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Is BT broadband any good?

Thursday, March 6th 2014

BT is the UK’s most popular broadband provider with a 30% market share, but does it deserve this lofty status or are customers just following the herd?

BT offers the widest broadband coverage and some of the fastest download speeds in the country, but it doesn’t come cheap and customer service has slipped in recent years. Read our independent review about broadband from BT to help you decide if it’s the right provider for you.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Widest coverage of all UK providers
  • Fast and getting faster
  • Free public Wi-Fi and BT Sport

Cons

  • Below-average customer service
  • 18-month contracts
  • Not the cheapest broadband around

What we like

Widest coverage of all UK providers

BT ADSL broadband is available to over 99% of homes and businesses in the UK, while the BT Infinity fibre service is available to around 62% of the population and expanding steadily. These stats make BT the most widely available broadband provider in the country. However, those in areas not yet served by BT Infinity may be able to get fibre broadband from Virgin Media instead, as it operates a cable network separate from the Openreach network used by BT and most other mainstream providers.

Fast and getting faster

BT offers two widely available fibre services, Infinity 1 (up to 38Mbps) and Infinity 2 (up to 76Mbps). BT Speeds delivered close to these rates, averaging 32.6Mbps and 62.1Mbps respectively in Ofcom’s latest round of speed tests.

BT is planning to ramp up the speed of its fibre service with the development of Infinity 3 (up to 200Mbps) and Infinity 4 (up to 300Mbps). However, it’s very early days and we’re yet to find a postcode that can access these top speeds, which means Virgin Media currently trumps BT in offering the fastest widely available broadband in the country.

Free public Wi-Fi and BT Sport

Internet access with BT doesn’t end when you leave home. All broadband packages include free and unlimited access to the BT Wi-Fi network, which comprises five million hotspots in public places across the UK, and a further three million in international locations. Free BT Sport is another perk for broadband customers. You’ll get unlimited access to the BT Sport app and online player, plus the TV channels (BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN) if you have broadband and take BT TV too.

What we don’t like

Below-average customer service

BT is a trusted household name in the UK and many people like being with a brand they know, but this doesn’t always pay off. In fact, customer service has slipped in recent years and BT has recorded more complaints than rivals Sky, Virgin Media and Plusnet. In Ofcom’s latest customer satisfaction survey, it scored below average for landline phone, broadband and pay TV services.

18-month contracts

The majority of BT broadband packages require you to sign up to an 18-month contract, which may feel too restrictive for those on a 12-month tenancy agreement or anyone that just doesn’t like to commit long term. This compares to Virgin Media and Sky, which both offer 12-month contracts. BT has started to cater to students, with nine-month contracts that are available from September for the start of the academic year.

Not the cheapest broadband around

Prices start from £2.50 per month (plus £15.99 line rental) for BT broadband with weekend calls, which isn’t too heavy on the pocket but are available from the likes of Direct Save Telecom, TalkTalk and Fuel Broadband. After six months you will see an increase in prices that start from £8 (plus £15.99 line rental), but this deal has a 10GB usage cap while similar deals from the competition offer unlimited downloads.

Package comparison

  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed38Mb
    Max Upload Speed9.5Mb
    Monthly Usage20GB
    Fair UsageNo
    Traffic ShapingNo
    IP AddressingDynamic
    Digital TV
    TV Channels-
    SD Channels-
    HD Channels-
    3D Channels-
    Radio Channels-
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening CallsInclusive
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    -
    £10.75
    Upfront Cost£36.95
    Contract Length12 months
    Line Rental p/m£16.99
    Average Monthly£30.82
    First Year Cost£369.83
    Lifetime Cost£369.83
    See deal →
    or call 0800 380 0064

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Conclusion

BT is a solid, reliable household name that’s been around for over 100 years with excellent broadband coverage across the country. Added extras such as BT Sport, fast speeds and unlimited public Wi-Fi make BT an attractive option for consumers. Less tempting aspects are the 18-month contracts, higher price and slipping customer service standards, which should encourage caution before you buy.

And don't forget, Cable.co.uk now produces in-depth broadband reviews of every major UK broadband package, so check them out if you need more information.

Visit BT →

BT broadband reviews

Cable.co.uk now produces in-depth broadband reviews of every major UK broadband package, follow the links below to check out what we thought of BT's range.

Unlimited Broadband

3.4

Unlimited Broadband
Broadband

3

Broadband

Comments (20)

Marco
16th January 2015

My order has been cancelled without reason after two weeks delay. I placed another order with the customer service and after two days it has been lost. It s incredible! I cannot being a customer because BT is not able to manage a simple order.

john
3rd January 2015

rubbish company rubbish broardband connection poor customer service with people in indian call centres that can hardly speak a word of english totally unhelpful ive reported bt to ofcom and the ombudsman service dont waste your money with bt use a more reliable service provider like sky or talk talk avoid bt majorally

John
19th November 2014

I've been with talk-talk, plusnet and now BT and I can honestly say BT are far and away the best broadband supplier I've had. I live in a rural part of Cornwall yet I regularly achieve download speeds c 20Mb and even at peak times this never drops below 15 Mb. I have to admit the Indian call centre is a bit of a pain, but to be fair they have managed to sort every query I've had.

paul c
22nd September 2014

A great mistake on my part going to BT (infinity) from sky. since installation on 24th March 2014 loss of tv, broadband, emails cancelling as soon as I can (not providing service so why pay to end contract)

Barrie Etherington
22nd August 2014

Your test, provided by Ookla, ran extremely well. I use their own site regularly.

Nevertheless, it only served to show that my, 'BT installed', so-called, 'Infinity Broadband' solution would not or could not run up to the promised 32Mb/s. The best it shows - in hundreds of tests I have run is around 24Mb/s.

There is a good reason for this - and BT has, so far, evaded admitting that they are at fault. Despite 4 extended investigative calls to Indian 'techies' in Chenai !

I - and BT - have recognised, for the past 30 or so months, that I have been adequately served, for several years, by an EO (Exchange Only) line which connects my home to the exchange through an uninterrupted copper connection; roughly 1 mile in length.

This has always delivered approx. 12 - 19 Mb/s on 'regular broadband'.

Nonetheless ... BT continues to insist that my promised 32Mb/s would, could and can, be delivered on this connection. So far they cannot prove it.

Their 'infinity' engineer/installer even offered to improve the - admittedly poor, twisted pair connection, in my property; and did so at the time 'infinity broadband' was installed ... to no avail.

Their 'testers' in India, correctly, asked me to tour the house to ensure that every device I owned was disconnected or turned off as they did their testing ... even to the extent of proving to me that my wife's Android phone was active in her handbag !!! ... but, their best efforts only showed the same 21 - 24 Mb/sec. that my own tests continue, repeatedly, to show.

I am convinced that the only resolution to this dilemma is for a complete replacement of my EO line by a new fibre connection either to my home (FTTP) or to a nearby cabinet (FTTC) ... a step that BT has not yet formally ruled out !

My County Council - Gloucestershire - has, very publicly, paid BT a very large sum of money to deliver 'Infinity broadband' to my local Exchange (Coleford) - and to the rest of southern Glos. - which project BT they continues to work on.

Yet they resolutely argue - not just in this case but all over the country - that pulling fibre to my home and to many others nearby is 'too expensive' !!

nevertheless, they do this at the same time as declaring - and thereby admitting a problem of sorts - that they have installed 2 special cabinets adjacent to, and/but, outside the perimeter wall of the Coleford Exchange ... 'to meet the needs of the EO lines for Infinity connections' !!

One of these cabinets apparently allows BT to 'disconnect/reconnect' any/all of the EO lines in Coleford - to the other cabinet, which - in turn - provides an interface to the fibre inside the Exchange,

My experience appears to show that this 'remedy' does not deliver the planned solution.

I am writing this as I wait for a BT Engineer to arrive to investigate ... and I anticipate that I'm in for another lecture about how hard times are for BT and Openreach !!

Please wish me luck ... 'Hmmm. I wonder if BBC's Panorama might be interested in this saga ?

John Lewis
23rd June 2014

I live in a rural area and they just made bills up in the end. After initially claiming it would be 39/month (117/qtr) with 20 measly Gb, 4meg down and 400k up it slowly increased month on month to £280/qtr! I ended up cancelling before the 18 months because I could not afford them any more, my budget was very tight - and now because I defaulted I owe them £560 apparently! Guess how much they're getting of that...I would tell them - but once you get past sales, you never speak to another human again. If you do, their customer relations between departments is so p*** poor you will have to repeat everything over and over again and waste literally days of your precious time. At work, we've had 18 months of hell too because of their business division as they cannot explain what the sporadic bills are for so we cannot pay them through the accountant. They will threaten to cut you off though no problem. Awful awful company.

Avoid at all costs. If they perform badly they just put another ad out and capture the gullible. I've now gone with PlusNet and it's 41/month for 250gb transfer. 100% reliable, friendly, cannot fault them. Never on this earth would I recommend BT to anyone...and as for 'the UK's mot popular service' that is becuase they spend their ill gotten gains on advertising - that is the ONLY reason.

A Rhodes
9th June 2014

Don't go with BT Broadband, we've had a problem with the parental controls for weeks meaning we can't even get Facebook! The help dept are very nice on the phone but keep making promises they don't keep. There service is the worst we've encountered and I wish we were with another provider!

Mat Pershing
31st May 2014

I ordered BT Business Broadband in order to ensure a fast reliable serive and a fixed IP address on 21 May 2014. Emails and letters followed with all sorts of login names and passwords to confirm my order, and to tell me that I'll be connected by 29 May 2014, and that I'll get my router the day before. I therefore cancelled my Sky broadband, effictive end of May 2014. Today, on 30 May, I still had not received my promised router and broadband service. I called BT to find out that the Business broadband order line is only open Mon-Fri until 18:00! After several calls and being passed around someone eventually manages to tell me that my order "has been cancelled". They didn't know why, didn't know who had cancelled it, and didn't know why I hadn't been told. Therefore I will be left without a broadband or indeed internet service in about a day's time. No-one in BT has bothered to email me, call me, or send me a letter about this mysterious cancellation. Is this why they are "Britain's favourite broadband"?! This is extremely poor and uncaring service from a company that does not care about its clients as individuals.

Lorna
11th May 2014

In short, in answer to the question : "Is BT Infinity any good?" i would have to say NO! I agreed to the 'upgrade' from standard broadband to BT Infinity with BT TV a couple of weeks ago, and since the engineer came last week, i have been left with NO broadband whatsoever! It has been an absolute nightmare so far and I am really annoyed because it inconveniences me and my family so much...(I work from home and am without my e-mails , home network...I can't print on my printer or watch any of the TV channels we have ordered)

1) We are only 0.7 miles away from the exchange 2) I was told if I upgrade my package I will be better off by £2 per month - NOT true! 3) After spending all day yesterday on and off the phone to them (about 10 calls in all), I was told that I can expect to wait approx 15 days for it to be 'optimised' - something I was NOT informed about before I agreed to go ahead with the upgrade 4) When I said if they don't sort it out within 24 hours, I want the whole thing removed & i want to just go back to my old system (which worked perfectly fine), I could expect a £300 cancellation fee!

I just want a system that functions and I need it to function ASAP as I work from home and can't afford to be out of action for days on end.

If I don't get the situation resolved to my satisfaction quickly, I shall have to make a very big fuss and will demand compensation. having now spoken to my friends about this, several of them have told me that they have experienced something similar with BT.

I feel that I have been lied to and conned.

My verdict about BT Infinity - RUBBISH!!

AntonH
22nd April 2014

Unreliable broadband, poor customer service, more expensive than rivals. The only attraction was the BT sport I wanted to be able to watch the Moto GP. If you don't need BT Sport then please do yourself a favor and look else where. I had Eclipse broadband for 5 years without a problem. Highly recommended.

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