Dan Howdle | October 27th, 2021
BT offers three tiers of fibre broadband to UK customers, named BT Fibre Essential, BT Fibre 1, BT Fibre 2 and BT Full Fibre. But what's the difference and which one is the right one for you?
BT is one of the UK’s biggest and most popular broadband providers in the UK, with a range of broadband only, combined broadband and landline phone, and broadband and TV packages to suit a range of requirements.
If you live with three or more people, standard broadband may not be fast enough to suit your needs. Instead, you’re likely to need a fibre broadband connection. BT offers three different packages.
Previously called BT Infinity, customers can now choose between an entry-level package known as BT Fibre Essential, a mid-range package known as BT Fibre 1, and a super-fast broadband package, known as BT Fibre 2.
This page will help you understand what each of these fibre broadband packages includes, and the differences between them so you select the one that’s right for you.
If you’re not sure what broadband speed you need, our guide will help you work out what’s right for your household.
|BT Fibre Essential||BT Fibre 1||BT Fibre 2||BT Full Fibre|
|Contract length||24 months||24 months||24 months||24 months|
|Average download speed||36Mbps||50Mbps||67Mbps||900Mbps|
|Average upload speed||9.5Mbps||9.5Mbps||19Mbps||-|
|Router||BT Home Hub||BT Smart Hub||BT Smart Hub||BT Smart Hub|
BT’s fibre offering has become a little more complex than it used to be, with three different broadband speeds in place of the old two:
BT Fibre Essential – This is the brand’s basic fibre broadband package. With an average speed of 36Mbps, it’s comparable to most other providers’ entry-level fibre packages. BT Fibre Essential provides adequate internet service for single people, couples, and smaller households where internet use is not heavy. The average upload speed of 9.5Mbps is also adequate for most smaller households.
BT Fibre 1 – BT’s mid-range Fibre 1 package offers average speeds of 50Mbps, which makes it a better choice for average-sized households with four or more internet users. With the same 9.5Mbps download speed as BT Fibre Essential, there isn’t a world of difference between the two packages in terms of both speed and price.
BT Fibre 2 – Though BT does offer faster packages in limited parts of the country, BT’s top-tier Fibre 2 package represents the fastest speed that most of us can expect to get from the brand. With download speeds averaging 67Mbps, and an upload speed of 19Mpbs, it’s fast enough for large and busy households where everyone’s online at the same time. If you want or need to go faster than this, you’ll need to turn to Virgin Media.
Download speed refers to how fast you can copy or send things from the internet to your computer or device, whereas upload speeds dictate how fast you can copy or send things from your device to the internet, cloud storage, or other devices.
Most of us receive more data than we send, making upload speed much less important than download speed.
With a BT fibre essential package, you can expect average download speeds of 36Mbps. With a Fibre 1 package, speeds increase to an average of 50Mbps, and with a Fibre 2 package, speeds can average 67Mbps.
Users with Fibre Essential and Fibre 1 get upload speeds up to 9.5Mpbs, and Fibre 2 users benefit from upload speeds of around 19.5Mpbs.
With an average speed of 36Mbps, BT’s Fibre Essential package is suitable for single people and smaller households made up of light internet users.
Fibre Essential broadband is supplied with a BT Home Hub 5 router, a basic model that isn’t anywhere near as good as the BT Smart Hub that comes with BT’s other fibre broadband deals. Fibre Essential is also 14Mbps slower than Fibre 1, BT’s mid-range option that comes with 50Mbps download speed. The combination of these two factors means that it’s probably worth investing in Fibre 1, especially as it’s only fractionally more expensive than Fibre Essential (the price difference is a mere £2 per month, at the time of writing).
While BT Fibre 1 is a better value choice for small to average-sized households, is it a better deal when compared to Fibre 2, BT’s superfast offering?
The difference in speed between the two packages is 17Mbps, which doesn’t translate to a huge difference in real world terms. As an example, downloading a 6GB HD movie using BT’s Fibre 1 package would take 17 minutes and 10 seconds, in comparison to 12 minutes and 49 seconds using Fibre 2 – not really a world of difference.
However, if you have a large household, and need a connection that will support several devices at the same time, especially if more than one person is streaming or gaming, then that extra speed will come in handy.
Both Fibre 1 and Fibre 2 broadband from BT come with the same excellent Smart Hub router, and a price difference of only £2 per month at time of writing.
While there is little real-world difference in the download speeds offered by BT’s fibre broadband line-up, the upload speeds make a significant difference for some internet users.
While download speeds dictate how fast you can copy things from the internet to your devices, upload speeds to the opposite, dictating how fast you can copy or send things from your device to the internet, or through the internet to cloud storage or another device.
Most consumers receive more data than they send, so upload speed isn’t something they need to worry about. But for users who perform a lot of upload-heavy tasks, including cloud computing, file sharing, and certain types of online gaming, the difference between a BT Fibre 1 package and a BT Fibre 2 package could be significant, offering a 68% real-world gain compared with only a 25% gain in download speed.
If you’re someone for whom upload speed is important, it may be worth the investment to pay a fair bit more for BT Fibre 2 broadband than for Fibre 1 or Fibre Essential broadband, as the package offers average upload speeds of 19.5Mbps. Both BT Fibre 1 and Fibre Essential can only offer upload speeds of around 9.5Mbps.
If you are looking for something even faster than Fibre 2, BT is now rolling out its Full Fibre service to more and more homes across the country every month, although it is still not yet widely available. Also known as fibre to the home (FTTH) and fibre to the premises (FTTP), BT’s Full Fibre offers ultrafast speeds ranging from 100Mbps to 900Mbps, offering serious competition to Virgin Media’s Gig1 1000Mbps service.
To find out if you can get BT Full Fibre, see our full fibre comparison page.
If you’d like to find out more about BT broadband, including its three fibre broadband packages, check out our review of the brand.
Our experts are available from 9am-6pm Monday to Saturday
Yes. With BT's 36Mbps Fibre Essential package you will get BT's older Home Hub 5. With either BT Fibre 1 or BT Fibre 2, however, you will get the superior BT Smart Hub, which is also the number one reason we recommend BT Fibre 1 or BT Fibre 2 over BT Fibre Essential.
Yes. It's incredibly easy to upgrade your BT Fibre package. You can do it online or over the phone as soon as you're up and running with your services. Just remember that your download speed gains are likely to be small, unless you are upgrading to Full Fibre.
Yes. BT offers a full suite of parental controls that enable you to manage the content to which your children have access, and at what times of the day.
Primarily, the most notable difference is that as a BT Fibre customer you'll be able to access more than five million wifi hotspots around the UK for free. Set it up once on your phone, tablet or laptop, and it will automatically tune into one of these signals where available rather than chewing through your available mobile data. Very handy, and you won't find this with any other provider.
You'll also get an app, and 200GB of cloud storage with BT Fibre Essential and BT Fibre 1, or 1000GB of cloud storage with BT Fibre 2. Most providers offer these things to a lesser or greater extent, however. If you're the sort of person who is going to use 1000GB of cloud storage, then opting for the package that offers it (Fibre 2) with its 65% extra upload speed is the right choice.