flame Compare Deals and save hundreds of pounds Sim Only Deals Phone Deals

EE Network Review

23rd November 2023

EE Coverage and Network

EE is one of the biggest and fastest networks in the UK. Now owned by BT, tests suggest its 4G and 5G download speeds and coverage are either the best in the UK or a close second.

EE’s 4G network currently reaches over 99% of the UK population and more than 86% of the UK’s landmass. On top of that, EE was also the first UK network to offer a 5G service, which takes speeds to a whole other level, and as with 4G it’s got extremely competitive levels of 5G coverage – though no network yet has UK-wide 5G coverage.

So speeds are high, coverage is good, and on top of that EE offers tethering, Wi-Fi Calling, and VoLTE, as well as free roaming beyond Europe on some plans (all detailed below). But this comes at a cost, as EE can be a little more pricey than other networks and it doesn’t have all the extras found on some rivals, such as data rollover on Pay Monthly.

EE has won numerous awards, with the Mobile Industry Awards for example awarding it network of the year in 2023.

It was also rated the fastest mobile network and the best network for data in the Uswitch 2023 mobile awards, so EE is clearly a well-regarded network. Below we’ll look at whether that’s deserved.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Great coverage

Pricey

Fast speeds

No data rollover other than on PAYG

Roaming beyond Europe on some plans

 

Our Verdict 

Table of Contents

Plans

EE has a range of Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans available, as well as Pay As You Go bundles, and all of them come with 4G at no extra cost – and the majority also come with 5G.

EE Mobile Plans
  Mobile Phones SIM Only Data only SIM
Plans available
Max Data Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Contract lengths 24 months 1, 12 or 24 months 1 or 24 months

EE’s Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans are split into three categories: Essentials, All Rounder, and Full Works (though they’re not always clearly labelled as such). The Essentials ones are basic plans where you’re only really paying for your allowances, and data speeds top out at 100Mbps, which is fast but doesn’t offer the full potential of 5G.

At the time of writing these plans do also come with access to Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, and Apple Arcade free for six months though. They also let you gift your data to other plans on your account, and offer ‘Stay Connected Data’, which lets you keep using data at 0.5Mbps speeds when you run out. That’s awfully slow but better than nothing.

If you’re basically happy with that but don’t want your speeds capped, then there’s also an Essentials Max option.

Then there’s All Rounder plans, which don’t limit your speeds, and – on top of the features above – additionally come with one ‘Inclusive Extra’ of your choice.

These extras – on SIM Only or with an Android phone – include a subscription to Netflix, Apple Music, TNT Sports on Discovery+, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, or Microsoft 365. Alternatively you can get a Roam Abroad Pass (which lets you roam in a wide range of destinations at no extra cost), or an Entertainment Data Pass (which lets you stream content from select services without it coming out of your data allowance). This benefit is active for the duration of your contract.

If you choose an iPhone with an All Rounder plan then you’ll instead be able to choose between Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, TNT Sports on Discovery+, Microsoft 365, a Roam Abroad Pass, and an Entertainment Data Pass.

Finally, there’s Full Works, though there’s two versions of this. First up there’s the Full Works Plan for iPhone, which is designed for iPhone customers and includes a subscription to Apple One. This gives you access to Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud Plus storage. Plus, customers of this plan also get a Roam Abroad Pass, so they can roam at no extra cost in numerous places.

Some cheaper iPhone plans alternatively let you add Apple One for just £5 per month.

The other version is the Full Works Plan for Android, which includes any three Inclusive Extras from the same selection as All Rounder plans.

All Rounder and Full Works plans also come with the ability to Upgrade Anytime, meaning you can upgrade your handset before the end of you contract – though this can come at an additional cost, depending on when you want to upgrade.

Taking all of the above into account, EE’s Pay Monthly plans stand out due to higher 4G speeds than rival networks along with numerous freebies and unlimited data plans. But often high prices hold them back slightly, and while free roaming can be had beyond the EU, the selection of locations is limited.

You’ll find similar pros and cons on its SIM Only plans, though the contracts here are potentially shorter.

EE also offers Data Only plans for tablets, MiFi devices and dongles. These, as the name suggests, come with data but no minutes or texts, and you can get up to unlimited data.

Pay As You Go

EE Pay As You Go Plans
  Mobile Phones
Plans Available

Add-ons available

Max Data Allowance

125GB

Add-on expiry 

30 days

Top Up Expiry

180 days inactivity

Tethering

EU Roaming

Global Roaming

EE additionally offers a range of Pay As You Go bundles, each of which lasts 30 days and automatically recurs.

EE's Pay As You Go packs stand out by letting you roll over your data from one month to the next.

As well as the packs themselves, every couple of months you'll get a free data boost. The longer you stay, the more data you get. You'll unlock a new level of data for every two monthly packs you buy in a row, giving you an extra 500MB, then 1GB, then 1.5GB etc. These boosts last the duration of your pack, and the boosts can keep growing for up to a year.

Boosts reward commitment and if you stick with EE’s Pay As You Go service it can become very good value, but its standard rates aren’t the most competitive, as once your pack runs out you’ll pay 40p per minute and 20p per text. Data use is limited to packs and add-ons.

Extras and benefits

EE offers a number of extras and benefits, as you can see in the chart below. Further details of these can be found underneath the chart, but the main highlight is arguably its ‘Inclusive Extras’, which we’ve also discussed above.

EE Mobile Perks
  Mobile Phones SIM Only Data only SIM
5G
Roaming
Tethering
VoLTE
WiFi Calling
Data Rollover
Spending Caps
Unlimited Data
Family Plans
Credit Check
Unique Benefits ✔* ✔* ✔*

* selected plans only

5G

EE offers 5G as standard on most plans, including SIM Only plans and 5G device plans. Since 5G comes as standard you won’t pay any extra for it, though EE is one of the most expensive UK networks anyway.

Roaming Destinations

EE charges £2.29 per day to roam  - within your allowances and up to a fair usage limit of 50GB - in the following 48 destinations: Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin (French), Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City (Italy).

This all only applies to customers who joined or upgraded after July 7th, 2021, though. Those who didn’t will keep free roaming for the duration of their contracts.

You can also get a Roam Abroad pass, which allows you to roam for free in these places as well as the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand, for 53 destinations in total.

This is available as an optional free Inclusive Extra on select plans, or you can add it to your plan for £25 per month.

Tethering

EE offers tethering as standard on all of its plans, and you can use as much data as you want for it, up to your overall data allowance – though bear in mind you’ll then be left with no data to use on your phone until the next month.

That’s unless you have unlimited data of course. In that case you can use as much data as you want up to a fair use limit of 600GB per month. EE also reserves the right to move you to a “more suitable plan” if you regularly tether 12 or more devices.

WiFi Calling

EE offers Wi-Fi Calling as standard on its Pay Monthly plans, meaning you can call or text (as well as receiving calls and texts) over Wi-Fi. It does this seamlessly without an app and is handy if you’re ever somewhere without a signal but with a Wi-Fi connection.

However, it’s not available on all handsets, though it does work on all 'compatible' handsets when bought directly from EE.

Many handsets not bought from EE should also work with Wi-Fi Calling, but the network can’t guarantee their compatibility. Wi-Fi Calling also isn’t available on Pay As You Go or when abroad.

VoLTE

VoLTE stands for Voice Over LTE, and on EE the service is called 4G Calling. That name tells you most of what you need to know – it lets you make calls over 4G. The big advantage of this is improved voice quality, but it also means you can make calls when you’re somewhere that has 4G coverage but not 3G or 2G.

It works across EE’s entire 4G network but only on select handsets. To guarantee it will work you should buy your handset direct from EE, but VoLTE should also work on some phones when not bought from EE.

Data rollover

EE doesn’t offer data rollover on most plans, but you can get it on Pay As You Go. This means that with a Pay As You Go pack, you’ll be able to roll over your unused data from one month to the next, giving you a second chance to use it.

Spending caps

EE allows you to set spending caps, so you can restrict any additional usage and spending outside your general allowances. You don’t have to set a cap at all, but if you do want to then it can be set at between £0 (so you can’t accidentally spend any extra) and £50.

This will restrict charges for things like out of allowance calls and texts, calling abroad, and premium numbers, among other things.

Unlimited data

EE offers unlimited data on many of its plan types, including SIM Only, Pay Monthly, and Data Only plans, as well as home broadband and mobile broadband ones. The only real plans that don’t offer this as an option are Pay As You Go ones.

Note that there is a fair usage policy when using unlimited data with a phone though, which states that you shouldn’t use over 600GB per month, or regularly tether 12 or more devices, and that you can’t use more than 50GB per month when roaming.

Family plans

With EE you can get what it calls a Family Account, which lets you add additional lines to your plan, with up to a 30% discount on each additional one. You can also gift your data to other people on the Family Account.

Credit checks

EE will carry out a credit check when you sign up for any plan, other than Pay As You Go. This is standard practice across mobile networks, with contracts on any network typically requiring a credit check, but it’s something to bear in mind.

Unique benefits

The main unique perk to EE is its Inclusive Extras, which we’ve detailed above as they’re a core part of many of the network’s plans.

In short though they let you choose between one and three benefits that you can access at no extra cost for the duration of your contract, with the selection including the following:

Netflix, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, TNT Sports on Discovery+, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft 365, a Roam Abroad Pass (which lets you roam abroad in many places without fees), and an Entertainment Data Pass (which lets you stream content from select services without it coming out of your data allowance). Though note that not all of these are offered on all plans.

Similarly, some plans grant you access to Apple One, which includes Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud Plus storage.

EE also offers ‘Stay Connected’, a service which means that if you run out of data you can still keep using it, just at a much lower speed of 0.5Mbps. Your speed will return to normal when your allowances reset, or if you buy a data add-on. This is a perk of most plans on the network.

WiFi Coverage Boost is another perk, and this is available to all mobile customers. This offers free and seamless access to over 150,000 securely encrypted BT Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK, including in places like the London Underground, so you can stay connected in more locations.

Network

Coverage

EE Network Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

5G

Now available in over 1,000 locations

4G 

>99%

3G

98% (switching off in 2024)

2G

99%

Check EE Coverage

As well as 4G, EE of course offers 5G coverage. The network switched on its 5G service in six cities on May 30th, 2019, making it the UK’s first 5G network. Since then it has brought 5G to numerous additional locations for over 1,000 towns, cities, and smaller communities in total at the time of writing.

EE has over 99% population coverage with 4G, which likely puts it ahead of most rivals (though every UK network claims to have at least 99% 4G population coverage).

EE’s 4G is also more widespread than its 3G or 5G, so it’s the network type you’ll probably spend the most time on if you’re with EE, unless you’re lucky enough to get a 5G signal in your home or office.

Network speeds

OpenSignal – Mobile Network Experience, September 2023, and April 2020
Network Download/upload speeds 4G latency (ms)
EE 40.0/9.3Mbps 36.0ms
Three 34.5/6.3Mbps 48.3ms
Vodafone 27.9/8.0Mbps 39.0ms
O2 20.9/5.0Mbps 38.1ms

EE delivered the highest download speeds in Opensignal's September 2023 mobile network tests, recording average speeds of 40.0Mbps. Its upload speeds are the best too at an average of 9.3Mbps. These speeds use a combination of all available network types – so 5G, 4G and 3G.

Latency results weren’t included, but they can be found in an earlier April 2020 report, in which the network also fared well, leading the pack with a latency of 36.0ms. Latency is the delay experienced when sending and receiving data on the network and is an important consideration to those who play online games.

When operating purely on 5G, EE’s speeds are higher than in the chart of course, with a median of 144.6Mbps according to 2023 data from RootMetrics, while according to September 2023 results from Opensignal, EE has an average 5G download speed of 99.5Mbps.

That’s fast but Three has the edge here, as it recorded average 5G speeds of 205.5Mbps and a median 5G download speed of 202.2Mbps. For reference, Vodafone managed an average of 114.3Mbps, so it also beat EE in that test (though typically doesn’t) and O2 trailed with 77.0Mbps.

Traffic Management

EE’s current traffic management policy doesn’t appear to limit the amount or speed of your data beyond the standard terms of your contract – so for 5G speeds you’ll need a 5G plan, for example.

However, EE adds that it reserves the right to manage your use of the network in order to protect it for the use of all customers, and may therefore apply traffic management controls from time to time.

Data speeds may also be slower when roaming.

Network Frequencies

EE Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

700MHz

n29 5G

800MHz

Band 20

4G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2600MHz

Band 7

4G

3400MHz

n78 5G

3600MHz

n77 5G

EE uses the 800MHz frequency, 1800MHz frequency, 2100MHz and 2600MHz frequency for 4G. The 800MHz frequency is long range, making it good for rural locations, but it can also penetrate walls, for strong indoor coverage. The 2600MHz frequency meanwhile is shorter range but deals well with congested areas like inner cities, and the 1800MHz and 2100MHz frequency is a middle ground. You can find in-depth details of those frequency bands in our 4G and 5G frequencies guide.

For 3G, EE uses 2100MHz, and for 2G is uses 1800MHz, though the network is becoming ever less dependent on these now that its 4G coverage is widespread.

EE also holds some spectrum in the high frequency (and therefore short range) 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz bands, which comes into play for 5G. Plus, it has some low frequency 700MHz spectrum, which it’s also using for 5G.

Customer Service

As well as speeds, allowances and coverage, customer service is a key and often overlooked aspect of a mobile network, and it’s one which right now EE doesn’t seem to excel at.

Or at least, results are a mixed bag. In a 2023 customer service report from Ofcom, it was found that 87% of EE mobile customers were satisfied with their service, but that 12% had a reason to complain and only 55% of those who made a complaint were satisfied with the way it was handled. Additionally, Ofcom received 6 complaints about EE per 100,000 subscribers, which is lower than most but not all rival networks.

Average call waiting times on EE were found to be 3 minutes and 41 seconds, which is substantially worse than the average among UK networks.

We can also look to Trustpilot, where EE has an overall score of 1.9/5 at the time of writing. That’s considered ‘poor’.

Conclusion

EE is a top-class mobile network, especially if you care about having the fastest data possible. It offers higher speeds and lower latency (at least on 4G) than any rival network, as well as competitive coverage and extras, such as inclusive roaming outside the EU.

It can be pricey, and its selection of roaming locations isn’t a match for some networks, but if you mostly plan to use your phone in the UK and aren’t on a tight budget, EE is tough to beat.

Alternatives

If you’re looking for another network with EE’s coverage then the obvious choices are 1pMobile and Lyca Mobile, as well as the China-focused CMLink.

If on the other hand you want another premium network, then consider Three, O2 or Vodafone, which all have their own network infrastructure. That means their coverage differs to EE’s, but it’s generally strong in all cases, and they have their own selections of perks and extras.


References

Mobile Networks

Sim Deals

SIM Card Triple SIM
5 GB Data Unlimited Minutes Unlimited Texts £1.00 a month View Deal
SIM Card Triple SIM
5 GB Data 1000 Minutes 1000 Texts £2.25 a month
100 International mins
View Deal
View More
Sign up for our newsletter.