EE, the first 4G provider in the UK, is celebrating an important milestone as it reaches one million 4G customers four months ahead of schedule. The goal for EE, who first launched its 4G network in October 2012, had been to sign up one million 4G customers by the end of 2013, but it has already achieved this with months to spare.
Although the UK seems to have lagged behind somewhat in rolling out 4G, Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, believes that this milestone shows that the UK actually has one of the fastest adoption rates for superfast mobile in the world:
“The UK mobile sector saw a huge shift 10 months ago with the launch of 4G from EE. We set a new standard for UK mobile networks, and the way consumers and businesses are using their mobile devices in this country has been transformed. 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.”
According to the 4GEE Mobile Living Index the growth of EE’s 4G customer base has seen a rapid acceleration since the launch less than a year ago. After five months it had around 300,000 4G customers, and by June there were just under 700,000. To reach the one million target by the beginning of September has been an impressive achievement.
When the service was first launched, the majority of takers were men. In November 2012 a significant 74% of EE’s 4G customers were male. However, over the last year the service has begun to gain universal appeal, and the male female split has evened out somewhat, with women accounting for 42% of 4G customers by August 2013.
Perhaps unsurprisingly EE’s 4G service seems to appeal to a younger audience, with 52% of customers aged under 34. However, 4G hasn’t been completely shunned by the older generations as 9% of EE’s 4G customers are over the age of 55.
EE may be busy celebrating this milestone, but it is sure to be considering the impact of the entry of Vodafone and O2 into the 4G market, where EE has until recently had a monopoly. With that in mind EE is gearing up to provide a new range of 4G offers to prospective customers.
One example is the new swap service which will be launched on 17th September, and which will allow existing Orange and T-Mobile customers to end their current contracts early and upgrade to a new 4G contract for a one-off fee. They will be able to choose any phone from the EE 4G range, including the iPhone 5 and Samsung S4 Mini, and the one-off fee will depend on the 24 month price plan they choose to sign up to.
Although other providers are now in competition with EE, it currently has by far the biggest network, and this is likely to keep it in the lead for the time being. The demand for 4G in rural areas, where fixed-line broadband is poor, is very high, and EE has begun testing in the Northern Fells in Cumbria, an area that is particularly popular for people working from home.
EE currently claims to reach average speeds of 24-30Mbps with peak speeds of 100Mbps, and professes to have a faster network than anything found in Europe, the U.S. or Japan. With EE coverage in over 100 towns and cities, the UK’s new 4G providers still have a little catching up to do.