4G services pick up momentum in enterprises

4G services gaining traction among business customers, report mobile network suppliers

4G mobile data services are proving increasingly popular in enterprise environments, with take-up among businesses now exceeding consumers in some cases.

EE claims to have more than 5,500 corporate clients now using its 4GEE service, with recent big wins including Deloitte and Essex Police.

In the second quarter of 2014, which closed at the end of June, the company said 82% of new business customers were signing up to 4GEE, as opposed to 72% of new-to-network consumers. Overall, its 4G customer base almost doubled in the first half of the year.

EE’s customer survey revealed 77% of people using 4G devices in business environments claimed they were more productive, with 38% saying they got a quarter more done, and 16% said 4G doubled their productivity.

EE found that on average, 4G users spent 44 minutes a day, rather than 35 minutes before the advent of 4G, working on their devices.

Its wider 4G roll-out continued through the first half of 2014, with EE claiming to provide 4G services to 73% of the population in 229 towns and cities, and more than 2,500 rural communities. It hopes to extend 4G to 40 more cities this year, and will be trialling new technologies such as Wi-Fi calling and voice over 4G, as well as a planned rollout of 4G over 800 MHz frequencies.

The growth in 4G meant EE saw rapid growth in its data revenues during the past quarter, with non-voice sales now at 59% of ARPU revenues, compared to 55% this time last year, and non-messaging data up to 48% of ARPU – 41% in second quarter of 2013.

Overall, the operator booked first-half operating revenue of £2.99bn, down 1.3% year-on-year and up 0.1% excluding regulatory impact.

Adjusted EBITDA grew by 1.9% to £760m, which EE put down to good progress in lowering its cost bases through exploiting merger synergies – including network optimisation, retail store consolidation and so on – between its constituent parts, Orange and T-Mobile.

Vodafone also reported a strong performance from 4G technology. Its 4G footprint expanded rapidly across Europe during the quarter, with 52% of its regional presence now covered, encompassing 6.7 million 4G customers.

European data traffic increased by 53% year-on-year during the three months to 30 June, the firm revealed. It deployed 4,700 4G sites during the quarter.

“We are supporting the 4G roll-out with a targeted, local communications strategy focusing on network benefits and differentiation rather than price,” Vodafone said in its latest interim management statement.

Chief executive Vittorio Colao added: “Our performance is beginning to stabilise in several of our European markets, with customer appetite for 4G services clearly growing.”

Group-wide revenue at Vodafone was £10.2bn, down 4.4% on an organic basis, while group services revenue dropped by 4.2% to £9.44bn. UK services sales of £1.47bn were down 3.2%, including Cable & Wireless Worldwide.

Read more on Mobile networks