EE’s roll out of 4G services to its stable of MVNOs will proceed slowly with just one set to offer next generation services to its customers next year.
Despite EE’s extensive investment in 4G services, its MVNO partners have yet to feel the benefit, with none offering live EE4G services.
Speaking to Mobile, EE’s MVNO director Jason Bellman said the pace of the roll out will be dictated largely by its partners, which range from niche operations such as Econet to large MVNO partnerships with the likes of BT and Virgin Media.
He said: ‘It depends on what our clients’ propositions are - 2G and 3G services are still a priority for many and we are working with each of our customer on a case by case basis.’
He said some MVNOs are reluctant to go to the expense of installing the new architecture needed to offer 4G.
‘For some it is a priority and they have the new architecture but for others it isn’t as important,’ he said.
Bellman added: ‘Realistically, I think we will see 4G being offered through one MVNO next year.’
EE is seeing a resurgence of interest in the MVNO market. He said: ‘There has not been high growth over the past four of five years, due to the economic climate, but we are now seeing a regrowth in investor confidence in the market and we are working with a number of potential MVNOs.’
He added: ‘Before the economic downturn there were a number of brands looking to bring mobile into their portfolio that stood back. They are coming back now and we are working closely with them to make that happen.’
EE has performed strongly in the MVNO market over the past year, clinching a number of significant deals, including the renewal of its MVNO partnership with Virgin Media, Phones 4u’s Life Mobile venture and the BT and the Asda MVNO partnerships, both of which EE poached from Vodafone.
Bellman put EE’s success in the MVNO market down to extensive network investment and a strong MVNO team. He said: ‘Virgin went to tender and did their due diligence and decided to continue their relationship with us. That is a great endorsement and reflects the quality of the team and the level of our investment in the network - that and BT and Asda’s decision to move to EE sends a big message to the market.’
EE currently has 26 MVNO partnerships, either directly or mediated via its MVNA partners ViaCloud and Transatel. Bellman said both MVNEs bring different strengths to EE’s MVNO strategy. ‘They are different companies with different architectures. We work with both and whenever there is an opportunity we look at which MVNE is the best fit,’ he said, adding that Transatel is also particularly strong in the M2M market.
Author: Carol Millett