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First Utility broadband review

By Emma Lunn
Wednesday, January 23rd 2019
4/5

First Utility made its name in the energy market and like some of its rivals now also offers broadband. It offers a decent budget deal – but you’ll need to sign up for at least 18 months. Here's what we think.

Overview

Average download speeds 11Mbps, 35Mbps, 63Mbps
Average upload speeds 1Mbps, 9Mbps, 17Mbps
Broadband Standard & fibre
Home Phone Yes
Prices from £18.99 per month

Broadband speeds

First Utility has a pretty simple broadband offering. Its entry-level product, First Broadband, offers an average download speed of 11Mbps. This is ideal for daily browsing and social media, and a decent speed to stream music and the odd TV show or film.

It also offers two fibre speeds: SuperFirst Broadband at 35Mbps and UltraFirst Broadband at 63Mbps. Fibre is much faster than standard broadband and can also handle multiple users streaming and downloading from a range of devices.

These are pretty standard speeds and largely reflect what is offered by most broadband providers. The exception is Virgin Media, which offers top speeds of 350Mbps and more. If you're not sure which package to go for, our guide to deciding what broadband speed you need has all the answers. All First Utility’s broadband deals are unlimited, unlike some other providers that impose monthly caps.

Upload speeds

Broadband users don’t just need to download data from the internet, but upload stuff too. You’re uploading when you save photos to the cloud, post a YouTube video or send a tweet.

Upload speeds for First Broadband average 1Mpbs. SuperFirst 35Mbps broadband offers upload speeds up to 9.5Mpbs. UltraFirst 63Mbps offers upload speeds up to 19.5Mpbs.

These are pretty decent upload speeds that are on a par with Plusnet, Vodafone and NOW Broadband and are quicker than BT and Virgin Media. Remember though that these speeds are only estimates. When it comes to uploading a few photos, a second or two more won’t make a lot of difference.

Deals and offers

First Utility sometimes reduces its prices in a bid to tempt new customers. Taking one of these deals will lock you into an 18-month contract, but at least the price won’t be hiked when the 18 months is up. If you’re a First Utility energy customer, you might get an extra discount depending on the tariff you’re on. Below are just some of the deals First Utility has on at the moment.

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Router and installation

Router

First Utility provides a fairly basic router in the form of the Technicolor TG588v2. This is a single band router that will do the job but not much more. But you don't have to use the router you’re given – you can use the one from your old provider or buy your own high-spec one.

first utility technicolour router

Installation

One great thing about First Utility broadband is there are no set-up fees – it’s totally free to get going. Unless you don’t have a phone line, then you'll have to pay £60 to have one installed. This is fairly standard. Other providers often charge for a router, installation or delivery – or all three.

When you place an order, First Utility will run a check to see if you can get fibre and will let you know what kind of speeds you can expect to get. In reality, the speed you’ll see will be affected by how far you live from the local cabinet, the quality of your internal wiring and even the weather. Note that wi-fi speeds are always slower than wired connections.

First Utility doesn’t operate traffic management policies which means your broadband speed won’t slow down during peak hours.

Customer service

First Utility is something of a new kid on the block in the broadband market. So it's a bit of an unknown quantity.

That’s not the case in the energy sector, where it has a mixed history. Back in 2014/15 it faced a backlash from angry customers fed up with unresolved complaints and call waiting times. At the time First Utility blamed the problems on its own success; it grew so quickly that it didn’t have the resources to cope.

So has it learnt its lesson? We hope so. It’s been much more careful about how fast it grows in the broadband market, having first only offered broadband to its energy customers before taking on new ones.

Our final verdict

  • Excellent value for money
  • Range of speeds to suit all
  • Discount for energy customers
  • 18-month contracts are long
  • Basic router
  • No TV bundles

First Utility’s offering is nice and simple: no set-up costs, decent prices, unlimited downloads and no price hikes at the end of a contract. On the downside, there are no fancy extras, no TV option and the router you get is pretty basic.

Energy customers get a discount – but don’t let this sway you. In most cases you’d be better off getting the best energy deal than simply sticking with First Utility energy just to get money off your broadband.

The lack of customer service may be a concern as you’ll be tied into an 18-month contract. But if you fancy taking your chances for a cheap broadband deal then it may be worth a shot.

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