EE is best known as a mobile phone operator but its home broadband services are well worth a look. It did well across the categories in the Expert Reviews Best Broadband Awards 2020 and scooped a win in the Customer Service category. If you’re looking for a good, reliable service, it’s well worth a place on your shortlist.
EE’s options cover the full gamut of speeds and connections, with its five packages running all the way from bog-standard ADSL2+ up to a ludicrous-speed 300Mbits/sec option.
All tariffs are totally unlimited, with no usage caps. And if you’re an EE mobile contract customer, your subscription includes a 5GB monthly boost to your mobile data plan – or 20GB a month if you spring for one of the top-end ultra-fast packages or combine fibre with one of EE’s 5G plans.
Interestingly, EE has pulled out of the quad-play broadband/phone/mobile/TV market, no longer taking orders for its EE TV set-top box and suggesting it will review existing services in March this year. Given this involved an extra £8 a month cost before any passes for the built-in NowTV, this isn’t a huge loss. After all, you can buy a standalone Now TV Smart Stick for just £20.
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EE Standard Broadband
EE’s cheapest internet service is called Standard Broadband and is your basic ADSL2+ connection, promising average speeds of 10Mbits/sec. That’s perfectly fast enough for web-browsing and downloading apps and games but it might start to lag if you want to do lots of things while watching high-definition video and it won’t cut it for 4K streaming (Netflix recommends at least 25Mbits/sec for that).
The service costs £19 per month on an 18-month contract, including line rental. That’s cheaper than Sky’s equivalent package and it comes without any start-up costs. Throw in the extra 5GB of mobile data, and it’s a tempting deal.
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EE Fibre and Fibre Plus Broadband
EE’s next tier up is its 36Mbits/sec fibre-optic service. If your home is within the coverage area, this is a competitive deal, which is easily fast enough for 4K streaming and download duties. It costs just £23 per month over an 18-month contract, including that 5-20GB mobile data bonus, although the cost rises to £37 a month once that period ends.
The service also comes with EE’s new Smart Hub router, which offers 802.11ac with 4×4 MU-MIMO and four Gigabit Ethernet sockets. There’s usually a £15 setup fee but, at the time of writing, this is being waived.
If you feel the need for speed, the Fibre Plus package may be even more tempting. This delivers nearly twice the bandwidth (an average of 67Mbits/sec) for an additional £4 a month, with the setup fee once again waived. You get the same router, and the same data boost, with enough bandwidth to have two 4K streams playing at once in your home.
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EE Fibre Max 1 and Max 2 Broadband
At the top of the tree sit EE’s new Fibre Max services. These use G.fast technology to deliver the sort of extreme speeds that were previously only available by extending the fibre-optic cable all the way into your home. Note that these services are only available to homes within a certain distance of a suitable street cabinet: EE’s postcode checker will tell you whether you can get G.fast services in your area.
If you can, there are two packages available: Fibre Max 1 promises average speeds of 145Mbits/sec, while Max 2 raises the bar all the way up to 300Mbits/sec. If your family members want to play games, watch video streams and download files all at once, these connections will ensure everything goes smoothly.
The two packages cost £36 and £43 a month respectively on the usual 18-month contract and, in addition to an insanely fast internet connection, that gets you a generous 20GB of mobile data. The excellent Smart Hub router is included as well but, when you first sign up, an engineer will have to visit your home to install the necessary G.fast equipment, which normally comes with a £25 setup fee. At the time of writing, though, this is – restrain your surprise – being waived.
EE broadband prices and packages
|EE Standard||EE Fibre||EE Fibre Plus||EE Fibre Max 1||EE Fibre Max 2|
|Price per month inc line rental||£19||£23||£27||£36||£43|
|Contract length||18 months||18 months||18 months||18 months||18 months|
EE Broadband: Coverage
Like most ISPs, EE leases its fibre-optic infrastructure from BT Openreach – so if you can get fibre broadband from BT, you have the alternative option of getting it from EE.
If you’re not sure whether your home is connected to the fibre network or not, or whether you can get G.fast services, you can use the availability checker on EE’s website to see what’s available in your area and get an estimate of the maximum speed you can expect to enjoy.
EE Broadband: Performance
As a mobile network, EE has an enviable speed record; it’s been the number one network for 4G and 5G performance for the last five years running. Sadly, it hasn’t done nearly so well in our Best Broadband awards. Less than 15% of Expert Reviews readers surveyed described themselves as very satisfied with EE’s performance, against 16% of Virgin customers and nearly 32% of BT users. Still, 42.5% of EE users still described themselves as satisfied, and fewer than 20% said dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, putting EE ahead of BT and TalkTalk.
That said, Ofcom’s latest ISP performance survey, carried out in November 2018 and published in May 2019, puts EE in a higher position. Here, EE’s 36Mbits/sec fibre package hit a daily average of 32.5 to 34.8Mbit/sec, beating the results for Plusnet’s, BT’s and TalkTalk’s equivalent packages.
Similarly, EE’s 67Mbit/sec Fibre Plus package was faster for a 24 hour average than Sky, Plusnet and BT, at 60-64.9Mbit/sec, although EE did hit lower minimum download speed results, at 54.5-59.8Mbit/sec compared with TalkTalk’s 55.6-59.4Mbit/sec and BT’s 58.3-60.7Mbit/sec.
There’s not much in it, though, and in everyday use you’d struggle to notice much difference. It’s really in the newer G.fast services that EE has it all to prove. We haven’t seen Ofcom test results for these yet but they could give our performance award winner, Virgin, some much-needed competition.
EE also does fairly well on reliability. Over 31% of users we surveyed were very satisfied with the reliability of their connection, while a further 35% were satisfied. Plusnet, Sky and Virgin scored higher, but EE is still ahead of BT, TalkTalk and Vodafone on this count.
EE Broadband: Customer satisfaction
EE wins this year’s Expert Reviews Best Broadband Award 2020 for customer service. More than a quarter of customers we surveyed said they were very satisfied with the customer service, and a further 50% described themselves as satisfied. Only Plusnet came into contention for the same prize, and, while it had a higher percentage of very satisfied customers (44%), it also had more dissatisfied or very dissatisfied users, scoring 10% in both categories where EE was under 2%.
This mirrors the results published in Ofcom’s last published research, where EE was top for overall customer satisfaction, with Plusnet just behind, and EE’s record for a rapid response was even more impressive, with customers in need of support taking just 35 seconds to reach an agent, against nearly seven minutes with Plusnet. Levels of satisfaction with how complaints were handled is also higher, with 53% of EE users satisfied against 49% of Plusnet’s – with 49% also the average across all ISPs.
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EE Broadband review: Verdict
If you’re looking for a new broadband provider, EE is hard to fault. Performance is generally above the average and overall customer satisfaction is high. There’s a range of competitively priced fibre packages to suit all needs. The Smart Hub router is a great benefit too, with Wave 2 802.11ac and Gigabit Ethernet ensuring you can get the best speeds on your home network. Speeds could be faster – especially if you’re outside the reach of EE’s G.Fast technology – but they’re more than fast enough for all but the most demanding users.
On top of that, if you’re an EE mobile subscriber, the data boost could see you getting more for less. If you’re happy to go with EE for both home and mobile broadband, that might be all you need to push things EE’s way.