4G mobile providers EE have promised that their new EE ‘DoubleSpeed’ will go live from July 4th, offering up to 150Mbps download speeds – though industry commentators believe actual speeds will be closer to 30Mbps.
The company is also tweaking its contracts to allow users to consume more data and connect multiple devices to a single contract. The new Shared 4GEE plan selects one customer as the ‘Lead Sharer’, with their unlimited minutes and texts made available to others for an extra fee of £5 a month.
Other devices can then be linked to this contract to grant access to the same data allowance. Adding a smartphone will cost £12 per month whilst a tablet will only set you back £5 monthly. EE says the sharing plans will offer better value to customers whilst allowing them to get the most from their contracts.
However, the £12 additional fee is only available to those on yearly contract. Customers paying on a 30-day rolling basis will be set back £17 extra each month, with the tablet price bumped to £8 on the same plan. Whether or not the scheme will actually save customers money will depend on the individual’s situation.
As well as these changes to speeds and contracts the network also announced a new wireless payment service for its handsets named Cash On Tap, a new partnership with MasterCard.
Although by no means a striking innovation (it will essentially turn certain NFC-enabled phones like the Sony Xperia SP or the Samsung Galaxy S4 into wireless pay cards), EE are hoping to attract people to use the system by offering £10 free once they sign up and top up. They also promise that the partnership with MasterCard makes it “as safe as using a contactless card.”
EE’s network has moved forward in leaps and bounds since its initial launch, and now covers 55% of the UK. Although it still continues to describe its products at the edges of credibility (150Mbps may hypothetically accurate speeds, but hardly the common experience for customers), it is continuing to expand its service, not just in terms of numbers, but how customers use their contracts.
As reported by TechDigest, EE CEO Olaf Swantee was bullish about the network’s future as he announced these changes: "When we launched 4G we talked about a vision of building the best network and best service so that our customers trust us with their digital lives. Through our launch and through the past eight months, we've already realised that aim."
Update: Reports from The Guardian have since added that before the end of the year EE will also be introducing price bands for their services, charging more for faster connections. This is a first for mobile networks in the UK.