EE launches shared data plans

The UK’s first LTE operator, EE, has announced the availability of shared pricing plans for its LTE customers. The plans, which will become available July 17th, were announced as EE switched on what it is calling “double speed LTE”; enhanced network performance enabled by an additional 10MHz of refarmed 1800MHz spectrum that gives the firm 20MHz of contiguous 1800MHz spectrum exclusively for LTE.

The UK network is now faster than the LTE networks of the US and Japan, said Olaf Swantee, EE CEO, and on a par with the best networks in South Korea. The enhanced service will be available in 12 UK cities initially. While speeds of 150Mbps have been achieved in EE’s labs, the average speed for users will be between 24 – 30 Mbps, Swantee said.

In a nod to operators in the US market, which has more than half of the world’s LTE subscribers, EE is introducing shared pricing plans enabling users to spread data consumption across devices or a group of people such as family members. Up to five devices can be connected to a single tariff with a supplementary cost starting at £12/month for SIM only and £22/month for an additional smartphone.

In a bid to stimulate greater uptake of cellular services for tablets, these devices can be connected at £5/month SIM only and £26/month for a new tablet. The firm claimed typical savings for a family of four could run to more than £900 over a two-year period.

“It’s now common for people to be using a PC, a smartphone, a tablet and perhaps other devices too. But apart from smartphones, the rate of attachment of these devices to the mobile network remains low in the UK,” said John Delaney, Associate VP for mobility at analyst firm IDC. “This suggests that people are being put off by the need to buy a separate mobile subscription for each device they want to connect to the mobile network.”

Delaney added that EE is right to be cautious in its expectations of uptake for its shared consumption plans, suggesting that the price of connecting each additional device might still be off-putting for consumers. “However, we believe that there is substantial latent demand for using a single mobile account to connect multiple devices (and people), and that packages that cater to this demand in an attractive way will see substantial adoption in the long run,” he said. “Unlike the LTE case, it will be easier for other UK operators to follow EE’s suit with shared data plans, and we expect some of them to do so soon.”




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