Orange and T-Mobile operator EE has revealed a drop in overall customer numbers ahead of its launch of superfast 4G services.
The company's total base fell 2.1% year-on-year to 26.9 million in the three months to September 30 after it lost 393,000 pay-as-you-go customers and added 250,000 contract deals.
However, contract customers bring in average revenue per user (ARPU) five times higher than pay-as-you-go deals, which helped service revenues rise 3.1%.
The results are the last to be published before EE becomes the only operator in the UK to offer 4G services, which will launch next Tuesday.
EE said 51% of its customers are now on contract or 'post paid' agreements, while the decline in pay-as-you-go deals was in line with industry trends.
Some 80% of EE's contract customers are on two-year contracts, up from 70% a year ago.
A total of 74% of EE customers now have a smartphone, such as Apple's iPhone, up from 72% in the previous quarter and 65% in the same quarter of last year.
The increase in smartphone use saw non-messaging data revenues increase to 31% of total ARPU, compared to 23% last year, while non-voice revenues, data and messaging, is at 48% of total ARPU.