Mobile phone operator EE has today revealed its roadmap for 2013 and beyond, committing to double 4G speeds, starting with 10 UK cities, and increase its coverage in order to remain the country's biggest LTE supplier.
In a London press conference this morning, EE CEO Olaf Swantee said “we believe EE is driving innovation in this country and this market”, before committing his company to targeting over one million 4G users by the end of the year - and roughly 8% of the entire pay monthly user base in 14 months.
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With EE now in control of around 36% of the UK's airwaves, across 2G, 3G and 4G frequencies, and with a 34% market share, it could feasibly carry every single mobile user in the UK for voice, texts and data, but instead it will concentrate on doubling 4G speeds to Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield by the summer. The upgrades will begin in the next few weeks, and potentially reach top speeds of 130Mbps and averages of 20Mbps. According to EE, the capacity being reserved for the upgrade makes it impossible for O2 or Three to match.
All existing category 3 LTE devices, including the Apple iPhone 5 , Samsung Galaxy S4 , HTC One and Sony Xperia Z will work with the faster speeds, with no need for a software update, different SIM card or change of contract.
With 2G devices on the decline, 4G already in 80 cities and towns across the country and a target of 98% coverage by Christmas 2014, EE is well on its way to growing a 4G userbase - long before the other networks launch services of their own.
The one thing that wasn't announced at today's press conference was a change to pricing - although EE is the biggest 4G network, and looks set to retain the title for the foreseeable future, its contracts command a price premium over existing 3G plans. We'll have to wait until the summer to see if extra speed is enough of an incentive for customers to make the switch.