EE signs LTE roaming deals with Orange in France and Spain

UK operator EE has signed outbound LTE roaming agreements with Orange in France and Spain. EE, which is equally owned by operator groups Orange and Deutsche Telekom, said that the deals are the first of a series of peer to peer outbound roaming agreements. The operator intends to announce similar deals in the USA, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands in the summer.

The option to use LTE roaming services will be limited to consumer and small business customers at first, with corporate customers to follow soon, EE said.

“Whether it’s working on the move, social networking, using maps, or just finding a great place to eat in an unknown city, our customers will now benefit from the same superfast and reliable mobile experience at home and overseas,” said Olaf Swantee, CEO at EE.

The 10th annual LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

The operator has announced the pricing plans for the roaming service, which begin at £3 for 100MB of data that can be used within a 24 hour period.  4GEE Extra plan subscribers will also be able to use unlimited roaming minutes and texts to select countries. The pricing is in line with EE’s current roaming plans for 3G services; the operator already charges £3 for 100MB of data within 24 hours as part of its Euro roaming data add-on bundle.

According to the Intelligence Industry Survey 2014, only around a fifth of the 2,000 plus respondents said they strongly believe that mobile operators are justified in charging LTE roaming at a premium to other roaming services.

While price is expected to remain an important competitive differentiator in LTE roaming, it was not cited by respondents the most important. It was nonetheless rated highly, with 41.4 per cent of respondents (and 44.4 per cent of operator respondents) scoring it six or seven on a scale of importance from one to seven.

According to Mark Windle, head of marketing at specialist software provider OpenCloud, operators should aim to differentiate their roaming offerings with something “unique to, and owned by, the operator’s brand”.

“Internet brands, such as Google, already take this approach to add value for its users so they keep coming back.  Operators must replicate this model and routinely offer customers new services, which will add value and strengthen customer loyalty to their 4G networks,” he said.

“Operators need to get off the fence and decide how they are going to differentiate in this extremely competitive 4G market. Do they focus on the access bit pipe model and rely on other service providers to drive usage and network traffic?  Or are they going to rebuild on their heritage and deliver communication services that add value for the end user? If it’s going to be the latter, they need to start innovating and they need to do it fast.”

In December last year, EE signed an inbound LTE roaming agreement with US operator AT&T.  The agreement was announced just days after the US firm inked a similar deal in Canada with Rogers Communications.

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