In defence of its pricey new 4G plans, EE’s released some statistics that make for interesting reading. Apparently the average user on Orange’s Panther £36 contract uses just 400MB, while unlimited customers on T-mobile’s Full Monty use on average just 1GB of data, and even the top 10 per cent only top out at 6GB.
OK, so the average unlimited customer only pulls down 1GB of data. I can see that, because when I’m not streaming music, that’s about what I use. But, and there’s quite a large ‘but’, 4G’s much faster speeds are an enabler. I’ll bet the reason people who suck down just 1GB, or even 6GB, on unlimited tariffs, only do so because 3G can only get you so far. With the speed of 4G, it’ll be a heck of a lot easier to stream that high-def clip, or download that entire album at a high bit-rate. Yes, you can limit yourself, artificially, but then what’s the point in going faster? You go 4G now, before the rest of the networks get a foot in next year, because you like being on the bleeding edge; pushing boundaries is your thing.
If you think about it, the average person that uses just 400MB a month, really isn’t going to benefit from 4G. There will undoubtedly be lots of downers to 4G — the LTE modems are going to suck battery faster than existing 3G radios; the network’s going to be patchy for a while, and the phones are more expensive in the first place — so why would a low-yield user like that actually go with 4G?
Don’t get me wrong, I can totally understand why EE priced its plans like it has. Hell, it has to make money; a mobile network isn’t a charity. But despite what EE says, that 500MB plan is next to useless for the types of people who are actually going to jump on the 4G bandwagon right now. It all just stinks of pricing its paltry lowest offering at £36 so that it can say “hey, look. 4G’s not that expensive from £36 and up”. Anyone who actually signs up for that £36-a-month plan is going to be seriously frustrated within days if they’re taking advantage of what 4G has to offer at all.