EE, the UK’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, has issued a performance update for the three months ended 31 March 2013, with the cellco revealing that some five months after introducing Long Term Evolution (LTE) commercially, some 318,000 customers had signed up to its 4G services.
Noting that it was on track to reach its target of one million LTE subscribers by the end of 2013, EE highlighted the fact that LTE subscribers now account for 2.3% of its total post-paid subscriber base. As it looks to boost 4G uptake further, the operator has also confirmed that it plans to expand its LTE footprint to a total of 80 towns and cities, representing 55% of the population, by end-June 2013, with coverage expected to rise to more than 70% by the end of this year. EE’s total mobile subscriber base meanwhile stood at 26.441 million at the end of March 2013, down 2.9% year-on-year, though the company pointed to continued improvements in its more profitable post-paid customer numbers. At end-March 2013 it had 13.759 million post-paid accesses, up 5.9% from the same date a year earlier, having achieved a net increase of 166,000 such customers over the first quarter of the year. With 53% of the operator’s users now on post-paid plans, it claims the shift in its customer base is ‘improving the value mix of [its] customer base and driving underlying ARPU growth of 2.2% y-o-y’.
In terms of financial performance, in the three month period under review EE recorded mobile service revenues of GBP1.422 billion (USD2.21 billion), representing a decline of 5.4% against the corresponding period of 2012. However, the company noted that, excluding the impact of regulatory-enforced cuts to mobile termination rates (MTRs) and roaming charges, service turnover actually only fell by 0.4% compared to 1Q12. Total turnover for the three-month period, meanwhile, totalled GBP1.605 billion, down from GBP1.670 billion.
Commenting on the company’s quarterly results, Neal Milsom, EE’s chief financial officer, said: ‘Today’s results are in line with our expectations, and we are making good progress focusing on high value segments. We’re announcing 318,000 4G customers after just five months of trading, strong post-paid net adds and continued growth in our underlying average revenue per user (ARPU).’