EE's 4G connections surge by 1.3 million in a quarter

LONDON, July 25 Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:25am EDT

LONDON, July 25 (Reuters) - Britain's biggest mobile operator EE added 1.3 million customers to its 4G network in the second quarter, saying that was a take-up rate for superfast mobile broadband unmatched by any European operator.

Olaf Swantee, chief executive of the group jointly owned by France's Orange and Deutsche Telekom, said wider network coverage, faster connection speeds and a broad range of tariffs were helping it win more converts than rivals.

"We had a solid first-half with a very strong take-up of 4G services," he said in an interview on Friday, adding that demand was coming from businesses as well as consumers.

"A lot of the growth in 4G has come from a value-conscious segment that is moving across to 4G."

EE stole a march on its competitors in the British market when the regulator allowed it re-use its existing airwaves to launch 4G services in October 2012, nearly a year before rivals Vodafone and Telefonica's O2 were able to compete.

EE had 4.2 million 4G connections at the end of the half and said it was on track to exceed 6 million by the end of 2014. Its total number of network connections was 30.8 million, it said.

Vodafone, which is investing billions in upgrading its 4G coverage in Europe and beyond, said earlier on Friday that it had 900,000 4G subscribers in Britain at the end of June.

EE said its adjusted core earnings for the first half rose 1.9 percent to 760 million pounds ($1.3 billion), helped by synergies from combining its owners' networks.

Operating revenue was 2.99 billion pounds, down 1.3 percent, or 0.1 percent once regulatory changes were stripped out.

($1 = 0.5885 British Pounds) (Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by David Clarke)