T-Mobile was the trading name the German company Deutsche Telekom while French company Orange had previously been known as France Télécom. Together they created the largest mobile network in the UK – it was originally known as Everything Everywhere before changing to the simpler EE. The company is headquartered in Hertfordshire with satellite offices across the country. It currently has approximately 15,000 employees and 700 retail outlets together providing yearly revenues of well over £6 billion.
The genesis of the merger was an attempt by the two separate companies to share resources and thereby cut costs. It was over a month after it had been publicly announced before the original name Everything Everywhere was revealed. Initially it was claimed the two brands would remain completely separate and independent.
However, during 2011 there was a change of the company CEO as well as staffing cuts. By the latter half of 2012, it was announced that the Everything Everywhere brand would be launched in parallel to the existing Orange and T-Mobile. Shortly afterwards it was revealed that the actual commercial direction you would be to rebrand all aspects of the network under the new name EE and that its position as the first 4G provider in the country would be emphasised in all advertising.
By the next year, the legal name of the organisation was officially changed to EE Ltd and soon all existing Orange and T-Mobile stores had been completely rebranded while almost every trace of the former networks had been speedily excised from the official website. As of the beginning of 2015, BT have been exclusive talks to purchase a limited next to the asking price in the region of £12-13 billion.
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There’s no denying that, as the UK’s biggest network and the first 4G provider, EE have a head-start when it comes to mobile data and signal strength. They also have some decent perks such as free wifi on the Tube.
However, especially as a PAYG choice, they are far from the best value for money. They do have some “packs” that offer competitive prices for various types of customer but you’d still have to compare what you’re getting with the cheaper alternatives and make a choice about how to prioritise signal and speed versus cost.
When it comes to raw speed, EE cannot be competed with. They were able to start rolling out 4G LTE way before the other networks and they still easily boast the greatest population coverage. 4G is long overdue in the UK and it enables some fantastic new possibilities with mobile phones that only start with online multiplayer games and HD video streaming.
One of the biggest issues with EE is their customer service. Although they do have a larger customer base than anyone else, we get a disproportionate number of complaints from people mistreated by EE. Apart from controversial mid-contract price-hikes, tax schemes of dubious legality and ill-thought-out schemes like charging 50p to avoid customer services queues, EE have one of the most user-unfriendly websites of any network despite the flashy on-message branding.
And perhaps worst of all, our readers’ reports and our own experience suggests EE have a serious training issue for their customer-facing teams. This applies equally to their call centre staff as to those in retail stores who have been found to be at times ignorant, misleading and downright rude.
It’s not just a small sample – in June 2014, the official regulator, Ofcom, released a report which outed EE as the most complained-about mobile network in the country with more that twice as many issues per customer than the industry average.
We like what EE are offering but at the price-point they occupy many potential customers are going to have to ask whether it’s worth the extra costs to their wallets and their sanity for the blisteringly-fast service they offer.
At a glance
Even compared to other mainstream PAYG networks, EE are pricey. Everything costs a premium from calls at an outrageous 30p/minute to texts costing 12p each. But it gets worse… Amazingly, they still charge 40p for a simple MMS picture message.
While 0800 calls aren’t the worst, there’s still no excuse for charging 20p for what should be a free phone call.
Perhaps the biggest indictment against their pricing scheme is that there’s no internet allowance included in their basic tariff nor the option to use mobile data on a PAYG basis. For an operator that prides itself on its 4G network, this is hard to excuse. The only way they advertise to get your phone online is to buy one of their “packs” which include bundles of minutes, texts and mobile internet.
EE offer three types of “Pack” bundles. The most basic are data only packs which come in only two flavours at a price points of either £1 for seven days or £10 for thirty days. The £1 option comes with a paltry 10 minutes and a truly miserly 10 included SMS messages. It also allows you 100MB of 4G usage. The £10 pounds data pack bumps the data up to 1GB but you only have an allowance of 50 minutes and 50 texts.
Next, are the Talk and Text bundles which range in price from £1-15. All of these come with a completely useless 10MB of mobile data as well as sp,e minutes and texts. The most basic option lasts only seven days and gives you 10MB of data, 25 minutes and 50 texts for £1. The remaining four choices vary from £10-15 and all last 30 days. Each comes with unlimited texts as well as a token 10MB of mobile internet, but the talk time allowance varies between 250 minutes all the way up to 750 minutes at £15 price point.
Finally, EE offer what they term as “Everything” Packs. The start at £10 and includes some more reasonable allowances of mobile data and minutes as was all including unlimited texts. The £10 and £12.50 options include 100MB/150 minutes and 1GB/300 minutes respectively. For £15 you get 500 minutes as as well as 2GB of data.
Unlike all of the previous packs mentioned, these actually include full-speed mobile data compared to all the previous options not only cost a lot for the bandwidth you get but also have throttled mobile data (if you can really believe that’s the case!) Finally, if you want to fork out £25 every 30 days, you get rather 1000 minutes as well as 4 GB of full speed 4G data.
Please see our price comparison table to compare EE’s latest pricing with that of other networks.
For full information about EE’s coverage, please see their dedicated coverage page on our site. We go into detail about their ongoing 4G roll-out, the frequencies they use and the latest speeds they offer according to our own experiences as well as independent nationwide tests.
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