Report claims UK LTE services reducing reliance on public Wi-Fi and private home broadband

Aug 23, 2013

In the inaugural edition of the "4GEE Mobile Living Index", the first of a promised series of twice-yearly PDF files consisting 24 close-packed and luridly coloured pages, EE presents the results of a survey indicating that some consumers signing-up to LTE tend to exploit it as a replacement for home broadband and Wi-Fi.

This bombshell is the key finding of research based on a survey of a whole 1,000 UK LTE customers undertaken by the research house TNS over the first six months of 2013. Other input came from "internal EE network data."

So, it seems 43 per cent of LTE users say their use of public Wi-Fi hotspots has ben markedly reduced while 23 per cent of domestic users of broadband Internet access services say LTE services have lowered their reliance use their home broadband.

Or, to put it another way, 57 per cent of LTE subscribers continue to use public Wi-Fi as and when they feel the need to whilst 77 per cent of LTE users still rely on and continually use their home broadband as their primary Internet access mechanism.

The report also claims that 26 per cent of LTE subscribers spend more than three hours a day online. "Over the mobile network it is 23 per cent and then over Wi-Fi or home broadband it is 27 per cent. The former figure is expected to rise as the 4G user matures and the latter is expected to stay around the same."

EE was gifted a monopoly as the sole provider of LTE services by Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, and has been doing all it can to keep itself in the media spotlight and consolidate its position as the country's sole LTE service provider.

However, EE's period of monopoly runs out next week. From August 29 onwards, EE will face fierce and unremitting competition from the the likes of 02 and Vodafone who will enter the market with teeth gnashing and boots flying. They remain livid that EE was given what they regard as special regulatory treatment and preference and EE is only too well ware that its days of wine and roses are almost over. An LTE price war is in the offing and EE is making hay while the dog days of summer sun still shines. By September the nights will be lengthening.

That said, EE will retain some very strong assets. It owns a wide swathe of 1800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum and so, for the time being, will not have to rely on wi-fi offloading to maintain the high quality of user experience that EE is selling LTE on.

An EE spokesperson said, “We really don’t have to worry about getting customers off the network. We don’t have the same issues that some other operators have."

Time will tell. The fact of the matter is that offload of LTE traffic is central to maintaining an acceptable quality of service as subscriber numbers grow. At the moment subscriber numbers remain comparatively low but they are increasing. When that small streams swells to become a big river, then the networks will take the strain and we'll see who comes out best.

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