EE lands 318,000 4G customers

EE’s multi-million pound marketing activity to launch the UK’s first 4G network appears to have shown early signs of paying off after the operator announced it has acquired 318,000 customers in the five months of its existence.

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Its 4G base, equivalent to 2.3 percent of all its contract (post-paid) customers, means the operator is “firmly on track” to reach 1 million 4G customers by the end of 2013 – 10 months ahead of the average two years since launch it has taken 4G operators in other countries to reach that amount of users.

The strong customer acquisition target comes ahead of the launch of rivals’ 4G offerings this summer, when a slew of marketing activity is expected from the UK’s biggest operators. EE is set to switch its marketing message from speed to how its 4G network lets customer access content as it looks to protect its first to market advantage.

EE 4G tariffs deliver 10 per cent more revenue per user on average when customer migrate from its two non-4G brands, Orange and T-Mobile, the company claims. Overall, average revenue per user was up 2.2 per cent year on year in the three months to 31 March.

Despite growing its 4G customer base, EE reported a 5.4 per cent drop in revenue year on year to £1.4bn in the quarter as it was impacted by “macroeconomic and competitive” pressures and regulatory changes such as the amendments to mobile termination rates – the cost to a consumer when they call a user on another mobile network.

Including Orange and T-Mobile customers, the company added 166,000 contract customers in the quarter, which it says is its best quarter one performance since the creation of the company. More than half (53 per cent) of its customers are now on lucrative contracts rather than cheaper pay as you go services.

EE says the strong take up of 4G services “validates our data monetisation strategy”, which reflects the changing mobile usage patterns of consumers.

Earlier this month EE announced it is to double its current average 4G speeds to 20MBps and top speeds of 130MBps in 10 cities as it aims to become the “benchmark” mobile network.

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