EE reveals UK's most popular places for 5G as usage increases by 40% and insights on network trends over the festive period

  • 5G usage soars, with traffic growing more than 40% month on month between October and December 2020
  • London, Birmingham and Manchester are the UK’s top three most popular places on EE’s 5G network
  • Traffic for social media apps peaks on New Year’s Eve, with Snapchat seeing peak traffic increase four-fold
  • BBC traffic on EE’s mobile network doubles as new restrictions are announced in England

EE today released its latest Mobile Network Index report, revealing new insights on how and where 5G is being used, and trends from the festive and new year period.

The insights highlight:

  1. The UK’s most popular 5G locations and the growth in 5G usage
  2. The increasing popularity of YouTube, Facebook, Netflix and Instagram on EE’s 5G network
  3. Behaviour on New Year’s Eve as people saw in 2021 together virtually
  4. BT Sport’s most popular festive fixtures, and the busiest day for gaming over the holidays
  5. The impact of the return to work in January on EE’s mobile network

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said: As we roll out the 5G network to more places, it’s clear that customers are starting to use it more and are making the most of its faster speeds and reliable performance. With more 5G devices arriving on the market and the network available in 125 towns and cities across the UK, it’s interesting to see inhabitants of London, Birmingham and Manchester emerging as the most popular users of 5G on our mobile network, with video streaming remaining as popular as ever. With the heightened restrictions over the festive period and New Year’s Eve for many of us, we saw some notable changes in the ways our customers are using our mobile network. The role of providing a brilliant and high performing network continues to grow in importance, and I’m pleased that the EE network is able to play its role in helping deliver a great experience for our customers.”

The Report:

5G insights and most popular locations for usage

New insights from EE show an increased appetite for the latest mobile technology, with 5G traffic growing more than 40% month on month between October and December 2020, and more than doubling across the three months.

YouTube, Facebook, Netflix and Instagram retain the top spots as the most popular apps and services on EE’s 5G network, and month on month have seen traffic grow by at least 30%.

Insights from EE reveal that three of EE’s 5G launch cities – London, Birmingham and Manchester – are the top three for 5G usage on EE’s mobile network in the UK. In Scotland, Glasgow tops the list for 5G usage, and in Wales, Cardiff.

The top 20 locations for 5G traffic on EE’s mobile network are:

  1. East London
  2. Birmingham
  3. South West London
  4. South East London
  5. North London
  6. North West London
  7. Manchester
  8. West London
  9. Nottingham
  10. Central London
  11. Sheffield
  12. Romford
  13. Leeds
  14. Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  15. Bristol
  16. Cardiff
  17. Glasgow
  18. Liverpool
  19. Leicester
  20. Hull

Top 3 locations for 5G traffic on EE’s mobile network in Scotland:

  1. Glasgow
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Motherwell

Top 3 locations for 5G traffic on EE’s mobile network in Wales and the South West:

  1. Bristol
  2. Cardiff
  3. Bath

Top 3 locations for 5G traffic on EE’s mobile network in the Midlands:

  1. Birmingham
  2. Nottingham
  3. Wolverhampton

Top 3 locations for 5G traffic on EE’s mobile network in the north of England:

  1. Manchester
  2. Sheffield
  3. Leeds

Christmas Day and New Year

With large groups unable to gather over the festive period in many parts of the UK, people took to technology to stay in touch with family and friends, and to connect to the things they enjoy most. On Christmas Day, there was an uplift in Zoom users on EE’s mobile network before and after 2pm, as people wished each other well either side of Christmas dinner.

After a gradual increase in popularity throughout the morning, the number of Strava users on EE’s mobile network peaked at 11:40 as people embraced the great outdoors for a Christmas Day walk, run or bike ride.

With pubs and entertainment venues closed and people encouraged to stay at home to see in 2021, EE’s mobile network witnessed a surge in social media users at midnight. Facebook and WhatsApp users steadily decrease from midday on NYE, before a peak at midnight as friends and families send their well wishes virtually.

On Snapchat, the traffic peak at midnight on 31st December on EE’s mobile network was four times higher than the average peak in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve.

BT Sport

Despite fans not being allowed to cheer on their favourite football teams in stadiums, the beautiful game kept sports fans entertained over Christmas.

Leicester and Manchester’s 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day drove the biggest uplift in BT Sport traffic on EE’s mobile network over the festive period. Other popular fixtures included:

  • Manchester City vs Newcastle and Sheffield United vs Everton – 8pm on Boxing Day
  • Everton vs West Ham – 5pm on New Year’s Day
  • Tottenham vs Leeds – 2:30pm on 2nd January
  • West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal – 8pm on 2nd January


Over the festive period, the evening of the 28th December was the most popular time for gaming services on EE’s mobile network. Twitch saw its peak number of users at 7pm, followed by a peak for both PlayStation and Steam two hours later at 9pm.

January and the return to work

As the holiday break grew to a close, January 4th marked the return to work for lots of people. As inboxes were reopened, Microsoft Outlook traffic on EE’s mobile network was at its highest at 9am that morning – with peak traffic increasing four-fold compared to the same time the week before.

Skype traffic on EE’s mobile network also saw a surge after the festive break, with the peak arriving at 11am on the 5th January as routines got restarted.

The beginning of January bought news from government on heightened restrictions and school closures in England. When Boris Johnson appeared on the BBC at 8pm on the 4th January, BBC traffic on EE’s mobile network doubled from the hour before, and the same time a day earlier.

Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact:

0207 792 7468

About EE

EE runs the UK's biggest and fastest mobile network, offering superfast connections in more places than any other operator. EE brought the first 4G network to the UK in October 2012, and launched the UK’s first 5G network in May 2019.

EE has received extensive independent recognition, including being named the UK’s no.1 5G network by RootMetrics® in 2020 and 2021, and the UK's best network every year since 2014 for the following awards: The Mobile Choice Awards, The Mobile Industry Awards and by RootMetrics®.

As well as delivering mobile services to consumers, small and medium businesses, corporate customers and Government programmes, EE also provides home and business broadband using both 4G and fixed line connections.

EE is committed to being number one for service in the industry, and has nearly 600 shops across the UK. EE remains the only mobile provider to answer 100% of customer calls in the UK and Ireland and was recognised as the UK’s Best Large Contact Centre by the UK Customer Experience Awards 2018 and Welsh Contact Centre Awards 2019. EE was awarded The Sunday Times’ Best 100 Companies to Work for in 2018 and 2019, as well as being named Best Employer 2018 by the European Contact Centre & Customer Service awards.

EE is part of BT’s Consumer business unit which provides products and services to all of BT’s consumer customers in the UK.

Follow us on…

Facebook at:

Twitter at:

YouTube at:

LinkedIn at: