EE reviewing data caps ahead of shared 4G contracts
EE will reconsider its tight data caps ahead of plans this summer to let 4G customers share their contracts with other devices or people – though it won’t necessarily make any changes.
Customers on a 4G plan will soon have the option of buying an additional SIM, either for another device of their own or for a family member. That SIM will be bolted onto the existing plan. It wasn’t immediately clear if the SIMs would share the same phone number.
EE has yet to announce prices, but said a “variety of packages” would be available in the next two months. Although individuals looking to share 4G across, for example, their iPhone and their iPad will be able take up the new offer, EE said the tariffs would likely be more useful for families and couples.
EE currently only sells capped data plans for 4G, with its most expensive tariff offering 20GB of data for £76 a month. Since multiple users on a single 4G contract might mean customers chew through their data limit faster, EE said it was rethinking its current caps for shared plans.
We’re going to be reviewing usage, which we do all the time, seeing how much data people use and making decisions based on the results of that
An EE spokesperson told PC Pro that the company might raise its controversial data caps as it prepares to roll out faster 4G speeds in the next fortnight.
EE will double its network capacity in ten cities, boosting average speeds to 20Mbits/sec and top speeds to 80Mbits/sec. The faster network will go live in East London as part of an existing partnership, before rolling out to the rest of London and Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.
“We’re going to be reviewing usage, which we do all the time, seeing how much data people use and making decisions based on the results of that. We’ll certainly be looking at it,” said the spokesperson.
O2 and Vodafone
The operator also announced that it has signed half a million 4G customers, keeping with its target to have one million customers by the end of the year. EE wouldn’t say how many were lured from rival networks or how many subscribed to its priciest £76 tariff, but said it was “very pleased” with the numbers.
“We’re very pleased with the number of upgrades from the existing base, and we’re very, very pleased with the number of acquisitions from other operators,” said the spokesman.
The operator also took a dig at O2 and Vodafone for delaying the launch of their 4G networks and suggested the pair weren’t “seeing eye to eye” over their shared network infrastructure.
“Vodafone and O2 will find it very difficult to manage. Their model of co-operation is difficult,” said EE’s director of network integration and LTE, Mansoor Hanif. “It takes a lot of human will to work together. I don’t believe our competitors are seeing eye to eye.”
EE shares network infrastructure with Three, something it admitted “isn’t easy”, but hadn’t prevented its 4G rollout. But Hanif claimed O2 and Vodafone have “cut the country in half” in terms of a 4G rollout, with Vodafone providing a faster network to one half, and O2 to the other.
“It’s a very strange relationship they have,” he said. “You can’t launch nationally unless you’re completely aligned. I can’t see how they’re going to agree on a stable rollout.”
But Vodafone dismissed talk of trouble with its partner, telling PC Pro that it was still on track to meet its 4G targets.
“On the infrastructure sharing work we are carrying out with in partnership with O2, it is going very well as we move towards our target of bringing indoor coverage across all technologies to 98% of the UK population by 2015,” a spokesperson said.
“It’s interesting to see that EE appears to be obsessed with what its rivals are up to instead of thinking about its customers,” he added. “That’s great news for us as we prepare to launch our 4G service. We’re focused on delivering the best possible service for customers when we launch by the late summer.”
O2 hasn’t revealed when it will launch its next-gen network, but is widely expected to offer 4G soon.
Three has said it won’t launch 4G before its competitors, but may not be able to launch before the autumn, as it won’t receive the relevant spectrum it bought from EE until September.