BT Fibre Essential: 36Mbps broadband for £33.99 per month

Dan Howdle | February 16th, 2024

BT broadband router

BT Fibre Essentials is the most basic offering you'll now be able to easily get hold of. That used to be 10-11Mbps ADSL broadband, but that' now only being offered to the handful of locations where you can't get anything else. If you want broadband from BT then, this is now both as basic and as cheap as it gets.

The range of broadband packages offered by BT has never been more unnecessarily complex and multi-layered than it is now. Up until just a few years ago three different speed was the norm, offered on two technologies: ADSL and Fibre. Not so now. With the advent of Full Fibre, BT's speed offerings have more than doubled to seven different speed tiers, and then on top of that a host of options for TV and landlines.

Key features

Here’s the rundown of what you can expect from the BT Fibre Essential package:

Price £33.99 per month
Download speed 36Mbps
Upload speed 9.5Mbps
Broadband Fibre to the premises (FTTP)
Home phone None, Evening & Weekends, Anytime
Parental controls Yes: WebSafe
Router BT SmartHub
Packages available Broadband only, Broadband & phone, Broadband & TV, Broadband, phone & TV
Contract length 24 months

Who is BT Fibre Essential for?

Other than ADSL, which you can still get from BT if you really want it (we now no longer recommend it to any household as it's simply too limiting for 99% of us), BT Fibre Essential is the entry-level, no-frills option. At 35Mbps (average), it's just about enough to stream in 4K and play the odd videogame, but if you've got multiple TVs streaming content, a games console or two and a bunch of other devices like mobile phones and laptops, it's going to start to struggle during busy times of the day.

Being BT, it's not as cheap as it should be either. There's now a distinct BT premium applied to BT Broadband packages that just makes it expensive compared to most other providers. The normal price for BT Fibre Essential is £31.99 at the time of writing. Go to Sky and you can get broadband that's twice as fast, Sky Stream (all Sky channels except Sky Sports and Sky Cinema and about 200 others), a Netflix Subscription and a phone line for just £5 per month more. If you already subscribe the Netflix that makes all that cheaper than BT Fibre Essential. Astonishing really.

With its download speed of just 36Mbps, it's really for small households who need a broadband connection but don't spend a tremendous amount of time doing things online. Here's a more granular look:

  • Households with 1-2 occupants – 36Mbps is going to suit the needs of people who live on their own and don't do a lot of heavy stuff like downloading videogames
  • Gamers – Videogames can be huge these days. A typical new, AAA videogame comes in at around 60GB (though some are magnitudes larger). It would take three hours and 42 seconds. That may not sound like a long time, till you consider no one else in the household will be able to do much online while it's downloading. We don't recommend BT Fibre Essential for gamers
  • Video streamers – 36Mbps is enough to stream movies and TV in HD, and even in 4K. However, you may hit limits when you stream to more than one device concurrently, and the internet may slow down for everyone in the house when streaming in 4K
  • Cloud storage – 10Mbps is plenty of upload speed for cloud computing, so long as you don't plan to upload a lot of massive files
  • Up to seven devices – if you only have a handful of devices that require an internet connection, 36Mbps is plenty to keep everything online. If you have smart home devices and many other things that require a wifi connection, you're going to need to get something beefier

How does BT Fibre Essential compare?

Broadband Package Download Speed Upload Speed Monthly Cost
Broadband 10Mbps 1Mbps £29.99 per month
BT Fibre 1 50Mbps 9.5Mbps £34.99 per month
Fibre Essential 36Mbps 9.5Mbps £33.99 per month
BT Fibre 2 67Mbps 19Mbps £36.99 per month
BT Full Fibre 100 150Mbps 28Mbps £29.99 per month
BT Full Fibre 500 500Mbps 73Mbps £49.99 per month
BT Full Fibre 900 900Mbps 110Mbps £44.99 per month
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What's included with BT Fibre Essential?

Like most broadband packages, BT Fibre Essential is fully unlimited, with no limits on how much you can download or upload, nor any traffic management where your connection is slowed at certain times of day or for certain activities.

BT Fibre Essential customers will receive the BT Smart Hub router.

BT Hub router

BT Smart Hub router specification

  • WiFi 5 – The BT Smart Hub uses the WiFi 5 (802.11ac) standard connection, currently used by most other routers
  • Smart channel selection – This enables the Smart Hub to automatically connect to the best frequency and channel to ensure your devices receive the best signal possible
  • Latest wifi technology – The latest technology means that the Smart Hub is constantly monitoring connectivity and will automatically reboot itself when necessary
  • Dual band – The Smart Hub uses two frequencies (2.4GHz and 5GHz). The 2.4GHz has a greater range than 5GHz, whereas 5GHz provides greater speed and performance. Together they provide a reliable signal to all your devices
  • Four gigabit ports – The four gigabit LAN ports on the rear of the Smart Hub, enables you to connect up to four devices with a cable, which will provide a more reliable, and faster connection than wifi
  • Seven antennae – The Smart Hub’s seven antennae ensure that you can enjoy the best signal around your home

Extras

All BT Fibre Essential customers will receive BT Web Protect as standard with their broadband package. This software protects your devices at network level, so anything you have connected to your router will be protected from viruses, phishing and various other internet nasties. It also flashes up a warning before you visit a website it deems to be potentially harmful. Web Protect also blocks pop-ups and keeps an eye on your email for lurking viruses and spyware.

In addition, customers receive BT Virus Protect, which is designed for use on individual devices. Powered by Norton, it provides an additional layer of protection from viruses and will block any unauthorised traffic to your device, ensuring your personal information is kept safe. As a bonus, customers can choose to download Norton Password Manager, which will help you create and securely store complex passwords in one place, along with your credit card information (should you wish), keeping online purchases safe and secure. BT Fibre Essential customers receive two free licences for BT Virus Protect that can be used on two separate devices, but if you want to cover other devices, you can choose to pay extra to get up to 15 licences.

BT includes its parental controls with all its broadband packages as standard. Operating at router level, the controls apply to every device connected. There are three preset levels to choose from that can be adapted to your own preferences: Light, Moderate and Strict.

BT has over five million Wi-Fi hotspots that all BT customers can use for free when they are out, rather than using their mobile data. The BT Wifi app will automatically connect to a hotspot once you are in reach. Just download the app and log in to benefit from this free connectivity. The hotspots are available in numerous cafes, shopping malls, restaurants, airports and train stations around the country.

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What we think

We're not sold on the value of BT Fibre Essential. BT packages are just very expensive for what you get compared to value leader Sky, or broadband speed leader Virgin Media. You'll just get a lot more for your money with either of those providers. There is also very few households we would recommend a 35Mbps to. The only instance where 35Mbps makes sense is when it's very, very cheap – but here it's not.

BT needs to get more competitive with pricing and more generous with its extras if it wants its broadband packages to appeal. BT as a provider does make more sense when you move towards faster broadband speeds, but here at the beginning of 2024, we just can't recommend BT, or more specifically this BT Package. Sky currently offers a hell of a lot for a hell of a little and we recommend, for now, that people looking for a new broadband deal start there.

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