How does Broadband work?

What is Broadband?

In the simplest terms, broadband is a permanent internet connection that brings internet signal into your home. Back when household internet first began, it used a dial-up connection through your telephone line. This didn’t allow for the same high speeds we commonly enjoy today. 

Nowadays, the single band has been replaced by lots of bands – which is where the name ‘broadband’ comes from. The most common household fixed line broadband is either ADSL (also known as ‘Copper’) or Fibre – the main difference being the type of wires the internet goes through.

How does the internet get to my home?

Openreach owns the UK’s largest broadband and telephone network. Internet signals are sent between its local exchange and the green street cabinets in your area. If copper wire is used to the cabinet, this is standard ADSL broadband. If a fibre optic cable is used, this is known as fibre broadband.

Fibre broadband is also called Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). This is because the fibre optic connection only goes so far as the green cabinet. The rest of the journey to your home could still be over a copper cable.

There is a newer technology, called Fibre to the premises (FTTP) or ‘Full Fibre’. This is different because a fibre connection is used all the way from the exchange to your home. Openreach is rolling out FTTP to more rural and urban areas around the UK all the time.

Do I need a landline for broadband?

In the past, you would need to have a landline to receive broadband internet. Openreach provides the lines that connect the telephone exchange to the green cabinets, and then on to your home. Most UK broadband providers had to use these lines to give you broadband.

You can now take out Fibre without landline broadband from EE. But you can still choose to have a landline if you want, so you only pay for what you need. If you receive FTTP broadband, you won’t be able to have a landline because Openreach is phasing out the old copper connections used for telephone lines.

What if there’s no broadband available in my area at all?

Our 4G network covers more of the UK than any other, and we’re rolling out even faster 5G coverage all the time. This means we can also provide something known as mobile broadband. This doesn’t need a fixed line network (like Openreach) to get internet to you as it uses our 4GEE and 5GEE networks instead.

More information about these products can be found on our mobile broadband page.

What is data allowance?

Some broadband providers offer packages that limit or ‘cap’ how much data you can use every month. Your allowance limit is usually provided in gigabytes. Streaming a standard video for an hour can use about 1GB, while streaming a HD video could use 3GB of data in an hour.*

It can be hard to know how much data you’ll need from month to month, so all EE home broadband packages have unlimited data. You’ll never have to worry about running over an allowance and getting hit with a higher bill. You can check emails, browse social media, stream videos (like iPlayer and Netflix), make video calls, download movies, play games and have multiple devices connected without worrying.

Is it easy to switch broadband provider?

Yes! We know you don’t want to be without internet and we’ll do everything we can to make the switch seamless. We can also tell your current provider for you (except Virgin Media customers).

If you’re signing up for an FTTP plan before 1.30pm, you can even be up and running the next working day without an engineer visit.

You can find out more at our switching broadband providers page – including information about our £50 early cancellation credit if you’re charged for leaving your current provider.

* the figures quoted are a guide to the amount of data used and can vary based on a number of factors