EE flipped the switch on the UK's first 5G mobile network one year ago. Since that launch, which was commemorated with a glitzy performance by grime artist Stormzy on the river Thames, the network has rolled out 5G connectivity to 80 locations across the country, including London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester. For those who don't know, 5G is the successor to 4G mobile networks and offers much lower latency, which has huge ramifications for the future of smart cities and connected devices, as well as offering much faster download speeds, which has huge ramifications when it comes to streaming YouTube and Netflix on the train during your morning commute.
5G networks are better equipped to deal with crowded areas, so smartphone owners shouldn't ever experience the stuttering loading speeds seen during packed concerts and inside stadiums on match days. Despite the thousands of phones squeezed inside the same small footprint, 5G users should be able to access blisteringly fast speeds.
According to data from EE, which was released on the anniversary of the launch of its 5G network, the improvements that come with 5G access are changing smartphone owners' habits. The faster speeds seen on 5G, comparable with the vast majority of fibre broadband companies in the UK, has allowed people to start streaming on their handsets – rather than reading a paper, book, or presumably, downloading whatever they want to watch before setting off on their journey.
Network insights reveal that customers are using the lower latency and faster speeds of EE’s 5G network to watch even more video. YouTube is the most popular app to date, with 5G customers using double the amount of data than the second most popular app. Netflix has jumped from being the fourth-most popular app on EE’s 4G network to number two on 5G, EE has told Express.co.uk. When it comes to popularity, Netflix is followed by Facebook, Instagram and Google.
EE makes major changes to its smartphone plans and here's why you're going to like it
Speaking about the one-year anniversary, BT Consumer Division CEO Marc Allera said: “One year ago today, we started the UK’s 5G journey by launching the first 5G network. In just one year, we’ve already seen a number of incredible experiences and real-life use cases that 5G enables, both for consumers and businesses, and there’s still so much more to come. 5G technology will continue to make our customers’ lives easier, make our networks more efficient, and help launch entirely new ideas and businesses that we haven’t yet imagined.”
To take advantage of 5G, you'll need to have a contract with a carrier that boasts a 5G network (EE, Vodafone, Three, O2, Sky Mobile, and BT all have access to 5G networks, while Virgin Mobile and Giff Gaff haven't managed to launch 5G support quite yet) as well as a 5G SIM, and a 5G-compatible smartphones.
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The anniversary comes as EE announced some dramatic changes to its EE SIM-only plans.
First up, EE's Smart and Essential SIM plans now all bring access to 5G data speeds – something customers had to cough-up extra to enjoy before now. As well as bringing its 300Mpbs or more speeds to all SIM-only customers for the first time, EE has also added a new feature called Reserve Data.
This free option automatically starts once Smart SIM-only customers' high-speed data allowance has run out – so they remain connected to the internet, albeit slower than they might be accustomed to.
EE says that Reserve Data will be fast enough to access apps like WhatsApp, Google Maps and Apple Music, so Smart Plan and Smart SIM-only customers will be able to stay connected with friends and stream music until next months’ data starts again. It's a nice way to ensure you'll never have to jump between public Wi-Fi connections to be able to answer WhatsApp messages.
Written by David Minister
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