The relatively low prices paid by UK operators in the recent 4G spectrum auction means services will be rolled out more quickly compared to 3G, according to EE CEO Olaf Swantee.
In a new video interview with Mobile World Live, the boss of the UK’s largest operator said the pricing for the spectrum “was very much in line” with other European countries and is positive compared to the situation when 3G spectrum was allocated.
“What is important is that now there are also sufficient funds available to invest in the rollout,” he said, explaining that the huge amounts operators paid for 3G airwaves around a decade ago left little cash for network investment, meaning it took time for services to be rolled out.
Swantee added that the low-end spectrum allocated to his company is important in allowing it to sufficiently cover rural areas and reduce unitary costs by deploying fewer masts.
Turning to EE’s progress with LTE (it is the first UK operator to launch 4G services on a mass-market basis), Swantee said demand is “really good”, with 25 per cent of consumers and businesses using the service where it is available. “So we are absolutely on track with our plans,” he said, adding that the operator already has over a thousand companies using its LTE service. Other 4G metrics cited by Swantee include a doubling in average LTE monthly data downloads (1.4 G/b) compared to 3G; and video accounting for 25 percent of network data.