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EE Defends 4G Pricing After Widespread Criticism

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EE CEO Olaf Swantee | PA

EE has defended the pricing structure for its new 4G network after widespread criticism.

"The business IS listening," EE told the Huffington Post, before giving a series of interviews defending the prices.

EE's new LTE network offers download speeds which are up to five times as fast as 3G - but that extra speed comes at a cost.

On average EE customers will pay about £5 more for using 4G, and those contracts will not come with extra data.

A 500mb monthly download limit will cost £36, while the top-price £56 package only comes with 8GB of data. These packages also come with unlimited calls and texts, a free movie download per week and two-for-one movie tickets.

But some have argued that EE's ignore the probability that 4G customers will expect to use more data than before, because they will have the bandwidth to stream movies and music at a higher quality.

EE has also been accused by some of abusing its six month exclusivity on 4G, since other networks won't be able to launch their rivals until Spring 2013 at the earliest.

But now EE has defended its prices, saying that the £5 premium is a fair deal for using a network which it claims has cost £1.5bn to build.

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"We've had tons of comments over the last 24hours, some would make our mothers blush," said the company's Twitter account on Wednesday, while linking to a picture which made the point 4G didn't necessarily lead to higher data use.

"We won't lie, it was an interesting day... but logic is starting to shine through, and of course, the business IS listening," it added to the Huffington Post UK.

Meanwhile in an interview with PC Pro, EE's marketing officer Pippa Dunn said that "customers expect to pay more" for a 4G service.

"I think we've got the most competitive pricing anywhere in the world in terms of what we're doing it terms of our 4G pricing," she told PC Pro.

"I actually, genuinely, have priced this in such a way that we get the maximum uptake of consumers, albeit at a small additional cost. But I think that's right."

Dunn also suggested that customers would switch to WiFi to use services like BBC iPlayer - arguably negating the usefulness of having a 4G connection.

In another interview, this time with Techcrunch, Dunn said that only "super techie" people wanted an unlimited contract.

"We're going to look at whether we should build some bigger add-on packages," she said.

"The only thing that happens when you get an unlimited data plan is you attract the people who cane the network and that's not great for any consumer."