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EE UK Launch Delayed SIM-Only Superfast 4G Mobile Broadband Plans

Posted Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 (2:01 pm) by Michael Cross (Score 750)
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Mobile operator EE (4GEE) has finally launched the much delayed SIM-Only (SIM-Free) packages for their new 4G (1800MHz) superfast Mobile Broadband network. But are they worth it?

The SIM-Only deals were originally due to go live at the end of last month, when the operator first launched, but the new tariffs ended up being delayed after the operators “comprehensive testing process” took longer than expected to complete. The delay was supposed to last “a few days” but it ended up taking closer to 3 weeks.

But will customers think the plans are good value for money? A 12 month contract term applies and the data usage allowances are small. Some mobile operators, such as Three UK, offer 1 month contracts with their SIM-Only deals and bigger data allowances. On the other hand you do get “unlimited” calls and texts.

SIM-Only Plans with Unlimited Texts and Calls
500MB – £21 a month
1GB – £26
3GB – £31
5GB – £36

Customers can also Tether their phones or use VoIP (e.g. Skype) services as part of the plan. Access to BT’s national WiFi Hotspot network is also included for free. Paying an extra £5 a month will get unlimited voice and text for use while roaming but this requires a 24-month plan. On top of that there’s also access to the EE Film service and the offer of 2 for 1 cinema tickets every Wednesday.

In our view the usage allowances are too small for a 4G network and EE might have missed a trick by failing to do something better than its rivals in this department. Similarly their website, which is heavy on big-text, huge images and page folding animations, could do with some work to improve navigation and readability.

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8 Responses
  1. Sheffield Owl

    Very poor data allowances for the price they are charging

  2. DTMark

    I guess the value depends on what you’re using it for.

    As an ADSL replacement for light users, £36.00/mo doesn’t sound too bad and compares fairly favourably with ADSL + line rental, especially if it’s a lot faster. You do see “broadband for 3.49 a month!” offers, but when you work it out, it’s normally nearer 30.00/mo anyway). And, if you’re going to have a mobile anyway, what’s the point of the landline in these cases? Easy to drop that to subsidise this. It could actually lower your total monthly costs to do so.

    If your ADSL isn’t quick enough to stream stuff to your TV (based on an increasing number of YT movies being HD only, you need about 5Meg+, so that’s about half the ADSL users), then EE might open a world of possibilities you never had before.

    But that allowance is only two (HD) movies a month to your Smart TV assuming you can work out how to rig it up. As an aside, I wonder who streams movies to mobile phones on the move. My current phone would probably do it, my previous ones would have had a flat battery before the end of the film.

    Competition raises standards and at present there is none, so it’s hardly surprising that the scarcity model has high costs, poor choice and poor allowances. We’re all used to that if you live in a Market 1 exchange area; at the moment the whole of the UK (nearly) is a Market 1 4G area.

  3. Gareth Whiteside

    @DTMark, Surely a Three Sim Only deal would make more sense. £25 per month for All-You-Can-Eat data with tethering included and 1 month contract. I get around 10Mbps around Manchester on Three which is more than enough to stream HD video. Anyone paying £36 per month for such a small allowance must be a mug.

    • DTMark

      I read of quite a few who have done just that. Sadly where we are, to get a strong enough signal to get usable broadband (6 to 12Meg down, 2 to 3 Meg up) requires the dongle to go outside (we have a roof antenna). Indoors it barely manages 4Meg and the upstream is diabolical (more like 1Meg, pulling teeth time).

      So we have to have the dongle plan and the (2 year!) contracts only go to 15GB/mo after which the price becomes punitive, so with our usage PAYG is cheaper (£100/mo = 4 blocks of 7GB). It is the only broadband option here, so we have no choice anyway.

      But then 3G bandwidth is so scarce when shared; 4G should improve this.

      And when Three launched, the idea of a 15GB mobile package seemed like pie in the sky. As competition comes along, £36 for 5GB will likely seem hilarious.

  4. Kyle

    Definitely agree with the website comment; EE’s site is clunky and has features suited for ‘coming soon’ services rather than live products and services.

    I suspect that once LTE is no longer restricted to EE then we will see their package offerings increase. Whilst some claim that they have the full monopoly at the moment, with these offerings, they won’t for long once it becomes commonly offered.

  5. New_Londoner

    With “average data throughput per residential connection” currently at 23GB according to Ofcom, a data allowance of 5GB suggests this is not really suited to mainstream broadband usage, except for very light users. Any why would they pay a premium for 4G to send a few emails, browse a few web sites?

    So the data allowances suggest EE are really targeting mobile users, not those wanting this as their sole broadband access media. Which makes sense, especially when you factor in the limited coverage and remember heavy users affect the performance of others in the same cell as customers on O2 will recall when the iPhone first launched. which is why wifi access is included too.

    • DTMark

      I’d pay the increase from £100 to about £180 a month for the extra speeds. I would give it to a fixed-line ISP, but sadly there’s only a phone network here with narrowband ADSL2+, there is no fixed-line network offering broadband.

      No competition here = scarcity model, high prices, poor choice, poor services.

      And EE know this.

      It looks to me as if the underwhelming pricing is deliberate. What they don’t want, at this early stage, are swathes of people ditching landlines swamping the service immediately.

      The irony of this, of course, is that for the country to have such abysmal fixed line services that hanging a dongle out of a window brings about massive improvements means that one scarcity model follows the other.

      An article on here today suggests speeds of 17Meg are being achieved with 4G, which I suspect isn’t going to be too far off the average FTTC speeds when the rollout is finished.

      Now all it needs is a little competition from other operators like Three who I’m led to believe have more cells per sq mile because of the frequencies they have to use, which in turn may mean they have more bandwidth to play with and would explain how they are both the fastest and offer the most data transfer.

      While EE’s announced prices might bring some comfort to BT I still think that the underwhelming “least effort” FTTC upgrade path has been misjudged (way too little, too late) and BT are going to be rather surprised later on. We’ll look to see if the number of fixed-line broadband connections falls as 4G gets going, and I’ll bet that it does.

    • New_Londoner

      @DTMark
      Your continual use of your own personal definition of “broadband” is interesting but confusing, ADSL does deliver broadband, and certainly performs better on average than 3G does. You happen to be below average for ADSL and well above average for 3G.

      In terms of how well FTTC performs, suggest you read the report Ofcom published yesterday + its early report on broadband speeds. The current average is over 60Mbps, with very few lines delivering less than 30Mbps, which is well above the likely performance of 4G.

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