EE announces year-end financial results

We have a number of figures to hand from EE's end of year financial report, but one crucial figure seems to be missing from the list. Just how many people have signed up the fledgling 4G service in the UK.

We know that 201,000 people signed up the network in the last quarter of 20-12, which is the period when the 4G network was launched. But we don't know how many of those are 4G sign-ups, as opposed to 3G contracts. We suspect significantly less or EE would be talking it up at the top of its press sheet.

That's a view echoed by Steven Hartley, principal analyst at Ovum: 'The official line is so as not to impact the on-going spectrum auction. However, experience suggests that phrases such as 'solid early 4G momentum' cover all manner of sins. Or to put it another way: if customer uptake was far ahead of expectation, then we would hear about it. We therefore have to conclude that uptake has not been spectacular. That doesn't make it a disaster, just not necessarily fully optimising its monopoly position.'

The conclusion is perhaps that by bumping up the price of 4G for early adopters, EE has put off a number of potential purchasers. Mobile phone buyers are a savvy bunch - and with the other networks round the corner with their offerings, signing up for two years at the current EE price might not be that tempting. Indeed, the Three network has already confirmed that it will be keeping charges much the same as its 3G price when it offers 4G later this year.

As for the more general financials, EE posted a revenue of £5,953m for 2012, which is down 2.6% on the previous year. The fourth quarter was also down year on year by 3.9%.

Olaf Swantee, Chief Executive Officer of EE, seems content with the company's performance, commenting: 'In the past year, we delivered solid financial performance, underpinned by good progress integrating the business and success in attracting high value customers. At the same time, we built a strong platform for growth, launching a new company, new network, new customer brand, new retail estate and being the first to provide UK consumers and businesses with 4G mobile services alongside fibre broadband.'

2013 might fare better for EE, with more of the country gaining coverage month on month, taking in around 55% by June and 98% by the end of this year. With an aggressive advertising campaign and still no competition in place just yet, EE might well make significant inroads as the year progresses.

But with the competition gearing up for the summer, there might be just a little worry about that pricing structure at EE HQ right now.

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