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EE UK Claims Some Customers Scrapping Home Broadband for 4G

Thursday, August 7th, 2014 (9:58 am) - Score 1,638

A new survey of 1,000 4G users on EE’s network in the United Kingdom (conducted by TNS) has reported that the number of customers using fewer or no public WiFi services since getting 4G has reached 54% and 30% are using less or no home broadband. Indeed 3% of the operator’s subscribers claim to have cancelled home broadband after getting 4G.

We do know some people, usually those with low to modest Internet usage and good reception (heavy mobile usage often attracts a cost), that have decided to save money by scrapping their home broadband service (often including the fixed phone line) in order to go mobile-only and use Mobile Broadband for surfing. This has become more attractive with faster 4G services, although Ofcom’s separate data suggests that it’s not yet a rising trend.

According to Ofcom, the majority of UK homes (80%) used both fixed and mobile telephony services in Q1 2014. In addition, “there was no significant change” in the proportions of homes that were mobile-only or fixed-only, at 16% and 4% respectively. In other words, most consumers still see 4G as a compliment and not a replacement for fixed line broadband.

Back to EE’s survey and 60% of customers claimed to save time by using faster 4G Internet access, with 13% gaining an hour’s leisure time as a result. Similarly 77% of predominantly business customers said they worked more efficiently on their 4G devices.

Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, said:

With more than four million customers and over a year of data, we’re in a unique position to understand how 4G is changing the way people use their devices for work and play.

It is key that we continue to extend the social and business benefits of 4G to as many people as we can. We remain on track to cover another ten million people with 4G this year, bringing change to even more people across the UK.”

Apparently EE’s average data usage has also increased by 66% in the last 12 months, outstripping 3G customers on both Orange and T-Mobile plans. On top of that the PlayStation Network (PSN) accounts for 36% of gaming traffic compared to Xbox Live, which represents just 15%. But app-based gaming programmes are gaining ground. For example, Zynga, maker of Farmville, is now contributing to a large portion of gaming traffic (15%) and shows the biggest growth.

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29 Responses
  1. Avatar adslmax says:

    Pull the other one.

    1. Avatar dragoneast says:

      Nothing’s quite like the news you want to hear!

  2. Avatar DTMark says:

    It *is* our “home broadband”.

    It’s quite a saving at around £120 to £150 per month versus approximately £42,000 setup and £2000 per month for the same via fixed-line.

  3. Avatar Liam says:

    Only those that are desperate and can’t get fibre I imagine. EE’s pricing per GB is astronomical.

    1. Avatar sentup.custard says:

      Not all of us require large allowances, Liam.
      I am neither desparate nor unable to get fibre, but I use less than 20GB a month total, up and down. EE’s 25GB for £30 a month is exactly the same price as the cheapest 80/20 fibre offering from my existing ISP, ICUK – it doesn’t give me as much data as ICUK would, of course, but I don’t need it!
      Being very near the mast, I get better upload speeds with EE than I would on an 80/20 fibre line, and it’s the upload that’s important to me, so they are a better option for me.
      A small bonus is that although the package price is the same, it will actually work out cheaper overall, as once I’ve notified everyone re my phone number I will scrap the landline completely, I’m not keeping it just for the phone, so I’ll save the cost of the monthly line rental.

    2. Avatar DanielM says:

      You meen VDSL? EE do not offer any kind of Fibre optic service. they only offer ADSL and VDSL2

    3. Avatar sentup.custard says:

      I’m comparing EE’s 4G mobile offering with the 80/20 “fibre” offering from *ICUK*, not with an EE landline service.
      You can, of course, argue until the cows come home about the use of the word “fibre” on the BT-based landline offering if you wish, but I’m sure that 99% of readers know what I mean.

    4. Avatar DanielM says:

      Then we need to use the correct term. calling an 80Mb service fibre is highly misleading

    5. Avatar sentup.custard says:

      zzzz…

    6. Avatar DTMark says:

      Apart from “Breaking Bad”, we’ve never really watched a great deal of online content. The selection has always been so poor and/or of no great interest to us. Sky seem to have this area sewn up and I wouldn’t touch Sky again.

      If you take video streaming out of the equation then 50GB/mo – which costs £150/mo with PAYG, but I think only about £60/mo with a month to month contract, is more than do-able.

      That’s with working from home, and still streaming YouTube to the TV for an hour or two, about three nights a week.

      If we could get cable, then we’d have that, but since we cannot, it works out at quite a good deal.

  4. Avatar Stephen says:

    I fall into the desperate + no fibre category and I will jump at the chance of using 4G as my main source.
    At present with no fibre options on the horizon, I struggle with 1.7 MB/S on a good day, while frustratingly only a matter of metres from my house I can pick up a 14MB/S 4G signal. Once more masts switch on in the area I’m sure I will be switching to mobile broadband. I think this will be the same for many many “rural” users who live just on the outskirts of towns and cities. I appreciate that it is not a real solution for streaming movies/gaming as this would push the costs up pretty high but for other uses it should not cost too much extra.

    1. Avatar Andy says:

      I’m in a similar position but the data limits render this option unacceptable. A couple of nights on Netflix or a couple of days working from home and I would be done for the month.
      What kind of investment in infrastructure would be required to allow reasonable data caps on a 4G network? by reasonable I mean at least 200gb a month..

    2. Avatar PhilB says:

      I’m also in that category.Can’t get above 2mb via ADSL.No fibre available and no VM.Was getting FTTC via the South Yorkshire Digital Region Network but had to move back to ADSL as it closes down 14th August.BT have no plans to enable my exchange for FTTC .
      I have just migrated to AAISP and am paying £20 a month for a tiny monthly usage,could upgrade to 100GB anytime for £25 a month but its a lot to pay for 2mb ADSL as I’m not a bit downloader.EE have a 20GB a month usage tablet sim for £20 a month which is starting to sound attractive .

    3. Avatar DTMark says:

      I’d say we’re a long way from 200GB/mo allowances, possibly with 5G, possibly not.

      Capacity – in terms of bandwidth available at a given locality – is limited, so pricing dissuades heavy users from saturating the network and affecting the performance.

    4. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      The problem with mobile is ultimately with local congestion. There’s an “easy” solution and that is to reduce the cell size so there is less congestion. The problem is cost. Roughly speaking doubling the number of cells doubles total capacity although I rather suspect that boundary issues with overlapping cells probably means the ratio is rather worse. Installing new masts is, of course, expensive as it means new geographical locations. It’s not like installing faster switches in a telephone exchange.

      To make 200Gb allowances feasible on 4G is therefore a big cost issue for the operators if that’s (say) 50 times what they base their capacity planning on. Of course, not everybody will want this so I would anticipate that operators will find it more cost effective to charge heavier users more rather than make the massive investment required.

      nb. 5G will also have problems with the costs of smaller cells as, to reach the anticipated data rates, it works over shorter ranges.

  5. Avatar robert scriven says:

    i use my 3g for uploading 2mb a second , compared with my 700k on infinity!! if 4g gave a good ping id consider switching.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      EE 4G, weak signal – average ping time 26ms, fairly consistent.

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      700K? Is that bytes or bits. The former is about what I’d expect from a 700 metre line, but 700K bits would be atrocious and would be what you get on a line approaching 2,000 metres from the cabinet.

      (My line is about 600 metres and uploads at a bit over 8mbps).

    3. Avatar Bob says:

      Even 4km lines can manage 1Mbps upload.

  6. Avatar col says:

    4 and 5 G sounds great providing the mobile phone telcoms can get the bandwidth to the cell sites.

  7. Avatar X66yh says:

    Well it would be nice if I could actually get a functional 3G connection here let alone 4

  8. Avatar Tim says:

    Ditto that! Still waiting for indoor 3G where I am in Canterbury city centre! Just pathetic! There is also no 4G here from any of the networks.

    4G speeds are getting good but the usage limits are too low and the speed too variable to be a home broadband replacement (unless your home broadband is rubbish).

  9. Avatar Bob says:

    “data suggests that it’s not yet a rising trend.”

    Not after Three commited tethercide…

  10. Avatar robert scriven says:

    i was on a trial for infinity a few yrs ago, they quoted 7mb down, i get 16mb down, im ok with that, but the upload is terrible, they put me on a 40/2 profile , ive questioned them whether if they put me on a 40/10 id get 5mb upload or 4mb, they said no, if im getting 760k now, just under half of 2mb, then its pointless being put on a 10 upload as it wont go higher.

    I thought the more you allow the more will come through to me on the upload etc.

    BT Checker says
    clean A 1.2 high 0.8 Low
    Rage B 1 high 0.6 Low

    Im just over 1100 metres from the cab , 95% of the line is underground and quite a bit is aluminium.

    1. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      It’s a shame there are no attenuation figures, as I can only guess what they might be. You must be some distance from the cabinet I would think. Perhaps 1500 metres or so.

      They are right changing the profile won’t alter anything. It’s the upstream sync speed that’s the problem. Unfortunately it seems that upstream speeds get disproportionately affected by cross-talk, probably because at the point where the signal is weakest (at the cabinet end), there are lots of wires in close proximity. Downstream, the signal is at its most vulnerable at your home, where there is the least impact from cross-talk. The headline figures are always about downstream performance and upstream often gets neglected. How important it depends on usage modes of course. It can be a real pain for home working if you deal with lost of big documents or video uploading (and also for some businesses).

      I do wonder whether vectoring (if it’s ever rolled out) will help upstream more than downstream as that aims to cancel out cross-talk.

      In any event, I think to get a major step-change in upstream, the fibre would have to be brought close to your property (ideally, of course, to the property). It’s not obvious that will happen any time soon unless those in authority pursue a policy of making much higher speeds more universally available. In the meantime I think they will prioritise those without “functional” Internet access.

    2. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      nb. one thing I’ve just noted is that you have a very high SNR margin on upstream. 19dB is enormous. Mine is at 6.1dB (which is normal for a stable line). The SNR margin is adjusted by BT’s systems to try and stabilise lines as it provides a greater “buffer” against interference. Unfortunately this comes at the expense of losing a lot of bandwidth. The fact you are at 19dB might be because there’s a history of lots of “drop-outs”. Trying to get somebody in BT who actually understands what’s going on is difficult (maybe the BT community forums), but it does look off. Maybe a line balance issue or something. I had such a thing (nothing like as serious as I went from about 9mbps to 4.5mbps), but an engineer came out and fixed it after about 2 hours work.

      The downstream error counts also look high, but as those are cumulative numbers (it’s the difference over time that matters), and I’m not sure what’s considered acceptable, I can’t say for sure. However, it would be consistent with a sub-standard line.

    3. Avatar DTMark says:

      Superfast fibre-optic broadband.

      Only from BT.

      (giggles)

  11. Avatar robert scriven says:

    Yes , i used to get about 1100k download, when the upstream snr was 6db, then it went to 19db and hence the 700k upload now, the profile needs a reset really, but they send an engineer to do that, when in reality its a 2 min phone call from the engineer to the exchange!

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