EE Sees 1 Million 4G Customers by End of 2013 in Speed Boost

EE, the U.K. joint venture owned by Deutsche Telekom AG and France Telecom SA, aims to have 1 million customers on its faster, fourth-generation mobile-phone network by the end of the year as it increases speeds ahead of rivals’ rollouts.

EE plans to almost double average speeds to more than 20 megabits per second in 10 markets by summer, the company said in a statement. EE declined to comment on how many 4G customers it has now.

The company, which has 27 million subscribers, is taking advantage of the last days of its exclusive hold on the 4G market before Vodafone Group Plc and Telefonica SA’s O2 begin offering their own high-speed services later this year. EE has become the biggest U.K. wireless carrier since it was formed in 2009, attracting interest from private-equity firms as its parents debate how best to take a profit from their investment, including a possible initial public offering.

“Our existing rollout of 4G is incredibly fast,” EE Chief Executive Officer Olaf Swantee said in an interview. The upgrade “demonstrates true network leadership and a commitment to innovating within our network all the time.”

About two-thirds of the upgrades to 4G are expected to come from existing customers, Swantee said. The company also runs the Orange and T-Mobile brands in the U.K.

France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom have said they’ve considered an IPO of shares in EE as both companies grapple with struggling European territories. The IPO would happen in the fourth quarter at the earliest and involve only a minority stake, Deutsche Telekom’s Chief Financial Officer Timotheus Hoettges said in February.

EE was formed in 2009 from a combination of Orange and T-Mobile brands and got a head start on 4G in the U.K. when it was allowed to offer the faster services on existing spectrum, while rivals had to wait to acquire what they needed in an auction this year.

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