EE earlier in the week announced a variety of new 4GEE plans and is teasing customers with 10GB of free mobile data for those who buy a 4GEE pay as you go handset. The problems arise when you look at the cost, £6 for 500MB to last 30 days is probably OK for someone who just uses email and twitter a lot via their mobile when out, but for anyone watching video, or listening to streamed music the price soon shoots up to the point of £30 per month for a 10GB allowance. Two new super user tariffs are to be launched 20GB for £36/month and 50GB for £50 on their mobile broadband plans.
Moaning about the size of mobile broadband data allowances is easy, the more interesting aspect of the latest EE news is the convergence of 4G and home broadband which looks to be a two pronged gamble to gain customers. 4GEE pay monthly mobile customers who also have an EE unlimited fixed line broadband service will see their data allowance increased to 10GB, and some plans will see the mobile allowance boosted to 20GB.
The new part and it is we believe building on the work in Cumbria is that in November a 4G powered home broadband solution will become available, alas no news on pricing or size of the data bundles. Our assumption would be that this will involve a broadband router with 4G built in and the option for a small external antenna to improve signal reception. While rural areas with poor or no broadband will welcome 4G appearing ahead of any Government led investment, for those upgrading from slow or no broadband one of the first things done will be updating applications which can easily eat up the sort of usage allowance most people can afford. 4G home broadband by breaking the link with telephone line rental can save people the £10 to £16 line rental, so the question really is whether EE can produce something in the £25 to £30 price range, that would accommodate a reasonable amount of catch-up TV viewing for a two person household.
A final twist, BT signed a MVNO agreement last week with EE, and while currently BT only offers mobile phone services to business users and its own staff, there is talk of BT returning to the consumer mobile phone arena, and dare we suggest perhaps buy a wholesale version of the EE 4G home broadband service as part of their armoury to meet the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment targets.