EE to use Glastonbury as showcase for network's power

30 May 2017, 16:21   By Samantha Smith

EE have predicted that Glastonbury will be the most shared live event of 2017, after the mobile network provider have been confirmed as the festival's "official technology and communications partner" for Glastonbury Festival for the fifth consecutive year.

ee store front
Credit: Ink Drop/

In providing the festival with "the most powerful temporary 4G network seen at any UK event", EE have estimated that they'll be enabling the use of 40 TB (terabytes) of data between June 21st and 25th.

This translates to around 400 million selfies, and while it might possibly be supposed that EE are facilitating so much self-love out of charity, it's clear that their sponsorship of Glastonbury is meant as a demonstration of their network's capacity.

And in using their fifth consecutive Glastonbury to install the first permanent mast on the festival's site, they will also be using it as an opportunity to advertise the expansion of their network's coverage to 95% of the UK by 2020.


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Yet what's arguably most impressive about EE's partnership with Glastonbury isn't so much the capacity their providing, as the sheer amount of vanity and narcissism this capacity will permit.

For example, EE calculate that the 40 TB of data used over the festival's weekend will be equivalent to any one of the following:

  • 10 million downloads of an Ed Sheeran song
  • 400 million festival selfies uploaded to Instagram
  • 4 million minutes of video streamed to Facebook Live - equivalent to over 7.5 years of film

The final two entries are particularly revealing, insofar as they suggest that, rather than simply enjoying what is supposedly a fantastic experience, many of the festival's 135,000 attendees will instead be focusing on self-promotion.

This social comment aside, however, EE's announcement underlines an important point, which is that their network - as well as those of other UK operators - is expanding rapidly.

As an indication of this, they highlight how the increase in data used at Glastonbury exemplifies a "wider trend seen across the EE network, with data usage at events such as Aintree continuing to double or even triple year on year".

As their Glastonbury deal is meant to exhibit, this doubling or tripling has been made possible not simply by changing social habits, but by how they're in the process of covering 95% of the UK with their 4G network by 2020.

They committed to this goal in April 2016, and so far they're on target to reach 92% 4G coverage by the end of the current year.

Customer Service

And aside from demonstrating the growing reach of their network, EE are obviously also hoping to demonstrate its speed and reliability at the festival.

For seven consecutive quarters, they've been deemed the best network in terms of performance by RootMetrics, who found them the best for reliability, data, speed, calls, and texts.

However, as impressive their showings are in such tests, EE don't always fare so well when it comes to customer service, and were even fined £2.7 million in January for overcharging 40,000 customers for roaming.

In a very recent survey, Which? ranked them as the worst mobile network provider in terms of customer satisfaction, with only 20% of polled EE customers affirming that they'd recommend the provider to a friend.

That said, measurements of customer satisfaction aren't especially objective and can vary from survey to survey, with Ofcom's quarterly tables of complaints numbers suggesting that EE are quite good for customer service.

Their latest table for mobile providers showed EE receiving only 4 complaints per 100,000 customers, compared to the 24 for Vodafone and the nine for Talk Mobile.

Mobile customer complaints

Source: Ofcom

This variation goes to show that satisfaction surveys should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt, partly because they measure different things (e.g. numbers of complaints versus recommendations) and therefore can't be directly compared to each other.

'Awesome stuff'

And irrespective of good or bad customer satisfaction rankings, EE are clearly expecting that the service they provide at Glastonbury will do the talking for them.

As their Director of Communications and Sponsorship, Mat Sears, said, "Since EE first launched 4G in the UK, we've worked with the team at Glastonbury to give festival-goers the best possible network experience ... Our customers will be able to treat their friends at home by sharing their own personal view of all of the awesome stuff that Glastonbury has to offer over our superfast 4G network".

Of course, it can only be hoped that, among all the selfies and status updates, their customers will actually listen to some live music as well.

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