People rolling out their own 4G router combined with an antenna mounted on the outside of the property is not new, but by launching a professional install option at £100 EE with its 4GEE Home service has made it a lot easier for people since no need to find the right antenna or attach it to a wall while also up a ladder.
The data allowances on the 4GEE service are more generous than you get on your mobile phone, a basic 10GB monthly allowance is £25/m higher allowances are 50GB £35/m, 100GB £45/m and 200GB £60/m. Existing EE customers on a pay monthly plan can get an extra 5GB added for free. If you commit to an 18 month contract the 4G router is free, but a 30 day plan is available when you pay £99.99 for the router. The router is the same as that used in the antenna trial and thus includes a SMA connector which an EE installer would use connect the external antenna too.
The data allowances and pricing mean the service will not compete for price with fixed line broadband solutions, but if struggling with no broadband or speeds so slow that cannot enjoy any video streaming the extra cost may prove worthwhile. 200GB spread between a household with a couple of teenagers might not last long, if everyone embraces online video, but 200GB is enough for 30 5GB films over the course of a month and leaving 50GB of allowance for all your other activities such as software updates, web browsing, banking etc.
The service is described as offering up to 100 Mbps, which is entirely possible over 4G and generally people using 4G routers find so long as they can get some 4G signal in downstairs indoors that with an external antenna mounted high up on a property facing the mast superfast type speeds are possible. If you can only only get a 4G signal when upstairs then speeds with the antenna may be less exciting but a good chance they’ll exceed 10 Mbps.
The service is being promoted as part of the solution to the broadband issue and EE estimate that some 580,000 households that fall into the USO zones could benefit from the service, which is roughly half the premises within the USO footprint. Of course we have a map of the postcodes where fixed line speeds are expected to be under 10 Mbps which is showing around 206,000 postcodes spread across the UK.
There has been a trial of course in the Northern Fells area of Cumbria and we may have seen someone using the service, showing a 29 Mbps download and 14 Mbps upload speed which while a long way shy of the 100 Mbps of the press release is likely to be influenced by the Wi-Fi service the 4GEE Home router provides. Our recommendation for anyone using the 4GEE Home router is to if at all possible run an Ethernet cable from the router to your main devices, e.g. smart TV, desktop PC, games console.
To make it easier to find out which is the best service the EE broadband checker is now a combined broadband and mobile coverage checker, but at the time of writing this article the EE shop does not appear to mention the external antenna option.