Technology Journalist and Copywriter

Kate O'Flaherty


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UK operators left behind by EE's 4G push

By kateoflaherty, Jun 6 2013 11:36AM

Aggressive marketing is the pillar of EE's 4G strategy - and it's helped build a massive head start on its rivals.

It doesn't matter how you look at it; 4G's done well for EE. The firm announced today that it's added 500,000 customers since the launch of LTE seven months ago. You can quibble over the figures, but it's certainly not a bad start.

And with Vodafone's plans for a summer 4G launch already on hold until at least September, EE is taking further advantage of its lead. Last week, the operator launched affordable Sim-only 4G contracts priced at just £23.

Then today, EE announced shared 4G data plans, a revolution that's set to change the way mobile operators offer tariffs.The move was predicted by experts quoted in my recent article for Mobile Today.

According to EE, the shared tariffs will allow mobile customers to share their 4G data plans across phones and tablets, or with other people.

It's no surprise; shared data contracts are already the way things are done in the US. But it's a big change for the way consumers buy their data.

EE's also been targeting businesses hard, pushing 4G services through its direct channels and resellers, accompanied by advertising the benefits of 'always on' broadband.

The other mobile operators are getting left behind. As consumers start to take notice of 4G, their only option is EE and those with contacts coming up for renewal will be going to the only place they can.

Customer service isn't the biggest consideration anymore. Three is waiting until September for a low-key launch of 4G and Vodafone's LTE network is already delayed. Even O2 - if it does indeed launch this summer - will have a lot of catching up to do.

EE's been watching its competitors and biding its time; and the battle lines have been drawn. As CEO Olaf Swantee ominously said in the operator's latest statement: "We won’t stop here. Customers can be assured that, on EE, they are one step ahead.”

EE is, of course, one step ahead of its rivals too.

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