September 5, 2017 // 9:15 a.m.
EE, the communications network formerly known as Everything Everywhere, has announced it is launching a new product for the home broadband market - but with an own-brand 4G wireless router, rather than a fixed-line copper or fibre connection.
EE's latest creation, dubbed the 4GEE Router, is clearly designed to look pretty sat next to Apple gear in a modern minimalist home office as per the company's promotional imagery, but it's the performance that is of most note: Using the company's '4G+' connectivity via a pre-installed subscriber identity module (SIM) card, EE claims the router is capable of hitting download speeds up to 90Mb/s - higher even than many companies' fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) fixed line services - with local connectivity provided by a built-in 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi radio. That speed comes with a major caveat, of course, in the form of sensitivity to location and nearby radiofrequency (RF) interference which could see that speed plummet considerably as you get further away from an EE mobile basestation.
EE's pricing, too, raises eyebrows for those looking to use the router for their primary internet connnection: The company is, in common with most wireless internet services, pricing its subscriptions based on how much data you expect to use, which spells trouble for heavier users. EE has confirmed the base-level subscription starts at a minimum of £25 a month for 10GB, rising to £50 for 50GB, £75 for 100GB, and topping out at £100 for 200GB, with the 4GEE Router provided free of charge at all subscription levels. The router is also available to purchase outright for £129.99 and can be used by buying blocks of data transfer allowance starting with a bundled 10GB.
While the ability to connect to the internet at high speeds without a fixed line will be welcomed by those in parts of the UK still underserved by traditional fixed-line broadband, EE's 4G+ coverage is far from complete: the company's own coverage estimate suggests around 80 percent of the UK is currently covered, with plans to extend this to 95 percent by 2020. While much of this connectivity overlaps with that offered by BT's wholesale division and Virgin Media, EE claims to offer above-average coverage in rural areas with little access to traditional fixed-line broadband. The company has also included a port on the rear of the router for connecting an external high-gain antenna, though at the time of writing did not offer such an antenna itself.
More information on the 4GEE Router is available on the official product page.