EE has cut the price of its entry level 4G contract and launched a new 20GB price plan for heavy data users.
Consumers can now sign up to a 24 month contract from £31 per month, a £5 saving on the original entry level tariff, which gives consumers 500MB of data. Devices such as the HTC One SV LTE and Nokia Lumia 820 are available for upfront payments from £29.99. The operator said the change reflected the increase of cheaper mid-range 4G handsets coming to market, which customers could buy for a lower upfront cost than high-end phones.
Previously the maximum that could be downloaded per month on a 4G EE contract was 8GB but the operator said it has upped this to 20GB after consumer responses. The new plan, which is available in store from today, is available for £46 per month on a 12 month Sim-only plan between now and 28 February, and £61 per month thereafter. Alternatively, consumers can get the tariff with a 4G handset for £61 per month across 24 months until 28 February and then £76 per month afterwards. A new Sim-only 12 month 8GB plan has also been launched, priced £41 per month.
Pippa Dunn, chief marketing officer at EE, said: 'It’s our aim to offer consumers the most comprehensive range of 4GEE price plans. With these new options we’re looking to not only make 4G smartphones even more accessible, but offer even greater value for the small number of super-users out there - ensuring EE really does offer a package that’s tailored for all customers 4G needs.'
EE has yet to reveal how many people have signed up to its 4G contracts, only saying it is 'pleased' with the demand. Sources claim it has signed up customers in the tens of thousands, with the high ARPU of the 4G contracts suggesting EE is favouring margin over acquisition. However, today's campaign is likely to be the first move in ferocious 4G competition, as EE's rivals prepare to launch their own 4G propositions in late spring.
Matthew Howett, telecoms regulation analyst at Ovum, said: 'EE’s decision to offer both a relatively lower-priced tariff at the entry level and a plan with more data at the top end is clearly in response to customer feedback. More importantly though, it is a pre-emptive strike aimed at its competitors who are soon to launch tariffs of their own once the long-overdue auction of 4G licences is completed.
'It’s fair to say that EE has attracted a fair degree of criticism not so much for the price of the 4G tariffs, but rather on the amount of data bundled at each level. EE was always going to have a difficult role to play being the first mover. However, its peers may be grateful for attempting to move away from an all-you-can-eat world for data to an attempt to monetise it. Offering a more generous (but capped), data allowance for ‘super-users’ is still consistent with that pragmatic move.
'Trying to convince consumers to buy into something they haven’t yet seen or had experience of is a difficult task, and is further complicated by EE’s desire to both make the most of its headstart over the other mobile operators, and to clearly differentiate the 4G offering from the rest of its offering. In the end it has gone for the middle ground and priced services at a premium but not at levels completely inaccessible to the mass market.'
Author: Graeme Neill