EE Broadband review: Persuasive offerings, particularly for EE customers
The EE brand may be primarily associated with mobile phone services, but its home internet offerings are well worth a look too. From affordable ADSL connections up to the exceptional 300Mbits/sec G.fast options, there really is something for everyone.
There’s a special bonus for EE mobile customers too: signing up to EE Broadband gets you a generous extra 10GB a month of mobile data – and on the most expensive packages, that’s doubled to 20GB a month. There are no sneaky download caps or speed-throttling policies (as you’d hope in this day and age) and the service comes with EE’s Smart Hub router, which delivers fast Wave 2 802.11ac Wi-Fi and four Gigabit Ethernet sockets. For an initial setup fee of £15, it’s a bit of a bargain.
Alongside your broadband package, you can also get online TV services from EE. A monthly cost of £8 gets you a dedicated set-top box, with basic access to more than 70 Freeview channels, plus internet services like BBC iPlayer and YouTube. It’s integrated into the Now TV system, so premium channels like Sky One and Sky Sports can be added via a monthly pass – and you can watch on up to four other devices simultaneously.
Note though that if it’s the Now TV offering that you’re chiefly interested in, there’s no need to pay a monthly fee for a set-top box: you can install the app for free on many smart TVs and mobile devices, or buy a standalone Now TV Smart Stick for just £20.
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EE Broadband review: What’s on offer?
EE’s basic internet service is called, unassumingly enough, “Standard Broadband”. It’s an ADSL2+ connection rated at 10Mbits/sec; that’s absolutely fine for emails, instant messaging and browsing the web, but it’ll struggle if you want to watch high-definition streaming video in multiple rooms at once, and it won’t handle 4K streaming at all. The service costs £21 per month on an 18-month contract, which is pretty good value – especially if you factor in the 10GB of mobile data, which would cost you £16 a month on its own. If you’re with a different mobile provider, however, then Sky Broadband’s equivalent ADSL service works out cheaper, at only £18 a month.
The rest of EE’s services are fibre-based, and they run over the nationwide Openreach network, so they’re available in all the same areas as most other ISPs’ offerings. These start with a standard Fibre package costing £27 a month on an 18-month contract. That’s a competitive deal, offering a standard download speed of 36Mbits/sec – easily enough for 4K streaming and download duties. Again, the price includes a 10GB mobile data bonus, and unlike some other providers, EE doesn’t sting you with a price hike once your 18 months are up.
If you want a faster connection, the Fibre Plus package delivers almost twice the bandwidth, with a claimed average download speed of 67Mbits/sec. That’s fast enough to play two 4K movies simultaneously on different devices. It costs £31 a month, and as a sweetener the setup fee is waived. Everything else is the same: you get the same Smart Hub router, and the same mobile data boost.
For those craving the absolute top speeds, EE also offers two “Fibre Max” services, based on the latest G.fast technology. Currently these are only available in a few areas, but you can easily find out if your home is covered using the line speed checker on EE’s website.
If you can get Fibre Max, there are two speed tiers on offer. Fibre Max 1 costs £40 a month on a standard 18-month contract for average download speeds of 145Mbits/sec, while Max 2 comes in at £47 and more or less doubles the speed to a huge 300Mbits/sec. This is one of the fastest connections in the business – only Virgin Media is faster, with its Vivid 350 service offering 362Mbits/sec – and frankly it’s far more bandwidth than most homes need. If you have multiple family members wanting to watch streaming video and play games at once, however, this connection will guarantee that everything goes smoothly.
As a bonus, both Fibre Max packages include a huge 20GB mobile data boost – and, of course, that fast Smart Hub router. The only minor catch is that an engineer will have to visit your home to install a G.fast box, for which you’ll pay a one-off fee of £25.
Here’s how EE’s different broadband services stack up:
EE broadband prices and packages
|EE Standard Broadband||EE Fibre Broadband||EE Fibre Plus Broadband||EE Fibre Max 1 Broadband||EE Fibre Max 2 Broadband|
|Price per month, including line rental||£21||£27||£31||£40||£47|
|Contract length||18 months||18 months||18 months||18 months||18 months|
EE Broadband review: How fast is it?
EE fared very well in Ofcom’s last ISP performance survey, carried out in November 2017. The Standard Broadband package, which is officially rated at 10Mbits/sec, actually delivered rather faster average download speeds of 12.7Mbits/sec over a 24-hour period. The only ISP that did better was Plusnet, which averaged 12.9Mbits/sec.
And while EE’s fibre services didn’t overachieve in quite the same way, they delivered on their promises. On the standard Fibre Broadband package, Ofcom’s testers saw an average download speed of 35.7Mbits/sec over a 24-hour period – more or less spot on the claimed 36Mbits/sec. And on the Fibre Plus service, advertised as a 67Mbits/sec service, download speeds averaged a very close 64.9Mbits/sec.
This is all very reassuring, but it’s worth noting that other ISPs weren’t far behind. Fibre feels fast, regardless of who you get it from. Ofcom hasn’t yet tested the new G.fast services, but based on the performance of EE’s ADSL and regular fibre services, it’s reasonable to expect that you’ll get close to the advertised speeds.
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EE Broadband review: Customer satisfaction
Ofcom’s latest consumer satisfaction report (published in May 2018) makes pretty positive reading for EE, with 79% of customers reporting that they were happy with their internet service. For context, the best score in the industry was attained by Plusnet with 86%, while the lowest was TalkTalk’s 72%.
EE also doesn’t do badly when it comes to customer complaints: Ofcom recorded 61 complaints per 100,000 subscribers in 2017, against an industry average of 75. Perhaps more significantly, 59% of customers who did complain reported that they were happy with the way their issue was handled. That’s the best result in the business, edging out Sky Broadband’s 57% and a long way ahead of last-place TalkTalk on 40%.
EE Broadband review: Verdict
EE’s broadband offerings are very persuasive. There’s a decent range of speeds to choose from, all at reasonable prices, and in independent tests they consistently live up to their performance promises. Customer satisfaction ratings are good, and the router is one of the best around, ensuring that your home network runs quickly and smoothly.
If you’re still not convinced, the clincher might be the data boost. If you’re an EE mobile customer (or if you can easily switch), this could slash your mobile bills, making EE not only one of the UK’s best ISPs but also effectively the cheapest.