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BT broadband and fibre review 2018

By Emma Lunn
Friday, April 6th 2018

BT's arguably the best-known telecoms company in the UK. But does being the biggest mean it's the best? BT reckons it does and claims to be the country's most popular broadband provider. Can it live up to its own hype?

BT might not be a key player in the speed wars quite yet – its deals can usually be beaten on both price and speed – but it promises to up the ante when Ultrafast Fibre is rolled out over the next couple of years. For now, it offers a vast array of packages at a consistently high quality of service.

Speeds – what's on offer?

BT has a broadband speed checker on its website which tells you the speeds you can expect on its services – handy to know before you commit. Faster speeds mean you can do more with your broadband connection and carry out more data-hungry tasks – such as streaming films or gaming – at the same time. In general, the more people in your household and the more gadgets everyone uses, the faster the speed you need.

Saying that, BT's standard offering, simply called BT Broadband, offers speeds averaging 10Mbps and many people will find this is fast enough (it's good enough for Netflix in HD, for example). And, a key selling point is that it's widely available, covering about 99% of the UK's homes and businesses. BT Broadband customers also get free access to more than five million UK wi-fi hotspots

BT Superfast Fibre 1 and 2

Fibre broadband is ideal for large households constantly online. With BT Superfast Fibre (previously BT Infinity) you can share your connection with dozens of devices without any disruptions. BT's entry-level fibre offering, Superfast 1, offers speeds averaging 50Mbps. That's faster than most other providers that start their fibre deals at around 36Mbps. The notable exception is Virgin Media, which offers a 50Mbps connection and then sky-rockets upwards from there.

Superfast 2 offers speeds averaging 67Mbps. This is in line with most providers' top offering (again the notable exception is Virgin Media, which offers 350Mbps – five times as fast. BT offers a vast array of packages at these speeds, some come with a 30GB monthly allowance while most are unlimited.

BT Ultrafast

For most people, a fast fibre connection is more than quick enough. But if you want more, BT's got more to offer. The trouble is, it's super, super, super-fast connections aren't widely available. In fact, you'll be lucky to get them anywhere right now.

Infinity 3 and 4 are fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections, which means the fibre connection runs all the way to the customer's home rather than the cabinet in the street (FTTC). We won't get into all the technical detail here but FTTP fibre is quicker than FTTC, which is what almost everyone offers right now.

BT Ultrafast is the next generation of broadband. Ultrafast is classed as anything above 100Mbps, and as well as using FTTP, it will be delivered by G.Fast technology which achieves amazingly high speeds from the same copper pipe originally used for voice calls.

Where available, Ultrafast will deliver download speeds of 300Mbps and comes with a 100Mbps speed guarantee. However, Ultrafast 1 and 2 are only available in a select number of homes at the moment. You can register your interest and BT will tell you when it's available at your home, but right now you almost certainly can't get it. If you want those kinds of speeds, Virgin Media is your best option for the time being.

Upload speeds

Upload speeds determine how long it takes to transfer content from your computer to the internet. Whether you're uploading a picture to Facebook, a video to YouTube or posting a tweet, speed will affect how long it will take.

Standard BT Broadband has an upload speed up to 2Mbps. Users with Superfast 1 get upload speeds up to 9.5Mpbs and Superfast 2 up to 19.5Mpbs. Where available, BT Ultrafast will give you an upload speed of 10Mbps.

BT Superfast Fibre upload speeds are generally slower than Plusnet and NOW Broadband, but quicker than Virgin Media.

Contract length

BT's keen to tie customers in – it actively pushes its 18-month deals and you'll have to hunt around on its website to find 12-month deals or nine-month deals for students. Watch out for the price jump at the end of your committed period as it can increase significantly.

BT's no good for commitment-phobes and doesn't offer 30-day rolling contracts. If that what you want, you should check out NOW Broadband or SSE broadband.


BT offers both triple play (broadband, TV and phone) and quad-play (a mobile too) bundles. Packages vary depending on inclusive calls, the TV channels you want and how long you are willing to commit to.

BT Superfast Fibre customers get BT Sport free for 18 months. All broadband customers get various security measures – BT Virus Protect, BT Parental Controls and BT Web Protect – as standard, plus BT Cloud Storage and access to BT Wi-fi hotspots.

Equipment and installation

BT smart hub router

Standard BT Broadband customers get a BT Home Hub 4 while BT Superfast Fibre customers get the BT Smart Hub. BT Broadband customers need to pay both an activation fee and the delivery charge for their hub, while BT Superfast customers just pay the delivery charge.

You might not need an engineer visit if there's already an active phone line and socket at your address. In this case, BT can usually switch the phone line remotely. But you'll need a BT line installed if you don't already have one, or if you're switching over from a cable service. To find out more about what to expect, read our guide on broadband installation.

BT claims the Smart Hub boasts the UK's most powerful wi-fi signal. It has seven antennas positioned to give the Smart Hub an unmatchable wireless so you can get wi-fi in more rooms throughout your house, with fewer blackspots.

The Smart Hub includes the next-generation of wi-fi technology, including the latest 4x4 multi-user MiMo AC chipset. This means multiple devices can connect to wi-fi at the same time and you'll still enjoy a fast connection. Built-in filters block interference, which means a more reliable wi-fi connection.


BT Superfast is limited to certain areas, but this coverage is growing and now stands at about 83% of the UK. Ultrafast isn't widely available though – you'll be lucky if you can get it. However, when Ultrafast Fibre becomes more readily available, BT offers a speed guarantee, which will make it the only provider to do so: If your speed falls below 100Mbps, BT will give you £20 (up to four times a year).

You can get an estimate of the speed you'll get with BT by entering your details on its broadband speed checker. If you're on standard broadband, the speed will depend on the distance from your home to the nearest exchange but it won't matter if you have BT Superfast. BT doesn't operate traffic management policies which means your broadband speed won't slow down during busy hours.

Customer service

The quality of BT's customer service has declined in recent years. In Ofcom's latest customer satisfaction survey it scored below average for landline and broadband. The latest Ofcom figures show BT had 127 Ofcom complaints per 100,000 customers in 2016, the highest number of the big broadband players.

Ofcom also found BT customers waited an average of 3 minutes 59 seconds to speak to someone at BT, with 13% giving up and hanging up before speaking to anyone.


BT's undoubtedly a big name and a big player in the broadband market. It lacks the flexibility of some smaller providers – there's no monthly contracts available – and it hikes prices the moment you're out of contract. But on the plus side, it's pretty generous with the extras such as BT Sport, various security software packages, cloud storage, and access to Wi-fi hotspots when you're out and about. Basically, once it's got you hooked, it doesn't want to let you go.

Ultrafast promises lightning speeds and the speed guarantee is an industry first. But don't get too excited – it's not readily available yet.

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