EE accuses Three of devaluing 4G by offering it for free


CEO Olaf Swantee says it will lead to uncertainty among customers over the value it can offer, reiterating that EE won’t be drawn into a price war

EE has accused Three of devaluing 4G by offering it to customers for no added cost.

Three was the final UK operator to launch 4G when it went live with its services on December 2, initially launching in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Reading. All customers with a compatible device will be able to access 4G by the end of Q1 provided they live in a 4G area.

It is aiming to have eight million customers on a 4G tariff by the end of March, with 50 cities covered before the end of the year and 98 per cent UK population coverage by the end of 2015.

However, Three became the only operator to announce that it would be providing 4G at no extra cost, meaning customers can use their existing 3G price plans to access the faster service.

Last week, O2 began contacting existing 3G customers with a compatible 4G handset to see if they would like to upgrade to their superfast service for free.

When EE became the first to launch 4G in October 2012, it said it would be at a premium of £5 compared to 4G, a stance it has maintained ever since.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee (pictured) said Three offering 4G for free will lead customers to be uncertain about the quality and value it provides. He reiterated EE would not be making the same move, claiming there is “more to competition than price.”

“Before you offer something for free, you need to have a network, and I haven’t seen Three’s network so far. I don’t know which cities and towns they currently have it in.

“Customers will ask a lot of questions when they realise something is free. When something is available for free, it often lacks the value that really should be there.

“We won’t be offering 4G for free. There is more to competition than price. Otherwise we would just be playing an endless game in reducing costs where the product becomes a commodity.”

The operator also expects to treble its 4G base to six million subscribers before the end of the year. It ended last year with two million customers, growing that base by almost 70 per cent with 816,000 new additions in Q4 alone.

EE CFO Neil Milsom added: “The population coverage is increasing all the time, so there are more and more areas where 4G is becoming available. The handset range is also continuously extending as we move down the range to lower entry points and awareness is growing with all networks talking about it. Putting those factors together drives towards big momentum.”



  1. EE devalued their own network when they started asking customers who were calling them, to pay £1 extra to be put to the front of the queue!
    The first time I was asked by them if I’d like to pay a quid to be “rushed quickly” to the front of the queue, they lost my custom.
    I thought that was truly outrageous and totally grEEdy!

  2. I will just add that EE is a complete rip off.

    They clearly don’t have good reception in quite a few places. This is London I’m talking about as well!

    I consistently call then complaining that in places like brockley overground, Lloyd park and Wimbledon, my phone always loses signal yet they are quick to blame it on my handset despite that apple replaced my iphone 5 and confirmed there was nothing wrong with it. I have also had two sim replacements. I know of several people, family included, who have reported the same kinds of problems as me and EE still take me for an idiot.

    Fastest and most reliable speeds? If waiting two minutes for a web page to load is setting the standard then things are looking grim for phone providers in UK.

    They are a scandal. Only two more months of pain then I’m switching for three! Good riddance

  3. EE sounds to me like they’re caught up in their own marketing self-importance hype. I looked through their price plans, and almost all 4G tariffs come with pitiful data allowances (500MB and the likes) What’s the point in bothering offering 4G with such ridiculously small data allowances? Oh I know, so they’ll go over their shockingly low allowance and earn EE a fortune in out of bundle data charges. This is the 21st century. People want to stream music, music videos, games, tv shows and films. Three built their loyal customer base by not being too grEEdy!!

  4. I am on ee I have never got a 4 g signal yet, further to this my fb is most of the time not functioning, as it hovers with “connecting” forever, I have to wait till I get home to connect to my virgin network, so I think t-mobile, orange made a blunder.

  5. Ok I have an old contract sim only with three from 5 years ago I pay £11 a month and I get All you can eat 4g plus unlimited 3 to 3 calls plus 600 minutes cross network calls plus 3000 text no. But you can get something similar as that for about £18 pound now so I was lucky. But still I think 3 it great , they are the only mobie network to sign up to abolish high calls to mobiles. For that reason alone they get my vote plus 3 does FEEl AT HOME where you can use you phone abroad the same way you use in the UK at no extra charges in France, Switzerland, Israel, Finland Norway -USA, Indonesia, Sri Lanka Macau, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden, Denmark and the Republic of Ireland.

  6. There is not reason to pay extra for 4g it’s just an upgrade to the network same as fible optic broadband no reason to charge extra for that as well , if 3 can do it then anyone can do it I have three and the 4g is good for me yes some networks might be better or bigger but if 3 can do it then anyone can.

  7. EE has **** reception at some places I would recommend people to try pay as you go three or any other network provider.
    Three is good network if you like unlimited data. And three 4G will take years and Years to become active in the entire UK.

  8. “I painfully paid off the remainder of my contract…”

    Don’t stand for it tech lover! Under the Sales of Goods And Services Act you may have had the opportunity to have the contract terminated for loss of performance, with no need to pay the remainder. It might be worth attempting to use this to recoup the money you’ve paid out.

    EE, orange, T-Mobile and any other name these con-artists like to go by are possibly the worst provider of any service in existence. I’m a soon to be ex-customer of these ripoff merchants and I am counting the seconds to my freedom. EE don’t even provide boost boxes for poor home/office signal, whereas three, O2 and Vodafone do. They have a pathetic signal boost app which only works on a limited number of devices. Poor form for such a “caring” service provider. And as for saying three are devaluing 4g. Ha! More like increasing its value and at the same time increasing its customer base. Even if it is of a poorer quality it won’t be for much longer if they keep on signing up new customers which increases the amount of capital they can invest in their network. The masses should move to three fast and teach all the others a cold hard and well deserved lesson!

  9. I wanted the fastest 4g speed available and having read all the hype of 4g with EE I excitedly signed up to a contract. I get no reception at home (London Zone 2) and at work (Canary Wharf). I constantly get missed call text but calls don’t get through due to not switching to 3G or GPRS when 4g not available (I know the settings).
    I absolutely regret getting EE 4g.
    I painfully paid off the remainder of the contract and tried sim only plans from o2 and Three. Both were much better than EE but stayed with Three due to price and unlimited data.

  10. EE accuses Three of devaluing 4G by offering it for free
    I pay £15 for unlimited 4G with Three, which I’ve used to watch Netflix, Youtube etc at HQ with no issues. The same would only give me 500MB from EE.

    I remember when 3G was a premium. EE’s CEO is just griping because everybody has it now therefore prices will come down.

    No brainer?

  11. EE accuses Three of devaluing 4G by offering it for free
    I wouldn’t call them “silly prices”. 4G on EE is more than twice the speed it is on other networks, they have more than double the coverage of everyone else combined, and their coverage is expanding faster. considering the average cost of a 4G plan vs a 3G plan with the same data allowance is on average £5, I think it’s worth paying the extra for. you don’t complain when you have to pay more for fibre broadband vs normal do you?

    • words can not describe.
      as i’m payg.
      so EE would = £35 to £65 per month

      on three it costs me £15 per month less then half the cost and i have used three 4g and it’s vary fast.

  12. EE accuses Three of devaluing 4G by offering it for free

    EE is deluded, three network is sensitive as 4g should be free as no much difference with super fastest 3g and just few apps taking advantage of 4g, why the premium.

  13. EE accuses Three of devaluing 4G by offering it for free
    Boo how EE carry on ripping people off. You’ll eventually have to lower your 4G cost.

  14. Well it’s all about the money. EE and other providers will lose customers in favour of Three since they offer it for free. While others would like to make money with the existing customer upgrading to a 4g account, Three relies on acquiring more customers by offering it for free. And those new customers will be those leaving EE or any other provider. That’s how I see it. Thank you Three.

  15. I have been a EE customer from the days when it was one2one, I had two contracts with them, I recently cancelled one contract with ee and moved to three, I am just waiting for the second contract to expire before I leave ee completely. Lets see how long it will take ee to offer unlimited 4g price plans they had a monopoly for about a year but now that all major network providers have 4g, they have to lower prices and offer more data. I totally respect 3 for putting their customers first before profit.

  16. I am with Three. I just got my account activated for 4G. I am seeing coverage all over London and best of all, it was a FREE upgrade and my data plan includes unlimited data, which only costs £15 a month. 4G is not a premium service which EE claims it to be.

  17. EE CEO Olaf Swantee is behind the times. Why would anyone want to pay silly prices for the small amount of data EE offers on newer faster internet technology? We as consumers are more custom to downloading large amounts of data daily.

  18. I agree. I too have Three’ s free 4G but more often than not the speed is slower than what it used to be on 3G. However, in Three’s defence, I’ll say they are working hard on expanding their coverage. At home indoors I get maximum speeds of 10Mbps but I was in Liverpool that day and on the bus I got 30Mbps.