UK mobile operator EE shifts 4G LTE network into high gear

New pricing plans, not speed, impress Ovum analyst

Mobile operator EE said it is doubling the speed of its 4G LTE network in 12 U.K. cities starting on Wednesday.

EE said that its 4G LTE network could now reach a theoretical maximum speed of 150 Mbps, while its current average speed is 24 Mbps to 30 Mbps.

"Our new double speed 4G technology means that we have the biggest, fastest and best network in the UK, and now the equal fastest in the world," enthused EE CEO Olaf Swantee.

"With our superfast network, we have a unique opportunity to introduce a new era of customer-friendly pricing models based on speed, and we'll be revealing further details of this later this year," Swantee added.

Emeka Obiodu, principal analyst at Ovum, was not all that impressed. "The doubling of LTE speeds in several cities across the UK is a nice headline. But, on its own, we don't believe it is a standout game changer as telcos struggle to sell LTE as a speedier network," he wrote in a blog.

Rather than the speed, Obiodu is impressed by EE's plans to offer pricing models based on speed. The faster network "gives EE a base from which to offer LTE packages tiered on speed and usage which are far acceptable to customers. That is going to be the interesting thing to watch out for and if its rivals do not have the capability to do that, EE could have quite a solid marketing message."

The new pricing plans, set to take effect July 17, include shared 4G plans that enable customers to connect up to five separate devices to one plan. In addition, EE is offering pay-as-you-go mobile broadband plans for customers who want broadband speeds on their tablets and laptops without a monthly contract.

For its summer promotion, EE is offering plans starting from £26 ($34) per month for 500MB up to £51 ($66) per month for 20GB, including unlimited U.K. calls and texting.

"The updates EE has announced for its LTE service offering in the U.K. are clearly aimed at giving it a competitive edge as other players launch LTE later this year. EE's choice of a summer promotion to push these initiatives attests to this," the Ovum analyst observed.

For more:
- check out the EE release
- read Obiodu's blog

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