Mobile network EE passes two million 4G customer milestone, doubling user base in four months.
Operator of the UK's first 4G network, EE now covers 70% of the UK population with its 'super fast' mobile broadband, which can offer speeds of more than 24Mbps in 20 UK cities, and the network claims three quarters of its new and upgrading small and medium business customers are choosing 4G.
EE had originally set itself the target of signing up one million 4G customers by the end of 2013; already doubling this goal shows UK consumers' demand for faster mobile broadband, even if it carries a price premium over 3G.
The average data consumption by EE's 4G customers grew by 70% over the course of 2013, driven by increasing mobile use of social media and video consumption, the network said.
As EE's 4G users celebrated the New Year, the network saw Facebook data traffic double on the stroke of midnight, as users uploaded photos and videos of firework displays, and sent messages to friends and family. Instant messaging service WhatsApp saw its traffic on EEs network increase seven-fold on the same night.
The operator was given a head start over the competition - including Vodafone and O2 - when telecom regulator Ofcom granted EE permission to offer 4G on parts of the mobile spectrum it already owned. Its rivals had to wait almost a year before offering their own 4G services, while Ofcom completing the auctioning of further spectrum.
Price cuts to 4G contracts and a growing range of smartphones and tablets available across most price points have helped to spread the technology's use far beyond the usual group of wealthy and technologically-savvy early adopters.
Looking ahead, EE has plans to invest £275 million this year to improve its voice network, pledging to "set a new benchmark for voice quality and reliability."
Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, said: "We're incredibly proud of being the first UK operator to bring 4G to the UK and, in just over a year, exceeding our target by reaching two million 4G customers across the country. We continue to have particular success converting our existing base to 4G, with approximately two out of three new 4G customers moving over from Orange and T-Mobile plans.
"This year, our network priority is to deliver the benefits of superfast mobile internet to more of the UK and invent even more innovative ways for our customers to make the most of their 4G experience."