British mobile operator EE reaches 1 million 4G subscribers

Reuters
An Everything Everywhere (EE) mobile phone store sign is seen in London
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An Everything Everywhere (EE) mobile phone store sign is seen in London February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

LONDON (Reuters) - British mobile operator EE, the first to launch 4G services, said on Monday it had signed up 1 million subscribers for the superfast broadband connections, beating its year-end target.

The operator, a joint venture between Orange and Deutsche Telekom, has built up a big lead over rivals since starting to roll out 4G last October.

Rivals 02, owned by Telefonica, and Vodafone launched their 4G mobile offerings last month, with both using sports and music content to make their services distinctive. Neither has released a target for customer take-up.

"We have seen one of the fastest (4G) adoption rates in the world," EE Chief Executive Olaf Swantee said on Monday.

EE had a year-end target of 1 million subscribers to its 4G packages, which cost around 26 pounds per month for 500Mb of data, enough to download coverage of a couple of football matches.

Vodafone, which offers 2Gb of data in its 26 pounds a month tariff, said on Monday it would launch in five more cities, beyond London, including Birmingham and Sheffield, on Sept 28.

In a sign of increasing competition among the three largest operators in the nascent 4G market, Vodafone also said on Monday it would give customers signing up to its 4G-ready plans before the end of October an extra 4Gb of data per month for the length of their contract.

EE has been steadily rolling out its service since launch, and last month it said it was available in more than 100 British towns and cities. ($1 = 0.6361 British pounds)

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by David Cowell)

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