I have been eagerly awaiting the first set of results from EE after it came to market with 4G offerings. No, it is not just because I need to get out more, but because all our contacts at the firm have been so tight lipped about the number of users paying up for 4G contracts.
Curiosity was killing this cat and I was dying to know how many had signed up and who was willing to pay those pretty premium prices for the privilege.
What a waste of time.
EE did release results today for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year of 2012. Both revenues and profits were down year on year and, let’s face it, whenever a CEO says a company has produced a “solid financial performance,” you know things are bad.
A cryptic earnings release was put out to try and throw off anyone from the casual observer to hard working journalist (don’t laugh). It is standard practice for large firms to do this when results are bad and a total waste of time – we always cut through the fluff eventually – but at least with today’s, I really did care what the data behind the scenes were.
However, as Mick Jagger would say, I can’t get no satisfaction. EE decided to release its customer numbers in general – 201,000 new contract sign ups in the last three months of 2012 – but it refused to breakdown that figure into 4G or not 4G as the number was deemed “commercially sensitive information.”
Oh come on! Apparently as the only one with 4G, it is worried releasing this number could give some sort of advantage to… well, who? To me, it seems more like putting a dust sheet over a tiny number EE is too embarrassed to share. We know it is less than 201,000, but how much less?
The fact is 4G has not had customers running to their door. The early adopters seem to be a smaller group than most of us thought they would be and UK customers seem willing to wait for their operators to get 4G before they upgrade. That or the high price points EE launched with put too many people off.
It is hard to make a solid conclusion right now but if the numbers had been impressive and brought EE a lot of new custom, they would be shouting it from the rooftops and wouldn’t be reporting declines in revenue either.
I hope when the spectrum auction is over and the other operators get their 4G networks operational, we can get some real figures about who is using 4G. Are you? If not, why not? It would be great to hear from you.