The growing appetite for super-fast internet access on smartphones and tablets was underlined yesterday by the mobile giant EE, which reported nearly half a million customers signed up for its premium 4G service in just the last three months.
EE, the owner of T-Mobile and Orange, added 493,000 4G customers to take its base to 1.2 million – ahead of its target of one million in 12 months by the end of 2013, and well in front of rivals Vodafone and O2, which only launched 4G this August.
Its chief executive, Olaf Swantee, said 4G – which allows speeds of up to 10 times the existing 3G network – was enabling users to watch TV and video for “longer sessions” on the go. Video clip sites YouTube and Daily Motion are the most popular but increasing numbers are watching BBC iPlayer.
EE, whose total customer numbers have slipped to 27.4 million, is poised to float on the stock market with a £10bn valuation next year. Mr Swantee said “the IPO market seems strong”, referring to the rash of recent floats, but added that EE’s owners are “not in a hurry”. He hit out at regulator Ofcom’s plans to quadruple the cost of the annual licence of all mobile operators, with EE facing a bill of £107m, and plans to lobby Whitehall.