EE, the UK’s biggest mobile operator, claimed to have passed two million LTE subscribers, as uptake of its 4G technology accelerated.
EE reached one million LTE customers in September, 10 months after it launched. The next million were added in just four months, double the company’s original subscriber target for the end of 2013.
EE claimed the sign-up rate for LTE is the fastest in the world behind South Korea.
The accelerated uptake has been driven by the continued rollout of LTE, which is on track to cover 70 per cent of the UK population by the end of January. The service now covers 160 towns and cities.
In October, EE said around two-thirds of new or renewing postpaid customers selected 4G contracts or 4G-ready devices. The operator’s more recent data shows that three-quarters of new and upgrading small and medium-sized businesses are selecting LTE.
Average data use across the entire EE network grew by 70 per cent during 2013, driven by social media and video.
EE CEO Olaf Swantee (pictured) said the operator’s priority for 2014 is “to deliver the benefits of superfast mobile internet to more of the UK and invent even more innovative ways for our customers to make the most of their 4G experience”.
EE was the first to launch LTE in the UK, in October 2012, with other operators forced to wait until they had secured suitable spectrum in an auction held early in 2013.
Vodafone and O2 both launched their LTE offerings at the end of August last year, with Vodafone claiming to have reached 100,000 LTE subscribers in October with a network covering 80 towns and districts around London.
In global terms, operators in the US, South Korea and Japan lead the way for LTE uptake. Verizon Wireless has more than 40 million LTE connections, according to GSMA Intelligence figures, with fellow US operator AT&T estimated to have more than 25 million.
In Europe, only Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone in Germany lead EE in terms of LTE connection numbers, according to GSMA Intelligence estimates.
Of the operators offering LTE alongside other mobile technologies, South Korea’s LG Uplus has the highest proportion of LTE connections, at 66 per cent. With EE saying it has just over 25 million subscribers, the proportion using LTE is significantly lower.