Are EE’s 4G data allowances realistic?

The marketing message and benefit statements around EE’s 4G service seem wildly out of line with some of the tariffs on offer; enough that I can’t help but wonder how many consumers suffer from bill shock at the end of the month or find their connection being throttled within days.

The EE 4G service starts at £36 a month for a 500mb data plan. That’s fine, until you read the “benefits of the plan” which includes “watch TV and stream a film on the move”. Really? On a 500mb plan?

Most estimates I’ve seen suggest an hour of good quality video streaming over 4G will run at 250-300mb per hour. At that rate you could chew through 500mb in two hours. Indeed, many other operators suggest that for video streaming over LTE the minimum you need is a 4GB plan. Verizon Wireless in the US suggests that if watch 30 minutes of 4G LTE video or more a day (alongside basic email and web surfing and you use about 7GB a month.

EE’s 500mb 4G plan
Of course the comparison is only an estimate. Network and service compression will impact the results, but only marginally. Verizon estimates that 2 minutes of video per day (an hour per month) will use 340mb – making my estimate of 250-300mb per hour look conservative.

EE, of course, needs an entry level tariff. Alongside the 1GB plan it helps set a price anchor in favour of the 3GB (£51 p/month) plan which I’m sure will be the most popular, and realistic choice for a 4G user.

Unfortunately 4G advertising seems (universally) reliant on pushing speed and multimedia / streaming benefits – regardless of the tariff.


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