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4GEE Home Router Review

4GEE Home Router Review

So what do you you do if you need internet but have no land line, maybe its just to cover until you do or maybe its because your not living there long enough to get installed? This is EE’s answer to that question.

Initial Impressions

Well first of all I must talk about how you get the device as clearly its only available from 1 source therefore the buying experience is integral. Now if anyone knows me they will know I think BTEE is the devil in telco form. However, I presently have no land-based internet connection, EE is widely recognised as having the fastest UK network as it has 3 bands it can aggregate and has oodles of spectrum to spare. Not to mention I live a stone’s throw from an EE mast. So I was prepared to lie with the devil if it meant faster internet. However, to get the package I wanted, one offering a reasonable 200GB a month you must, MUST, buy the 4GEE home router from them. EE will not just sell you a SIM card with 200GB. This meant as I didn’t want a contract that I had to cough up £100 to buy the router. A device I don’t really want but it’s the only way to get the 200GB package which I do want. It’s extortion but I want the fastest I can get so I’ll pay it.

4GEE Home Router Review

Opening the box is nothing exciting, the box is only available in white and it’s bland. 2 ethernet sockets on the back seems a bit stingy but network switches are cheap. Oh, it can take external aerials, oh but doesn’t include any and I’m told by EE that they will only sell you some if you prove to them you have a poor signal and that if I want I should just go elsewhere to buy them. However, as I live so close to a mast I would hope it is not needed. Connecting it to power I get a full bar signal but it has no detail in the db of the signal so I can’t tell how strong it really is nor can I see any information about the connection other than its 4G.

4GEE Home Router Review

Hardware

The box itself is, meh. Black would be so much cooler but it comes in white, and it lights up with blue for 4G and something else for 3G but why would buy it if you can’t get 4G, given the bands for 4G you’re more likely to get it than 3G only from EE. So, it’s a box; it’s inoffensive to the eyes. As routers go its basic in the settings available. Really there just isn’t anything interesting to say about the thing. It works, does nothing special. You strangely get 2 ethernet sockets which seems a touch mean given its size. I’d have expected 4 like most routers but this is a remarkably bland little box. The most interesting thing about it is it has little screw hole on the bottom so you could wall mount it. That could be handy to stick it in an attic, rather than run an external antenna if you live out in the sticks.

4GEE Home Router Review

Software

Lots of yellow and turquoise and above all, basic. Though you very handily get a link to check the data allowance on the SIM card and that you do not need to log into the router, just access it so it means anyone on the network could check it and not have to have admin access. Otherwise it’s a basic router. Yes, there is a link to check text messages you may have been sent but why would you ever give the number out?

4GEE Home Router Review

Network

So much of this device isn’t really about the device itself but about the network. The two key aspects being speed and quantity of data. The data quantity is something I can speak of and it can apply to everyone but the speed, well it’s a different kettle of fish. What I get here, right now, will be different from what I get it the evening which will be different from what I get at 3 in the morning. The distance from the mast matters lots and then what others are doing using the same mast matters and then of course general network backbone congestion. Usually I would say, to test something like this you should grab a PAYG SIM from the network and test it where you plan to use but EE only give you their full unrestricted network speed if you are on one of their higher end plans. PAYG are limited to 30mbit. While I hate this policy it’s there so take everything I say about speed with a bucket of salt as what I get may have no bearing on what you may get.

4GEE Home Router Review

Speed

Having gotten a full bar signal (whatever a bar means) and being so near an EE mast I would like to think I should be getting as close to the best EE can offer as possible. However, I was disappointed. The highest I ever saw it peek at was mid 60Mbits but its more consistent speed was 40Mbit in the day and mid 20Mbits in the evenings. Which frankly, I was hugely disappointed at. I’m right next to a mast so I would have hoped to get an amazing speed and while the upload was always super impressive I didn’t care so much about that. If you however upload tons then this is way faster than the 20Mbit you can get on a land connection.

4GEE Home Router Review

Plans

This is one of the more frustrating aspects in that EE have 2 plans in particular that are of interest, 100GB for £45 and the 200GB I have for £60. Yeah this is a bit pricey but what’s really the most annoying aspect is EE will only sell you these if you buy its 4GEE router, free on a two year contract or £100 for the rolling 30day. WHY? This would be an ideal offering for those temporarily without a land connection. £60 for a SIM with 200GB on to cover you while the other end of the company (Openreach) connect your land line as slowly as they possibly can. But you must cough up £100 for a router that does nothing an old spare handset couldn’t do. I find this extremely annoying. However, if you live outside of civilisation and you want the 2 year contract then I guess it matters less but really EE, why must we use the router you have picked? Or rather why must we pay for it as there is nothing to stop us whipping out the SIM card and putting it in anything we want. Something that may not be useful to me but, but any road warriors out there could slap it in a spare phone or MiFi and away they go. Potentially something massively useful for people at shows needing to upload masses of video content.

4GEE Home Router Review

Traffic Interception

What? Yes. I noticed that some sites would just not work on EE. It wasn’t the naughty filter as I turned that thing off but things like, logging into my bank account would generate a network error. Fire up a VPN and it worked fine. So, it would seem that EE is intercepting traffic and moderating it in some way. I have no idea why other than for traffic shaping but I find it rather suspicious, malicious at worst and more likely at best, it’s just a shoddy service. Incompetence or deliberate it makes me uncomfortable that EE are interfering with traffic to my bank.

Conclusion

Oh BTEE, you could have nailed this but you chose not to. Your 200GB plan for £60 is pricey but I’d pay it to get the connection and while it wasn’t what at all I’d hoped, it was decent. Like a moderate land connection but with stunning upload speeds. God this SIM is made for taking to a show by journalists and uploading huge amounts of video. It has so much potential. But BTEE true to form has opted to force you to buy a router, that while is fine and does the job the fact is I don’t want it. I want the 200GB but they won’t sell me it unless I buy that router. For short term use, which is what I want it makes it wildly expensive, first month makes for £160 a month, 2 makes it £110 a month averaged. For that you need to be off the charts fast, fast like in one of your demos and then I could live with it (even if my wallet is furious about it) but your speeds while nice, did not blow me away. The fact you then won’t include some extra antenna to boost the signal and whatnot is just a slap in the face to customers. I see the market for this as technerds who need a short term internet fix while they await for Openreach to push a button or to those who Openreach has told to F themselves as they live somewhere Openreach doesn’t like. It would seem that for EE some bits are more equal than others and so if you want 200GB of allowance you must buy the box or no 200GB plan for you.

4GEE Home Router Review

So, in short, a great idea but EE have demanded such a steep price and imposed a device buying restriction to make it as unappealing as possible a proposition. Yep it works pretty good for me right next to a mast but it is so expensive for short term use thanks to being made to buy a device you may not want. Why is it networks don’t want to just sell you the data you want but insist on being a pimp for hardware manufacturers? Sorry EE but this will be going back in the box and returned to you shortly.

4GEE Home Router

£100 + £60 per month
5.6

Design

6.0/10

Performance

7.5/10

Range

8.0/10

Value

1.0/10

Pros

  • Pretty decent performance.
  • Pretty reasonable Data allowance.

Cons

  • Super expensive.
  • Performance not consummate to the price.
  • Suspect traffic interference.

About Mark Ramos

37 comments

  1. Loved this review, thanks Mark! 🙂 I need to get one of these on the 200GB plan for my main internet connection when I move house soon, but like you will opt for a 30 day rolling contract in case it doesn’t honour its promises.

  2. If you think this is expensive you should try satellite broadband.
    50gb of data (split between up and download) is £67 a month at the moment. And the speeds are not that impressive either. Best I’ve seen is19mpbs down and 4mpbs up.

  3. Thanks for this review, which confirms everything that came to mind after looking at the EE site. I’m thinking about 4G broadband because EE are putting up a mast nearby but I’m dubious about these terms. BT wouldn’t guarantee 1Mbit/sec with landline so currently forced to use Tooway satellite, 50Gb/month package (plus unlimited 11:00pm – 6:00am). Generally get around 22Mbit/s download. The quoted peak upload speed is 6000 Kbps and the actual speed is generally not too far from that. The cost is eye-watering = £75 per month, extra data costs £10.00 per Gb if the 50 Gb runs out. You can see why the EE product is tempting but that router wouldn’t be much use to me and I wouldn’t want to sign up to a long contract without knowing how stable the connection would be, Tooway’s has been rock-solid for four years, much better than Virgin cable was in the big city, for example.

  4. What an idiot. The colour of the box really isn’t that important and – bloody hell – you’re getting 60M UPload. I get a tenth of that on BT fake fibre. Can’t see the problem really so stop moaning.

  5. I have been living in a house with a maximum of 0.9m for six years. BT announced we have had fibre, installed it and the speed went down! After months of engineers and long calls to BT my neighbour mentioned EE mobile broadband. I live in a rural area with bad connectivity for mobile, yet I’m now getting up to 100 times better wife. This service has changed our lives – I can now work from home and the children don’t need to go somewhere else to download their media. As you say, this service is great for people in our position. Have to hope the price comes down at some point though, it’s not cheap.

  6. I tried 3 4g router,appalling,and now they are trying to charge me exit fees of nearly £400 even though they can’t give more than 11mbps,but norma;;y around 2-3.I’m scared to try EE as not convinced they will be better.I use iptv mainly and just want to watch bufferless tv.Any comments would help me make my decision

    ps need 200 mega a month so looks like £70 a month

    • If it helps you any, having done this and the one from 3 three were a nightmare to return (you name it they screwed it up) while EE were a total breeze. While i think the BTEE is the devil in telco form they were astoundingly effortless in returning the box and refunding me the cost of it minus the days contract I had used. Excellent, excellent customer service I got from them, unlike from 3.

  7. I just moved into an apartment that has agreed to install hyperoptic.

    Hyperoptic says that they have ordered fiber for this apartment but that it may take 3-9 months.

    So I need a short term fix until then = 4GEE Home Router

    I was thinking of getting the 200gb package.
    The price is the obvious stumbling block.

    Then I come across this review and realize that 6 months ago the packages were 10 pounds cheaper.

    Why?!?!

    I’m not sure what to do.

    Back home in my country I could get this 4g router package for about 25 pounds a month with 1 Tb monthly data and 12 months contract. I definitely expected the UK to have at least similar or even better packages.

  8. Living in a rural area, I was looking at this as an option when my BT contract expires shortly. However, was very surprised to see the £10 Hike in pricing, especially when their paper work indicates an annual increase in line with rpi! EE4G increase is well above the UK rpi…..why?

  9. Mohammed + Lendrick,

    Check the prices again – they’ve been reduced by £10 now, so are back to where they started from (plus new higher data caps added, which are cheaper per Gigabyte, but quite expensive).

    I expect the prices should gradually decrease for 4GEE from now on, as they are going to use it for a USO (Unviversal Service Obligation) from 2020 onwards, so it has to be more affordable anyway by then.

    See: https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/8179-new-larger-data-allowances-on-4gee-home-router

    And: https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2018/09/ee-uk-launch-500gb-data-allowance-on-4g-home-broadband-plans.html

  10. Hi Mark – thank you for your review. regarding traffic interception, how do I turn it off please. Several of my favourite websites just don’t work on EE

    • Hi, as I mentioned the only way I know is use a VPN so they cant filter your traffic. I have ones I pay for as a spend time in China where is an absolute necessity. I can recommend ExpressVPN but you may want to look at something cheaper if you dont need all its features and such.

  11. I’ve just had this installed. It’s brilliant. I had max 1.4mb dropping often to 0.5.

    No option or plans for fibre in my area so this or satellite was only option.

    I had the antenna installed £100 which was paid for by the betterbroad band scheme via EE I just got given a code to give to EE and they arranged the installation.

    I’m getting download of 35 min up to 71 and upload of 40-45

    • I had the 3 one too but my experiences with were, so so in performance (but that will be your location dependant anyway) but my experiences returning it were nightmarish. So from that alone I couldnt recommend the 3 offering in anyway, in the slightest.

  12. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for this review.

    I’m considering having this done where I am.

    I’m trying to decide between 3 options.

    This.
    3’s mobile broadband offering.

    OR

    Buy a good SIM 4G router from Amazon and using it with a 3 ‘All you can ea’t unlimited data sim.

    Reckon that third option would work? Or will they prevent me somehow..

    Thanks again

    • I would imagine they would clock the data as “tethering” so limit you to 30GB though they just stopped limiting it so……. the only way to know would be to try it. In theory it may work but I would expect they will clock it and then cut you off at somepoint.

  13. P.S.

    Which is better this or three HomeFi?

    What ports are on the back for the antenna? SMA? are the SMA ports female?

  14. I’ve had this for about a year, but this week it’s started to have problems with reliability. I get a red network light most of the time making it unusable when before it was totally reliable. It may be a coincidence but my neighbor recently got one too at my recommendation and I am wondering if the reliability has gone down because of that.

  15. Is the hub locked to EE? Can I stick another Network data sim in it?

    Thanks

  16. I have just purchased the 4Gee router from EE and have to say it is excellent. I also bought a suitable antenna which can be fitted outside or on a window. My internet speed was max 3 with BT landline and no sign of improvement any time soon as live in a rural location, so now it is 50 with the 4gee router and works well all over my house. I just am using a pay monthly sim from EE giving me 100 gig per month for £35 so when I end contact with BT soon not much more.
    Happy to answer any queries. Phillip

  17. The Three unlimited data sim is currently £20 a month for a 12 month contract, available until 3rd December as a Black Friday deal. There’s £70 via top cash back as well so £170 for 12 months. The £70 is payable after 3 months assuming it tracks ok. I’m getting between 15-34 mb download and similar upload speeds. I managed to get a £30 off loyalty bonus from EE so just dropped to 200 Gb and paying £40, the new deals are £50 for 200 gb.

  18. Thanks for this review from a real user, not just a press release copier with affiliate links.

    Two of our IT support customers have used the EE 4G plans for quite some time now. Both independently sometimes suffer from using up their entire data allowance at a speed which is much much higher than the technology actually allows (60 GB within a few hours). EE first blamed both client’s wifes or kids – how arrogant, but then admitted that their traffic counting system was known (!!) to be hit and miss. EE reset the allowance after intensive complaints, in one case twice within 3 days.
    These clients had to buy the EE router as well, the older tall tower-box shaped model, but didn’t even unwrap them and used a Teltonika RUT950 router instead and added a Poynting external aerial. (Odd name but an established aerials brand). You would get better prices from the established supplier Solwise as opposed to the overpriced box shifters on Amazon. (I hope I am allowed to give supplier names here)

    Today, 26 Nov 2018, I have one client paying £31.50 for 100 GB, a price that is not published on the EE website. And EE’s published price is identical for 50 and 100 GB (£35). They just make it up as they go along. If only there would be competition, but since EE is owned by BT, their standards have come down to BT’s usual very low levels.

    And finally, don’t underestimate the need for good upload speed. How else would you get a decent VOIP telephone service?

    • Hi Mike,

      We only review from a “real world” perspective so sometimes our viewpoint does differ from the other outlets.

      Upload speed, from a personal perspective, is THE biggest bugbear for me, for internet connectivity (mobile or otherwise) right now. Big changes need to happen.

    • When I called them today they quoted higher prices than on their website! I then said that the site showed (e.g.) £50 for 200GB, or £42.50 as an “upgrade” price if I logged in. The rep (friendly and helpful) couldn’t see the same prices so asked me to screenshot and email to her !!

      Having done so she did manage to beat the prices a bit (by waiving the £100 upfront cost) on the 500GB 30-day rolling contract.

  19. I’m seriously thinking of giving this a go. I already have basic 4G from EE with 30GB/month allowance which I use as backup when the wired line (wet string 8M down 1M up) dies or I need better upload speed. As I’m near the end of the contract, I can upgrade for £42.50/200GB, £68/300GB or £85/500GB. I don’t want an 18-month contract (we’re supposed to be getting FTTP within that timeframe) but also don’t want to spend £100 on a silly router I won’t use. So I called EE …

    … if I go for the 500GB package (£85/month) 30-day rolling contract, the router (yes still have to have it) is free. I currently use around 200GB/month so that’s probably not a bad option for me – usage always goes up over time.

  20. Hi Mark,

    Very useful review. We get incredibly low speeds here via copper (and that’s not going to change) so I am looking to go the 4G LTE route.

    I currently run a Ubiquiti home network, with a USG as a router. I’m no data expert but I assume that, to run this with the EE router, the EE router would need to be in bridge mode. Do you know if that’s possible?

    Second question is about the antenna connection. Do you know how many connectors there are and what type they are? Probably stnadard SMA but I wouldn’t put it past EE to put something propriatary on there so you have to buy more of their over-priced kit.

    If the router can’t be run in bridge mode, I could always by another that can (on the assumption that the SIM card will work in any 4G router) but if I am going to be forced to buy EE’s, I’d like ot get some use out of it if I can.

  21. Hi I have the new EE router however I need to connect to an external aerial. EE are less than helpful stating I have to have their free ( just £100 plus for fitting) aerial. I already have an external aerial and cable to the router all I need is the f type style connectors to fit it to a he lte connections. They won’t/can’t tell me where to get them from. Any ideas please?

  22. I have also had this experience with the external antenna issue and found a simple solution so will look it up for you if of help

    Phillip

  23. Hi Mark, very helpful review – thank you. I’d like help clarifying a simple but very important point.

    I live and work in a very rural area; our farm has a couple of businesses on it including a recording studio which is very data hungry; I’ve been on the business 4GEE plan for around six months now, having taken their sim out of the router and put it into a commercial grade outdoor 4G aerial + wifi router which provides decent coverage across our main site (6 acres – yes, that’s right!) .However, we’re burning through the tiny 50GB a month allowance and having to buy expensive top ups – this is unsustainable so moving to the different plan offered with this router is a more attractive option (i.e. slightly less wallet-crushingly awful) – is it possible to just take out the nano sim in the model you’ve reviewed and use it in the same way as we have done? I really don’t want to be tied into EE’s hardware at all, particularly as we already have an expensive aerial and router to meet our needs.

    Any help welcome, cheers.

    • Arthur, EE constantly changes prices. Your 50 GB tariff is not visible (to me, maybe I didn’t look hard enough). Do check out the consumer tariffs, I don’t think there is a massive quality difference between business and consumer tariff, or any at all. Its highly unlikely that you have to use the EE router. You may not be able to avoid getting one, flogg it off on the web, and use yours instead. EE might insist on charging for it. If your commercial router (which one?) can take a Nano SIM you should be fine.

      Apparently you have already done this, not sure what your questions is?

    • Arthur, EE constantly changes prices. Your 50 GB tariff is not visible (to me, maybe I didn’t look hard enough). Do check out the consumer tariffs, I don’t think there is a massive quality difference between business and consumer tariff, or any at all. Its highly unlikely that you have to use the EE router. You may not be able to avoid getting one, flogg it off on the web, and use yours instead. EE might insist on charging for it. If your commercial router (which one?) can take a Nano SIM you should be fine.

      Apparently you have already done this, not sure what your questions is?

    • When I tried the EE SIM that came with the EE router in my Zyxel 4G router/modem, it did not appear to work. Strange, because other EE data sims I’ve used before were fine. I didn’t spend a lot of time messing with it due to lack of time and because I found another solution.

      After a bit of experimenting, I found that I could plug the EE 4G router into the WAN port of my Unifi USG 3 (connected to a small, Unifi network with switches and WiFi access points). What I did was set my Unifi network to use a different subnet to the EE router, then enabled DHCP guarding on the Unifi network, so that my USG 3 Gateway is the only trusted DHCP server. It’s been working perfectly for two days and I’m seeing around 60mb/s down and 25mb/s up without any external antenna.

      I’m no networking guru and I suspect I’ve got two sets of Network Address Translation going on but it works fine and my latency to the web is around 30ms which is more than good enough for me.

      • Hi Denis and Mike, thanks so much for your replies. Yes, I should have clarified -I’m on a small business account with EE and six months ago bought their “Mifi” portable 4G router (small, black front with yellow sides and back, no ethernet or mains power just a USB connection) with a 50GB/month contract (£25/month). I took out the nano sim and put it into our 4G wifi router (from Outdoor Router), link below:

        https://www.outdoorrouter.com/product/uk-4g-outdoor-wifi-router-british/?alg_currency=GBP&gclid=Cj0KCQiA1NbhBRCBARIsAKOTmUugpCLipS6Hn_EkL3RR44FF8PM0FewSH5Ikoim12S1EvYKQouOA9HAaApsaEALw_wcB

        We’re paying way too much for add-ons whenever we go over our 50GB data cap, which is pretty much every month. I will have to switch over to a personal account with EE to sign up to their 4GEE 300GB per month deal which is £70 the last time I checked and includes the router reviewed in this article (this deal isn’t offered for small business users for some reason – for business customers they only do the 4GEE router with a 60GB monthly plan for £55, plus £25 for the router, or £80 per month for 120GB – just crazy!!!). I only wondered if there was anything different with the supplied router or nano sim reviewed by Mark in this article that would prevent me from swapping out the sim into our current third-party router as I did before with our Mifi router. It sounds like it should be possible, but any more thoughts or advice gratefully received. Really frustrated that the whole process is so convoluted, but I guess that’s EE for you. Thanks again.

  24. Buy the router with the data pack you want and use it. That is what it is designed to do.

    If you want a bespoke setup, you will have to pay separately for it.

    Like everything in life really, you get what you pay for.

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