UK mobile operator EE sees 4G customers more than doubling in 2014

LONDON, April 28 Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:17am EDT

LONDON, April 28 (Reuters) - Britain's largest mobile operator, EE, said on Monday it posted its best quarterly take-up of its 4G network in the first three months of 2014 due to growing demand for fast mobile Internet and forecast customer numbers more than doubling in 2014.

EE, a joint venture between Orange and Deutsche Telekom, said it added another 889,000 customers in the three months to March 31, taking its customer base to 2.9 million with nearly 5,100 corporate clients.

EE, formerly known as Everything Everywhere, said it was on target to exceed 6 million 4G customers by the end of 2014.

Despite the growth, the company said turnover during the quarter dropped 3.6 percent from a year ago to 1.6 billion pounds ($2.7 billion).

Operating revenue was down 1.7 percent on a year ago to 1.5 billion pounds which included the impact of regulatory cuts.

EE, created in 2010 after France Telecom combined its British Orange unit with Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile, has benefited from its strong lead in superfast networks after it rolled out its 4G service almost a year ahead of rivals 02, owned by Telefonica, and Vodafone.

The company's owners earlier this year shelved plans to float the business valued at 10 billion pounds last year, saying they would keep the current ownership structure while EE continued to build its 4G customer base.

Take-up of 4G is being driven by rocketing demand for mobile data.

($1 = 0.5948 British Pounds) (Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by James Davey)

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