EE said that it has become “Europe’s largest 4G operator”, as its total reached 7.7 million customers at the end of 2014 – ahead of its 6 million target.
The company said that 94 per cent of new and 92 per cent of renewing postpaid customers in the fourth quarter selected 4G, of which nearly half opted for “double-speed 4GEE Extra”.
For the full year, the company reported a loss of £217 million, compared with a prior-year loss of £76 million, on revenue of £6.33 billion, down from £6.48 billion.
Revenue was impacted by regulatory cuts and a decline in the prepaid customer base, partially offset by growth of contract customers and in EE’s Home and wholesale divisions.
The year included a £336 million “exceptional” expense related to failed UK retailer Phones 4U, covering prepaid customer investment costs for services which would previously have been expensed over future periods. The Phones 4U collapse “triggered a number of events” which also saw EE acquiring 58 stores and the Life Mobile MVNO.
During the course of the year, EE added 551,000 net contract customers, increasing the postpaid proportion of its customer base to 61 per cent (although it added 756,000 in 2013). Its prepaid customer base decreased by 8 per cent, which it said was “in line with the industry shift toward postpaid”.
Its 4G based reached 7.7 million, an increase of 5.7 million in the year, supported by price range extensions, the success of EE branded devices and 4G shared and prepaid plans.
The machine-to-machine business also grew rapidly, EE said, with the base up 17 per cent year-on-year to 1.9 million connections.
At the end of 2014, EE had 30.94 million network connections (compared with 30.75 million in 2013), including MVNO and M2M subscribers.
Average revenue per user was £28.90 per month for contract customer, down slightly from £29.90. For all mobile users, ARPU increased by 2.7 per cent (excluding the impact of regulation), as the proportion of higher-spending contract customers increased.
EE also said that its fixed broadband business “grew rapidly”, driven by its strategy to cross-sell mobile and fixed products. Full-year fixed revenue growth was 18 per cent.
It also noted “encouraging early demand” for its EE TV proposition.