EE’s 4G Price Plans Reviewed: Download Limits, 4G Speeds & Roaming Costs

October 23rd, 2012

EE, the UK’s first 4G mobile network, has revealed details of their price plans. They start from £36/month with unlimited calls, unlimited texts and 500MB internet.

The UK’s first 4G mobile network is due to launch on the 30th October. EE is set to provide its 4G service in 16 major UK cities and will offer a range of 4G handsets and price plans starting from £36/month.

We’ve already taken an in-depth look at EE’s 4G service and whether it’s worth upgrading to 4G. In this article, we take a detailed look at EE’s new 4G pricing plans. We’ll look at how much you can expect to pay on EE, which of the five differing choices of data allowances is the most appropriate for you and what happens once you exceed your inclusive data allowance. We’ll also look at using your EE handset whilst abroad.

What tariffs will EE offer?

Customers on the 4G EE network will have a choice of five Pay Monthly plans starting from £36/month. All of EE’s plans will come with unlimited calls, unlimited texts and will come with an inclusive data allowance between 500MB and 8GB. The full tariff listing is as follows:

Monthly Cost Minutes Texts Internet Contract Length
£36/month Unlimited Unlimited 500MB 24 months
£41/month Unlimited Unlimited 1GB 24 months
£46/month Unlimited Unlimited 3GB 24 months
£51/month Unlimited Unlimited 5GB 24 months
£56/month Unlimited Unlimited 8GB 24 months

All tariffs come with a minimum commitment of 24 months and there may be an upfront charge for your new handset. Access to BT Openzone Wi-Fi hotspots is also included.

Customers choosing a price plan of £41/month or more will receive a free multimedia “add-on” as part of their plan. There are three add-ons to choose from: either access to the Deezer music service, access to two free game downloads each month (e.g. Asphalt 7 or Modern Combat 3) or access to live TV on your mobile phone. You can change your add-on every 30 days.

Will EE offer any Pay As You Go tariffs?

EE will not be offering any Pay As You Go tariffs at launch. This means 4G services will be restricted to contract customers.

What do download allowances of 500MB or 1GB actually mean?

We’ve got a complete guide to what download allowances such as 500MB and 1GB actually mean, but in brief they correspond to:

500MB corresponds to… 1GB corresponds to…
Basic webpages (mainly text) 5,000 10,000
Rich webpages (with multimedia, e.g. BBC) 1,500 3,000
Basic e-mails 500,000 1,000,000
Rich e-mails (with attachments) 1,000 2,000
Downloading/streaming music 100 songs 200 songs
Downloading/streaming video 1 hour 2 hours
Skype voice call 15 hours 30 hours
Skype video call 2 hours 4 hours
Listening to online radio 8 hours 16 hours
Downloading/updating apps 80 apps 160 apps

Source of estimates: O2 [1, 2]. Our testing found a Skype mobile voice call consumes around 0.55MB/minute (70kbps). Skype video call uses 4MB/minute (500kbps). Online radio calculation assumes 128kbps bitrate. Average size of app is 6.1MB (based on top 20 free Android apps).

Note that the above table shows what 500MB and 1GB correspond to: it is not a shopping list of all the things you could do with a 500MB or 1GB allowance. In other words, any item in the table would use up the entirety of your monthly download allowance. For download allowances such as 3GB, 5GB and 8GB, simply multiply the figures listed in this table.

The average consumer uses around 300MB each month on a 3G data plan. However, your data consumption on 4G could be considerably higher.

Note that EE throttles peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic to 50kbit/s from 8am to 2am. Between 2am and 8am, it is possible to use P2p services at speeds of 1.8Mbit/s.

What happens once I use up my inclusive data allowance?

According to EE, they will automatically notify you when you’re close to using up your inclusive data allowance. In order to continue accessing the internet for the rest of the month, you’ll need to buy one of EE’s data add-ons:

  • 50MB additional data for £3
  • 500MB additional data for £6
  • 2GB additional data for £15
  • 4GB additional data for £20

Your data add-on will last from the time that you purchase it until your next billing date. You will not be able to carry over any unused additional data allowances to the following month.

Does EE have a fair usage policy on “unlimited calls” and “unlimited texts”?

No, according to EE there is no fair usage policy on their unlimited calls and texts offering. According to EE’s terms and conditions:

Minutes and texts are from the UK to UK mobiles and UK landlines starting with 01, 02 and 03 (excluding Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man). No fair use policy applies to unlimited services. Normal person to person use only.

When will EE launch and in which cities can I use it?

EE will launch on October 30th in 10 cities: London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow. Another 6 cities are set to go online by the end of the year: Belfast, Derby, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton. You can use EE’s online coverage checker to see whether you’re included.

How will download speeds on 4G compare to 3G?

EE is set to be available in 16 cities by the end of the year.

If you’re on one of EE’s new 4G data plans, you can potentially experience download speeds of up to 100Mbit/s. This is only a theoretical maximum however: in reality you’d probably experience download speeds closer to 15Mbit/s. This is roughly equivalent to what you’d expect from a good home broadband connection.

If you’re on a 3G data plan from Three, O2, Orange, T-Mobile or Vodafone, you can potentially experience download speeds of up to 21Mbit/s using HSPA+ technology (up to 42Mbit/s using the iPhone 5’s DC-HSPA+ technology). Once again, 21Mbit/s (42Mbit/s) is only a theoretical maximum and in reality you’d probably get speeds closer to 4Mbit/s (8Mbit/s for the iPhone 5).

In general, there are very few activities on your phone which actually require a download speed greater than 4Mbit/s. For this reason, we believe that most customers will only see marginal benefits by switching to 4G.

For more information, check our our 3G vs 4G download speed comparison.

How much will it cost to use my EE handset abroad?

EE provides a special £5/month add-on which allows you to use your unlimited calls and texts when outside the UK. This add-on will work across the EU and in other selected countries: Armenia, Australia, China, Columbia, Croatia, Ecuador, India, Israel, Macedonia, Martinique, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Turkey and the USA.

To use the internet whilst abroad, you’ll need to buy one of EE’s roaming data add-ons.

Customers who have the £5/month travel add-on can choose between one of the following add-ons for roaming data:

  • 50p for 20MB whilst abroad (lasts for up to 24 hours)
  • £2 for 100MB whilst abroad (lasts for up to 24 hours)
  • £12.50 for 250MB whilst abroad (lasts for up to 7 days)
  • £25 for 1GB whilst abroad (lasts for up to 30 days)

These discounted roaming data add-ons can be used when travelling in the EU and other selected countries (see above).

Customers without the £5/month roaming add-on will need to pay considerably more to use the internet when abroad. This starts at £18 per 100MB when travelling in Europe and increases to £140 per 100MB in some other countries (Zone C).

Note that when travelling abroad, you may receive a 3G connection rather than a 4G connection.

What is EE Film?

“EE Film” is essentially EE’s version of Orange Wednesday. You’ll get 2-for-1 cinema tickets on Wednesdays and a free download each week from EE’s Film Store.

Will EE offer SIM Only Plans?

Yes – although you’ll have to wait until the 9th November before you can get your hands on one of EE’s SIM Only plans. If you already own a 4G LTE handset which supports connectivity in the 1800MHz band, EE has a choice of four SIM only tariffs:

Monthly Cost Minutes Texts Internet Contract Length
£21/month Unlimited Unlimited 500MB 12 months
£26/month Unlimited Unlimited 1GB 12 months
£31/month Unlimited Unlimited 3GB 12 months
£36/month Unlimited Unlimited 5GB 12 months

This comes with the same benefits as the 24-month plans (BT Openzone Wi-Fi and EE Film).

What will coverage be like on EE?

You can use EE’s online coverage checker to see whether a 4G service is provided where you live.

I’m thinking of buying the iPhone 5 with a 4G data plan. Should I bother?

If you are buying an iPhone 5 in the UK, your device will support both 3G and 4G mobile networks. This is regardless of the mobile operator that you decide to buy it from. The majority of mobile operators (including O2, Orange, Three, T-Mobile and Vodafone) will offer you a 3G price plan to go with your iPhone 5 whereas EE will offer a 4G price plan.

We’ve taken an in-depth look at whether it’s worth getting the iPhone 5 on a 4G network. Our recommendation is currently to purchase the iPhone 5 on a 3G plan. This is because lower prices are available on 3G and the majority of consumers will see few benefits from 4G.

I’m switching to EE. Can I keep my existing phone number?

Yes. You will be able to transfer your phone number to EE using a PAC Code. To obtain a PAC code, you should contact your current mobile network. They will give you with a nine-digit PAC Code which can be provided to EE customer services. This code will authorise EE to transfer your phone number to your new 4G price plan. We’ll update our PAC Code Finder with full details as soon as EE launches.

Where can I find out more about EE’s price plans?

You can find out more about EE’s new price plans on their website.

Like this tip? Get the most from your mobile phone...

  • Discover brand new ways to use your mobile phone
  • Techniques to get more out of your mobile phone for less
  • Be the first to learn about new mobile technology

Enter your email to receive free regular Ken's Tech Tips:

About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Leave a Reply

E-Mail Notifications: By default, I'll drop you an e-mail when there's a reply to your comment. If you don't want to receive such a notification, please select the "Don't Subscribe" option from the dropdown menu above.