It’s no surprise that EE’s much anticipated launch of 4G tariffs has been met by a certain disquiet from some hardcore tech types.
It appears that many web commenters were expecting budget deals to be had, when in truth EE was always going to offer contracts for 4G phones at a substantial premium over 3G services.
£36 a month for 500MB of data is undeniably high, but not as eye-watering as the £56 the Orange and T-Mobile joint venture wants for 8GB. EE says its deals work out around £5 more a month than 3G for five times the speed.
Now, hardcore mobile fans can complain all they like about the 500MB limit. And with a certain amount of justification, especially when all-you-can-eat 3G packages cost similar on rival networks.
But as EE has been keen to stress, average consumers don’t blast through their data allowance in one sitting and can easily access Wi-Fi to continue watching video and downloading tracks in many cases.
The snappier service that users will be getting on 4G also means it’s no surprise that EE is charging relatively high fees.
As ever, some tech fans seem to forget that major companies are businesses looking to make money, not charities dedicated to the spread of new tech throughout society. That being said, making the 4G switch is not something that should be undertaken lightly.
The promising EE SIM-only deals, starting at £21, means those who’ve stumped up for a 4G phone outright can dip their toe in the water.
But with most phone users signing themselves up to 24-month deals (EE’s 12 month deals are hefty at £10 extra a month), anyone who’s savvy should be playing the waiting game. EE has six-month exclusivity on 4G, at which point rivals are going to pile in, and with deals that are set to be bargains.
Three will be looking to undercut its big name rivals and O2 and Vodafone will be desperate to make up lost ground.
It may be the case that EE offers better deals at this point. It should also be pointed out that new, and no doubt better 4G phones will also be landing at February’s Mobile World Congress, meaning consumer choice for 4G will only really happen in a meaningful way in early 2013.
Now’s not really the time to moan about EE’s tariffs. They are what they are. If you’re smart, you’ll wait and see what deals are to be had next year.
Because make no mistake, once one cheap 4G offer is on the table, there’ll be dozens more to follow.