EE said its 4G customer base has hit 1.2 million, driven by a 72 percent quarter-on-quarter jump in LTE subscribers. The third quarter figures show the operator has managed to beat its one million 4G target three months early.
The UK operator reported an impressive increase of 493,000 post-paid 4G subscribers during Q3.
It was still not enough to stop overall sales from falling, however, as the UK’s largest operator whittled down its less lucrative prepaid subscriber base.
Q3 mobile service revenue dropped 3.3 per cent, year-on-year, to £1.45 billion. Strip out the impact of cuts to mobile termination rates, however, and sales fell by a more palatable 0.6 per cent.
Overall blended Q3 ARPU, mixing prepaid and postpaid customers, was up a modest 0.5 per cent to £19.
More encouragingly, EE’s customer mix is improving with a heavier leaning towards more lucrative contract customers and reports that Q3 data revenues – excluding text – were up 25 per cent, year-on-year, driven by strong smartphone adoption.
Growing 4G take-up has also meant a larger portion of ARPU is taken up by data revenues. From a 31 per cent slice in Q3 2012, data (not including SMS) accounted for 43 per cent share of ARPU in the three months ended September.
EE further reports a net increase of 181,000 “high value” postpaid customers and that 56 per cent of its customers are now on postpaid plans. Postpaid customers, says the operator, generate an average of six times higher ARPU than prepaid.
Moreover, says EE, around two-thirds of its new/renewing postpaid customers select 4G contracts or 4G-ready devices.
EE has had nearly a year’s 4G head start in the UK, helping it to expand its 4G corporate account base beyond 3,200 during Q3. Large companies, including ASDA, BT, Canon, Expedia, Kimberly-Clark and Virgin Media, signed up with EE during the quarter.
EE boasts that it is Europe’s fastest-growing operator and that its new 4GEE tariffs – when taking into account speed and data allowance – beat any of its European counterparts when it comes to value.
Largely because of the trimming of its less lucrative prepaid base, EE had 25.1 million mobile subscribers by the end of September, down 2.7 per cent from 12 months previously.
The postpaid base was up 5.7 per cent, however, to 14.2 million subscribers.
EE does not publish profit and loss figures on a quarterly basis.