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Direct Save Telecom broadband review

By Steve McCaskill
Friday, February 1st 2019
2/5

Direct Save Telecom might not be a household name, but it has been a broadband provider since 1999. Oh, and it offers some of the cheapest broadband deals in the country without a credit check.

Overview

Average download speed 11Mbps, 35Mbps, 63Mbps
Average upload speed 1Mbps, 9Mbps & 17Mbps
Broadband ADSL & fibre
Home Phone Yes
Prices from £16.95 per month

Broadband speeds

The entry-level deal offers an average of 11Mbps, which is enough for browsing the web, sending emails and streaming. But this is a standard broadband service which uses copper, not fibre, cables.

This means that speeds might vary, particularly at busy times. If there are several users and devices on the network, then it could become sluggish. If that’s a concern, then you should go for a fibre broadband package. Direct Save has two speeds and they average 35Mbps and 63Mbps.

For most households, 35Mbps should be more than sufficient . And because it’s fibre, it doesn’t get as congested as a copper network. These speeds should handle most applications, such as streaming and online gaming. But again, it depends on how many users and devices are connected.

These ‘superfast’ fibre broadband services use Openreach’s fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) network. This means they still use copper cables for the final few hundred metres of the connection. This doesn’t mean you will always get the headline speed promised, but it should limit your vulnerability to network congestion.

Direct Save offers another option for a select few locations. Since 2017, the company has offered up to 300Mbps packages to newbuild homes, connected via fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology. Unlike FTTC, FTTP uses fibre for the entire connection, enabling ‘ultrafast’ broadband. It’s what is meant by the term ‘full fibre’.

Coverage is very limited at present, but if you are in one of the FTTP areas you can get up to 300Mbps.

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Upload speeds

Of course, these figures refer to download speeds, not uploads speeds. Upload speeds will generally be lower, but are critical for those who want to share large files, such as photos and documents.

Direct Save’s standard broadband offers upload speeds of 1Mbps. With its 35Mbps fibre product you get upload speeds of 9Mbps and the 63Mbps plan comes with average upload speeds of 17Mbps. These speeds are on a par with most other providers.

The 300Mbps service promises up to 30Mbps. For the sake of comparison, Virgin Media's 350Mbps service only offers an upload speed of 20Mbps.

Router and installation

Router

Customers who take out a broadband service are given a free wireless router. This will be pre-configured for the Direct Save Network. Most users will get the TP-LINK TD-W8951ND, which delivers speeds of up to 150Mbps. It also comes with one-touch wireless security and has an easy on/off button.

Vodafone broadband router

Those who take out the 300Mbps FTTP package will get the TP-LINK TD-W8960N router. This router doesn't just support faster speeds. It lets you create a virtual guest network so you don’t need to share your home password with anyone wanting to use your wi-fi.

Installation

Direct Save doesn’t charge a fee for a telephone line activation. And it promises to offer a reduced rate for new line installations. It should only take up to two working days to activate an existing telephone line.

If you’re taking out a broadband package, there is no installation cost if you agree to a minimum term. But if you take out a 28-day rolling agreement, there is a one-off charge to pay.

Direct Save says it takes just a few minutes to sign up and the actual time between signing up and an account being activated is between 14 and 18 days. Broadband will be activated on the same day in 70% of exchanges, while others might take 5 to 10 days.

Customer service

Direct Save boasts about its UK-based customer service team. This can be reached on the phone between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm at the weekend. There’s also an option to email and receive a response within 24 working hours.

Unfortunately, the company is not covered by Ofcom’s reports on telecoms complaints, so it’s difficult to compare it to other providers. But several online review services feature complaints about billing, provision and the conduct of customer service agents.

In the absence of Ofcom’s official figures, it’s difficult to treat this as conclusive. But it remains grounds for concern.

Direct Save lets you save money by paying for a year’s line rental in advance. Although it claims its monthly line rental is still cheaper than BT's.

It is one of only a few providers to offer broadband services without a credit check. But it asks that customers pay their first invoice before they go live on the service. This invoice will consist of the line rental and call/broadband charges for the partial days in the month of activation and for the next full month. So, no credit check, but an upfront cost to contend with.

Deals and offers

Unlike other providers who offer television packages or free app subscriptions, Direct Save is lacking in such extras. This is except for a free ‘Discount Club’ membership that gives you discounts with a number of retailers, hotels and utility companies. You can see a few of Direct Save’s latest deals below.

Our final verdict

The good

  • No credit check
  • Cheap packages
  • Fast enough for most households

The bad

  • No bells and whistles
  • Customer service concerns
  • No TV bundles

If you’re looking for a low-cost service, then Direct Save Telecom may be up your street. But it lacks many of the bells and whistles associated with its rivals. And concerns about customer service might offset the positives.

To get the best deals you will need to sign up for a long-term contract and there are hefty disconnection charges in certain circumstances. You may also end up paying more for your service if you fall outside an ‘LLU Exchange’ – these cover 90% of the UK – and there are usage limits that could also incur additional costs.

But the prospect of no credit checks may be tempting for many. Our verdict is that unless you are desperate to minimise your bill and don’t care about frills, you may be better off elsewhere.

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