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EE Coverage and Network Review

25th April 2018

EE Coverage and Network

EE is the biggest and fastest 4G network in the UK. Now owned by BT, it has the best population coverage and download speeds of any UK network.

EE’s 4G network currently reaches over 99% of the UK population, which is the equivalent of more than 86% of the UK geography. All plans come with 4G at no extra cost, and deliver average download speeds of 28.80Mbps.

So speeds are high, coverage is good and on top of that EE offers tethering, Wi-Fi Calling, VoLTE and roaming beyond the EU 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 and unlimited data allowances.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Great 4G coverage

Pricey

Fast speeds

No data rollover

Roaming beyond the EU on some plans

 

Our Verdict 

Coverage

EE Network Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

> 99%

3G

98%

2G

99%

EE's network offers excellent coverage for 4G, 3G and 2G, providing coverage to 99, 98 and 99 per cent of the UK population respectively. That puts EE in first place when it comes to overall UK coverage.

The biggest differences between the various networks comes in their 4G network coverage. This is where EE strive with 99 per cent population coverage putting them in first place head of Vodafone, O2 and Three. At this point the differences in coverage aren’t as drastic as they once were, since all networks are now at over 90%, but EE – or an EE MVNO - is still the network to be on if widespread coverage is your priority.

Use EE’s coverage checker above to find out more about EE 4G coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details on both indoor and outdoor coverage.

4G Network Coverage Comparison

Network

4G Coverage by population

EE

> 99%

Vodafone

98%

O2

99%

Three

99.8%

4G from EE is now available in hundreds of towns and cities, including the following cities:

Aberdeen, Armagh, Bangor, Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Cardiff, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Chester, Chichester, Coventry, Derby, Derry, Dundee, Durham, Edinburgh, Ely, Exeter,  Glasgow, Gloucester, Hereford, Inverness, Kingston upon Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Lincoln, Lisburn, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Newport, Newry, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Peterlee, Perth, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Ripon, Sheffield, Southampton, St Albans, St Asaph, St David’s, Salford, Salisbury, Stirling, Stoke, Sunderland, Swansea, Truro, Wakefield, Wells,City of Westminster, Winchester, Wolverhampton Worcester and York.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Networks Update, April 2018

Network

4G download speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

29.02Mbps

40.35ms

Three

22.55Mbps

47.23ms

Vodafone

20.07Mbps

40.6ms

O2

15.16Mbps

42.84ms

EE delivered the highest download speeds in OpenSignal's mobile network update in April 2018, delivering average speeds of 29.02Mbps. The network also fared well when it came to network latency, leading the pack with a latency of 40.35ms. Latency is the delay experienced when sending and receiving data on the network and is an important consideration to those who play online games.

It's worth noting that both its download speed and latency results are slightly better than OpenSignal reported in 2017, so the network is showing improvements, as well as being top of the pack.

Speedtest – Mobile Speedtest Data, Q3-Q4 2017

Network

Download/upload speeds

EE

28.80/9.29Mbps

Vodafone

17.26/8.16Mbps

Three

14.58/7.35Mbps

O2

14.11/7.13Mbps

EE also came out on top of Speedtest's Mobile Data (Q3-Q4 2017) delivering 28.80Mbps download speeds followed in second place by Vodafone this time with speeds of 17.26MBps. EE's network also delivered the highest average upload speeds of 9.29Mbps followed in second place by Vodafone.

EE Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20

4G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2600MHz

Band 7

4G

EE uses the 800MHz frequency, 1800MHz frequency 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 frequency is a middle ground. You can find in-depth details of those frequency bands in our 4G 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.

Double Speed and 4G LTE Advanced

EE offers two different service which impact on the maximum 4G speeds. Double speed 4G is offered on 4GEE and 4GEE Essential plans and delivers speeds up 20 times faster than 3G (up to 60Mbps). While, 4G+ (or LTE-Advanced) is available with 4GEE Max plans and offers speeds up to 25 times faster than 3G (up to 90Mbps). 

Double speed 4G is now available to over 80% of the UK population, with covered locations including Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

The new 4G+ technology uses EE’s 2.6GHz high capacity spectrum, and is available in large parts of Greater London, including Camden, Chelsea, Islington, Kensington, Kilburn, Notting Hill, Old Street, Shoreditch, Soho, Southbank, Southwark, The West End and Westminster. Its footprint in London is growing all the time and EE has also begun spreading 4G+ across the UK’s other busiest cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

Planned Improvements

EE is working to improve its 4G in more than 600 sites across cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff. It also plans to double the maximum speed at 900 4G sites to 100Mbps.

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 the highest speeds of around 90Mbps you’ll need a 4GEE Max plan, while 4GEE Essential plans top out at 60Mbps.

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.

Beyond that, if you hit your data allowance you won’t be able to use additional data without purchasing it first or waiting for your next bill cycle. Data speeds may also be slower when roaming.

Plans

Pay Monthly 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.

EE Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data Only

Plans Available

Max Data

60GB

40GB

30GB

Contract lengths

24 months

1 or 12 months

1, 12 or 24 months

Tethering

VoLTE

-

WiFi Calling

-

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

 

View deals

View deals

View deals

EE’s Pay Monthly plans are split into two categories: 4GEE Max and 4GEE Essential. Data speeds on 4GEE Essential plans top out at 60Mbps, and these plans also let you roam for free in the EU and give you 3 months of BT Sport.

4GEE Max Plans let you roam in the EU and beyond, adding free roaming in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, and give you the maximum possible data speeds, as well as giving you full access to BT Sport for the duration of your contract.

Pay Monthly Plan Benefits

 

4GEE Essential Plan

4GEE Max Plan

EU Roaming

Global Roaming

Max 4G Speed

60Mbps

90Mbps

Free BT Sport

3 Months

Full Contract

All Pay Monthly plans last 24 months, but some give you the option to upgrade after 12 months with no early upgrade fees, however this is only available on the priciest of tariffs, so it can be an expensive option.

Taking all of the above into account, EE’s Pay Monthly plans stand out due to higher data speeds than rival networks along with free access to BT Sport. But often high prices hold them back slightly, and while data limits can be high and free roaming can be had beyond the EU, it’s not as good for either of those things as Three.

EE’s SIM Only Plans are currently only available in the Essential variety (and don't seem to be labelled as such), so you can only roam in the EU and data speeds top out at 60Mbps - though notably they still offer higher speeds than most networks.

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.

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.

At the moment that means if you’re taking out a new plan you can use up to 60GB of data each month on a Pay Monthly plan, up to 30GB on SIM Only and up to 30GB on Data Only plans.

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 a large and ever-growing number of handsets when bought direct from EE, including the iPhone 8, iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8, Sony Xperia XZ1, HTC U11 and many more.

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.

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, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, Sony Xperia XZ1, LG G6, iPhone X and many more. 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. 

EE Pay As You Go Plans

 

Mobile Phones

Data Only

Plans Available

Add-ons available

Max Data Allowance

16GB

5GB

Add-on expiry 

30 days 30 days

Top Up Expiry

180 days inactivity 180 days inactivity

Tethering

EU Roaming

Global Roaming

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

Roaming beyond the EU is not included with any Pay As You Go packs, which is a major downside if you ever plan to use your phone abroad, but on the other hand many networks don’t offer free roaming beyond the EU on any of their plans, and you can at least tether your data.

As well as the packs themselves, every three months you'll get a free boost of data, minutes or texts. The longer you stay, the more data you get. You'll unlock a new level of data every three months to get an extra 500MB, then 1GB, then 1.5GB etc. These boosts last the duration of your pack.

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 30p per minute and 12p per text. Data use is limited to packs.

Roaming Destinations

All EE customers can roam for free in Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar (UK), Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin (French), San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Vatican City, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

That's essentially the standard selection of EU locations that all networks have to offer free roaming in, but if you're on a 4GEE Max plan you can also roam in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

Unlike some networks, EE also lets you use 4G speeds in select countries, namely Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Jersey, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the US.

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.

Although it can be hard to get a firm grasp of how good customer service is, Which? has taken a stab at it, surveying 4,026 members of the public in early 2017, and finding that EE was 13th among mobile networks, tied with Vodafone and below Three or O2, with an overall ‘customer score’ of just 50%.

The network was rated 2/5 for customer service, 2/5 for ease/speed of contacting, 2/5 for value for money and 1/5 for incentives.

It’s worth noting of course that this survey is over a year old, so things could have changed, and it may not be entirely representative in any case, especially as EE was separately found to receive well under the average number of complaints in an Ofcom study from Q3 2017.

Conclusion

EE is a top class mobile network, especially if you care about 4G. It offers more UK coverage than any other network and higher speeds, as well as extras, such as inclusive roaming outside the EU.

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


References

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