EE broadband review: ADSL & Fibre

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EE may have some serious clout as one of the biggest mobile providers in the UK, but how does its broadband fare? And how does it compare to all other major broadband services? The TechXpert EE broadband review investigates price, real-time speeds and broadband tech.

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EE Broadband Review

We’ll break this EE broadband review down into sections along the different types of internet services offered by EE, starting with its standard broadband then going onto fibre broadband. Speed, price and tech will all be compared to competitor services. We’ll also take a look at EE’s standings on popular customer feedback sites like Truspilot and Which?.

It’s worth highlighting here that all broadband and fibre services available with EE are completely unlimited. This particular feature is not taken into consideration in any of our comparisons nor in our review in general since most major broadband providers also offer unlimited broadband. Here’s a quick overview of our conclusions:

  1. EE’s standard broadband does not give consumers the best value for money.
  2. Fibre Broadband, conversely, gives consumers better value for money than other major providers offering similar packages and is worth considering when looking for a broadband deal.
  3. EE’s real-time speeds outperforms those of its competitors.
  4. EE receives less complaints than most of its major competitors.

Standard Broadband (ADSL)

EE’s standard ADSL broadband is the provider’s basic deal. It certainly isn’t the cheapest but it doesn’t stand out as the most expensive either. It comes with modest speeds and includes its basic router, the Bright Box 1, free of charge.

Price

The Standard Broadband package offered by EE is available from £22.00 for new customers entering an 18 month contract and £32.00 after this initial term. This places it on the pricey end of the scale in comparison with similar deals offered by other recognised providers. There are currently no additional charges - set up fees, delivery costs, etc - attached to this package.

Package (June 2019) Speeds Intro price (initial term) Contract Full price (after initial term) Extra fees
EE standard broadband 10 Mbps £22.00 18 months £32.00 None
BT Unlimited + weekend calls 10 Mbps £29.00 18 months £32.00 £29.99 activation + delivery
Talktalk Unlimited Broadband 11 Mbps £17.95 24 months £30.00 None
Plusnet Unlimited Broadband 10 Mbps £19.99 18 months £29.98 None
Zen Fast Broadband 10 Mbps £28.00 12 months £28.00 £19.99 activation
Sky Broadband Essential 11 Mbps £22.50 18 months £25.00 £9.95 router delivery fee
Direct Save Telecom Unlimited Broadband 11 Mbps £16.95 12 months £22.95 None

We can see from the table above that EE’s discounted introductory offer falls somewhere between the lowest intro price (Post Office Unlimited Broadband, £15.90) and the highest price (BT Unlimited, £29.00). Although it has to be noted that BT includes anytime weekend calls in the price of its standard broadband deal.

Value for money

To get a true comparison of value at the higher end of the price scale, we took the price of EE’s standard broadband and added to it the monthly price of the EE anytime weekend calls plan, currently at £2.00, which gives us a total of £24.00 a month.

By doing this, we can see that EE - funnily enough a BT-owned provider - gives consumers better value for value for money than BT over the course of an 18 month introductory period. However, this isn’t to say that EE’s standard broadband is the best value-for-money package overall. The likes of Talktlak, Origin and Direct Save Telecom offer better introductory prices.

The full-price comparison (post introductory term) tells a different story. Not only does EE have the joint-highest prices, it would be the most expensive broadband deal if we add the anytime weekend calls plan - the equivalent configuration of the other joint-highest deal, BT unlimited.

With the cheapest ADSL broadband deal - Direct Save Telecom’s ADSL package at £16.95 for 12 months and £22.95 thereafter - you could save up to £158.70 on your first 18 months and £108.60 for every 12 months after.

ADSL price verdict

All in all, the standard broadband package from EE does not represent value for money, especially for consumers looking to stay on a deal for longer than the introductory price period. Consumers would be better of going to a smaller broadband provider like Origin or Direct Save Telecom.

To top it all off, EE doesn’t offer a price guarantee for the duration of its contracts. This means that your bills could rise midway through your initial term, which makes purchasing EE’s standard broadband for its discounted introductory offer alone a little risky. In the event of a price hike, EE provides customers with a timely notice and only under certain circumstances - not made explicit to us - does EE waive its cancellation fees.

Find a better ADSL broadband deal!

Speeds

The average download speed for the basic EE ADSL service is 10 Mbps - in line with the national average. In some parts of the UK it can dip well below 2 Mbps; in others it can go beyond 17 Mbps. Average speeds are usually calculated by taking the average of the speeds available to 50% of customers during peak broadband congestion hours, between 8pm and 10pm.

Whilst most other internet service providers will advertise their basic broadband with the 10 Mbps average download speed, consumers aren’t guaranteed to receive this speed. The speeds available to you will depend on where you live and the tech your provider uses to deliver your broadband to your home.

Speed verdict

It has to be said, however, that for the speed you get with EE’s basic deal, the price leaves a lot to be desired. For those looking to stick it out with EE and are covered by EE’s fibre network, the best thing to do is discard standard broadband in favour of one of the four fibre packages. The price for the basic fibre package is certainly close enough to the price of standard broadband to be well worth the few extra pounds. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to fibre, we suggest switching providers.

EE Router Review: ADSL

When you purchase the Standard Broadband package, you get the latest incarnation of the Bright Box 1 router free of charge. This is the basic broadband tech offered by EE. Although it’s quite a way off from the new generation of smart hubs in terms of quality, it still gets the job done with secure wifi and steady connections at close proximity.

The Bright Box 1 is a standing router with a sleek, minimal design. It’s small enough to fit through your letterbox - quite unlike its clunky predecessor - which is perfect considering that EE sends its router and broadband tech to customers through the post. It also comes with four ethernet ports and one USB 2.0 port.

Router speed

The router supports wireless connection speeds - between router and wireless enabled devices - of up to 300 Mbps over a single frequency of 2.4GHz. This is significantly slower than the connection speeds you can get with the EE Smart Hub over dual frequencies.

In real-terms, operating over a single frequency means that customers may be more likely to experience connection issues, interference and slower connections over longer ranges, particularly with data intensive uses like HD streaming and online gaming, than with dual band routers like the BT Smart Hub and EE Smart Hub.

Comparison

Of the providers compared in the price table above, BT, Talktalk and Zen broadband offer dual band routers with their standard ADSL broadband services. This only serves to highlight the lack of value for money offered all-round by EE’s standard broadband package.

EE Fibre Broadband Review

There are four fibre packages offered by EE starting at £28.00 a month and with speeds ranging from 36 Mbps - 300 Mbps. These packages are: Standard Fibre, Fibre Plus, Fibre Max 1 and Fibre Max 2. All EE fibre deals come with the new EE Smart Hub free of charge.

As there is a wider range of fibre broadband packages in general, we have decided to split the price analysis into three sections so that we can adequately review EE’s fibre prices and value for money. The first will look at EE’s basic fibre package, which has the slowest speeds; the second will look at EE’s midrange Fibre Plus package; and the third will look at EE’s ultrafast fibre.

Price: Basic Fibre

This basic fibre package is £28.00 a month for new customers entering an 18 month contract and £37.00 at month 19. It averages speeds of 36 Mbps - the lowest of the EE fibre four. Like the Standard Broadband, this package is slapped with a pretty luring introductory offer, though not the cheapest on the market - that goes to Talktalk at £22.45 for the first 24 months.

In terms of full price, we can see that EE’s basic fibre misses out on top spot in the battle for the most expensive with BT and does so by only 99p, a very slim margin indeed. However, we must remember that BT offers unlimited weekend calls and EE doesn’t.

If we replicate the configuration of the BT deal with EE’s basic fibre broadband by adding its full price of £37.00 with the price of unlimited weekend calls at £2.00, we can see that it takes the lead over BT as the most expensive deal.

Package (June 2019) Speeds Intro price (initial term) Contract Full price (after initial term) Extra fees
EE Fibre 36 Mbps £28.00 18 months £37.00 None
BT Super Fast Fibre Essential 36 Mbps £31.99 18 months £37.99 £9.99 delivery
Talktalk Unlimited Fibre Broadband 38 Mbps £22.45 24 months £36.00 None
Plusnet Unlimited Fibre 36 Mbps £24.50 12 months £34.98 £25.00 activation
Zen Broadband Unlimited Fibre 35 Mbps £31.99 12 months £31.99 £19.99 activation
Direct Save Superfast Fibre Broadband 1 35 Mbps £22.95 12 months £29.95 None
Vodafone Superfast 1 35 Mbps £24.00 18 months £27.00 None

Basic Fibre price verdict

The pricing of EE’s basic fibre package follows the same trend as the basic ADSL broadband. It offers great introductory prices but when it comes to post-initial-term full prices, the basic fibre becomes quite expensive.

For consumers that aren’t looking to switch their broadband provider every 12-18 months, EE really isn’t the best option. Vodafone Superfast 1 is the cheapest fibre deal at full price, followed by Direct Save and Zen Broadband. Though vodafone may be the most affordable, Direct Save and Zen Broadband offer better customer service. Zen even offers a lifetime price guarantee - no increases, ever.

Fibre plus

With boosted speeds and lower prices, EE’s Fibre Plus broadband starts to show signs of better value for money than its major competitors, though not quite to the extent that it’s the best package available. This is to say, it does not feature in the top three most expensive packages - positions currently occupied by BT and Virgin Media.

The Fibre Plus package will cost new customers £32.00 for an 18 month contract and £42.00 after. For the price you pay, you get enhanced download speeds of 67 Mbps - almost double that of the basic fibre.

Package (June 2019) Speeds Intro price (initial term) Contract Full price (after initial term) Extra fees
EE Fibre Plus 67 Mbps £32.00 18 months £42.00 None
BT Superfast Fibre 2 67 Mbps £39.99 18 months £47.99 £9.99 delivery
BT Superfast Fibre 50 Mbps £35.99 18 months £43.99 £9.99 delivery
Virgin Media M50 54 Mbps £28.00 12 months £44.00 £35.00 activation
Talktalk Unlimited Fibre Speed Boost 67 Mbps £26.50 18 months £41.00 None
Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra 66 Mbps £27.99 12 months £39.98 £25.00 activation
Zen Unlimited Fibre 2 66 Mbps £38.99 12 months £38.99 £19.99 activation
Sky Superfast Fibre 59 Mbps £24.50 18 months £37.00 None
Direct Save Superfast Fibre 2 63 Mbps £29.95 12 months £34.95 None
Vodafone Superfast 2 63 Mbps £27.00 18 months £32.00 None

Fibre Plus price verdict

This EE fibre boost package offers better value for money that both BT deals and Virgin Media’s M50 fibre package, especially when you consider the price you pay for download speeds. The Virgin Media M50, for example, offers average download speeds almost 20 Mbps slower than EE’s Fibre Plus, yet charges more during and after customers’ initial terms, £35.99 and £43.99, respectively.

The cheaper deals in this range, which includes Vodafone’s Superfast 2 and Direct Save Telecom’s Superfast Fibre, boast speeds not too far off from the 67 Mbps benchmark. Both offer consumers 63 Mbps. The price you pay for the speed - 4 Mbps less - is about £10 or so less than the Fibre Plus.

Price: Ultrafast Fibre

The field of ultrafast fibre in the UK is pretty small, giving EE has less competition to deal with. The major providers that offer ultrafast fibre are EE, BT and Virgin Media. Virgin Media gives consumers the largest range of options with three different deals, followed by EE with two and BT with one.

Package (June 2019) Speeds Intro price (initial term) Contract Full price (after initial term) Extra fees
EE Fibre Max 1 145 Mbps £42.00 18 months £49.00 None
EE Fibre Max 2 300 Mbps £48.00 18 months £54.00 None
BT Ultrafast Fibre Plus 145 Mbps £54.99 18 months £59.99 £9.99 delivery
Virgin Media M350 362 Mbps £43.00 12 months £59.00 £35.00 activation
Virgin Media M200 213 Mbps £38.00 12 months £54.00 £35.00 activation
Virgin Media M100 108 Mbps £33.00 12 months £49.00 £35.00 activation

Ultrafast Fibre Price verdict

This is where EE achieves most value for money. Let’s take a look at the first tier of deals with speeds below the 200 Mbps mark. EE’s Fibre Max 1 costs new customers £42.00 for the first 18 months and is then charged at £49.99. The average download speeds for this package is 145 Mbps.

When we look at the Virgin Media M100, with average download speeds of 108 Mbps and charged at £33.00 for 12 months and £49.00 thereafter, we can see that EE gives us a better deal in the long run: for the same price you get better speeds.

Sure, Virgin Media gives us a better introductory offer, but if you’re not looking to switch your provider after your initial term, you’re better off going with EE. BT, although offering the same 145 Mbps as EE, is more expensive in every regard.

With the fibre packages above the 200 Mbps mark, which includes the EE Fibre Max 2, Virgin Media M200 and M350, we get mixed returns. Compared to the M200, the Fibre Max 2 offers betters speeds for the same full-price, giving it an advantage in the long run. But with the M350 you can get a very impressive 362 Mbps for just £5.99 more after your initial period. Both, by the way, have cheaper introductory prices.

EE Fibre Speeds

EE fibre is advertised with a range of impressive speeds. What actually matters, however, is real-time averages over a given period of time. Luckily for us, Ofcom has made it easy to look behind the curtain with a broadband speed report published this year (2019).

The report shows data for only the basic Fibre and Fibre Plus packages. Since the Fibre Max plans are quite new, they don’t feature in the report. Nonetheless, we can judge the quality of EE’s internet service based on the available date.

Package Maximum Average 24 Hours average Peak-time average Minimum Average
EE Fibre 36 Mbps 33.2-35.5 Mbps 32.5-34.8 Mbps 32.2-34.5 Mbps 29.0-31.7 Mbps
EE Fibre Plus 67 Mbps 61.3-66.2 Mbps 60.0-64.9 Mbps 59.4-64.5 Mbps 54.5-59.8 Mbps

Fibre speeds verdict

Ofcom shows that the basic fibre deal at 36 Mbps averages a real-time maximum of 33.2-35.5 Mbps is within touching reach of the advertised speed. Over a 24 hour period the average drops slightly to 32.5-34.8 Mbps and does so again during peak broadband usage hours - 8pm-10pm.

Whilst this shows us that EE doesn’t quite reach the 36 Mbps mark, the general data shows that, comparatively, EE outperforms BT, Plusnet, Sky and Talktalk in delivering speeds closest to the advertised average in this range.

EE’s Fibre Plus package performs at a slightly lower level. It doesn’t get quite as close as the basic fibre to its advertised speed on any of the averages calculated by Ofcom. The data shows that it is outperformed only by BT’s full fibre to the home connection (FTTP) advertised at 67 Mbps.

How your fibre is deliveredEE’s fibre broadband is delivered through your local street cabinet rather than directly to your home. This is known as a fibre to the cabinet connection (FTTC). To learn more about different types of fibre connections, take a look at this fibre optic broadband guide.

Overall, EE’s fibre download speeds perform strongly. The service provided by EE does well to get within touching distance of its advertised download speeds whilst outperforming its major competitors.

EE Router Review: Fibre

The new EE Smart Hub accompanies every fibre broadband package and you don’t have to pay a penny for it. It takes over from the Bright Box 2 and comes with enhanced automated or ‘smart’ capabilities, as the name suggests.

Unlike the Bright Box 1, the Smart Hub is a dual band router, which means that it can use two frequencies (2.4GHz and 5GHz) to transmit two wireless signals. This greatly improves wifi performance and is less likely to result in problems with connectivity or interference. The fastest data transmission speed possible between router and device over a wireless connection is 1700 Mbps.

The hub comes with 4 gigabit ethernet ports for incredible data transfer speeds over a wired connection; it also includes 1 usb port and seven internal antennas for stronger, smoother connections over multiple devices.

Its smart wireless capabilities refers to automatic channel-switching. The router automatically scans for the best channels over two bands and selects the least congested to connect your device to the internet, meaning it maintains the best connection for your device. BT, Sky, Talktalk and Virgin Media also offer routers with automatic channel-switching.

Fibre router verdict

EE’s Smart hub is a significant improvement on the Bright Box 1 offered with standard ADSL broadband. Customers will experience an enhanced connectivity and are less likely to suffer from faulty connections. It is a great accompaniment to its fibre deals.

EE Reviews: Customer feedback

Purchasing broadband and fibre isn’t just all about fast speeds and connectivity, customer service plays a big part. Unfortunately, EE’s customer service doesn’t appear to get a lot of praise from customers. However, it does perform better than other providers statistically according to telecoms regulator Ofcom.

Trustpilot

Anecdotal feedback from customers on Trustpilot reveal a poor record of communication and customer service. EE’s trustpilot page has amassed over 3,500 reviews, 14% of which rate the provider as great (3%) or excellent (11%).

Eighty-four percent of customers rate it below average; out of this 84%, 4% rate the provider as poor and 80% give a bad rating. EE joins BT, Sky, Plusnet, Vodafone and Virgin Media in receiving an overall 1/5 star rating on Trustpilot.

Ofcom

On the other hand, the latest ofcom complaint handling report, published in 2018, reveals that it receives the second least complaints per 100,000 customers of all broadband providers. Ofcom data shows that EE have experienced a significant decrease in complaints per 100,000 customers from 2016 (26) to the end of the third quarter in 2018 (8).

Of all the major providers, only Sky received less complaints than EE. Vodafone, Talktalk and Plusnet received the most with 27, 23 and 22, respectively. The industry average for complaints received is 15. EE does well to perform better than the industry average.

TechXpert Verdict

Although EE offers great introductory prices, what is, perhaps, the most crucial comparison is between the post-introductory price increases. This is because consumers have become increasingly reluctant to switch providers.

This trend means that you are more likely to stick with your broadband package way beyond the introductory period and long after the full price has been applied. So don’t be lured by introductory offers alone and be sure to consider full prices when choosing a deal.

With this in mind, EE’s standard ADSL broadband deal would not benefit consumers at all, especially given the uniformity of the national average ADSL broadband speed. It is the most expensive deal, after all. You’re better off looking for a cheaper deal.

The fibre packages gives consumer more food for thought. EE offers competitive prices and is consistent in delivering download speeds close to the advertised average, more so than its major competitors. These deals are definitely worth considering.

As for whether EE broadband is any good: Its speeds consistently outperform those of Sky, Plusnet, Talktalk and BT - with the exception of BT’s fibre to the premises (FTTP) package. Not only that, it receives less complaints than all of them except Sky. EE’s broadband service certainly has a lot going for it, especially when you look at its fibre deals.

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Broadband Reviews