EE Buyers Guide
Can I get EE?
EE, the trading name for Everything Everywhere Ltd, is primarily known as a mobile provider but also provides a widely-used fixed line home broadband service. EE was formed when the T-Mobile and Orange mobile phone networks merged. EE's home broadband service is a combination of Orange's home broadband service and a new superfast fibre service. We also list EE's mobile broadband service separately in our Mobile Broadband section.
EE's home broadband products are not exclusive to its mobile customers, anyone is able to sign up, and when you do you'll qualify for the same perks as EE mobile customers.
EE's standard phoneline broadband is available in some form at all BT telephone exchanges. However EE have focused their best features and pricing on areas where they're installed their own equipment in the telephone exchange. This means that customers who live in more rural or remote areas may pay significantly more than the advertised headline prices, experience harsher traffic management and download limits, and also won't qualify for special offer introductory prices. You can find out if you live in an EE coverage area by using our postcode checker.
The situation is a little different with EE’s fibre-optic broadband packages, these use the same fibre to the cabinet technology as BT Infinity. FTTC broadband has been rolled out to two-thirds of all UK households, with urban and central areas tending to be upgraded first. Whether you can benefit from fibre speeds depends on whether your telephone exchange and your street cabinet have been upgraded. More exchanges and cabinets are upgraded every month. You can also use our postcode checker to find out if you live in a fibre network area and are able to get fibre broadband with EE. You still won't qualify for most special offers if you're outside of the EE network area, but you won't otherwise pay a higher monthly price after offer periods are over.
What packages are available?
EE offer three different basic home broadband packages at a range of different speeds to suit your needs and budget:
- Standard broadband up to 17Mb
- Fibre broadband up to 38Mb
- Fibre Plus broadband up to 76Mb
Speeds are given as ‘up to’ as they can vary depending on a range of factors such as how busy the service is (peak times such as evenings are busier than late at night) and how far you are from either your local telephone exchange (for standard) or your street cabinet (for fibre), with longer distance decreasing your broadband speed. You can use our postcode checker to find out your likely distance from your nearest exchange, and estimate how fast your package could be (we're currently only able to estimate fibre speeds if given a BT line rental phone number, but EE will give you an accurate estimate before you sign up).
These packages are all unlimited, meaning that they do not come with any download caps, allowing you to download as much as you like on your broadband connection without having to worry about incurring extra costs or having your service cut. However they do come with traffic management limits that may artificially slow you down at peak times depending on the type of broadband usage.
Customers living outside EE's low cost area are subject to a 20GB usage allowance and a traffic management policy that slows down all audio and video stream and music and video downloads at peak times, regardless of how heavily you're using the network.
All home broadband packages come with a phone service complete with inclusive phone calls - standalone broadband packages are not available with EE. Free inclusive weekend calls to UK landlines come as standard but, for an extra cost per month, you can also choose free inclusive anytime and mobile calls to cover the entire week. You need to pay line rental with all of these packages, although you can save on line rental fees by paying for a year up front.
There is also the option to sign up for triple play EE TV products. EE TV offers 70+ Freeview channels (some in HD), catch up TV, On Demand services, and the ability to use it with your smartphone or tablet for extra functionality.
Which package should I choose?
If you live in EE's low cost areas then all of EE’s home broadband packages are unlimited, so you don't need to worry about choosing a download cap. Instead, you should focus on the difference in broadband speed - and whether it is worth paying for a faster connection.
If you're close enough to the telephone exchange to enjoy them, EE’s standard broadband speeds of up to 17Mb would be more than enough for most online activities such as using social media or e-mail, or even heavier uses like gaming, video calling or streaming TV and films, and so may be sufficient for many Internet users, especially those who live alone.
You may benefit from faster internet speeds is you do a lot of online gaming, watch a lot of streaming TV and films or regularly download a lot of large files, especially in larger households where more than one person might be doing these things at any one time. The faster speeds available with fibre also help prevent slowdown when a lot of people are using one connection - especially if these people are heavy Internet users. This can be the case for student flats or homes of large families.
Ultimately is a trade-off between cost and speed - and there is no point paying for more than you need.
The other factor to consider is whether you use your landline enough to benefit from inclusive anytime and mobile calls, or whether the standard evening landline calling option will be sufficient.
Points to consider before you choose
- Do you live in an EE low cost area? If you don't, can you live with the strict traffic management, 20GB usage limit and no option for extra usage?
- How far do you live from a BT telephone exchange, and will this be a problem for your standard broadband speeds?
- How many people will be using your broadband connection at any one time, especially for heavy downloading, streaming video or online games?
- Is the extra expense of fibre broadband really worth it for you?
- Will you save money on calls by opting for the anytime and mobile calls option?
What do I get when I sign-up?
It's always good to know upfront what you'll get when signing up with an ISP so you know what you can enjoy for free, or to budget for any extras you may want.
- Bright Box 1 or 2 wireless router - EE broadband customers receive a free award winning Bright Box wireless router to manage their internet at home. Fibre customers receive the Bright Box 2 with the latest wireless ‘AC’ technology allows it to provide strong coverage around your home using hyperfast speeds and the best frequencies to avoid interference from any other devices. It supports multiple devices, is quick and easy to set up, and it's backwards comparible with 'N', 'G' and 'B' rated wireless devices and wired connections.
- Nortion Online Security - EE customers get one year’s free use of Norton Online Security, providing anti-virus tools, firewalls, and parental controls, to help you monitor your connection and keep it safe.
- Biggest 4G mobile broadband network - EE have made headlines being the first UK provider to offer 4G superfast mobile broadband, which can rival home broadband speeds in some areas. Those combining their home broadband package with mobile deals can therefore benefit from high-speed broadband on the go as well as at home.
- Free 24/7 online support - EE offer free online support around the clock and if you can’t get online, telephone support is also available, free within the hours of your call plan.
What are the benefits of EE?
The benefits offered by an ISP may be what seals the deal in your decision to buy a package from them.
- Wide range of mobile options - EE was formed by Orange and T-Mobile and so brings a great deal of mobile phone expertise to the table. You can get your home broadband packaged with landline deals, mobile deals and even phones themselves, all together in one convenient package. Only TalkTalk and Virgin Media of the big ISPs offer similar levels of mobile options with your home broadband.
- Unlimited broadband in network areas - EE’s unlimited broadband is unlimited for customers in their low cost areas, meaning you can download or upload as much as you want each month.
- Advanced technology wireless router for fibre - Fibre customers receive the award winning Bright Box 2 wireless router which supports 802.11ac connections for faster speeds over longer distances.
- Line Rental Saver - You can save £21 per year by paying for that year’s line rental as one lump sum instead of monthly, further lowering potential costs.
- £50 Early Cancellation Credit - If you're still within your contract for another supplier and want to switch to EE early, just claim on the EE site after you've switched and provide evidence of paying additional fees to cancel before the end of your previous contract, and they're provide you with £50 bill credit to cover some of that cost.
What are the drawbacks of EE?
Let's face it, not everything can be perfect, and even the best deals may have a downside.
- Traffic management policy - In order to ensure that the average customer gets the fastest possible speed from their broadband, EE's broadband is not truly unlimited, instead certain types of traffic are prioritised and peak times while others are slowed down, regardless of if you're a heavy user or not. Customers outside of network areas have peak time traffic management slowdowns applied to all music and video streaming and downloads regardless of how much is used.
- No standalone broadband - EE do not offer any standalone broadband contracts, meaning that you have to get your home broadband with phone service and line rental. This is only really an issue for those who do not plan to use a landline or do not wish to change phone provider - especially given EE’s free inclusive weekend and evening calls.
- More expensive in some more rural and remote areas - As EE have opted to focus discounts and promotions on low cost network areas at the expense of rural and remote areas, you could end up paying a lot more than the headline price.
- Restrictive usage allowance in some more rural and remote areas - while still advertised as unlimited, if you live outside EE's low cost network areas then you're hit with an allowance of only 20GB a month with no upgrade path should this prove too restrictive.
- 12 or 18 month contracts - EE’s contracts have a minimum of 12 months or 18 months for fibre and many special offers, which can be a problem for those who have short tenancies or do not want the commitment of a year-long contract. The lack of one-month contracts is not necessarily a problem however, as the long contracts can be a plus to those who live in one place and do not wish to renew on a regular basis.
- Complaint levels - In the months during and immediately after the rebrand from Orange Broadband to EE, their home broadband had a significant jump in customer complaint levels, as reported by Ofcom meaning that EE were the most complained about home broadband provider in the mid-2012 to mid-2013 period. Complaint levels have now reduced but are still significantly above the industry average. EE is currently the second most complained about provider (scaled by volume of customers) of the big 5, with only BT having more complaints per 1,000 customers.