EE launches “double-speed” 4G, overhauls pricing

The UK’s EE will this week launch what it calls “double-speed” LTE services in 12 of the country’s biggest cities and has revealed details of new pricing plans that will become available later this month.

A joint venture between Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and France Telecom (Paris, France), EE (Hatfield, UK) has been refarming its considerable allocation of 1800MHz spectrum – originally provided for use with basic voice services – and the progress means it can now offer average download speeds of between 24Mbps and 30Mbps, twice as much as before.

The UK’s EE will this week launch what it calls “double-speed” LTE services in 12 of the country’s biggest cities and has revealed details of new pricing plans that will become available later this month.

A joint venture between Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and France Telecom (Paris, France), EE (Hatfield, UK) has been refarming its considerable allocation of 1800MHz spectrum – originally provided for use with basic voice services – and the progress means it can now offer average download speeds of between 24Mbps and 30Mbps, twice as much as before.

The operator claims the service will be faster than networks in the US and Japan and “equal to the best in South Korea”.

As part of a summer promotion, customers who sign up to a two-year contract by September will be able to enjoy the higher-speed services and receive more generous data-usage allowances than available on standard plans for the duration of their contract.

The promotional offer will be available on a range of plans from July 17, with a low-end service costing £26 ($39.6) a month for 500 megabytes and the most expensive priced at £51 for 20 gigabytes.

Presently, EE’s cheapest 4G service costs £31 a month, with its top-end offer priced at £76.

The operator is also launching shared plans that allow subscribers to connect up to five devices on one 4G contract, plus a range of prepaid tariffs.

“Last year we launched the first superfast 4G and fiber broadband network in the UK,” said Olaf Swantee, EE’s chief executive. “Now we’re staying one step ahead with the launch of double-speed 4G and a range of new innovative plans and services – designed to transform the way our customers connect and share content.”

EE took a lead in the UK’s 4G market after regulatory authority Ofcom allowed the operator to re-use its 1800MHz spectrum for LTE services.

The decision angered rivals forced to wait until a spectrum auction that took place earlier this year before they could start rolling out 4G services of their own.

With Vodafone (Newbury, UK), Telefonica O2 (Slough, UK) and Three (Maidenhead, UK) all set to enter the UK’s 4G market later this year, EE is working hard on attracting as many customers as possible before its short-lived monopoly comes to an end.

Last month, EE claimed to have signed up more than half a million 4G customers since launching services in November 2012, and it is aiming to capture a million by the end of 2013.

Despite this progress, however, the operator does not appear to have gained much of an operational advantage over its competitors.

For the three months ending March 2013, it reported a steeper decline in service revenue and a higher number of customer losses than Vodafone.