EE, the owner of Orange and T-Mobile, has announced tariffs for its 4G service, expected to launch later this year.
In what looks like a major land grab ahead of the launch of rival networks, EE has plumped for a relatively low tariff of £36 a month for a basic data bundle of 500 megabytes a month, rising to £56 a month for packages of 8 gigabytes.
Significantly, EE has opted to launch the service under an entirely new consumer brand – 4GEE. It’s something of a risk – EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) has existed as a corporate entity for a few years now, but it’s not a name that means anything to the vast majority of consumers. The lower 4GEE tariff looks pretty attractive at first, but 4G is going to transform the way people use mobile devices, and therefore consume media, by making it much easier to stream high-quality video on the move. And 500 megabytes a month isn’t likely to get you a lot of video.
My guess is that early adopters will be at the higher end of the income scale and unlikely to be too bothered by high prices for the bigger data bundles. The real problems are likely to arise when take-up rises and consumers on lower tariffs find themselves exceeding their data limits having got relatively little out of their new service. As a new name to most consumers, 4GEE will need to be very transparent about data usage to avoid incurring the rage (or disappointment) of users, particularly with more established names like Vodafone, O2 and Three waiting in the wings.
What all that means for the media jobs market in relation to developing content for the next generation networks, well, that remains to be seen.