You may not have heard of POP Telecom - it's not exactly the best-known kid on the block - but this family-owned business, based in Essex, has been trading for more than 20 years.
The company offers a standard ADSL service to its broadband customers, as well as two fibre options. It says it focuses on providing low-cost, straightforward phone and broadband deals, and that it prides itself on its high levels of customer service. It Some of its packages are tailored for particular demographics; the company also makes much of its rural coverage. But do its claims stack up? We take a look at what POP Telecom really has to offer its broadband and fibre customers.
POP Telecom offers standard broadband and fibre broadband.
According to consumer watchdog Which?, on a standard broadband connection it takes up to 25 seconds to download ten songs, or one minute 40 seconds to download 200 photos. A TV show would take three minutes and 23 seconds, while you could download a film in around seven minutes.
With the company's fibre service, your album of ten songs would take just 11 seconds to download, and the photos 42 seconds. You'll have your TV show ready to view in one minute 25 seconds, and your film will take three minutes and three seconds to download.
Fibre still isn't available everywhere, so you'll need to check with the company first. And always bear in mind that broadband speed varies according to your location.
POP Telecom presents some of its services in a rather unusual way. It has a 'broadband for pensioners' package, for example, that's essentially a standard broadband service with inclusive anytime calls, and a set of student deals - basically, 10% off the usual prices. There is also a package for landlords that's focused on security.
And unlike many other service providers, POP Telecom says it provides truly unlimited data: it promises never to engage in traffic management (also known as traffic shaping) meaning that you should get more reliable upload and download speeds, in theory.
As always, it's worth cautioning that you may not receive the speeds you expect. To discover what your actual speeds will be, you'll need to check speeds for your area. Speeds are usually lower at peak times: evenings and to a lesser extent the weekend. And, of course, whether or not you can actually get fibre depends on the local infrastructure – you'll need to phone the company to check.
For the average household with, say, a couple of people working online at the same time, a standard broadband package should be plenty. If, though, there are two or more people in the house trying to download movies or games at the same time, you may find that your broadband struggles to cope, and you'll really appreciate the extra capacity that a fibre optic service brings. Our guide to choosing broadband speed can help you make a decision if you're still not sure.
You won't always be downloading stuff; you'll almost certainly also be sending emails, posting on social media and sharing photos, and it can be pretty frustrating when this takes an age.
With POP Telecom's standard service, you can expect an upload speed of up to 1Mbps; with the fibre service it's up to 10Mbps. These are all pretty par for the course when compared with other providers.
When you switch to POP Telecom you'll be charged a £40 connection fee if you want fibre, and the company also reserves the right to charge you for any additional costs it incurs. There is an additional £9.99 charge for router delivery which is added to your first bill. Plus, if you need a new line installed you will be charged an extra £20, bringing the upfront charge to £60.
For standard broadband, you will only be charged £9.99 for router delivery. POP Telecom's rural broadband service also comes with no set-up fee.
When you sign up with the company, you'll be sent a router which, says the company, 'will give you perfect wifi reception in a standard house' - though you may need to boost the signal if your home is particularly large. The router should arrive on the same day that your broadband is activated, and you'll pay a tenner for delivery.
POP Telecom is too small a company to feature in Ofcom's regular reports on service quality but, like most broadband providers, it uses the Openreach network. POP claims it has the biggest fixed line and broadband network in the UK, with the ability to reach 94% of the UK population, and the best rural coverage of any provider.
POP Telecom's customer service and technical support staff are based in the UK. However, despite the fact that its website claims that its customer service team is 'always on hand to answer your calls or questions', the department is actually only open for phone calls or online chat from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. This, in a world where most providers are open 24/7, is really pretty disappointing.
Again, the company's comparatively small size means it doesn't feature in Ofcom's customer service report. However, a quick look at online reviews will show that a couple of specific complaints regularly crop up.
Interestingly, while its website offers several 18-month deals, its terms and conditions have this to say: "Your Contract with us is subject to a Minimum Term of 12 or 24 months. This will be agreed with you before the Commencement Date of your contract."
Other customers claim they have been hit with extra charges every month for services such as 'line assurance' and 'router assurance' that they say they never signed up for. Customers are also charged an extra tenner a month for paying with a debit card.
Pop Telecom's prices aren't particularly low, and the services it offers are fairly standard. Its specific packages for rural areas, gamers, students, landlords and the over-60s are more unusual, though, and may be of interest to some. It is clear, though, that the company's level of customer satisfaction is considerably lower than average.
It's also worth noting that POP Telecom was in trouble with Companies House for failing to file its accounts, due at the end of last year. This issue was rectified; however, our advice is to be wary, or consider a different provider.
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