EE to competitors: "Go away or I shall taunt you again".

Jun 10, 2013

The company claims that by having enrolled 500,000 subscribers since it launched its monopoly 4G services on October 30 last (and EE continues to enjoy that exclusivity which was gifted to it at the whim of the UK regulator and despite a chorus of outraged condemnation from EE's competitors), it is now well on track to meet its target of having a million 4G customers by the end of 2013.

To help in this regard EE is to introduce "shared 4G" tariff plans (for families and enterprises) and pay-as-you-go mobile broadband over the course of the next three months. Prices for the new services have not been released.

Furthermore, EE is to introduce "double-speed 4G" in the UK cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield while the roll-out of 'single-speed' will continueapace. The plan calls for 55 per cent coverage of the UK by the end of this month and 98 per cent outdoor population coverage by the end of 2014.

Olaf Swantee, EE's C-EE-O commented, "By the end of June, we will have rolled out 4G across 55 per cent of the population, and will continue to switch on new towns and cities. And with commuters spending an average of 75 minutes travelling every day, EE will also roll out 4G across the busiest airports, commuter routes and shopping centres across the UK, powering the areas that matter most to Britain."

Meanwhile, EE continues to face criticism for high prices, low data caps, the frequency of dropped voice and data calls and a less than robust service overall. EE is a joint venture between Orange UK and T-Mobile (UK) and company spokesman, Mansoor Hanif, the man in charge of LTE and network integration, speaking at an industry conference focused on LTE and mobile backhaul, claimed that EE's rivals (Vodafone, Telefonica O2 and 3) suffer from "complacency" and don't have a "sense of mission" or a "“fantastic team” dedicated to a “single goal”. Damning his competitors with faint praise, Hanif went on to say, “We really respect our competition”.

Such triumphalist comments do EE no favours and one can be sure that the company's rivals won't stand by and let such twaddle pass without making their own ripostes.

Mr. Hanif also took the opportunity to have a pop at Vodafone and Telefonica O2's UK network sharing agreement, commenting, “I’ve been reading from press reports and our suppliers that they are not seeing eye-to-eye." He went on to call the relationship between Vodafone and O2 “very strange”.

He added, “They have split network responsibility in the UK, so O2 covers one half and Vodafone the other. That makes it very difficult for them to coordinate nationwide service. We have not split up network responsibility on a geographical basis.”

Then chancing his arm (and tempting the fates) yet again, Mr. Mansoor observed, "I think they've been a little bit unfair with us. We all got a fair shot at rolling out 4G networks fast. We're happy and we're actually quite surprised the others have been slow, we're feeling a bit lonely."

Well, you won't be lonely for long and then we'll see how quickly the smirk fades. EE got preferential treatment in that it was allowed to roll-out LTE on certain spectrum whilst the likes of Vodafone et al, we prevented from doing so by Ofcom. EE has been playing on a sloping field and chortling about it and taunting competitors is asking for trouble. It should be remembered that he who laughs first very often does not laugh last.

Vodafone will launch its so-called 4G services "by the end of the summer", O2 is already talking about a "mind-blowingly aggressive" LTE roll-out this summer and Three UK, the country's first and genuine 3G provider, will launch its 4G service "at the end of the year."

An O2 spokesman said, “It’s interesting to see that EE appears to be obsessed with what its rivals are up to instead of thinking about its own customers.” Quite.

Possible future scenario?

EE (to Vodafone/O2): "We ask you to join us in our quest for a joint network".

Vodafone /O2 to EE: "We've already got one. It's very nice. Now go away, we don't want to talk to you no more."

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