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Is BT broadband any good?

Thursday, March 6th 2014

BT is the UK’s most popular broadband provider with a 30% market share, but does it deserve this lofty status or are customers just following the herd?

BT offers the widest broadband coverage and some of the fastest download speeds in the country, but it doesn’t come cheap and customer service has slipped in recent years. Read our independent review about broadband from BT to help you decide if it’s the right provider for you.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Widest coverage of all UK providers
  • Fast and getting faster
  • Free public Wi-Fi and BT Sport

Cons

  • Below-average customer service
  • 18-month contracts
  • Not the cheapest broadband around

What we like

Widest coverage of all UK providers

BT ADSL broadband is available to over 99% of homes and businesses in the UK, while the BT Infinity fibre service is available to around 62% of the population and expanding steadily. These stats make BT the most widely available broadband provider in the country. However, those in areas not yet served by BT Infinity may be able to get fibre broadband from Virgin Media instead, as it operates a cable network separate from the Openreach network used by BT and most other mainstream providers.

Fast and getting faster

BT offers two widely available fibre services, Infinity 1 (up to 38Mbps) and Infinity 2 (up to 76Mbps). BT Speeds delivered close to these rates, averaging 32.6Mbps and 62.1Mbps respectively in Ofcom’s latest round of speed tests.

BT is planning to ramp up the speed of its fibre service with the development of Infinity 3 (up to 200Mbps) and Infinity 4 (up to 300Mbps). However, it’s very early days and we’re yet to find a postcode that can access these top speeds, which means Virgin Media currently trumps BT in offering the fastest widely available broadband in the country.

Free public Wi-Fi and BT Sport

Internet access with BT doesn’t end when you leave home. All broadband packages include free and unlimited access to the BT Wi-Fi network, which comprises five million hotspots in public places across the UK, and a further three million in international locations. Free BT Sport is another perk for broadband customers. You’ll get unlimited access to the BT Sport app and online player, plus the TV channels (BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN) if you have Infinity broadband and take BT TV too.

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What we don’t like

Below-average customer service

BT is a trusted household name in the UK and many people like being with a brand they know, but this doesn’t always pay off. In fact, customer service has slipped in recent years and BT has recorded more complaints than rivals Sky, Virgin Media and Plusnet. In Ofcom’s latest customer satisfaction survey, it scored below average for landline phone, broadband and pay TV services.

18-month contracts

The majority of BT broadband packages require you to sign up to an 18-month contract, which may feel too restrictive for those on a 12-month tenancy agreement or anyone that just doesn’t like to commit long term. This compares to Virgin Media and Sky, which both offer 12-month contracts. BT has started to cater to students, with nine-month contracts that are available from September for the start of the academic year.

Not the cheapest broadband around

Prices start from £5 per month (plus £15.99 line rental) for BT broadband with weekend calls, which isn’t too heavy on the pocket but cheaper deals are available from the likes of EE, Plusnet, TalkTalk and Primus Saver. If you upgrade to the prices start from £7.50 (plus £15.99 line rental), but this deal has a 20GB usage cap while similar deals from the competition offer unlimited downloads.

Package comparison

  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed17Mb
    Max Upload Speed1Mb
    Monthly Usage10GB
    Fair UsageNo
    Traffic ShapingYes
    IP AddressingDynamic
    Digital TV
    TV Channels-
    SD Channels-
    HD Channels-
    3D Channels-
    Radio Channels-
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening Calls9ppm
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    (£10 after 6 mths)
    £5
    Upfront CostFree
    Contract Length18 months
    Line Rental p/m£15.99
    Average Monthly£22.10
    First Year Cost£241.88
    Lifetime Cost£397.82
    See deal →
    or call 0800 840 5395
  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed17Mb
    Max Upload Speed1Mb
    Monthly UsageUnlimited
    Fair UsageNo
    Traffic ShapingNo
    IP AddressingDynamic
    Digital TV
    TV Channels-
    SD Channels-
    HD Channels-
    3D Channels-
    Radio Channels-
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening Calls9ppm
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    (£16 after 6 mths)
    £8
    Upfront CostFree
    Contract Length18 months
    Line Rental p/m£15.99
    Average Monthly£27.10
    First Year Cost£295.88
    Lifetime Cost£487.82
    See deal →
    or call 0800 840 5395
  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed38Mb
    Max Upload Speed2Mb
    Monthly Usage20GB
    Fair UsageNo
    Traffic ShapingNo
    IP AddressingDynamic
    Digital TV
    TV Channels-
    SD Channels-
    HD Channels-
    3D Channels-
    Radio Channels-
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening Calls9ppm
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    (£15 after 6 mths)
    £7.50
    Upfront Cost£30
    Contract Length18 months
    Line Rental p/m£15.99
    Average Monthly£26.82
    First Year Cost£296.88
    Lifetime Cost£482.82
    See deal →
    or call 0800 840 5395

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Conclusion

BT is a solid, reliable household name that’s been around for over 100 years with excellent broadband coverage across the country. Added extras such as BT Sport, fast speeds and unlimited public Wi-Fi make BT an attractive option for consumers. Less tempting aspects are the 18-month contracts, higher price and slipping customer service standards, which should encourage caution before you buy.

And don't forget, Cable.co.uk now produces in-depth broadband reviews of every major UK broadband package, so check them out if you need more information.

Visit BT →

BT broadband reviews

Cable.co.uk now produces in-depth broadband reviews of every major UK broadband package, follow the links below to check out what we thought of BT's range.

Unlimited Broadband

3.4

Unlimited Broadband
Broadband

3

Broadband

Comments (15)

John Lewis
30 days ago

I live in a rural area and they just made bills up in the end. After initially claiming it would be 39/month (117/qtr) with 20 measly Gb, 4meg down and 400k up it slowly increased month on month to £280/qtr! I ended up cancelling before the 18 months because I could not afford them any more, my budget was very tight - and now because I defaulted I owe them £560 apparently! Guess how much they're getting of that...I would tell them - but once you get past sales, you never speak to another human again. If you do, their customer relations between departments is so p*** poor you will have to repeat everything over and over again and waste literally days of your precious time. At work, we've had 18 months of hell too because of their business division as they cannot explain what the sporadic bills are for so we cannot pay them through the accountant. They will threaten to cut you off though no problem. Awful awful company.

Avoid at all costs. If they perform badly they just put another ad out and capture the gullible. I've now gone with PlusNet and it's 41/month for 250gb transfer. 100% reliable, friendly, cannot fault them. Never on this earth would I recommend BT to anyone...and as for 'the UK's mot popular service' that is becuase they spend their ill gotten gains on advertising - that is the ONLY reason.

A Rhodes
9th June 2014

Don't go with BT Broadband, we've had a problem with the parental controls for weeks meaning we can't even get Facebook! The help dept are very nice on the phone but keep making promises they don't keep. There service is the worst we've encountered and I wish we were with another provider!

Mat Pershing
31st May 2014

I ordered BT Business Broadband in order to ensure a fast reliable serive and a fixed IP address on 21 May 2014. Emails and letters followed with all sorts of login names and passwords to confirm my order, and to tell me that I'll be connected by 29 May 2014, and that I'll get my router the day before. I therefore cancelled my Sky broadband, effictive end of May 2014. Today, on 30 May, I still had not received my promised router and broadband service. I called BT to find out that the Business broadband order line is only open Mon-Fri until 18:00! After several calls and being passed around someone eventually manages to tell me that my order "has been cancelled". They didn't know why, didn't know who had cancelled it, and didn't know why I hadn't been told. Therefore I will be left without a broadband or indeed internet service in about a day's time. No-one in BT has bothered to email me, call me, or send me a letter about this mysterious cancellation. Is this why they are "Britain's favourite broadband"?! This is extremely poor and uncaring service from a company that does not care about its clients as individuals.

Lorna
11th May 2014

In short, in answer to the question : "Is BT Infinity any good?" i would have to say NO! I agreed to the 'upgrade' from standard broadband to BT Infinity with BT TV a couple of weeks ago, and since the engineer came last week, i have been left with NO broadband whatsoever! It has been an absolute nightmare so far and I am really annoyed because it inconveniences me and my family so much...(I work from home and am without my e-mails , home network...I can't print on my printer or watch any of the TV channels we have ordered)

1) We are only 0.7 miles away from the exchange 2) I was told if I upgrade my package I will be better off by £2 per month - NOT true! 3) After spending all day yesterday on and off the phone to them (about 10 calls in all), I was told that I can expect to wait approx 15 days for it to be 'optimised' - something I was NOT informed about before I agreed to go ahead with the upgrade 4) When I said if they don't sort it out within 24 hours, I want the whole thing removed & i want to just go back to my old system (which worked perfectly fine), I could expect a £300 cancellation fee!

I just want a system that functions and I need it to function ASAP as I work from home and can't afford to be out of action for days on end.

If I don't get the situation resolved to my satisfaction quickly, I shall have to make a very big fuss and will demand compensation. having now spoken to my friends about this, several of them have told me that they have experienced something similar with BT.

I feel that I have been lied to and conned.

My verdict about BT Infinity - RUBBISH!!

AntonH
22nd April 2014

Unreliable broadband, poor customer service, more expensive than rivals. The only attraction was the BT sport I wanted to be able to watch the Moto GP. If you don't need BT Sport then please do yourself a favor and look else where. I had Eclipse broadband for 5 years without a problem. Highly recommended.

Alan
12th April 2014

Was with O2 and all was fine,got switched to Sky because of the takeover and download speed dropped from 13mb to 2mbps.Now with BT and speed is 15mbps and connection is solid.

Adnan
26th November 2013

SKY, BT, TALK TALK, Plusnet, all these ISPs are all the same in terms of the standard broadbands they provide. What people fail to realise is that they all have something in common, they all use ADSL to supply broadband into customers' homes. ADSL broadband is transmitted through copper wires from the local area exchange, which means it is prone to disconnect. Internet speeds also depend how far the local area exchange is from the customer's house, the further the frequencies have to travel through the copper wires to your home router the likely they deteriorate causing slow speeds. Therefore these extras that ISPs tend to include as part of their deals are totally useless. (well, not entirely) BT HomeHubs, Talk Talk wireless N routers etc don't actually improve your speeds, they are just fancy extras to light up the public, make them believe they are getting the best deal ever. All the problems people are experiencing are all common with whoever your with as your ISP. All their call centres are in India, they all tend to waste plenty of your time on the phone for problems they know they can't resolve, by keeping you on the phone it allows them time for your internet to hopefully resolve itself. The so called 'Engineer' that turns up to your house doesn't make a difference to what the technical team can do over the phone. ADSL has a common fault which simply cannot be fixed unless all copper wires were abolished and replaced with fibre optic. You have to remember most of these wires can be of some age. Especially when the area has experienced adverse weather conditions, internet connections disconnect easily, water ingresses into joints etc. So with all these complaints, it will not change anything. No matter who your with, the Pros and Cons will most likely all be the same, some maybe be better some maybe worse. Im currently with SKY, i have had problems with my internet from the minute i signed up with them. Luckily i did some research prior to signing a contract with them. I found out that the highest potential speed in the area is 3.5Mbps, which is ridiculous considering i live just behind Europes biggest financial district. So matter what ISP i choose, i can never get speeds higher than this, i just have to wait for someone to recognise the gold mine there is here. Many would jump to the Fibre Optic option if it was available, Virgin Media needs to sort themselves out and install their services here. Cable based internet is far much better.

jay
2nd November 2013

The speed of 16 GB is slow as they never reach that limit and it always seems to hit 10 or less. Phoned numerous times to resolve this matter but just get lame excuses given. Glad my contract is up with BT broadband service . Now getting 30 GB with Virgin me so so haPPY.

JohnP
29th October 2013

Further to my review a month previous, BT have now decided to bill me twice a month. much more of this and I will leave BT

Yash
26th October 2013

Been with BT since march over nine months now, internet speed started to drop from 6.50mbps to 0.20 mbps, called their helpline which happens to be yes you guessed it in India they asked me all the usual questions ie; is my laptop wired to the hub (yes) any equipment connected wireless, filter on the master socket , would I unplug all connections and reconnect switch off hub etc.etc. Suddenly speed went back up only to drop again later. To cut to the chase four weeks and numerous phone calls ( on one occasion spoke to four different people I was cut off twice ,transferred twice one minute I was talking to their UK people next I was talking to somebody in India.) Each person I spoke to or e-mailed me was different from the last one , never communicated with the same person again passed from pillar to post. All I wanted was an engineer to come and check the line from my local exchange to my house . During my conversation their patter was to upgrade to infinity . I now have come to a conclusion that they traffic the speed according to who has what ie; infinity or more expensive contract. They are happy to let me walk away free from my contract as they never intended to solve the problem. I will walk away before they change their mind . Hello plusnet ( owned by BT ) apparently.

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