By Dan Howdle | Wednesday, February 12th 2020
EE is hailed as the UK’s number one mobile network thanks to its extensive 4G coverage, but the communications giant also offers home broadband and fibre services to a pretty big slice of the UK customer base.
EE inherited Orange broadband customers following its acquisition of the Orange network in 2012 and has taken it from strength-to-strength under its own branding. EE's acquisition by BT in 2016 also provided more internet expertise. But EE is more than just a BT subsidiary and has fostered its own unique and respected broadband identity. So what does it have to offer in 2020?
|Average download speed||10Mbps – 300Mbps|
|Average upload speed||1Mbps – 19.5Mbps|
|Prices from||£19 per month|
EE offers three speeds for broadband customers. Standard broadband comes with an average speed of 10Mbps (previously advertised as up to 17Mbps), which is recommended for smaller households with one or two devices. There is a mid-range speed averaging 36Mbps on offer with its Fibre Broadband – most suitable for multiple users. Its fastest package, Fibre Plus Broadband, averages 67Mbps (previously advertised as up to 76Mbps), which allows for big families and shared households who want to be streaming, playing video games or just generally using the internet at the same time.
Technically, there are even faster packages from EE – those at 145Mbps and 300Mbps. However, at this stage the rollout of these faster packages is slow and it's extremely unlikely you'll be able to get either of these speeds. We mention them because EE mentions them, but don't get your hopes up.
Download speeds are an important factor in choosing broadband. 10Mbps is fine for most standard households, but you need to start looking at fibre if there is likely to be more demand on the service, such as lots of people streaming, gaming and downloading at the same time. Our guide to broadband speeds can help you choose if you're not sure which is right for you.
Another important aspect is upload speed. This will dictate how long it would take to upload a photo or file, or send an email. EE’s standard broadband package has an upload speed of 1Mbps, which is fairly average. Its 36Mbps broadband has an upload speed of 10Mbps, which beats the 9.5Mbps offered by the likes of Sky and BT. EE’s 67Mbps broadband has an upload speed of 19.5Mbps, which is also pretty standard.
All EE broadband deals come with monthly line rental and unlimited usage with no data caps or download limits. Set-up fees tend to vary depending on the deal and you may need to add a phone package if you want free calls at evenings or weekends.
You can sign up to EE broadband online, over the phone or in-store.
There is no more waiting for letters in the post from your supplier – EE will email and text you, letting you know the date of your broadband activation day.
You can also track your order online in your My EE account, once you've set it up.
The router will be delivered by post and should fit through your letterbox, so no sitting around waiting for an engineer to visit.
It will come with set-up instructions but there are also guides on the EE website on how to do it and the best places to display it, such as away from thick carpets, windows or other electrical devices. Plug your router in and turn the power on and you will see the light on the front run through several colours. Once it goes a steady aqua-blue your Hub will be ready.
EE says it will fine-tune your line when it is activated to make sure you’re getting the fastest and most reliable connection possible. You may notice your connection drops or your speed goes up and down during the first ten days while this is being done.
EE customers get a different router depending on whether they are using standard or fibre broadband. Standard broadband users get the EE Bright Box. It supports remote assistance, has four ethernet ports and a built-in dual-band antenna.
Fibre broadband customers get the slightly slicker Smart Hub (yes, that's the same Smart Hub offered by BT) to access the internet. This neat bit of tech comes with seven internal antennas, dual wi-fi bands, four ethernet ports and the ability to set when certain devices can access it. This is a great way to stop the kids playing computer games after bedtime. You can also dim or turn off the light on the Smart Hub.
This system does unfortunately create two tiers of customers, and means if you eventually want to switch from standard broadband to fibre, you will need a new router, which may result in another activation fee.
EE users should get a consistent service with no slowdowns during the day. EE used to have a traffic management policy that would limit the network at busy times, but it says it no longer does this and maintains the same level of service whatever time of day. It is worth checking its online forums though, as some customers do report times when the network seems to be slow.
EE may be owned by BT, but it doesn’t seem to have the same reliability issues as its parent company.
BT is one of the most complained about broadband providers, yet the latest Ofcom figures for 2018 show only 2% of EE customers have had reason to raise issues, which is half the industry average of 4%.
Callers wait 58 seconds on average to get through to customer services, while the typical industry waiting time is 52 seconds.
When it comes to download speeds,the latest Ofcom data, as of 2018, shows EE can be pretty reliable and offers close to what is advertised. The figures show that users paying for 36Mbps had an average maximum speed of 34.5Mbps- 35.9Mbps and a minimum of 29.7Mbps-32Mbps in 2018 – one of the best performances in the sector.
Customers on the top fibre package averaging 67Mbps hit a maximum of 57.5Mbps-62Mbps and minimum of 29.7Mbps to 32Mbps. This was the second best in the sector, just behind BT.
One area EE is a bit behind is in the length of time it will allow for repairs. Like BT – and other suppliers such as Sky and TalkTalk – it uses the Openreach network. Openreach has two services when fixing issues: one working day or two working days. EE goes for the latter, which means if your broadband goes down on a Friday night you may have to wait until Tuesday to get your internet up and running again.
There are two options for speaking to EE customer service. You can visit one of its branches or phone them at their UK or Ireland-based call centres.
EE has a live chat service on its website, but strangely this is not catered towards its broadband customers. This is a bit of a shame as it means waiting on hold or visiting a branch to get what may be a minor issue looked at.
If you don’t want the hassle of phoning them up or finding a branch, there is also an option to ask EE's online community about issues through its website forum.
There is a big window to get through on the phone though and EE does at least have one of the industry’s shortest waiting times. Phone lines are open from 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 8pm on weekends.
It can be hard to explain problems on the phone sometimes, so EE goes a step further by offering video calls. This can be for anything from helping to set up your router to solving technical issues.
EE customers get some decent benefits. If you have an EE mobile tariff and also sign up for EE broadband, you can get a free data boost of 5GB to your pay monthly mobile plan, or 12-month SIM-only plan, worth over a tenner a month.
That data allowance is boosted by 50GB if both your pay monthly and broadband plans are on Max plans. EE will even provide a £50 credit for anyone charged a termination fee by their old provider when switching services.
All EE broadband and fibre packages also come with parental controls and a year's free subscription to Norton Security Premium, which you can use to protect up to 10 different devices.
EE could have just wound down the broadband side it took on from Orange following its 2012 takeover, but instead put it to the forefront of its service. It has a strong customer service record and you get added benefits to your data if you also happen to be one of its mobile users.
Overall verdict? Definitely worth considering if you are looking for fibre broadband, and especially if you are already an EE mobile customer. Obviously if you're looking to bundle a TV package, you'll need to look elsewhere.