When EE announced they would be the first mobile service provider in the UK to launch a LTE 4G network, I was genuinely excited. After all, we have been waiting for years whilst other countries speed by us implementing a now very mature LTE network. This is Britain after all, an apparent first world country, and being subjected to delays in LTE was frustrating. The announcement by EE was a light at the end of the tunnel, or so we thought.
Now we wish they never bothered. This morning my twitter feed was full of feedbacks towards EE by fellow mobile tech friends. None were positive. Why? Because EE has just announced their 4G LTE tariffs and it is a damp squib:
If you have a LTE phone, you want to use that little LTE radio in it, not some poxy tethered WiFi hotspot, which there are plenty of which are free these days. There are no unlimited data tariffs as well, with the maximum tariff being 8GB for a cool £56. You do get unlimited calls and texts, but didn't EE get the memo that people are using calls and texts less these days, or at least substituting them with Skype and Whatsapp? It makes me question whether the people running EE really understands the market and the data centric devices they sell.
Should you exceed your data allowance you can purchase add-ons. 50MB goes for £3 (facepalm), 500MB for £6, 2GB for £15 and 4GB for a cool £20. Lovely. On a positive side tethering and VoIP are allowed, but with such plans why would you? Use up your data allowance fast so you can buy more unnecessary overpriced add-ons quicker! You can have quad core processors, HD displays, Xbox-level GPU and 50GB of Dropbox cloud storage, but here's 500MB-8GB of bandwidth to play with.
Slightly more bearable is the 12 month SIM plan. These are priced £15 per month cheaper than those shown on the table above, meaning the equivalent 500MB data tariff will cost you £21. You won't get a new shiny phone with that however, and you are still locked into a 12 month contract. EE has not announced a pay as you go tariff, nor do I expect them to. Even more bizarrely is EE's decision to throw in a lot of 'value added' perks, which is strange as all people want is more data.
And below is their mobile broadband plans which I won't comment because I am sleepy (it's 1am), and you can probably judge by yourself how ridiculous these plans actually sound:
As for the near future, I rather have unlimited 3G in the form of a mature HSPA+ technology than capped 4G. Three UK has already proven they can provide '4G' level download speeds with super fast HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA (up to a EE LTE beating 42Mbps), which many modern smartphones has support for (including the iPhone 5). Plus Three actually supports unlimited data (trust me, I've tested this).
OFCOM has screwed up badly here. By allowing EE to go ahead in advance of their competitors, they have also gave EE a blessing to create a (temporary) monopoly 4G network, allowing them to take the piss with such pricing and limitations. That's before you even factor that you won't actually be getting a great LTE coverage (EE will only be rolling out in sixteen cities by the end of the year) nor its speed (I've been told that speeds will generally reach a maximum of 20Mbps - that's well within 3G territory). The rollout, which begins at the end of this month, aims to cover 98% of the country by 2014.
It was difficult writing this as I have friends who work at EE (I live in a town where plenty of EE people lives), and they are working hard to get this out.
Disappointed? You should be. The lack of any data centric mobile plans make this a pretty anti-mobile broadband move by the company formerly known as T-Mobile and Orange. It's a bold, and stupid move, one destined to irk many who were already wary of this launch. Want data on the cheap, but don't mind a slight speed hit? Be sure to check out my cheap data for your smartphone guide.