Antonios Maroulis, Mobile Analyst at IHS Electronics & Media, comments on O2 & Vodafone’s 4G launches in the UK:
Based on current UK operator strategies, IHS forecasts 4G in the UK will serve just 12% of mobile subscriptions by the end of 2014. To speed uptake, UK 4G operators must adapt their strategies based on the lessons learned from more mature markets such as the US, South Korea, and Japan.
At the end of 2013, IHS forecasts that there will be 30 million 4G subscriptions in South Korea, representing 53% of mobile subscriptions. By 2017, 4G subscriptions will reach 93% of all mobile subscriptions. High handset subsidies, low 4G service pricing, and the presence of three domestic smartphone OEMs have made 4G deployments easier in South Korea.
In Japan, Germany and the US, alternative operator 4G strategies have delivered mixed results because of different market conditions. But, in most markets with premium 4G pricing, it has slowed 4G adoption.
All three major operators in South Korea offer an extensive range of content services on top of mobile data, voice, and message allowances for their 4G services. LG U+ and SK Telecom have enjoyed success with bundles by not charging a premium for the bundled content.
Mobile content is a vast opportunity in Korea which 4G boosts: in 2013, IHS forecasts that Koreans will download an average of 11.9 games per mobile subscription, compared with 10.8 in the US, 4.9 in Germany, 5.6 in Italy and 8.3 in the UK.
SK Telecom was the first to launch a 4G LTE network at the end of June 2011 and has maintained its dominant position with just over 45 per cent share of Korean LTE subscriptions.
If EE adopts the correct pricing strategies and adjusts its 4G pricing to respond to 4G launches from its competitors it will be able to maintain its 4G first mover advantage. EE also has the opportunity to innovate with 4G service quality to differentiate using their large block of 4G spectrum.