BT or EE Broadband: which is best?

Last updated: 20 June 2021   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

BT and EE might be part of the same company, but their approach to home broadband services is different.

bt and ee broadband hub

At a glance

BT EE
Price From £27.99/mth From £27/mth
Basic broadband 10Mb average 10Mb average
Fibre broadband Up to 900Mb average Up to 900Mb average
Landline Included Extra cost
Anytime calls £12 £8
TV From £10 For pay monthly mobile customers
Minimum term 24 months 24 months

Special offers

Before we go any further, let's have a look at the special offers BT and EE currently have:

Offer Terms

£50 BT Reward card with BT Full Fibre 100 just £29.99 a month with free setup

Hurry! Offer ends 6 June 2024

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. From £34.99/mth after 24 months. BT offers are subject to price increases on the 31st March 2024 by CPI +3.9%.


£50 BT Reward card with BT Entertainment TV and BT Fibre 100 broadband, just £44.99/mth with free setup

Hurry! Offer ends 6 June 2024

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. From £54.99 a month after 24 months. BT offers are subject to price increases on the 31st March 2024 by CPI +3.9%.


Broadband deals

Winner: BT deals don't add extra for a home phone, plus they now offer 12-month plans to some customers.

BT and EE are both part of the same company, but that doesn't mean their broadband deals are identical.

If we look at their superfast fibre broadband packages, there is little difference in the price, but EE are slightly cheaper:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fibre 36Mb average £26 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup
Fibre Essential 36Mb average £33.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 06/06/2024)
Fibre 1 50Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £5/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 06/06/2024)
Fibre Plus 67Mb average £29 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup
Fibre 2 67Mb average £36.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 06/06/2024)

One thing to note here, however, is that EE's broadband plans don't include a landline, so adding a landline will often take EE's broadband prices over those offered by EE.

BT have recently started offering customers the option to scrap the home phone but, unlike with EE, this doesn't alter the price. BT customers pay the same amount per month whether they choose to add a landline or not.

One major difference when choosing between EE or BT used to be contract length: EE previously offered 18-month deals as standard while BT were fixed on 24-month deals.

This has now changed, with EE quietly shifting to 24-month plans and BT offering 12-month deals (once you click through to their site). So, EE have lost one of their differentiating features and BT have gained one.

It's a similar story on contracts and price if we look at BT vs EE on ultrafast broadband deals:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre Max 100 100Mb average £31 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 20GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £1/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 06/06/2024)
Full Fibre Max 500 500Mb average £39.50 Free 24 months
offer Offer: 6 month free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 20GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup
Full Fibre 500 500Mb average £34.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £15/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 06/06/2024)
Full Fibre 900 900Mb average £59.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months (Ends 06/06/2024)

These ultrafast deals are only available to customers in Openreach fibre to the premises (FTTP) areas or, for slower deals, those in G.fast areas. Find out more about those different technologies in our guide to ultrafast broadband.

Finally, basic copper broadband is still available from both providers, although neither are keen to advertise it and the technology is set to phase out over the next few years as the switch away from copper is completed.

For reference, here are their copper deals:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Broadband 10Mb average £26 £10 24 months
offer Offer: 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers
Broadband 10Mb average £29.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price for 24 months

Again, there's little difference between the two providers, although EE is slightly cheaper.


Price

Winner: EE are slightly cheaper than BT for broadband, albeit without a landline.

EE have a slight advantage on BT in terms of pricing across most broadband packages, although it's worth remembering that customers looking to add a home phone to their plan will find that often tips the scales in BT's favour.

Watch out for pricing of the very fastest broadband deals as these are usually the same for both providers, so there's little to choose between them.

On set-up fees, both BT and EE regularly alter these, and there is a definite trend to charge customers set-up costs for lower level packages, perhaps as an incentive to upgrade to a faster package.

EE pay monthly mobile customers can access a 10% discount on all broadband deals, plus they will receive a monthly data boost to their mobile account - this could make all the difference as far as price is concerned.


Speed

Winner: BT have faster recorded speeds on higher level superfast plans than EE broadband.

The speeds listed in the comparison tables above are the speeds 50% of customers can receive at peak times. Ofcom's guidelines stipulate this is how broadband services must be advertised, but it still means that many customers might miss out on the speeds offered.

A good way of checking real-world experiences is to look at the annual speed analysis published by Ofgem. While this data is published in May each year, it reflects speed readings taken in the November of the previous year, so it's not completely up to date. However, it's a good indication of how speeds have been for typical customers. So, out of BT and EE, which is best for speed?

Here are the latest results for the two providers' fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) packages:

Ofcom average speeds, published March 2023
Advertised average speed Over 24hrs Peak time
(8-10pm weekdays)
BT 36Mb 32.36Mb 32.00Mb
BT 50Mb 43.79Mb 42.54Mb
BT 67Mb 63.76Mb 62.95Mb

As we can see, neither BT nor EE reach the heights promised by their packages, although services don't drop too much at peak times so they're fairly consistent throughout.

These reductions in speed were hardly limited to BT and EE in this report. The testing took place in November 2020 when many customers were working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

With EE performing better than BT on the lower fibre tier and BT performing better on the higher tier, there's little to choose between them. We've opted for BT simply thanks to their faster higher tier performance.


Routers

Winner: Draw - the hardware from BT and EE is virtually identical.

BT claim their Smart Hubs are more powerful than the hubs available from other major broadband providers, although their claims surrounding their router led them into hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in 2019.

Since then, BT has launched their Smart Hub 2 router designed to work effectively with their ultrafast broadband packages.

Customers signing up to fibre broadband with BT will get the original Smart Hub as standard, while the Smart Hub 2 comes when customers upgrade to a package with Complete Wi-Fi or Halo 3+. The Smart Hub 2 can also be purchased separately for £200.

EE offer most customers their Smart Hub and, unsurprisingly, it looks to be physically and technically identical to BT's first-generation Smart Hub. This is given to customers signing up to fibre packages.

Like BT, EE offer a different router to customers who sign up to their booster service, Smart WiFi. This is called the Smart WiFi Router.

Customers on the basic copper broadband package will be given the EE Bright Box 2 wireless router which is enough to support the needs of customers using those speeds.

Boosting services

Both BT and EE allow customers to upgrade their broadband services and add boosters to their packages.

With BT, this is called Complete WiFi, while EE market their version as Smart WiFi. The two services cost the same amount per month - £10.

Complete Wi-Fi guarantees strong Wi-Fi around the home by providing Wi-Fi extender discs which link to the Smart Hub to improve the signal across a home.

Their Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee stipulates that, if the Wi-Fi signal doesn't reach every room after three months, customers will be refunded £100.

To look at the small print, though, the guarantee only promises speeds of 10Mb in every room of the home rather than meeting the average speed promises of the contract, presumably as the discs can't promise close to average speeds.

Smart WiFi is similar, although it also includes a 4GEE WiFi Mini portable hotspot to back up a customer's broadband connection if it goes down.

There's also no guarantee backing EE's promises, so customers won't get money back if the promised speeds fail to materialise.

Read more about broadband speed boosters and guarantees from different ISPs.

BT also offer a more premium version of their guarantee in the form of Halo 3+. This incorporates Complete Wi-Fi along with extra connection features, but it can significantly increase the cost of a package.


TV packages

Winner: BT offer a diverse range of TV packages, whereas EE TV is much more limited.

TV is where BT really start to pull away from EE thanks to their variety of packages to suit different households.

BT revamped their TV offer in February 2020, scrapping their old packages in favour of new flexible ones which can be altered on a month-by-month basis. These are based on Now TV packages and include bolt-on options. There's also a Classic Entertainment pack which can't be upgraded but bolt-ons can still be added.

Thanks to the simplification of the packages, it's easy to see how much extra a TV package would cost on top of home broadband:

Package Features Monthly cost
Classic Entertainment 25 premium entertainment channels and 100s of hours of entertainment on demand £10
Entertainment Premium channels and over 300 box sets on demand with Now TV Entertainment Pass £12
Big Entertainment As above but with Sky Cinema Pass including over 1,000 films on demand and Sky Cinema channels £22
Sport All 4 BT Sport channels £15
Big Sport As above but with all 11 Sky Sports channels within Now TV Sports Pass £40
VIP All content from Big Entertainment and Big Sport with access to Big Sport Ultimate in 4K HDR £65

It's worth noting all these packages are on 24-month contracts but (with the exception of Classic Entertainment) they can be upgraded and downgraded during the contract as needs and tastes change.

Bolt-ons such as Amazon Prime Video and BT TV Kids can also be added.

By comparison, EE's revamped Apple TV 4K service looks a little dreary, and it's only available as a perk for customers who take EE's pay monthly mobile services - in this sense it isn't really a perk for EE broadband customers unless they also have a pay monthly mobile service from EE.

EE's TV service does bring BT Sport to your screens and can be used to access free on demand services like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. With extra subscription fees, Netflix and Prime Video are available on there too.

This is how the pricing of EE TV looks:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Broadband + Apple 4K TV 10Mb average £41 £10 24 months
offer Offer: Apple TV 4K with BT Sport Ultimate for EE pay monthly mobile customers only + 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers
Fibre + Apple TV 4K 36Mb average £41 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Apple TV 4K with BT Sport Ultimate for EE pay monthly mobile customers only + 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup
Fibre Plus + Apple TV 4K 67Mb average £44 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Apple TV 4K with BT Sport Ultimate for EE pay monthly mobile customers only + 10% off for EE pay monthly mobile customers + 5GB extra data for EE pay monthly mobile customers + Free setup

Even though Apple TV 4K offers some nice extras, when it comes to BT TV vs EE TV, there's really no contest - BT TV is a proper TV service while Apple TV 4K is a mobile bonus rather than a dedicated TV service.


Home phone

Winner: Depends what you're looking for - BT's lower level minutes package is cheap but EE offer more cost-efficient bundles.

As we've already mentioned, customers can opt out from taking a landline with BT and it costs more for customers to add a home phone to EE.

Supposing that customers take a landline, however, here are the current pricing arrangements for home phone plans:

Call plan Plan features Monthly price
BT Pay As You Go No inclusive calls, calls to UK landlines and UK mobiles cost flat rate of 20p a minute Cost of calls only
BT 500 Minutes 500 inclusive minutes for anytime calls to UK landlines or UK mobiles £5
BT Unlimited Minutes Unlimited anytime calls to UK landlines or UK mobiles £15
EE Pay As You Go No inclusive calls, rates begin at 15.5p a minute (plus connection fee) for calls to UK landlines Cost of calls only
EE Anytime Landlines Inclusive anytime calls to UK landlines £5
EE Anytime Landlines & Mobiles Inclusive calls to UK landlines, 1,500 minutes to UK mobiles £8
EE Anytime UK & International Inclusive calls to UK landlines, 1,500 minutes to UK mobiles, calls to landlines in 50 countries, 30% discount to landlines in rest of world £12

BT also offers Friends & Family International and International Freedom add-ons.

Friends & Family International gives cheap call rates to 236 international destinations for an extra £2.11 per month, while International Freedom gives inclusive calls to popular international destinations and low call rates to the rest of the world for £8.99 per month.


Customer service

Winner: EE have lower customer complaint figures than BT.

Back in 2015, both BT and EE were on the naughty step as far as Ofcom's quarterly complaints figures were concerned, both displaying figures high above the industry average. Data from Q1 2015 showed EE with a whopping 51 complaints per 100,000 customers, a high that (fortunately) hasn't been beaten by any other network so far.

Industry complaint figures have shown a gradual decline over the years. The average number of complaints per provider was at a high of 22 in Q1 2015 thanks in part to EE's poor showing. By contrast, the industry average in Q4 2020 was down to 16.

BT's complaints figures for 2020 saw a slight increase from 7 per 100,000 customers in Q1 down to 8 in Q4 with some fluctuations throughout the year. Across the same period, EE moved from 2 complaints per 100,000 customers up to 3 at year's end, making them the provider with the lowest number of complaints all year.

So, from the perspective of driving down complaints to well below industry average levels, EE triumphs.

On other metrics, EE triumphed above BT in the most recent Comparing Service Quality report from Ofcom:

  • EE customers were slightly more satisfied with service overall (82% vs 80% for BT)
  • EE service advisors answered the phone much more quickly (1 minute 15 seconds vs 3 minutes 28 seconds for BT)

Yet BT also scored some notable victories too:

  • BT customers were less likely to have a reason to complain (23% vs 30% for EE)
  • BT customers were more likely to be satisfied with their provider's complaints handling (55% vs 47% for EE)

Overall, then, the two are closer than it may seem from complaints figures alone, although customers were more likely to recommend EE and they were the most recommended ISP in Ofcom's report.

One final point: both BT and EE have signed up to fairness initiatives from Ofcom including the Fairness for Customers commitments published in June 2019 and the out of contract price reduction promises highlighted in September 2019.


Extras

Winner: BT outshine EE for extras.

BT offer numerous extras to broadband customers, supplying a premium service which accounts for the premium pricing of their services.

Extras include:

  • BT Virus Protect with McAfee to safeguard 15 devices
  • BT Parental Controls to set filters for household
  • BT Cloud with 1000GB of storage for free
  • Access to 5 million BT Wi-Fi hotspots around the UK
  • Up to 11 free email addresses with BT Mail

Out of all these, the BT Cloud storage and Wi-Fi hotspots are particularly notable and could be the tipping point for customers choosing between providers.

EE, on the other hand, offer the following:

  • Norton Security Premium to protect 10 devices for a year
  • Data boosts for pay monthly mobile customers of either 5GB or 20GB per month
  • £50 switching credit if customer charged for early cancellation from previous provider
  • Moving bonus of 50GB 4G data to stay connected during a house move

EE's extras show their focus is on giving pay monthly customers incentives to opt for home broadband, whereas BT gives a lot to all their customers including some big ticket items.


Verdict: BT or EE?

Overall winner: BT for uncomplicated pricing alongside excellent extras and a good TV service.

Where to next?

Both BT and EE offer customers a lot and have strong reputations as broadband providers, so picking a winner is tricky.

If you're wondering who to choose between the two, these highlights may help.

We like BT because:

  • They now offer some 12-month contracts as well as 24-month deals
  • Customers have the option to take no landline
  • Pricing can work out cheaper than EE's when landlines are included
  • Their router is excellent
  • They have some brilliant extras
  • BT TV can be taken alongside BT broadband

On the other hand, we like EE because:

  • Their prices are cheaper without a landline
  • Customers on pay monthly mobile deals get perks and discounts
  • Excellent router

However, the fact that EE have quietly switched to 24-month contracts is a definite downside, and their pricing becomes more complicated very quickly.

When choosing between BT broadband or EE broadband, the final choice may come down to which other services you wish to bundle together with broadband. BT are better for TV, while EE and their pay monthly mobile deals are hard to beat.

Ultimately, though, both these broadband providers are winners and, when you compare broadband deals, they're both worth looking at in detail.

Read our full guide to EE broadband or find out more about BT broadband.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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