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back to article You've got 600k+ customers on 4G... but look behind you, EE

EE has signed up 687,000 4G customers, and is in track to hit a million by year's end, but average revenue per user (ARPU) and total customer numbers are both a shade down as its 4G monopoly comes to an end. EE, the fruit of a merger of T-Mobile and Orange in the UK, was given the monopoly on 4G last year, and loudly announced …

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EBITDA

Am I the only one to think of this Dilbert strip when it comes to these sorts of acronyms?

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2004-12-26/

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Re: EBITDA

Do you know how SCARY it is that you have that Dilbert cartoon from 2004 at your fingertips and bookmarked?

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Anonymous Coward

Didn't know

That many people could get 4G, and as someone who was heard of 3G but never experienced it here where I live I doubt very much I'll ever get it before 8G becomes available.

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Happy

Re: EBITDA

I think you mean this strip?

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2004-06-16/

PS - FutureShock999 - try search.dilbert.com - just using "acronym" as a search term brings it up :-)

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Facepalm

Re: EBITDA

You do know how search engines work, right?

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Battery drain

I went to that London and marvelled at having a 4G signal. Imagine my surprise, despite barely having used the phone, when I had a nearly flat battery by lunchtime. I would have put it down to a rogue app or something but I know other people who have reported the same thing. Dunno why.

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Re: Battery drain

It's almost as simple as this; power-demanding technology is evolving faster than the development of batteries.

Not helped by drive to make devices slimmer, thus smaller batteries.

If you must have the latest things like 4G and big, high res screen, you could consider carrying a spare battery. Though, stupidly, the drive for slimmer devices also means that many devices do not have replaceable batteries.

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WTF?

Re: Battery drain

Can anyone please tell me why 4g consumes high power?

A radio receiver consumes miniscule power compared to a radio transmitter. Perhaps 1/100th.

So it should be possible (putting the digital unpacking to one side for a moment) to receive a lot of data on low power, while transmitting back just error corrections 'checksums and please resend lost packets' type data - so uploading a tiny fraction of data compared to what is downloading.

Isn't power consumption when transmitting data somewhat proportional to the quantity of bits being sent?

Or did the 4g designers forget to put this bit in?

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Re: Battery drain

Because what you just described is what mobile comms used to look like 20 years ago.

Nowadays, the power breakdown is roughly:

Screen 50 %

Application processor, which uses all that data hence power draw proportional to data rate 30%

Receiver processing (very complex maths) proportional to receive data rate 15 %

Transmit RF power 5%

The design of the receiver algorithms, means that a modern mobe , except at cell edge, is transmitting probably 50 mW on average (200 mW max, would be 0.5 W power draw)

Near cell edge, most of the power is still searching for acquisition, and cell handover

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Re: Battery drain

It's the processing required to use 4G that drains your battery. The radio has to receive a bitstream, decode it and then extract the bits relevant to you, separating them into streams for the processes running on your phone that need to use them. The same happens in reverse too.

Or put another way - the transceiver doesn't use much power, the processor controlling the transceiver needs plenty.

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Holmes

Re: Battery drain

Hmm so from the frequent comments that pop up about high battery drain on 4g, assuming like for like content consumption, we have to assume that 4g is just plain inefficient compared to 3g?

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Re: Battery drain

4G is more computationally intensive than 3G. The modulation and compression schemes used by 4G mean that bandwidth is used more efficiently than 3G, but they are themselves more complex and the price of that higher spectrum efficiency is more complex computation to turn your bitstream into something that can be transmitted over the air. That requires a more powerful CPU, which uses more power and hence you have worse battery life. The good news is that CPUs improve in power efficiency thanks to Moore's Law, so in a year or two 4G phones will have much better battery life. People may remember that this happened with 3G, too. The first 3G phones had horrible battery life, but this is not really a problem any more.

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Re: Battery drain

LTE is IP only protocol - it does not handle voice calls, directly. Options available to operators include VoLTE (investment in new and unproven infrastructure required), running 2G/3G concurrently with LTE (~twice the battery load), using generic VoIP application and, finally, switching to 2G/3G anytime a voice call needs to be handled. You can read more about it here

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Only way for them to hit the target

They're switching people from Orange and T-Mobile over, for the same or less than their existing contract price, and giving bonus data.

For example, I was switched from T-Mobile to EE 4G a month or so ago. I pay £30 a month, which includes 2GB data (I don't use a huge amount at the moment anyway, its mostly for when I'm travelling) and £10 of it is their insurance plan. Oh, and all this is with a HTC One contract.

So, I made a saving of £1 a month. I can't actually get 4G where I live, but a saving's a saving.

I wonder if they would publish the number of people who can actually use 4G out of those subscribers?

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Re: Only way for them to hit the target

Maybe they're doing that for customers with a 4G handset.

>I wonder if they would publish the number of people who can actually use 4G out of those subscribers?

Anyone with a suitable handset, as long as they're in a coverage area (it is a *mobile* network, after all).

When I signed up last year I had more than one "fight" with them over a similar argument, for some reason they didn't want to sign me up because my home postcode wasn't in a coverage area and I had to keep explaining that I didn't care about 4G at home because I have a suitable wifi network and that I travel the country as part of my job, regularly staying and working in several place with 4G coverage. In the end I do get 4G at home and have done since December 2012, so their coverage checker was wrong anyway.

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I would love to have 1G reception. I live only 2.5 miles away from Canterbury and have no reception ever.

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Now that has to be a selling feature

I dream of living somewhere there is no mobile signal, and so do many of my colleagues. Somewhere where work can't find me.

Just turning your mobile off doesn't count, and no one ever thinks you have a land line.

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LTE should not be sold by weight

. Bearing in mind that LTE has a significant amount of bandwidth and a very clever mechanism to control the QoS (QCI to be more precise), I was really surprised to see EE flog their tariffs based on the 3G model. The cheapest original package promise 500 Mb for 30 quid or so, in other words a monthly data allowance a user can slurp in 3 minutes! Even the advertising was stupid, the only emphasis was on the maximum (theoretical) speeds and nothing else, like advertising a car using only its top speed and nothing else like fuel economy, type of transmission, number of doors, type of fuel etc.

I do hope the new entrants will adopt the correct business model for LTE where the emphasis is not on data volumes consumed but on QoS, a bit like fixed broadband, you can get it almost fro free if you don't mind slow speed and high contention rates and some download caps but if you want a better QoS because you need it, then you simply pa more. I am happy to pay 50 quid a month if I know that I can hog the bandwidth for my business Webex/skype call with a client while I am in the train station and not have to fight for bandwidth with the 10 quid/month teenager sat in the bus stop 10 feet away streaming a youtube clip, I don't see why he/she should have a silly low download limit when their usage pattern and quality requirements are different from mine, As a business customer, I pay more because I need a better service, they pay less because they "ain't bovvered" and both of us can happily co-exit in the same ecosystem.

Then there are possibilities to fine tune packages even further, you can have a media streaming package (High QoS for things like Sky, BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm etc.), business packages (High QoS for things like WebEx, VoIP), time sensitive packages where you can have a high QoS for a type of content during a certain time of the day (7-9 am and 6 to 8 pm when you are commuting) and so on and so forth.. the possibilities are endless and manipulating QoS will be a lot easier to bill and manage than data volumes, the message is basically don't cap volumes, control quality.

In addition, rather than fleece their customers for every penny they have, operators can get paid by content providers in return for a better QoS for their traffic, a well know operator in the middle east cut a deal with google whereby google traffic always gets a decent QoS and the subscriber does not pay for the privilege, google pays for it...

Operators need to wake up and realise that if they are not careful, they will become simply bit pipes carrying the traffic of content providers and other OTT (over the top) players, the ones who are making all the cash using the expensive LTE infrastructure. OTT players need to share some of that cash with the operators so subscribers don't end up paying for everything.

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Stop

Whilst this may be true...

The natives are certainly restless within the EE 4G customer community with vitriolic levels of feedback on their FB and Twitter feeds about piss poor service, signal failure, general over-selling of the network and speed issues - with some directly accusing EE of committing fraud.

There is also some humerous commentary about where Kevin Bacon can stick his 4G device.

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FAIL

Re: Whilst this may be true...

Couldn't agree more. After 6 months on EE, having been drawn in by the promise of faster mobile broadband and the opportunities it offered for improved mobile use, I am no longer with them thanks to an inherent flaw in the EE 4G network which means that when your phone is connected to and using the 4G network (think regular email collection, FB updates, using the internet....) it has trouble receiving the page on an incoming call that causes it to drop down to a voice carrying network.

It looks as though either the handover to 3G or lower from 4G either takes longer than the maximum auto-redirect to voicemail, or it just doesn't receive the signal, which means you don't receive incoming calls. As you might imagine, this doesn't go down well with the missus.

I spent 3-4 months with EE doing a raft of network tests, sending handsets to be repaired, swapping handsets, etc, only to come to the conclusion that it was an issue with EE rather than handsets (neither WinPho nor Android would function properly). On this basis, with the assistance of the tech support guys at EE I was able to establish that the offering wasn't fit for purpose and what I considered to be my very expensive contract wasn't meeting the basic requirement of providing me with a reliable mobile phone service.

After a fair bit of back and forth, and an email to the CEO of EE, they agreed to let me out of the contract with 18 months left to run. While I have nothing but praise for the call centre teams who had to deal with me in a somewhat frustrated state, the network got a big thumbs down as somewhere in there the technology really wasn't working properly. There's plenty of similar experiences all over various forums too. I hope that other network providers are able to avoid this massive problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Whilst this may be true...

EE 4G works absolutely fine on my Nokia Lumia 920...

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As a "power user", the chance for an even faster internet experience is certainly very appealing.

But with a miniscule data allowance, I'd get to experience that speed for approx 5 minutes :(

If it had been unlimited 4G, who wouldn't sign up for that?

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And they still block VoiP

Is it "Internet" if protocols are blocked?

Not according to the ISP code of practice which everyone except EE and Voda have signed into - if any one of the CoP people filters like that they're not legally ALLOWED to call it Internet access

Walled gardens, still on some mobes (EE staff will happily deny they do any filtering, despite admitting it to the ASA)

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Re: And they still block VoiP

I forgot to mention: This (of course) badly affects Skype, so a lot of former MSN users are going to notice.

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Bod

Number of 4G subscribers != Number of people actually using a 4G signal

Let's have the real figures. Those with a 4G signal.

I'm a 3G subscriber effectively. 80% of the time when on the move I get GPRS, EDGE (yes, EDGE!) or no signal at all. 3G is a luxury.

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