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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.

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 Speed16Mb
    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)
    £7.50
    Upfront CostFree
    Contract Length18 months
    Line Rental p/m£15.99
    Average Monthly£25.16
    First Year Cost£296.88
    Lifetime Cost£452.82
    See deal →
    or call 0800 840 5395
  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed16Mb
    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£29.32
    First Year Cost£335.88
    Lifetime Cost£527.82
    See deal →
    or call 0800 840 5395
  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed38Mb
    Max Upload Speed9.5Mb
    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)
    £10
    Upfront Cost£30
    Contract Length18 months
    Line Rental p/m£15.99
    Average Monthly£30.99
    First Year Cost£371.88
    Lifetime Cost£557.82
    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.

Visit BT →

Comments (10)

Alan
5 days ago

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.

SuZieD
24th October 2013

We've been with BT for 6 months and it's been horrendous. Dropping connections and slow speeds make the remaining 12 months a bitter pill to swallow. Contacting customer service is painful and pointless. We've raised a number of complaints already and it's become so bad that we're actually willing to ditch BT and pay the penalties. We live in zone 2 in London and this is really not acceptable.

John P
3rd October 2013

Been with BT for 18 months now and never had any problems, The line has never dropped once. They recently sent me the new Home Hub 4 (although I had no reason to have one). My contract is now up and looking to change ISP but after trawling thro the reviews I have decided to stay with BT albeit that they are on the expensive side and prices due to rise again early 2014.

MAJames
25th September 2013

I have been with BT for over 18 months and am now looking to move to Plusnet as BT will not give me a deal and despite TWICE talking to them to negotiate, they cannot give a realistic price so I am leaving (and yes I know Plusnet is owned by BT) as loyality appears to be a rude word these days.

One VERY good piece of advice with ANY service offering a Free Router (or a cheap one). Buy a proper quality router (I have a Draytek Vigor 2750Vn on advice of my computer guy - as he says if its free, then chances are it cost less than a tenner and of poor quality.

When I first had the Homehub 3 it gave speeds of around 35mbps but after a while this had reduced to 3-4mbps so I called 'customer service' (I use the term lightly) and was advised to turn off the router and then turn on again. I commented that this didn't seem very technical but I did it. The speed returned to 36mbps but again dropped off. Explaining this to my computer guy he recommended the Draytek router (£240 inc VAT) and since that time, have had not one instance of any problems. The PSK code from provider needs to be entered and it is also very secure.

If things are FREE, generally cos they are CHEAP and usually not reliable.

Really do recommend a quality router as many problems are caused by this but people think its a 'fault' when often its the hardware at fault.

shaun hall
19th March 2013

Im moving from sky to bt broadband sky is terrible my router is ancient an barely works yet they wont giv me a new one or even a discount for a new one so why have sky broadband if u cant use it all there equipment is dodgy aswell

Umar Nawaz Khan
18th January 2013

BT is to expansive broadband running through your old copper wires.

just wait for BT infinity2 to move in your street then move to BT if you want. price is good for BT infinity 2 but not for the old broadband running on old copper wires. plus to get excellent speed you need to be near the telephone exchange.

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