back to article EE 4G LTE review

EE’s LTE network went live this week, opening its 1800MHz band to the public and becoming the first, and currently only, one of the major operators to offer a 4G service. It has a six-month lead, give or take, on rivals Vodafone and O2, which have to await the outcome of Ofcom’s 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequency auctions before they …


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  1. Select * From Handle
    Thumb Down

    For 4g those speed suck....

    I have a Samsung GS3 on Three network with all you can eat data i just did a speed test 60ms ping 12342kbps (12meg)download and 4203kbs (4meg)upload. i think i was expecting speeds closer to 50meg fiber from 4g...

    1. Mr Tumnus

      Re: For 4g those speed suck....

      That sounds unlikely ... even 3's own website doesn't claim you can get 12meg download speeds currently on their network, unless you're on their new "Ultrafast" internet, which they aim to provide to 50% of people by Christmas ....

      What postcode did you test this from, and did you perhaps have wifi turned on at the same time?

      1. tybalt

        Re: For 4g those speed suck....

        A brief second with google shows other people reporting similar speed. Three seem to be the pick of the bunch for rolling our HSPA+42

        In my location three is much faster than EE.

      2. Vince

        Re: For 4g those speed suck....

        Yeah I have a Samsung Note 2 on the Three One Plan and speeds beyond 10meg are normal, even though 3 say high speed isn't out yet, they're underselling themselves.

        And it isn't Wifi on my device, never turned it on yet, no need with 3s service.

    2. ed2020
      Thumb Up

      Re: For 4g those speed suck....

      I've achieved similar speeds on Three.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For 4g those speed suck....

      Yup same here, GS3 getting 13/3mbps up/down on T-Mobile

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For 4g those speed suck....

        Getting sweet FA at work though, loads of signal but data just ain't working.

        1. Mr Tumnus

          Re: For 4g those speed suck....

          Thanks everybody for the feedback saying you get these speeds on 3. Would anyone mind posting their postcode, as previously requested? Curious to know where 3 have rolled this out, since they haven't done in my locality, which surprises me, if it's achievable elsewhere.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Robert E A Harvey

    What on earth is the point of a 4G account capped to 1 or 3 or 5G?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You will get what you want faster, it doesn't necessarily mean you will want to download more on a phone. These are phone tariffs, the data only tariffs for mobile broadband will be different.

      Incidentally, these prices seem high until you look at the 12 month contracts. If you contrast the full price of a SIM free handset plus PAYG monthly credit against the cost of a 12 month contract at £51 a month there is actually very little in it given you are getting more facilities on contract.

  4. Lee Dowling

    So, basically, not worth the cost at all then.

    Slight improvements in speed, sometimes, when you're lucky, and out and about (when you're least likely to need super-fast speeds) or right next to a window, and killing your battery to do so, and introducing pauses and confusing apps when you're moving around, and if you pay through the nose and then never bother to use it for fear of using it "too much". And the fallback is 3G, which we have, which is pretty much good enough for anything you might want to do, and is only artificially limited by the phone companies so you can't abuse it.

    Where's the advantage again? Oh, a percentage increase in maximum theoretical speed.

    P.S. and it's various nodes are often "prioritised" by ISP's because they know people will use it to see how good their connection is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Where did you get the idea that speedtest nodes are "prioritised" by ISPs? Can you provide any evidence that's true, because I find it staggeringly hard to believe

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Good comments apart from the bit about prioritising speed testers. I don't think that's very likely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I wouldn't put it past ISPs

        after all, as long as it's legal, and boosts their profits, it stinks no more than their "up to" speed boast they have exploited commercially for years.

        BUT I would like to see more than just an allegation on such practices to believe it. I would like to see something based on actual tests, and tests carried out on a wider customer base than one connection. Until then... it's nothing more than a baseless allegation.

        1. Lee Dowling

          Re: I wouldn't put it past ISPs

          Larger testing is a job for some journalist or other, preferably with IT expertise (dunno where we'll find those), but I've hit it several times.

          A dedicated server in a proper datacenter, with IP access limited to JUST the connection I was coming in from (so, literally, nobody knew the computer existed and it was blocking anybody else's packets and doing NOTHING else), and a test HTTP download of similar size to the ones, repeated several times, was slower than the result. Consistently. Repeatedly. And I was monitoring IPTRAF on promiscuous mode on the interfaces to make sure no other connections were present (e.g. upgrades, etc.). A few seconds later, a test from ANOTHER dedicated server out in another datacentre doing the same thing? Full, top speed of the connection there being used, so not a capacity / delivery issue.

          There's also several reports on the web that are similar and always have been ( is top of my google search, but by no means a shining example).

          Yes, it's anecdotal. Yes, it can vary based on Internet conditions. Yes, it could vary by Internet routes. Yes, the computers I were using could have been non-ideal (but they were clean installs and were doing only a single specific download). But a HTTP download from a random site under my control is a lot closer to a representation of HTTP download speeds from a perfectly operating server (e.g. YouTube, iPlayer, etc.) over a particular connection than could ever give me, and speedtest's result were always slightly higher. Maybe they have better infrastructure that can magically push more bytes down my connection than I can with dedicated servers the other end.

          Or maybe someone is fiddling the numbers by invoking their "traffic prioritisation" clauses in their services. Hell, almost all ISP's now are capable of slowing down or blocking access to particular websites if you hit their usage limits, have negotiated contracts with people like iPlayer, Steam, etc. to boost traffic speeds and caching. And they have a vested interest in making sure their speedtests return as high a number as possible.

          Mobile, fixed broadband, even dial-up (yes, that particular person really needed to upgrade!), I've seen these results repeat. Not all the time, not all ISP's, not always so obvious. But it's there. Test yourself, post the results.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I wouldn't put it past ISPs

            Speedtest nodes need to have at least 100meg internet connections. Did your test servers?

            How are you suggesting ISPs prioritise traffic to nodes hosted by other ISPs? You think ISPs respect other ISPs QoS tags?

            A better test would be to put Speedtest mini on your server, on a 100meg link, and see what download speeds you get from that. Without knowing a lot more about your server + network config it's difficult to say how useful your previous test was.


            1. Lee Dowling

              Re: I wouldn't put it past ISPs

              100Mbps, yes. Pretty standard fare on a dedicated server now (and Gigabit isn't unusual at all - even unmetered gigabit isn't stupidly expensive for what it is anymore in a datacenter).

              I'm suggesting they prioritise the speedtest traffic OVER other traffic across their own network. So your speedtest is actually given packet priority over the hordes of people using simple browsers and doing "everyday" Internet. It doesn't have to have an end-to-end prioritisation to make a difference. In the same way that they can throttle back torrents and iplayer and other bulk traffic (even HTTP), they are able to "not-throttle" speedtest so it gives a misleading number. I'm suggested they are running at least three tiers of content: unthrottled (speedtests etc.), normal (lower priority, but the bulk of their everyday traffic), low (torrents and other things that cause them traffic problems, including anyone who's passed their limits, etc.).

              They don't "magically" make speedtest faster or affect the way the packets are dealt with outside their network, they just make sure the speedtest packets are NOT slowed in the same way as anything else and are pushed through their network as quickly as possible (and thus quicker than an equivalent download from, say, Facebook, Google, etc. would be).

              But to be honest, I can't be sure *what* they do or *how* they do it, because I'm not them. All I know is that speedtest, and several popular testing sites, tell me that several unrelated broadband and other connections are faster than I can actually use to download day-in, day-out from unrestricted servers doing nothing else but serve me files from vastly-faster lines.

  5. Mike Brown

    Solution looking for a problem?

    At the moment at least. 3G is plenty fast enough for virtually everyone. Maybe HD streaming on tablets will require the speed, but at the mo, its not needed. Especially for the price.

    So well done EE, for getting a monopoly on something no one wants or needs. *slow clap......

  6. Mog0

    Error in article??

    From the article "Data connections made during a call will likewise only run at HSPA+ speeds"

    Is this actually correct?

    In the US only the iPhone5 has this limitation, all other handsets will use 3G voice and 4G data simultaneously. I can't imagine why the EE's network would work differently.

    1. Alan Edwards

      Re: Error in article??

      > From the article "Data connections made during a call will likewise only run at HSPA+ speeds"

      > Is this actually correct?

      Apparently, yes. To do voice and LTE data at the same time you need Voice over LTE, or VoLTE support.

      As far as I can tell VoLTE needs to be in the handset and the network. The iPhone 5 doesn't have it, but the One XL does - maybe the EE network doesn't?

      1. Annihilator

        Re: Error in article??

        @Alan - the point was that in the US the phones can apparently do 3G voice and 4G data concurrently (nothing about VoLTE). It is a bit odd that the phone can't use both 3G and 4G simultaneously but it's perhaps down to the antennae layout or the chippery inside.

  7. Rob

    Lots more problems afoot

    I went into one of the new re-branded T-Mobile shops yesterday and it was complete chaos, none of the staff seemed to have been briefed properly about EE's offerings and they were pulling staff from their Orange shop to help out, who also didn't have a clue what was going on. I did feel for them as it looks and feels like EE have rolled out this new brand with hardly any organisation or training for staff.

    They also seem to be changing offers last minute. Before the launch they had on their website an offer of reduced tariffs for T-Mob and Orange customers which is why I went to sign up to EE in the first place as it was a good offer and slightly better than my current tariff, that's gone though and the best they can offer existing customers is 25% of your remaining contract price to switch to EE. Shame as I'm now thinking of jumping ship and getting a standard 3G tariff and a non LTE phone at a much more reasonable price.

    Even as an early adopter there isn't enough in terms of price or LTE reliability to make me want to adopt early. Such a good head start on the competition but they seem to have dropped the ball.

  8. Mage

    High Speeds?

    Only because hardly anyone is using it.

    Ten people on a mast sector and you get 1/10th or less speed.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: High Speeds?

      That's why I remain sceptical about all the hype. I'm surprised this issue (along with distance from mast and obstructions) is allowed to go unchallenged. So many people think mobile broadband is going to kill off the wired market. It makes no sense to me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: High Speeds?

      Wrong, 4G is more efficient. So they can pack more data into the same spectrum than 3G.

      Do you really think technology doesn't improve over time?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: High Speeds?

        It's true you can pack more data in than 3G but there's still a very definite and practical limit. Firstly on the available radio spectrum and secondly mast backhaul. The latter can be improved but there's nothing much you can do about radio bandwidth. In an urban area it ought to be adequate for non-streaming use but no way in hell could it replace wired connections. Not unless they install a lot more masts and that has it's own problems - cost, planning permission and frequency allocation.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: High Speeds?

          (cont'd). Ironically in rural areas it be good enough to compete with wired connections assuming the users aren't sited too far from the mast and assuming the mast has adequate backhaul. But the bottom line is that everyone within a given cell is sharing the mast's bandwidth and once you get more than 'a few dozen' people attached to a mast there is going to be contention.

          This is probably a large part of why EEs pricing/allowance offerings are so miserly. Even EE say that users are better off using wifi for streaming media:

          "The most shocking comment from EE is 'for customers who want to download multiple songs or stream videos every day, we’d recommend they go for one our plans with a higher data limit or use our free BT Wi-Fi or any available Wi-Fi services'."

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Words cannot contain my joy that o2 & voda aren't at the party. It was all their doing!"!!!!!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah great so one supplier and a really high cost - well done. Anyone ever mentioned that competition is usually a GOOD thing?

  10. RosslynDad
    Thumb Up

    Nice Metaphorical Twist

    Loved the "sourcing Type O Rhesus Negative from a block of granite".

  11. Chris 171

    Bristol is Broken - EE 4G related?

    Currently getting no data via my 3.5G EE signal....

    Anyone else?

    1. Ted Treen

      Re: Bristol is Broken - EE 4G related?

      At work in Derby:- "Unable to activate mobile data" since around 0930 today.

      It's just come back on.

  12. SiempreTuna

    £56 a month and the data is LIMITED??!!!

    They clearly think it's 2004 again. And with luck, they'll get the same low, low levels of take up they got back then. Anybody signing up for these 'deals' clearly has to have more money than sense and an insatiable desire to be reemed.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Dave Evans 1

    Useful missing bit from the review

    One bit of useful info missing from the review, is that for an extra £5 per month you can add unlimited international voice calls and texts and carry it on international roaming to alot of very useful places (Europe, US, China, India, Australia, etc). If you travel a lot, this is well worth a look. Shame it doesn't include the data in the roaming.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EE 3G data network tits up

    Wonder if it's anything to do with 4G coming online?

    EE's data network went tits up at 10:35 today. EE STK3808385

  16. Chris Miller

    So what use is it?

    Even leaving aside the ludicrous data cap, I'm struggling to see why I might want to pay a premium for 4G. The arguments I've heard are:

    (a) HDTV on the move, but since I don't lug a 50" plasma in my back pack, I'm not attracted by this.

    (b) High-speed Internet for areas that can't get decent fixed line speeds - but these won't have 4G either for several years (if ever).

    (c) Tethering for laptops that need a high-speed connection. I might concede that one, but TBH I'd far rather have a decent speed (3G) service that can deliver a few Mb everywhere than blazing fast speeds in a handful of locations. Most train trips (and I'm not talking about obscure branch lines) struggle to get a decent 3G signal through most of the journey (or even 2G occasionally).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No try a speed test against Namesco in London rather than Vodafone. I've always found speed tests against Vodafone 50% slower.. Maybe VF just make a habit of providing slow services.

  18. DB2k

    I get 24Mb down (well that is the fastest, normally its about 19) in Maidenhead. On Three/iPhone5.

    Looking forward to seeing the figures updated when you get 42MB from Three.

  19. Alex King


    I've not found anything yet that I'd want to do on my phone that a good, solid 3G connection wasn't ample for.

    In the centre of big cities, you're generally not far from a decent free WiFi signal these days, if you even did need such a fat pipe. I'd much rather networks concentrated on getting better 3G coverage on transit routes than this overpriced tosh. First network to put masts along the east and west coast mainlines gets my next contract.

    Oh, and as others have pointed out, fast bandwidth and low data limits are utterly pointless - it's like selling a thirsty supercar with a ten litre fuel tank.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pointless

      Well that's the whole point - if you have blanked 'high speed' 3G/4G coverage you do not need wifi. I would rather have a good mobile coverage than be scratting around looking for wifi and then seeing if I can connect.

  20. TrancerSte

    UK: doing it wrong...

    Wow, this UK LTE launch is looking more and more like a damp squib! I'm a Brit living in Singapore and I've been following the 4G spectrum auction / EE monopoly shambles back home with some interest.

    Singtel launched their LTE service here in May. I swapped network and bought a new SIM free phone outright (HTC OneXL) pretty much on launch day, and I must say I think it's bloody awesome. However:

    - 4G here is a free value-add

    - The lowest package comes with 2GB data and over-usage is charged at SG $5/GB (£2.50)

    - Coverage is about 80% (excluding underground lines) and increasing

    - The 3G networks here are so congested that you often wait several minutes for any data to begin transferring

    - Speeds are actually considerably faster than 3G and up there with theoretical maximums*

    Even so, I've still come to treat LTE more like a boost of nitrous oxide to be used when required rather than an always-on, simply because the battery usage is mental.

    Get an app that provides a quick shortcut to phone info (the same as dialling *#*#4636#*#*) and only switch on LTE when you need it. For example I'll switch it on at the start of my commute, refresh the BBC and Guardian apps, then switch back to WCDMA with plenty of news to read.

    * - that's from inside my 8th floor apartment out in the suburbs, 6 months since the network launched -- that's what a 4G network should look like ;)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Test it after a few months when more than a few people are using it. It's nice to have but realistically think most people are more likely to see faster 3G before 4G - DC-HSPA is capable of up to 42mbps - I'm sure if people could reliably get even 1/4 to 1/2 that they would be very happy.

  22. Arrrggghh-otron


    You didn't say how many seconds it took you to reach your data cap! Or were the demo sims not limited?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The point EE have missed is if you give people a faster network they will be able to use it more / for more things - so 500Mb 'data' is basically laughable. Stream an hour or two of iPlayer over the whole month and you would use that much.

    Long term I actually fancy Vodafone - they bought C&W and have access to lots of (cheap) fibre / bandwidth which is surely an advantage as although some base stations talk to each other to send data the larger / busier ones will have fibre back-hauls.

  24. Simon Rockman

    The not so hidden nugget in the tariffs is the £5 add-on which gives you unlimited ROAMED voice and texts. For travellers this is an excellent deal, assuming of course that you are old and grey enough to still use voice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You sure that is correct - i.e. £5 add on for unlimited voice and texts when roaming - anywhere - i.e. the USA? Sounds too good to be true.

      1. DB2k

        aye I would think that was roaming in the uk i.e. on orange or Tmo.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't get why journalists are testing the network 'now' when it's probably got very few people on it - hardly representative?

  26. philw1976

    Waste of time

    On my trip to Japan I saw loads of adverts for 76Mb 4G (, couldn't wait to get it here. As usual we are sold short on some second rate service, 8mb, come on!!!

    1. Ed 11

      Re: Waste of time

      Did you also spot the word 'theoretical' in the article?

  27. Annihilator
    Paris Hilton

    Hack devices

    The most interesting thing from this article (the review was self-explanatory - new network, fast, only where available, v expensive) was that el Reg give out iPhones to their staff. Odd considering the mocking that Apple "fanbois" tend to be given here...

  28. blakpawn

    EE really cant launch a phone.

    EE are really messing customers about with the launch of the Lumia 920.

    I have an email from them for an order I placed which has the handset costing £50, but now they have changed it to £200 on their website on the same contract. The phone was meant to be launched Nov 2, but in fact there are conflicting answers from Nokia and EE about availability, I have to wonder if the initial launch details looked good as a deliberate attempt to stimulate interest before then renegading on those details. Not good business.

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