How does Broadband work?

What is Broadband?

Broadband is the name given to a permanent internet connection that brings an internet signal to and from a device through a telephone line. When household internet first started it used a dial-up connection and the technology didn’t allow for the same speeds we commonly enjoy today. In effect, the single band has been replaced by lots of bands (or a wide range of frequencies that are split into channels) for different uses – hence the name ‘broadband’. 

The most common household broadband for fixed line is either ADSL (also known as ‘Copper’) or Fibre – with the key difference being the type of wires the internet goes through. 

How does the internet get to my device?

Openreach owns the UK’s largest network and digital signals are sent through wires between their local exchange and the green street cabinets – if this comes through a copper wire it is standard (or ADSL) broadband, but if the signals come through a fibre-optic cable it is fibre broadband. 

The internet typically flows through a copper cable to your home, then a socket, and eventually makes its way to your router.  It’s then converted into a radio signal that broadcasts around your house wirelessly so you can access the internet on your laptop, tablet, smart TV or mobile phone. Magic. 

Why do I need a landline for broadband?

Openreach provides the lines that connect the telephone exchange to the green cabinets, and then to your home.  Most UK broadband services (like EE, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet) have to use these same lines to give you broadband.  Having a landline doesn’t mean you have to plug in a phone, as you can just use it for broadband if you want. 

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

Our 4G network covers more of the UK than any other, so that means we can also provide you with something known as mobile broadband – or 4GEE WiFi.  This doesn’t need a fixed line network (like Openreach) to get internet to you as it uses our 4GEE network instead. More information about these products can be found here

What is data allowance?

Some broadband providers offer packages that cap how much data you can use every month. 

Data is measured in bytes – 1,024 bytes make 1 KB (kilobyte), 1,024 kilobytes make 1MB (megabyte) and 1,024 MB make 1GB (gigabyte).  Streaming a standard video for an hour for instance would use about 1GB and streaming a HD video would use 3GB of data per hour.*  

It’s hard to know how much you’ll need from month to month so all EE packages have unlimited broadband data, so you never need to worry about running over an allowance. You can check emails, browse social media, stream videos (like iPlayer and YouTube), make video calls (like Skype), 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 including telling your current provider for you (except Virgin Media customers). You can find out more about switching here – 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