“In many ways the UK has gone from laggard to leader, staging one of the most ambitious 4G launches we have seen,” says Matthew Howett, regulation analyst, at Ovum.
He continues: “Trying to convince consumers to buy into something they haven’t yet seen or had experience of was always going to be difficult, and was 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 went for the middle ground and has priced services at a premium but not at levels completely inaccessible to the mass market.
“It’s fair to say that EE has attracted a fair degree of criticism not so much for the price of the 4G tariffs (they are only priced at a 10–20% premium on most 3G plans), 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. Too quickly data became commoditised for operators once smartphones and other connected devices proliferated.
“We have said previously that consumers will likely only see the true benefits of 4G when there is more than one player in the market, and that looks set to become a reality in mid-2013 when additional mobile spectrum is awarded for 4G. While consumers might grumble about all the other operators coming late to this party, we should remember that it was because Ofcom was trying to guarantee a competitive, four-player market post auction that we have seen so many delays.”