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EE 4G data plans, a global comparison

EE (Everything Everywhere), the UK’s first 4G/LTE operator, released their data plans and pricing today. Although the pricing was generally received as reasonable, there was some dismay at how low they have set the monthly data usage limits. There is a suspicion that the initial data plans have been positioned like this to milk the market during their monopoly period. However looking around the globe at other established 4G offerings, I fear that these pricing structures will be here to stay even after the UK 4G market opens up to competition.

There appear to be two disparate pricing models for 4G at large in the world: sensible and fair pricing (as in Portugal and Scandanavia) and the ripoff cartels (as in USA, Germany, Australia and regrettably probably here in the UK).

The table below shows how data plans compare in several countries with 4G/LTE offerings broken down by the monthly limit on data usage. The Americans appear to have invented the word OVERAGE to describe getting charged for exceeding your monthly usage limit. Some operators offer “overage-free” services where your speeds are throttled back after you exceed your monthly limit, but you will not be charged extra. Other operators (including, it seems, EE) will bill their customers for the extra volume used. From what I could determine, the pricing in this table is for monthly mobile broadband contracts (ranging from 12 to 24 months) suitable for use with a 4G modem.

Operator EE Telstra 3 TMN T-Mobile Telekom Telenor
Country UK Australia Sweden Portugal USA Germany Norway
1GB £25.67
2GB £15.99 £9.35 £25.02
3GB £20.99
4GB £32.10
5GB £25.99 £31.28
8GB £38.52
10GB £14.07 £50.05 £51.22 £26.13
15GB £70.65 £30.91
20GB £34.89
30GB £58.54
50GB £23.51
80GB £32.96

So the Swedes and Norwegians have it pretty good. TMN and Optimus in Portugal advertise their 4G offering as “ilimitado” (unlimited) but the small print specifies a 15GB cap as part of a fair use policy. That’s still a comparatively good deal especially at the current promotional price of just over £8 a month for the first three months. A Portuguese reader reports that the 15GB limitation is always enforced by TMN but Optimus have a more discretionary approach..

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