EE is claiming a European first after it surpassed 10 million 4G customers on its network, adding that total 4G traffic has overtaken 3G traffic for the first time thanks to increased network coverage, particularly in rural areas.
The UK-based operator, which is in the process of being acquired by BT, said data usage in rural parts of Scotland has increased 60 per cent, usage in rural Wales is up 50 per cent and data in the South West of England is up 49 per cent since the introduction of 4G.
"Our network advances have truly unlocked the power of the mobile internet, so much so that customer usage is doubling and we predict our 4G network, built for capacity, will comfortably handle more than an Exabyte of data per year by 2018," said CEO Olaf Swantee.
The operator noted that one Exabyte of data (1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) is triple the amount of data the network carries today.
EE also released its latest 4GEE Mobile Living Index, which has analysed EE's 4G mobile data use and customer trends since early 2013. For example, the latest issue shows there has been a 63 per cent rise in the use of health-related apps since August last year, with more than one in four customers using some form of mHealth monitoring.
Other key findings show that YouTube rules the roost as the most popular service, driving 67 per cent of overall video streaming; Apple maps remains the most popular source of GPS, representing 73 per cent of traffic; PlayStation accounts for 37 per cent of network gaming traffic; Microsoft email services (MSN and Outlook) account for 45 per cent of overall email traffic by EE customers; and almost half (44 per cent) of all music streaming is via Soundcloud, well ahead of Spotify (29 per cent) and Deezer (10 per cent).
BT agreed definitive terms in February to buy EE from existing owners Orange and Deutsche Telekom. The planned £12.5 billion (€17.4 billion/$19 billion) deal has been approved by BT shareholders, and is now being reviewed by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The former UK incumbent is understood to have submitted its arguments in favour of the acquisition to the CMA last week.
EE competes on the 4G market with network operators Vodafone UK, Three UK and O2 UK as well as with some mobile virtual network operators such as Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile and the new iD venture from Carphone Warehouse. BT already sells consumer 4G services under BT Mobile.
EE said last month that it is "firmly on track" to reach 14 million 4G subscribers by the end of the year.
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