EE: unlimited data tariffs are "unnecessary"

26 Feb 2013
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4G network users aren't downloading a significant amount of data, despite the fast network

Unlimited data plans are unnecessary since 4G users are averaging only 1.4GB a month, according to EE's CEO Olaf Swantee.

EE is the first mobile operator in the UK to offer 4G services. When it launched last October, it was criticised for imposing tight data caps - including a 500MB plan that could be chewed through in five minutes at the network's maximum speed.

Speaking at MWC 2013, Swantee said that on average users are actually getting through only 1.4GB a month. "It shows that the instinct for unlimited data plans is unnecessary," he said.

Comment

Lies, damned lies and statistics. If EE imposes strict data caps on its customers, it's hardly surprising that the average usage figure isn't exactly sky-high. People will stay within the bounds of their data cap because they don't want to incur extra charges. Run a pilot test with customers who aren't hampered by a data cap and let's see what that does to the average, Mr Swantee.

Barry Collins, Editor

PC Pro's own survey revealed that most users stay below 1GB a month, but EE's numbers suggest users still don't download very much on a mobile connection, raising the question of why they're paying extra for a 4G network, as the plans include the most expensive contract in the UK.

Swantee said the 4G network speeds were averaging about 16Mbits/sec, and topped out at 50Mbits/sec, adding that a quarter of traffic on the network is used to watch videos. "Beyond video, maps, mobile banking and video-calling in particular have seen the biggest uplift in use compared to 3G," he said.

EE's recent quarterly results showed the arrival of 4G hadn't immediately boosted customer numbers, but Swantee said EE had seen sales growth of 10% every week, and had signed up 1,000 business customers.

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