In publishing its financial results for the three months ended 30 September 2014, EE has revealed that its 4G customer base stood at 5.6 million at the end of the third quarter, up by 1.4 million quarter-on-quarter, an increase which it claims means it now has the ‘biggest 4G base of any operator in Europe’. Also highlighted was the fact that 6,203 corporate accounts are now using LTE-based services, including MasterCard, Reading Council and Scotia Gas, while more than 82% of new post-paid customers signing up in the quarter selected a 4G plan. On the back of such growth, EE has said it is now on track to ‘significantly exceed’ its original target of six million 4G customers by the end of 2014.
EE did, however, record a drop in total mobile connections (excluding machine-to-machine [M2M] and those signed up to mobile virtual network operators [MVNOs]), with a 4.2% annual increase in contract customers to 14.757 million failing to offset an 11.3% drop in pre-paid subscribers, to 9.732 million. M2M accesses, by contrast, surged by 19.3% to 1.869 million, while the number of customers using the EE network via a virtual partner rose to 3.806 million at end-June 2014 (EE reports the latter figure a quarter in arrears).
Network coverage, meanwhile, has been improved, with EE noting that its LTE network is now available to more than 75% of the UK population – over 48 million people – in 281 major towns and cities, and over 2,500 villages and small towns. Looking ahead, the operator has said it expects its ‘double speed’ 4G to be available in 40 cities by end-2014.
In financial terms, in the third quarter of 2014 EE recorded at total turnover of GBP1.59 billion (USD2.66 billion), representing a year-on-year decline of 2.5%, with operating revenue falling by 1.2% against 3Q13 to GBP1.523 million; excluding the impact of regulatory cuts EE noted that operating revenue was actually flat y-o-y, however.
Commenting on the quarterly performance, Neal Milsom, EE’s chief financial officer, was cited as saying: ‘We are delivering consistent underlying performance in a highly competitive environment while continuing to face significant regulatory pressure on our revenues. We are investing to further innovate on behalf of our customers by delivering not just the best network but also improvements in customer service, a range of attractive EE branded devices, Shared Plans, and soon EE TV.’