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Why are EE more expensive? Reasons behind their prices

EE logo and a wallet iconVisit EE.co.uk

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We look at how EE's network building costs, running retail stores and marketing themselves translate into the prices you pay. Last updated: 13th February 2024.

Comparing EE's prices

EE are usually among the more-expensive networks

EE logo and a network mast

There are cheaper alternatives on EE's networkSee networks on EE

at simsherpa.com
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If you’ve shopped around for a SIM only deal, you’ll probably have found that EE’s plans are generally some of the most expensive of all providers. That’s especially the case compared to smaller, budget networks.

And that also goes for their phone deals. Their usage plans (mins, texts, data) are usually the same as their SIM only deals, so you even if the phone is reasonable, the plan adds the cost back up.

And then there's also the extra pricing on top of that. The costs for extra data if you go over your allowance, international calls can get expensive and now you have to pay to roam in the EU on EE.

Additionally, EE will up the cost of your plan each year according to inflation which can get really expensive. So what actually is it that EE are spending your money on?

Useful link: Our guide to cheaper EE alternatives on their network

What drives up prices?

EE have to pay to run and expand their quality network

Man installing a mobile mast

They've spent billions over a decadeLatest network news

at EE.co.uk
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The most first and most reasonable explanation is that EE have to pay to maintain and expand their network. They have the largest 4G network and are rapidly expanding 5G into more and more areas.

EE spend have billions on their network over the decade. This is a huge part of why they have the most widespread 4G signal and should give an idea of how much providers have to spend to expand their network.

This means they’re incurring the full cost of their network masts and every other cost associated with running a mobile network. Budget providers don’t have to do this and as such can offer lower prices.

But that doesn’t really explain why EE are typically more expensive than the other main UK networks, especially Three who have a more expansive 5G network. So what are the other reasons for EE’s high prices?

Useful link: Check coverage using EE’s signal map

Their marketing takes up a lot of their budget

Kevin Bacon sitting on an aeroplane

Hiring Holywood actors isn't cheapSee current campaigns

at EE.co.uk
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EE put a huge amount of money into marketing their brand, a big part of which goes to hiring Hollywood stars like Kevin Bacon. It’s probably why you heard of EE in the first place.

They’ve also put a massive amount of investment into changing their marketing to focusing on how EE can be used for gaming, home internet, learning and work.

EE also sponsor Wembley Stadium and provide the mobile infrastructure (such as 5G) for the arena. Something that requires a huge amount of money from them.

In all, EE spend a lot on marketing and that results in higher prices. It's similar with O2, Vodafone and to a less extent Three, who are generally the cheapest main network operator in the UK.

Useful link: Read our EE vs Three guide

They pay a lot for stores and have other big overheads

Front of an EE BT store

Running physical stores is expensiveFind your nearest

at EE.co.uk
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You’ve probably seen an EE store along the high street, in malls or even concessions in your local supermarket. This is a big part of why EE are so popular, as they can sell their products in person and online.

But this of course incurs the costs of running the stores and paying the employees, adding more to EE’s expenditure that ultimately ends up being covered with the price you pay for their services.

EE do benefit massively from this, however, as not only are they appealing to people who don’t want to order online, but it’s also a lot easier to convince someone to join on an expensive plan in person.

It’s a bit of a cycle. It costs EE more to sell to you because of their physical stores, so that’s reflected in their prices. EE also spend a lot on customer service and they’re one of the best networks for this.

Useful link: Find your nearest EE store

They simply don’t need to be cheaper to sell deals

EE 10 years at the top banner

Multiple awards, millions of customersRead their page

at EE.co.uk
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Ultimately, one of the main reasons that EE offer such high prices is because they can. EE have the second-largest number of subscribers of all mobile networks, so there’s no real incentive for them to lower costs.

They’re also one of the most well known UK networks (due to their advertising and branding), so many people will join them without shopping around for a better deal. EE trade off brand recognition as well as actual quality.

Joining a premium brand makes people feel safer than joining a budget one. People might think they’ll get a worse network experience by joining a cheaper network. But as we show below, that’s really not the case.

In all, EE’s high costs are a result of having to run their own network, marketing their brand and having a lack of incentives to lower them. But we go into some cheaper providers on EE’s network below.

Useful link: Our guide to the cheaper providers on EE’s network

Cheaper alternatives

You can join cheaper providers to get EE’s network quality

spusu logo1pMobile logoLycamobile logoTalk Home Mobile logo

Loads of cheaper optionsRead our guide

here at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

There are a fair few smaller providers on EE’s network that offer cheaper deals than joining EE directly. Some of these get full access to EE’s network, while a couple of them don’t get full 4G access.

spusu are arguably our favourite alternative to EE. They get full access to EE’s 4G and 5G network and offer low prices on SIM only. They also offer inclusive EU roaming and include international mins on all plans.

1pMobile are our second favourite choice. They also have identical coverage to EE and also offer inclusive EU roaming. They also have the UK's cheapest pay as you go rates at 1p per min, text and MB of data.

Finally, Lyca Mobile and Talk Home Mobile are also decent choices. They get full 5G access, but don’t get full access to EE’s 4G network. Still, they offer low costs and some very nice benefits between them.

Useful link: Our full guide to all networks on EE

SIM only deals



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