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Plusnet Mobile vs EE: what's different and what's the same?

Plusnet vs EE

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We look at whether you're worse off joining Plusnet Mobile instead of EE directly, by looking at coverage, speeds and benefits. Last updated: 19th October 2022.

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How their mobile networks compare

Coverage on EE and Plusnet Mobile

Do you get the same 5G/4G/3G/2G coverage on Plusnet Mobile and EE?

Mobile signal bars with Plusnet and EE logos

3G/2G coverage is the same but 4G is different

Plusnet Mobile 4G, 3G, 2G abnner

Read FAQs

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Plusnet Mobile are a smaller provider that use EE’s network to provide both call signal (3G/2G) and 4G data signal. However there are a few key differences between the two networks that are worth knowing.

While Plusnet can provide access to EE’s brilliant 4G network, they only get access to three out of four of EE’s 4G signal frequencies. The frequency they’re missing out on is the one EE use to reach more rural areas and for extra capacities in cities.

So if you’re out and about in the countryside, there can be a noticeable difference between EE and Plusnet for 4G data. But this difference largely disappears in populated areas. There’s no 5G on Plusnet yet.

Otherwise, 2G/3G call signal coverage is identical on both networks. Check signal in your local area and anywhere you expect to use your phone using either networks’ coverage checkers below.

Useful link: EE's network investment plans

EE have one of the best 5G networks

EE 5G locations map

Latest 5G news

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The biggest difference in signal coverage between the two networks is that Plusnet don’t get access to EE’s brilliant 5G network. This is a bit of a letdown, especially since EE is our current number one pick for 5G networks.

They claim to cover 160+ UK towns and cities for 5G currently. That puts them third place out of the four main networks in terms of the sheer amount of locations covered, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

5G is still only on a street-by-street basis on all networks, but some are able to cover their 5G locations more widely than others. EE only claim a location as covered when 5G is available in 50% of its location.

That means 5G within EE’s covered locations is typically widespread, and that there may be more locations with weaker 5G that they haven’t claimed to cover yet. In any case, use their coverage checker below to see if they cover your local area.

Useful link: Our rankings for the best 5G networks

Use a coverage checker before signing up

Check anywhere you expect to use your phone

Plusnet coverage checker

Plusnet coverage checker

Check Plusnet coverage

using their official map
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EE coverage checker

EE coverage map

Check EE coverage

using their official map
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Our verdict on coverage:

Win for EE

"The lack of 5G and potentially weaker 4G coverage means that Plusnet fall short of their hosts. It’s not that Plusnet’s coverage is bad, it’s just not as good as EE’s overall."

Compare pricing and deals

Data speeds on EE and Plusnet Mobile

Are speeds on Plusnet inferior to what you get on EE?

Speedometer with Plusnet and EE logos

You’re less likely to get the fastest 4G speeds possible on Plusnet

Plusnet logo and hand

Read Plusnet review

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EE are by far the fastest UK network for 4G speeds. According to independent network testers Opensignal, typical 4G speeds on EE sit around 44.0 Mbps. So what sorts of speeds can you expect on Plusnet?

For now that depends on your location. Essentially, in certain areas your phone can access different 4G bands at once giving you faster 4G+ signal. But since Plusnet use fewer bands than EE, you’re less likely to get 4G+.

In some areas we were able to get speeds of 110 Mbps on both our Plusnet and EE SIMs! But in other areas you might see speed differences between the two networks because of the differences in which bands either network use.

We found no evidence of a direct speed cap on Plusnet Mobile, but the lack of 4G+ access may be a bit disappointing to some. Otherwise, Plusnet’s 4G speeds are still more than enough for your typical streaming and browsing needs.

Useful link: Our full Plusnet Mobile review

5G data speeds on EE are impressively fast

Medal with EE written on it

See EE's awards

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On top of having brilliant overall 5G coverage, EE also offer superfast 5G speeds. According to results from Speedtest by Ookla and Opensignal, typical 5G speeds on EE sit between 131.9 Mbps and 158.30 Mbps.

That shows that 5G speeds on EE are typically fast enough for heavy duty data usage, such as gaming and file sharing, as well as being much more consistent than other networks whose speeds can vary wildly.

EE aren’t the fastest (that would be Three), but if speed is a concern for you then EE won’t disappoint. That’s why it’s a big shame that Plusnet don’t offer 5G at all.

Many other low-cost networks have started bringing out 5G (SMARTY and Talkmobile are recent examples), so Plusnet stand out for being one of the few networks not to offer 5G. Maybe we’ll see it in the future, but we can't say for certain.

Useful link: The best UK networks for 5G speeds and coverage

Our verdict on speeds:

Default win for EE

"EE are our favourite network for 5G and it’s a big shame that Plusnet don’t get access to this. We could see them introduce 5G in the future, but for now this is a default win for EE."

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WiFi calling features on both networks

What differences are there on EE and Plusnet Mobile?

Cogs with EE and Plusnet logos

EE offer WiFi/4G calling, Plusnet offer neither

EE WiFi calling

See supported devices

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An issue you might run into on any network is that your signal can begin to suffer when you’re indoors. This is because signal can struggle to get through building materials. Many networks offer WiFi/4G calling as a solution.

These features let you connect to calls via WiFi signal and 4G signal rather than just relying on conventional call (3G/2G) signal. EE offer both features on all plans at no added cost and support a long list of devices.

On the other hand, Plusnet miss out on both features. This can be a big issue as EE’s call signal tends to suffer indoors more than some other networks. But if you get poor indoor signal on Plusnet, you’re out of luck.

Again, more low-cost providers are starting to offer WiFi calling (fellow EE-users 1pMobile being a recent example) so we would expect Plusnet to introduce both features in the future, but they haven’t promised anything yet.

Useful link: All devices EE support for WiFi calling

Our verdict on WiFi Calling:

Win by default for EE

"We think that Plusnet will introduce WiFi calling and 4G calling in the future, but for now this is another default win for EE."

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Perks and benefits on EE vs Plusnet

How roaming compares on Plusnet and EE

A globe with EE and Plusnet logos

Plusnet offer inclusive EU roaming on all plans

Plusnet Roam Like at Home

How it works

from Plusnet's roaming guide
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With more and more networks removing inclusive EU roaming from their deals, it’s good to see that Plusnet Mobile have kept their scheme in place. You get inclusive EU roaming on every Plusnet plan.

This means you can roam in up to 40 EU destinations without paying anything extra. It’s turned on by default so you don’t have to go fiddling around in your settings to get it working.

Plusnet do restrict you to 15GB while you’re abroad if your plan is over that amount, but we think that’s more than enough for most people. If you do go over that you’ll have to pay at these rates or buy a data bolt-on.

They don’t offer inclusive worldwide roaming, but we wouldn’t expect them to. Going further than the EU can put you out of pocket, but for trips to the continent Plusnet are a fine choice.

Useful link: Plusnet's guide to roaming on their network

EE no longer offer free EU roaming

EE worldwide roaming flags

Latest pass costs

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As we said above, a lot of networks have removed inclusive EU roaming from their plans, and EE are one of those networks. You now have to pay a daily rate to roam in their EU destinations.

Currently this rate is £2 a day, and even though you’re paying to access your allowance EE still impose a 50GB fair usage policy. Most users won’t get through that much on a single holiday, but it’s still annoying.

You can take their Roam Abroad pass as a Smart Benefit on one of EE’s Smart Plans, which are pricier than their regular range but include extra benefits. This lets you roam in the EU and in five extra worldwide destinations at no added cost.

Choose a Roaming pass with any of these plans:

But either way you’re paying more to roam in the EU than you would on Plusnet. While the additional worldwide roaming is nice, we think more people will want to travel to the EU.

Useful link: Read our guide to the best roaming networks

Our verdict on inclusive roaming:

Win for Plusnet Mobile

"While EE have some decent worldwide roaming options, ultimately more users will care about EU roaming. Plusnet’s EU roaming isn’t the best, but at least it’s inclusive unlike EE’s. An easy win for Plusnet here."

Compare pricing and deals

Benefits you get on Plusnet but not EE

Advantages to joining Plusnet over EE

EE logo, greater than symbol and Plusnet's logo

Plusnet broadband customers get a data boost

Plusnet Mobile Mates Rates banner

How to get it

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Plusnet reward their customers’ loyalty by giving their broadband and landline customers an extra 2GB boost on every mobile SIM only plan.

Choose a Roaming pass with any of these plans:

Now 2GB doesn’t sound like a lot. But it does potentially mean you could take a smaller plan than you usually would, hence saving you some money. Still, we would prefer an outright discount on your plan.

And your data usage is likely to vary month to month, so having an extra 2GB buffer is a nice way to avoid going over your allowance and having to pay for extra data add-ons.

Overall, the benefit is a nice little reward for your loyalty. The data boost helps get a bit more value out of already great value plans.

Useful link: Plusnet’s guide to their Mates Rates benefit

Benefits you get on EE but not Plusnet

Reasons you might join EE over Plusnet

EE logo, greater than symbol, Plusnet logo

EE’s Smart Plans include extra benefits

EE Smart benefits

See Smart benefits

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If you don’t mind spending a little extra on your plan you might want to consider EE’s range of Smart Plans. These are pricier than their regular deals, but come with extra benefits of your choice included with them.

These benefits include their Roam Abroad pass that lets you roam in their EU locations and a handful of worldwide destinations, as well as subscriptions to Netflix, BT Sport and other entertainment services.

You can also take their Video Data Pass which lets you stream these apps on the go without eating into your data allowance. It’s a great benefit to have. Some other networks offer something similar as standard.

Most of the time it’s cheaper to get a Smart Plan with the benefit you want included rather than taking a non-Smart Plan and the benefit separately. But we still recommend checking this before you buy.

Useful link: EE’s full list of their Smart Benefits

EE include free entertainment trials on all plans

EE Entertainment banner

How it works

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When you join on any pay monthly EE plan you’ll get a few free trials to different entertainment services included. These include 6 months free Apple Music, 3 months Apple TV+ and 6 months free Apple News+.

You get all of these free trials, not just one of them. And the data you use during your Apple Music trial won’t come out of your allowance, though that’s not the case with the other two trials.

It’s up to you to choose when you want to activate your free trials. But bear in mind that after they’re up you will start paying for the service unless you cancel them beforehand.

In any case, these free trials add a bit of extra value to your pay monthly plan. EE used to offer more free trials, but as it stands it’s still a nice benefit to have.

Useful link: Our rankings for the best free trials schemes

Get money off extra plans added to your account

See more benefits

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EE have a brilliant family plan scheme for signing up on multiple deals. You get a straight up 10% discount on any plans you add onto your main account as well as a few extra benefits to get even more value out of your deals.

If one user on your account is about to go over their monthly allowance and another user has plenty to spare, you can gift data from one user to another in 500MB increments to tide them over until the next month.

And on top of that, every user added earns the account holder an extra 1GB. You can use that extra data how you please, even gifting it to other users. You can add up to 4 extra users, meaning a potential 4GB boost.

While EE’s plans are quite pricey in the first place, their family plan scheme helps you get a good amount of extra value if you’re thinking of signing up on additional plans.

Useful link: The terms and conditions of EE’s family account scheme

Our verdict on extra benefits:

Depends what you value

"On extra benefits, it's just a case of paying more to get more on EE. Plusnet are there to be cheap and no frills. EE are there to offer a more premium experience."

Compare pricing and deals

EE and Plusnet deals and pricing

Special offers on Plusnet and EE

What's in each network's promotions this month?

Special offer ribbon with EE and Plusnet logos

SIM only deals: comparing Plusnet and EE

How do Plusnet Mobile and EE compare on SIM only deal pricing?

SIM card with Plusnet and EE's logos



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Our verdict on SIM only prices:

Win for Plusnet Mobile

"Plusnet Mobile are a no-frills, low-cost network. So it’s no surprise that they’re typically much cheaper than being on EE."

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Phone contracts on EE vs Plusnet

Do both networks offer similar phone contracts?

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Only EE offer phone contracts between the two networks

EE annual upgrade

How they work

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Plusnet currently don’t offer any mobile phone contracts whatsoever. So there’s nothing here to really compare them on, though it is worth knowing what you can get with one of EE’s phone contracts.

EE’s phone deals are on what we’d call traditional contracts. You get a 24-month contract, with the monthly cost of your device and usage (mins, texts, data) plan bundled into one bill.

There’s no way to pay lump sums to reduce your monthly bill or upgrade early, you can’t choose a different contract length or change the upfront cost of your contract. There’s very little flexibility in their contracts.

EE’s contracts can work out as quite expensive. But BT broadband customers can get either 10% off an EE phone contract bought through their website or a unique deal altogether.

Unfortunately there are no third party resellers offering EE phone contracts. If you want the best possible value out of your deal, use our phone contract comparison tool here to compare EE’s prices vs other mobile networks.

Useful link: See EE's range of phones

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Win by default for EE

"We wouldn’t expect Plusnet to offer phone contracts as not a lot of no-frills networks do. EE’s phone contracts can be pricey and inflexible, but they still win by default here."

Compare pricing and deals

Other EE guides

Other Plusnet guides