EE’s annual tariff revision for 2020 will reflect the continued rollout of 5G, as well as the changes in how users need and use mobile data during the lockdown.
One of the key features will be a data reserve to keep users connected even after their data allowance runs out, similar to that already offered to business users.
Data usage has changed
Yesterday EE published a lengthy report of how mobile data usage has changed since the Coronavirus lockdown, with big changes in both the times and locations of data usage.
These changes have probably given engineers and planners some major headaches, given all the work to enable places like London to have high levels of capacity, at a time where data usage in central London is now down 58% in favour of spikes in places like Stevenage and Hereford.
While Wi-Fi will help reduce a lot of the network demand outside of major towns and cities during the day, the introduction of fast 4G and 5G will have many users preferring to stick with mobile data over a potentially slow and unreliable fixed-broadband option.
Some people may have even ditched their home connection entirely in favour of mobile, which will have led the use of mobile tethering to get the office laptop hooked up at home for that daily Zoom videoconference, or ‘virtual pub’ meet up later in the evening.
There are clearly going to be some users who have little need for mobile data during the lockdown, for a range of reasons, but also many who will need and heavily rely on it more than ever before.
Key workers who have to live away from home to isolate from their families, and those working away from their office are just some examples.
Data that never runs out
EE finally got on the unlimited data bandwagon last year, after Vodafone joined Three (O2 then followed last), and due to COVID-19 EE and others have offered free data for NHS workers to keep them going no matter what.
Now it appears EE is giving a lifeline on its new smart plans by giving users the ability to keep connected even after their data allowance has ended, at a reduced rate of 2Mbps.
Last year, EE offered a Data Reserve feature to business users to keep staff connected, albeit at a reduced rate of 384Kbps, if their allowances were exceeded.
Customers will be able to purchase more data if they require full speed data, or ask a family member to use Data Gift to transfer over some data.
Otherwise, the speed will be restored at the new billing cycle when the paid-for data allowance is renewed.
Truly unlimited data plans will continue, of course, but this now gives people an alternative to paying for the most expensive plan if a reduced speed is likely sufficient to get by for the rest of the month.
Given Vodafone has an actual unlimited data plan with a speed cap of 2Mbps (as well as 10Mbps and truly unlimited at a higher cost), one must assume EE has done the research to find a lot of users can get by with the lower rate.
If nothing else, it gives peace of mind to those who may not be able to accurately predict their mobile data needs in such uncertain times.
Frankly, 2Mbps should be fine for social media, email and streaming at lower bitrates/resolution.
In recognition of 5G now being a year old for EE, the network is also due to end the separation of 4G and 5G on its smart plans. This is another sensible move that brings the network in line with others who have no extra charge for 5G access.
EE should announce the finer details very soon, so watch this space.
Update: Here’s the official press release from EE with further detail.
- EE’s new range of Smart, Essential and Smart SIM pay monthly mobile plans are all 5G ready – ensuring customers can enjoy everything 5G has to offer on the UK’s no.1 network with 5G in more places
- New Reserve Data introduced, allowing Smart Plan and Smart SIM customers to stay connected, even if their high-speed data allowance runs out
- Streaming service BritBox, offering the very best of British entertainment, now available as a Smart Plan Swappable Benefit
EE today launched a new range of Smart and Essential pay monthly handset and Smart SIM plans which come with access to 5G as standard. The new Smart Plans also include new Reserve Data, allowing customers to stay connected if they use up their high-speed data allowance, as well as the addition of a BritBox Swappable Benefit.
EE’s new pay monthly range allows customers to enjoy everything 5G has to offer, on the UK’s no. 1 network with 5G in more places. Designed to help customers future-proof their plan, customers with a 5G handset will be ready to take advantage of faster speeds, lower latency and the very best network experience.
As well as access to the 5G network, EE’s newly upgraded handset Smart Plans allow customers to choose from a range of unique Swappable Benefits, upgrade to a new device whenever they want and enjoy a wide range of data allowances ranging from 4GB per month up to unlimited.
EE has also introduced new Reserve Data which automatically starts once a Smart Plan customer’s high-speed data allowance runs out. Reserve Data is fast enough to access apps like WhatsApp, Google Maps and Apple Music, so Smart Plan and Smart SIM customers can stay connected with friends and stream music until next months’ data starts again.
Alternatively, customers can choose a data add on if they would like to continue with full speed data or receive additional data from someone on the same shared plan, via Data Gifting.
With EE’s latest Smart Plans, customers can now select BritBox (worth £5.99 per month) as a Swappable Benefit, which offers access to the biggest collection of British box sets including: Top Gear, Downton Abbey, Happy Valley and Gavin & Stacey, with many box sets including Cold Feet, Classic Doctor Who, Shetland and Broadchurch unavailable in full on-demand anywhere else.
Swappable Benefits help customers get the most from their plan, allowing them to swap their benefits each month as their needs change. EE’s Swappable Benefits include:
- BritBox – Stream the best dramas, comedies, documentaries and more from the BBC, ITV Channel 4 and Channel 5
- Amazon Prime Video – With access to movies, original TV shows, live sport and documentaries on the go
- Video Data Pass – All the data you need to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, TV player, MTV Play, YouTube and BBC iPlayer
- Roam Further Pass – Customers can already use their allowances in the EU without paying extra. With the Roam Further pass they can take them to even more places without paying more, including the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand
- BT Sport Ultimate – Watch amazing live and on demand sport on the BT Sport Ultimate app, including Premier league, Champions league, WWE, UFC, Rugby and more. There’s also a selection of matches in glorious 4K HDR to enjoy in stunning detail
Available with the latest smartphones from the world’s biggest manufacturers, Smart Plan customers can now get the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G handset for £56 per month with £50 upfront, on a 24-month Smart plan, which offers unlimited calls, unlimited texts and 40GB data allowance. With Upgrade Anytime* included on all Smart Plans, customers can also upgrade their handsets when they want and switch to the latest smartphone models without having to wait until the end of their contract.
With all new Essential Plans also 5G ready, more people can experience the world of 5G on EE with a compatible device. Customers get access to the UK’s fastest 5G network, a new smartphone, plus data allowances starting from 500MB, which they can use across the UK and EU, plus unlimited minutes and texts.
Although Swappable Benefits are exclusive to EE’s Smart Plans, Essential Plan customers can still enjoy Entertainment on EE (available to all pay monthly customers), with up to six months access to BT Sport, Apple Music, Apple News+, MTV Play and BritBox – worth up to £220.
Sharon Meadows, Director of Propositions, Consumer, EE said: “We want to provide as many people as possible with access to the faster speeds, greater capacity and improved latency that 5G brings – so we’ve made all our new pay monthly handset plans, as well as our new Smart Sim plans, come with 5G as standard. When combined with inclusive Reserve Data, flexible Swappable Benefits, unlimited data, Service Packs and the option to upgrade anytime, EE’s Smart Plans really do enable customers to get the very most from their smartphone on the UK’s no. 1 mobile network”.
With EE’s latest pay monthly plans, customers also benefit from EE’s unparalleled Service Packs. With a Service Pack, customers can relax with an EE lifetime guarantee on their device. They will also be invited for an annual device MOT to keep devices performing at their best, plus £10 to spend on cases and screen protectors so they can keep that new phone feeling for longer.
Customers on EE pay monthly plans can also access data gifting – so they can move any unused data to their families if they are on the same account, meaning they get the most from their monthly data. Plus, EE pay monthly customers can now also use their Amazon Echo devices to make and receive calls – perfect if customers have their hands full at home.
For more information EE’s refreshed plans, please visit ee.co.uk/paymonthly
This article was updated to clarify the changes applying to new smart plans, as well as include the official press release.