EE, Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) and France Telecom SA (FTE)’s U.K. mobile-phone venture, will begin selling the country’s first fourth-generation wireless service in plans starting at 36 pounds ($57.65) a month with a two-year contract.
EE is also mounting an advertising campaign that will cost the company tens of millions of pounds and will feature appearances by actor Kevin Bacon, Mat Sears, a spokesman, said in an interview. The first print ads for the new service will appear on Oct. 30, the day the plans go on sale. The TV campaign will debut during “X-Factor” on Nov. 3, he said.
EE, the U.K.’s largest wireless operator, priced its 4G service at 10 percent to 20 percent higher than plans for third- generation technology and promised performance about five-times faster than the older network. The company, called Everything Everywhere until a rebranding last month, has a six-month head start on rivals who will bid for 4G spectrum in an auction in 2013.
“There’s been a lot of competition in the market, and with the benefit of a new brand, we want to slip back and say, ‘How can we make this simpler for customers?’” Pippa Dunn, chief marketing officer for EE’s consumer business, said at a presentation.
The new plans will include unlimited calls and texts and will range from 36 pounds to 56 pounds a month for between 500 megabytes to 8 gigabytes of data with a two-year contract. Customers who sign up for a 12-month contract will pay 10 pounds more, Dunn said.
iPhone 5 Plan
Customers on EE’s T-Mobile and Orange brands who bought Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone 5 will be able to upgrade to the new EE- branded plans free if they stay on an equivalent or more expensive plan, Dunn said. EE is also rolling out 4G plans for businesses from 35 pounds to 50 pounds for unlimited calls and up to 16GB of data. The new plans will primarily appeal to EE’s existing customers, Dunn said.
“We had a look at some of the markets around the world -- there are markets where the adoption of 4G is moving very slowly because of high premium pricing and a focus on broadband,” Chief Executive Officer Olaf Swantee said in an interview. “Our business model is built around a fast-adoption strategy.”
The service will be available in 10 cities and parts of Southampton on Oct. 30 and in 16 by the end of the year. The company has been operating 4G in four test markets in the U.K.
EE got regulatory approval this year to use licenses in the 1,800 megahertz spectrum, which works with the antenna in the iPhone 5, to deliver the faster connections, giving it a head start on Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) and Telefonica SA. (TEF) The auction of 800 MHz and 2,600 MHz frequencies is set to begin later this year, allowing a general rollout of faster data services in 2013, regulator Ofcom has said.
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