EE hits 4G “tipping point”, announces new devices & plans

EE hits 4G “tipping point”, announces new devices & plans

21 MAY 2014

UK operator EE has reached “a tipping point” with more customers taking 4G contracts than 3G ones, according to CEO Olaf Swantee.

The changeover occurred this month, Swantee revealed at a media briefing to unveil new 4G-enabled devices for providing in-car Wi-Fi coverage with supporting tariff packages.

The operator also debuted its own tablet, which follows its own handset launch earlier this year.

Its response to the shift towards 4G among its user base is to add further density and reach to its network, said Swantee. This involves increasing availability of LTE Advanced technology, as well as doubling the number of cities to 40 which can access double-speed 4G by end of 2014.

The operator now has 3.6 million 4G customers and Swantee forecast 6 million by the end of this year.

EE is also increasing its 4G coverage of transport hubs such as airports and main routes.

In addition, the operator noted the growing importance of video to its subscribers. “It’s driving the next phase of data growth,” said Swantee.

More than 50 per cent of 4G usage is now video, he said. Of total usage, 16 per cent is video calling as well as 20 per cent from video downloads. A further 21 per cent of usage is from accessing social networks, a significant part of which is via video, said Swantee.

He also announced a new initiative called the Mobile Video Alliance, designed to optimise video for smartphones and tablets. EE founded the alliance where it will work with UK content providers. The group will actually be run by the Digital Television Group, a body which represents UK broadcasters.

The operator is launching a new device aimed at car drivers. The Buzzard provides Wi-Fi coverage for car drivers via EE’s 4G network. It is available from 28 May.

In addition, the operator is debuting two mobile Wi-Fi devices – the Kite and the Osprey – which will be available in July and from 28 May, respectively.

The operator is also launching accompanying tariffs for the Buzzard, Kite and Osprey. For instance, a 1GB monthly allowance costs £10 a month, while 3GB costs £15.

Finally, EE is launching  its own Eagle tablet, billed as an Pad mini competitor. Manufactured by Huawei, the tablet runs on Android Jelly Bean. It has a 1.6 GHz processor and 5MP camera. It will cost £50 with a £15 per month plan or £200 on pay-as-you-go. The tablet is available in July. Previously, EE has launched its own Android handset, the Kestrel.

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Richard Handford

Richard is the editor of Mobile World Live’s money channel and a contributor to the daily news service. He is an experienced technology and business journalist who previously worked as a freelancer for many publications over the last decade including...

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