Compare EE mobile broadband deals
By Dan Howdle | Wednesday, March 25th 2020
In this guide
- What is EE mobile broadband?
- Do I need EE mobile broadband?
- EE coverage and data speeds
- Which other providers offer mobile broadband?
- Frequently asked questions
EE still boasts the most expansive UK network and the fastest mobile data speeds. And that applies as much to mobile broadband as it does to the data you send and receive from your phone or tablet. Whether you're getting 4G or 5G from EE on mobile, to a MiFi device or 4G/5G home router, your speeds are likely to be faster than competitors.
EE offers the full gamut of mobile broadband options, including home routers, data-only SIMs and a wider range of portable MiFi devices, with one particular device, the Netgear Nighthawk M2, providing a router in your (large) pocket that competes with the capabilities of a home router. Let's get into the details.
What is EE mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband is broadly defined as any means of broadband connectivity you can take with you when you leave your home or office. This includes portable MiFi routers, regular mobile SIMs, and data-only SIMs for tablets and such. Expanding that definition is mobile home broadband, which offers a router for your home which is supplied via a 4G or 5G mobile network. Here's a slightly more detailed look at the various types. This should help you better understand which is the best option for you.
- EE 4G home broadband routers – EE has just one 4G home broadband router. Designed to replace your home broadband connection, the 4GEE Home Router is meant to be stationery in your home the same way your typical home router is
- EE 5G home broadband routers – EE offers two 5G broadband routers. One, the 5GEE Home Router with Antenna is similar to the 4GEE Home Router described above, except of course it will receive a 5G broadband signal provided you live somewhere it is available. The other is more interesting. The HTC 5G Hub can operate in the same way as the 5GEE Home Router with Antenna, but with the additional functionality that it's portable. You can pick it up and take it with you anywhere in the same way you can with a battery-operated MiFi mobile broadband device
- EE MiFi devices – A MiFi device is a mobile broadband hotspot that behaves similarly to a home broadband router. You can connect devices to it over wifi. It differs from home routers in the sense that you can take it with you wherever you go. EE offers three devices that fit this description. Two are pocket-sized – the 4GEE WiFi Mini and the 4GEE WiFi – while the third, the excellent Netgear Nighthawk M2 is larger, provides more powerful features and a longer battery life. Pop it in your bag and get fully functioning wifi wherever you go
- EE data-only SIMs – A data-only SIM is a SIM designed specifically to go inside a tablet, compatible laptop, MiFi device or mobile home broadband router. EE offers a range of SIMs of this type with various data limits, including SIMs with unlimited data
- EE SIMs for mobile hotspot tethering – Don't forget that if you need mobile broadband occasionally when you're out and about, you might not need anything more than your existing mobile data SIM. Providers, including EE allow you to tether other devices to your mobile – you can use your phone as a mobile broadband hotspot
Do I need EE mobile broadband?
Although we're now entering a time where unlimited mobile data is soon to be the norm rather than the exception, there are perhaps fewer reasons to own a dedicated mobile broadband solution than ever. That's because in our daily movements, most of us are within range of usable wifi most of the time. Still, there are some circumstances where a dedicated mobile broadband solution is applicable, and only you will know whether you're in those circumstances. Here are some situations where it may be needed.
- You have terrible fixed line broadband – If you live remotely, or just somewhere where the broadband is terrible, you might just also be somewhere where you're going to benefit from greater speeds offered by broadband delivered across EE's mobile network. If you're very lucky, you may even be able to get EE 5G
- You travel for work – If you're up and down the country all week long and need reliable broadband either as a permanent solution or as a back-up failsafe, a MiFi device from EE may be a good solution for you
- No other options – Perhaps you're in a situation where you simply can't get reliable broadband any other way. Temporary accommodation, a stay in hospital or some other reason. In these cases, a mobile broadband deal from EE, especially one on a 30-day rolling contract, might be of use
- You need a temporary solution – If you're between homes or between broadband deals for some other reason, a 30-day rolling contract mobile broadband deal might be a good fit
EE mobile broadband coverage and data speeds
You may be aware that there are many, many mobile providers in the UK. However, only four of those actually own their own networks. These are knowns as MNOs (mobile network operators), and they are O2, EE, Vodafone and Three. These four MNOs are also the providers who are most likely to offer an expansive range of mobile broadband options.
The rest of the providers in the UK are known as MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators), and these providers lease capacity (known as piggybacking) on one of the four MNO networks.
According to speedtest operators Ookla, EE offers the highest average 4G and 5G download speeds of the four UK MNOs. 4G speeds averaged 42.91Mbps on EE in November 2019, with 5G speeds averaging 205.02Mbps. On 4G, this compares to 33.32Mbps, 24.11Mbps and 22.95Mbps for Vodafone, Three and O2 respectively, and 159.48Mbps and 140.15Mbps for O2 and Vodafone respectively on 5G. Three is the latest to the party when it comes to 5G provision and so wasn't measured at the time of this study.
Which other providers offer mobile broadband?
As alluded to further in the previous section, you won't find a lot of mobile broadband available from any provider that doesn't run its own network, with a couple of exceptions. Apart from EE, here are the other providers you might want to look at for whichever mobile broadband solution most suits your needs.
- BT – Offers dongles and MiFi devices, but stops short of selling its own 4G or 5G home broadband solutions, preferring instead to switch you over to 4G broadband if your fixed line breaks down. BT Mobile operates on the EE network
- O2 – Offers 4G MiFi, dongles and of course regular SIMs. O2 does not currently offer any home broadband solution designed to replace your fixed line
- Three – Offer 4G and 5G home broadband under the newly established brand: Three Broadband. Its range of routers it complex as it depends on whether you can get 4G or 5G where you live. In addition, Three has the same MiFi device available from Virgin Mobile, described below
- Virgin Mobile – Offers just one MiFi device – the Huawei E5573BS. It will supply 4G mobile broadband to up to ten devices at the same time, and is batter operated, so you can take it anywhere
- Vodafone – Also offers a pretty full range of products in the mobile broadband category and is looking to compete in 5G home broadband
Frequently asked questions
What is EE mobile broadband?
Mobile broadband from EE offers a number of different ways to get it. There is EE home broadband, which works like a typical home router with data delivered via its mobile network. There are also portable MiFi devices which will act as mobile hotspots and are battery operated. And of course you can get data-only and regular SIMs, which can deliver mobile broadband to a tablet or to other devices via tethering.
How does EE mobile broadband work?
Just like your mobile contract, whichever type of EE mobile broadband you choose, you will have to take out a contract or either 12 months or on a 30-day rolling basis. Whichever device you use, you will typically have to pay for this up-front, though they are not expensive. The amount of data you will have access to monthly will depend both on how much you need and how much you are prepared to pay. Unlimited packages are available.
Can I get unlimited mobile broadband from EE?
Yes. Whichever type of mobile broadband you choose from EE, there will be at least one unlimited data option, though they are still rather expensive at this time.
How fast is EE 4G mobile broadband?
According to Ookla's most recent study, EE 4G mobile broadband clocks in with an average download speed of 42.91Mbps and an average upload speed of 12.69Mbps. In terms of download speeds, this is the fastest average 4G speed of any UK provider.
How fast is EE 5G broadband?
According to Ookla's most recent study, EE 5G mobile broadband download speeds clock in at 205.02Mbps, with upload speeds averaging 19.17Mbps. In terms of 5G download speeds, EE's are currently the fastest in the UK.