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BT Infinity 1 versus BT Infinity 2 – Download speed, upload speed, and which is best for you?

By Dan Howdle
Friday, February 23rd 2018

BT Infinity fibre has been around for a pretty long time now, and it's still, largely, as it always has been: Separated into two speed categories the provider calls 'Infinity 1' and 'Infinity 2'. But how do you know which one is right for you and your household?

The bad news is that with BT upping the speed of its entry-level Infinity 1 deals from 38Mbps to 52Mbps (with a view to competing with Virgin Media's 'slowest' offering of 50Mbps), the difference between Infinity 1 and Infinity 2 is currently the narrowest it has ever been, which makes defining reasons to choose one over the other that much more difficult.

The good news is, we're going to help you choose regardless, starting by taking a look at the speeds you're ly likely to get, and then applying those to different scenarios in your household. Finally, we'll cover some of the other things you need to consider when choosing which speed to go for, and what to do if you need to go faster.

Actual versus advertised speeds

BT Infinity 1

BT Infinity 1 advertises speeds of 'up to' 52Mbps. According to Ofcom's UK Home Broadband Performance report, published each year, BT Infinity 1 measures slightly lower over a 24-hour period, at 48Mbps on average.

BT Infinity 2

BT Infinity 2 advertises speeds of 'up to' 76Mbps. According to the Ofcom UK Home Broadband Performance report, BT Infinity 2 measured more substantially less than the advertised speed, at 60.5Mbps, averaged across a 24-hour period.

BT Infinity 1 is better value for download speeds

Take a look at those speeds up there. Though BT Infinity 1 and 2 are 24Mbps apart on paper – a difference that really could swing it in some households, when it comes to actual measured averages, that difference is down to less than 12Mbps. We're heading fully into the 'not mattering very much' zone here.

A 12Mbps advantage could, for example, mean that the 6GB HD movie you're downloading will take 14m and 18s on BT Infinity 2 compared to 17m 53s on BT Infinity 1. Unless you value those three and a half minutes at a tenner or so a month, BT Infinity 2's average of 60.5Mbps just isn't going to be worth the money.

Are we saying BT Infinity 2 is a scam? Nothing of the kind. Scam implies intent to deceive and that's not what's happening here. However, since BT upgraded its Infinity 1 speed to 52Mbps, with a real-life average of 48Mbps, while it may have pipped Virgin Media's entry-level offering by a couple of megabits, there's no longer enough differentiation to make the extra spend worth it.

BT Infinity 2 is better for upload speeds

While there is nowhere near enough real-world differentiation between the download speeds offered by BT Infinity 1 and BT Infinity 2, the upload speeds are worlds apart. But, mind you, whether that's significant to you will depend entirely on what you intend to do with it.

While download speeds dictate how fast you can copy things from the internet to your devices, upload speeds do the opposite, dictating how fast you can copy or send things from your device to the internet, or through the internet to cloud storage or another device. As consumers we receive many multiples of what we send, so in most cases upload speed isn't something we need to worry about.

BT Infinity 1 offers an advertised upload speed of 9.5Mbps. Ofcom has measured the actual speed received on average across a 24-hour period as around 8Mbps. BT Infinity 2 offers an advertised upload speed of 19.5Mbps. The most recent Ofcom report has this at a measured average across a 24-hour period of around 16Mbps.

The relationship between what is advertised and what you actually get is very similar to that seen with the doanload speeds – the faster packages are 'lossier' for want of a better phrase. However, if do live in a household that does a lot of upload-heavy tasks (cloud computing, file sharing, certain types of online gaming), the difference between the two packages is far greater, offering a 68% real-world gain in upload speed with BT Infinity 2 over that offered by BT Infinity 1. That's compared with only a 25% gain in download speed.

Frequently asked questions

Do BT Infinity 1 and BT Infinity 2 come with different routers?

No. Both come supplied with the BT Smart Hub. BT shouts about this as 'The UK's most powerful wifi signal'. Granted, it's good, but the only evidence availabile that this is actually true comes from BT's own test lab, and has been neither verified nor replicated by any impartial third-party.

There's even a little controversy surrounding this claim, with BT finding itself in warm water with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for precisely this claim.

If I get BT Infinity 1 and it's not fast enough, can I upgrade easily?

Yes. It's incredibly easy to upgrade from BT Infinity 1 to BT Infinity 2. You can do it online or over the phone as soon as you're up and running with your services. Just remember that your download speed gains are likely to be small, so think carefully before upgrading.

If you need broadband that's a lot quicker and you're still within the first 14 days of your new contract, you can switch to Virgin Media and get speeds up to six times faster than BT Infinity 1.

Do I get any form of parental controls with BT Infinity 1 and 2?

Yes. BT offers a full suite of parental controls that allow you to manage the content your children have access to and at what times of the day.

What do I get with BT Infinity that I won't get form other providers

Primarily, the most notable sifference is that as a BT Infinity customer, you'll be able to access more than five million wifi hotspots around the UK for free. Set it up once on your phone, tablet or laptop and it will automatically tune into one of these signals where available rather than chewing through your available mobile data. Very handy, and you won't find this with any other provider.

You'll also get an app, and 100GB of cloud storage with BT Infinity 1, or 500GB of cloud storage with BT Infinity 2. Most providers offer these things to a lesser or greater extent, however. If you're the sort of person who is going to use 500GB of cloud storage, then opting for the package that offers it (Infinity 2) with its 65% extra upload speed is sort of a sefl-fulfilling prophecy.

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