Britain's first 4G service to start at 36 pounds a month

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 22, 2012 7:03 PM
Britain's first 4G service to start at 36 pounds a month

LONDON (Reuters) - Mobile operator EE said Britain's first 4G service will cost from 36 pounds ($57.72) a month under a pricing strategy designed to lure smartphone customers to its superfast network before rivals are able to launch competing products.

Chief Executive Olaf Swantee said the company's tariffs, which range from 36 pounds for 500MB of data to 56 pounds for 8GB, were about 10-20 percent more than for equivalent 3G plans. He said it was a small premium to pay for up to five times faster connections.

He declined to say how many customers the group, owned by France Telecom <FTE.PA> and Deutsche Telekom <DTEGn.DE>, expected to switch to 4G, which launches in 10 cities on October 30.

But he said EE had decided not to price 4G at the high premium seen in some other European countries.

"Our business model is more built around a fast adoption of 4G services ... because of our whole tariffing structure and tariffing strategy and because the UK in general has a big appetite to move to new technologies," he told reporters.

EE, which leads the British market with about 27 million customers, is able to roll out 4G before its rivals because the regulator has allowed it to re-use existing spectrum.

Telefonica's <TEF.MC> O2, Vodafone <VOD.L> and Three <0215.HK> will have to wait until next year to obtain the spectrum they need for their own 4G offers.

Swantee said the new service had already attracted a lot of interest from corporate customers, which currently provide just 14 percent of the group's revenues.

"We have a big opportunity on the back of a better, stronger, bigger 3G network, and being the first with 4G to get us into some new large accounts," he said.

Companies wanted fast mobile broadband so they could offer video conferencing and other business applications to workers, he said.

EE, previously know as Everything Everywhere, said it was spending tens of millions of pounds on publicity for the launch, including a television campaign fronted by film star Kevin Bacon, that will first air during the "X-Factor" on November 3.

All of the 24-month price plans available to consumers include unlimited calls and texts, the company said, although none includes a free smartphone, a stance taken partly to reduce fraud rates.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Potter)