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Zen Broadband review 2021

By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, April 13th 2021

3.5/5

Zen Broadband doesn’t offer TV or some of the other fancy add-ons you can get from the likes of Virgin or Sky. But compared to some of the providers featured on Cable.co.uk, Zen is not actually that cheap. So, what exactly is the deal with Zen in 2021? And why is it comparatively more expensive? Let’s take a look?

Overview

Average download speed 10Mbps - 900Mbps
Average upload speed 1Mbps - 50Mbps
Broadband ADSL, Fibre
Home Phone Yes

Download and upload speeds

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 that, Openreach is the UK’s biggest broadband network, used by pretty much every provider other than Virgin Media.

Zen broadband’s most basic package is called Fast Broadband and it promises an average download speed of 10Mbps and an average upload speed of 1Mbps – typical of ADSL broadband. All Zen Broadband packages come on 12-month contracts, which is shorter than the 18-month contracts demanded by many big-name providers.

When it comes to fibre, this broadband provider offers two different packages. First is Zen’s basic fibre package, with average download speeds of 35Mbps and upload speeds of 6Mbps. Then there is also a faster fibre deal that offers average speeds of 66Mbps (download) and 17Mbps (upload). Neither of these two fibre packages have an activation fee, which isn’t something you can say about every broadband provider.

Line rental is included in all of these Zen broadband deals, as is unlimited usage, a free router and a static IP address. The provider also promises that there will be no price rises for as long as you stay with them.

On top of everything else, this internet provider has an ultrafast broadband package of up to 900Mbps that uses G.Fast technology to provide faster speeds. 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.

Zen is expensive compared to most other providers offering broadband packages at the same speeds. 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 from home, where a static IP allows you to run a remote office, host a server and other things modern businesses commonly do. If you don’t need the static IP, there is little reason to go with Zen in our opinion.

Installation and router

Zen doesn’t charge for installation on its 12-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 £19.99 for activation on its Fast Broadband packages and Superfast fibre packages. Ultrafast packages cost £29.99 for activation.

If you are 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, are 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 both AC and N wireless capability as well as dual wireless LAN, easy-to-use VPN functionality and an integrated DECT phone system that’s compatible with analogue phones, fax machines and IP phones.

FRITZ!Box 7530 router

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 tablets and mobiles, because that’s how most of us get online these days.

Reliability

Zen says it has replaced much of the technology in its core network, making it more reliable than ever. This means they are 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 monthly fee you can sign up for Zen EveryRoom. This is a wifi repeater which helps to extend your signal to the furthest corners of your home.

Customer service

Zen doesn’t have enough customers to appear in Ofcom’s breakdown of broadband complaints, but has won awards for its UK-based customer service offering including gongs from Which?, PC Pro, The Sunday Times 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.

There’s a 10-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.

Conclusion

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 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.

If it’s cheap deals you’re after then you’d probably be better looking at other providers. While for the chance to add TV or a mobile contract to your broadband service, you’ll need to go with of the big boys – like Sky or Virgin, for example. But always check first and then decide what’s best for you based on what you need and want.

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