Dan Howdle | February 22nd, 2024
Zen Broadband doesn’t offer TV or some of the other fancy add-ons you can get from the likes of Virgin or Sky. And it's available nationwide too, so it can't be classified as an 'altnet' like so many local providers. It's actually pretty hard to see where Zen fit in exactly. So let's take a closer look to uncover who it's for, and whether it's any good.
|Average download speed
|10Mbps - 900Mbps
|Average upload speed
|1Mbps - 50Mbps
Zen offers a similar line-up of broadband packages as many other providers that use the Openreach broadband network. Just in case you already didn’t know, Openreach is the UK’s biggest broadband network, used by pretty much every provider other than Virgin Media.
Zen broadband’s most basic package was called Fast Broadband and it promised an average download speed of 10Mbps and an average upload speed of 1Mbps – typical of ADSL broadband. Here in 2024 though, Zen no longer offers old-fashioned ADSL – its fastest speed is now its entry-level fibre package, which offers around 35Mbps.
When it comes to basic fibre then, Zen offers two different packages. First is Zen’s Unlimited Fibre 1, with average download speeds of around 35Mbps and upload speeds of 8Mbps. Then there is also a faster fibre deal, Unlimited Fibre 2 that offers average speeds of around 67Mbps (download) and 18Mbps (upload). These two fibre packages require an activation fee of £15.00.
Zen also now offers Full Fibre packages starting at 100Mbps and going all the way up to 900Mbps. Remember though, that Full Fibre isn't available everywhere yet, so ou have to be quite lucky in the postcode lottery if you want to get it. As with Zen’s other deals, you get a free router and static IP address, but there is an activation fee involved and availability isn’t as high on these packages. So you’d better check it’s available where you live before you get too excited.
Zenu used to be expensive compared to most other providers offering broadband packages at the same speeds, but that's no longer the case.
The main difference with Zen is that static IP address. The thing is, you’re only really going to need one of these if you’re running a business or game server from home. A static IP allows you to run a remote office, host a server, and do other things that modern businesses often do. If you don’t need the static IP, then Zen's customer service is very well-respected, with Zen having won many awards.
Zen doesn’t charge for installation on its 18-month broadband packages and claims that if you’re switching to Zen fibre broadband from an existing fibre service you won’t even need an engineer to visit your property – an Openreach engineer will connect your line to Zen’s fibre service at your local street cabinet. It does however charge £15 for activation.
If you're switching from another provider that uses the Openreach network – this is likely, unless you’re with Virgin Media – then you don’t need to tell your old provider that you’re leaving. Ofcom rules mean that Zen, as the gaining provider, is obliged to sort all of that out on your behalf. It’s different if you are a Virgin Media customer though – if you’re switching from Virgin you will need to let them know you’re leaving.
All new Zen Broadband customers get a free router – specifically the intriguingly-named Fritz!Box 7530. The device has four Gigabit Ethernet ports and is a Wi-Fi 6 router. It has easy-to-use VPN functionality, and an integrated DECT phone system that’s compatible with analog phones, fax machines, and IP phones.
The FRITZ!Box 7530 allows you to grant people guest access so they can get online without having full access to your private network or password. It also has parental controls that let you define when each of your family’s connected devices can and can’t get online. And you can use a whitelist and blacklist to decide which websites your children can and can’t visit. It’s an extremely good router.
Zen broadband’s router is managed through a web browser and the interface is optimised for smartphones and tablets and mobiles, because that’s how most of us get online these days.
Zen says it has replaced much of the technology in its core network, making it more reliable than ever. This means it's offering better performance but also being more resilient. But broadband speeds are affected by a range of different technical and environmental factors, including where you position the router in your house and how far you live from your nearest telephone exchange. So, keep that in mind just in case.
To ensure you have a good wifi signal in every room, for an extra £9 per month, you can sign up for Zen EveryRoom. This is a wifi repeater that helps to extend your signal to the furthest corners of your home.
Zen doesn’t have enough customers to appear in Ofcom’s breakdown of broadband complaints but the company has won many awards for its customer service, including from Which?, PC Pro, The Sunday Times, Broadband Genie, and the UK Customer Experience Awards.
You can call Zen’s customer service team on 01706 902000 or get in touch over email or live chat via the Zen website. The support team have quite impressive opening hours – you can reach then between 8am and 8pm from Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm at the weekend.
You can also access video tutorials on Zen’s official YouTube channel called How To by Zen Internet.
There’s a 14-day cooling-off period for new customers and Zen promises automatic compensation if things go wrong. It’s available to residential and small business customers and gives you recompense if your service stops working and the fault is not fixed within two working days, if an engineer doesn’t show up for a scheduled appointment or if your service isn’t activated on the ‘go live’ date you’ve been given.
There are certainly a few Zen broadband features that are sure to attract customers, such as the inclusion of a free static IP address with every package. The router supplied is absolutely A1, bleeding-edge quality, and the lifetime guarantee of no price rises is also bound to offer reassurance to new customers, as will the UK-based customer service team.
And thank goodness, Zen is now competitively priced – a bugbear we continued to raise in our previous reviews. For this reason, the stellar customer service, excellent router, and static IP thrown in, we have no hesitation recommending Zen Broadband to just about anyone.