Earlier today, Olaf Swantee, CEO of mobile phone operator EE, revealed that Apple works very closely with EE, which explains why the operator was able to launch 4G in the UK with Apple onboard. EE, he added, approached many device manufacturers to show what they are capable of doing and they were “blown away” by what they saw.
This prompted us to ask him a crucial question. What is EE doing to make sure that 4G becomes mainstream rather than being seen as a premium technology that caters only for the needs of the very few?
Swantee told ITProPortal that EE is “working with device manufacturers to democratise 4G usage in the UK” and that the company is very aware that 4G is still seen as a high price commodity but remains “very confident that we will start seeing more devices hitting some of the other [presumably lower] price points on the market”.
The Huawei Ascend P1 LTE is currently on sale at T-Mobile for £10.50 per month on a two year contract, making it by far the cheapest 4G smartphone on the market. (ed: That’s a total cost of ownership of £252 and your cheapest ticket to a 4G world with a 12-months SIM Only package from £21.).
Orange did showcase the Lumo at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, an LTE smartphone that has a slightly inferior specification compared to Huawei’s handset, which leads us to believe that it will probably sell for less than £200. Orange, T-Mobile and EE share their handset portfolios.
When asked about whether the expanded network capacity would result in a higher data allowance, Swantee said htat the operator was constantly monitoring feedback on tariffs and propositions. An interesting titbit, customers consumed more data on 4G than on 3G. Orange users on average consumed 400MB per month, (unlimited) T-Mobile, 1GB per month and EE customers around 1.4GB on average.
The OheStepAhead event saw the announcement that EE would be doubling the average speed of its customers to 20Mbps. In addition, EE’s CEO said that the operator was pleasantly surprised by the rate of adoption of 4G amongst its SMB customers.