The largest mobile network in the UK, EE, has doubled its 4G customer base in the last year. It also reported lower revenues as it prepares to be taken over by BT. In what will be it’s last trading update as an independent company, EE recorded sales of £6 billion in 2015, which was down by one per cent from the previous year.
EE has been purchased by BT for £12.5 billion. As an independent network, it has achieved an ambitious target of doubling the amount of 4G users, taking the total to 14 million. EE claims that its 4G network now reaches 95% of the population. The targets were set by the chief executive Olaf Swantee, who is leaving his role ahead of the takeover. In the Spring, EE’s wholesale division will be combined with BT’s own wholesale operations. The consumer aspect of the brand will continue to operate under EE branding, separate from BT Mobile. It will keep its logo, mobile network and hundreds of its high street stores. The company will be led by its former chief commercial officer.
The effort to increase subscribers significantly dwarfs the amount of 4G users that rivals O2 and Vodafone have. They each have around 6.5m 4G subscribers on their networks.
It has been said that a cap on roaming charges will see the BT-EE merger struggle to make profit in the early stages. There are plans to scrap mobile roaming charges across the EU by 2017, with new caps due over the next few months. As of April 30, charges will be capped at 5 cents per minute for calls, 2 cents for texts and 5 cents per megabyte of data. Some industry analysts are predicting that abolishing the charges could lead to operator’s revenues decreasing by 2 per cent.
Telecoms firms such as EE are also having to pay more to access Britain’s airwaves, as a result of the regulator increasing spectrum fees. Ofcom is planning to charge mobile phone networks an extra £135m a year to use UK spectrum from October this year. EE has said that it will cost the company an extra £24 million a year to pay the new fees.