EE hits 318,000 LTE customers - a whopping 0.4 percent of UK now on 4G

EE's Q1 financial results show the network now has 318,000 4G customers since it launched the service five months ago. However, look a little deeper, and it's not all good news for the company.

EE's first quarter financial results show the company now has a total of 318,000 customers signed up to its 4G LTE service.

EE — an amalgamation of T-Mobile and Orange in the UK — released its results on Tuesday, which showed that over the three months ending 31 March 2013, it generated revenues of £1.6bn in service revenue. The figure is a drop of 3.9 percent on the same quarter year on year.

EE's 318,000 4G customers only represents 1.2 percent of EE's total 26 million-strong customer base in the UK. As a percentage of overall UK mobile subscriptions, EE's 4G customers account for less than 0.4 percent. The company is aiming to have more than one million customers on its EE 4G plans by the end of the year.

While roughly doubling the number of its 4G subscriptions in three months is obviously good news for the operator, it hides the fact that the total number of EE customers (including fixed-line broadband) across the networks actually fell by more than 400,000 to 26.4 million — a 2.9 percent decrease year on year.

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However, the loss of lower-value pre-pay customers (down 11.2 percent year on year) was partially offset by an increase in post-pay contact customers, up 5.9 percent year on year.

Despite this, the overall average revenue per user (ARPU) in the post-pay segment fell 7.4 percent in comparison with Q 2012 and the ARPU for pre-pay customers fell 13.8 percent.

Over the period, EE also saw declining numbers of fixed-line broadband customers, likely not helped by being voted the most complained about broadband provider in the UK in recent Ofcom polls as a result of inheriting Orange's home broadband service.  As a result, fixed-line broadband customer numbers fell 2.7 percent year on year.

EE recently announced plans to introduce a 'double-speed' 4G LTE service in 10 cities before the end of the summer that will provide headline download speeds of up to 80Mbps, with an average of 20Mbps for all users.

The speed doubling exercise will run alongside its plans to roll out 4G to 98 percent of the country (measured by population, rather than geography) by the end of 2014. The company said it is on track to reach 70 percent of the UK population by the end of 2013.

At the end of February Ofcom completed the auction of 4G spectrum in the UK, paving the way for rival operators to roll-out their own 4G services in the coming months.