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BT broadband review

By Emma Lunn
Monday, January 14th 2019
4/5

BT is arguably the best-known broadband and phone company in the UK. But does being the biggest mean it's the best? BT reckons it does and claims to be the country's most popular broadband provider. Can it live up to its own hype?

Overview

Average download speed 10Mbps, 36Mbps, 50Mbps, 63Mbps
Average upload speed 2Mbps, 9.5Mbps, 19.5Mbps
Broadband ADSL & fibre
Home Phone Yes
Prices from £24.99 per month

Broadband speeds

Faster speeds mean you can do more with your broadband and carry out more tasks, faster, and on more devices. In general, the more people in your home, and the more gadgets everyone uses, the faster the speed you're going to need.

BT Broadband (standard, ADSL)

BT's standard offering (called ADSL or non-fibre in techy circles) is simply called BT Broadband. It offers speeds around 10Mbps, and many people will find this is fast enough (it's good enough for Netflix, for example). It's ideal for small or households of one or two people who don't use the internet an awful lot.

BT Superfast Fibre 1 and 2

Fibre broadband is ideal for large homes that go online a lot. With BT Unlimited Superfast Fibre 1 (previously known as BT Infinity 1), with its 50Mbps download speed, you can share your broadband around dozens of devices without any problems. The only other provider who offers 50Mbps is Virgin Media.

Superfast Fibre 2 offers speeds around 67Mbps. This is in line with most other providers' top speed offering (except Virgin Media, which offers up to 350Mbps – five times as fast!

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BT Ultrafast

For most people, a fast fibre deal is more than quick enough. But if you want more, BT's got more to offer. The trouble is, its ultrafast broadband deals aren't widely available. In fact, you'll be lucky to get them anywhere right now. Try again in a couple of years and it will be a different story.

Upload speeds

Upload speeds determine how long it takes to transfer content from your computer to the internet. Whether you're uploading a picture to Facebook, a video to YouTube or posting a tweet, speed will affect how long it will take.

Standard BT Broadband has an upload speed up to 2Mbps. Users with Superfast Fibre 1 get upload speeds up to 9.5Mpbs and Superfast Fibre 2 up to 19.5Mpbs. Where available, BT Ultrafast will give you an upload speed of 10Mbps.

For more information and help finding out what broadband speed you need, read our guide.

Deals and offers

All broadband providers have their own way of drawing in new customers. For BT that tends to be offering cashback or voucher equivalents. To check what BT is offering right now, see below.

If BT has nothing on right now offer-wise, we recommend either waiting or having a look at all offers on right now from all providers. You'll be sad if a week later new customers are walking away with a wallet full of cashback.

Router and installation

BT smart hub router

Router

BT claims the Smart Hub boasts the UK's best wi-fi signal. It has seven aerials positioned so the Smart Hub can send wi-fi to more rooms in your house, with fewer gaps.

The Smart Hub includes the the latest wi-fi tech. This means multiple devices can connect to wi-fi at the same time and you'll still enjoy a fast connection. Built-in filters block signals from your neighbours' routers, which means a more reliable wi-fi connection.

With standard BT Broadband you get a BT Home Hub 4. With BT Superfast Fibre you get the BT Smart Hub. With BT Broadband you'll need to pay both a set-up fee and the delivery charge for your router. With BT Superfast you just pay the delivery charge. If you're not happy with these charges, consider comparing broadband providers with no upfront costs.

Installation

On average, installation of BT Broadband or BT Superfast Fibre takes about two weeks.

You might not need an engineer visit if there's already an active phone line and socket at your address. In this case, BT can usually switch the phone line without a visit. But you'll need a BT line installed if you don't already have one, or if you're switching over from a cable service. To find out more about what to expect, read our guide on broadband installation.

Customer service

The quality of BT's customer service has declined in recent years. In Ofcom's latest customer survey it scored below average for landline and broadband. The Ofcom figures show BT had 127 Ofcom complaints per 100,000 customers in 2016, the highest number of any of the big broadband players.

Ofcom also found BT customers waited an average of 3 minutes 59 seconds to speak to someone at BT, with 13% giving up and hanging up before speaking to anyone.

Our final verdict

  • Fast enough for most homes
  • Smarthub is a great router
  • Fast installation
  • Expensive when no sale/cashback offers
  • Not as fast as Virgin Media
  • 18-month contracts on the long side

BT is without doubt a big name and a big player in the broadband market. It lacks the flexibility of some smaller providers – there's no one-month contracts available, for example – and it hikes its prices the moment you're out of contract.

But, on the plus side, it's pretty generous with cashback offers, and with its extras, such as BT Sport, various security software packages, cloud storage, and access to Wi-fi hotspots when you're out and about.

If you can strike at the right time, during the right sale, BT can be a sensible, frugal choice for most households. Otherwise, it's kind of expensive compared to much of the competition.

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