, depending on which handset punters choose. Although users will also have to pay an additional monthly fee for the handset, starting at £10 a month.
EE updated its tariffs prices last week and made them cheaper, starting from £18.99 a month, which should help boost the firm's customer base over the next quarter. µ
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