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BT Broadband review 2016

Hannah Ricci
Thursday, April 14th 2016

BT is the oldest and most popular broadband provider in the UK. It has a wide range of broadband services, and you can add BT Sport along with several other extras.

However, it doesn’t offer the fastest broadband, and its fibre service, BT Infinity, isn’t available everywhere. There are also activation fees.

Cable.co.uk rating

Broadband Cable.co.uk
  • Speed & usage
    3/5
  • Call plan
    3/5
  • Extras
    5/5
  • Value for money
    3/5
  • Equipment & installation
    3/5
  • Overall
    3/5

Pros and cons

  • Widest coverage in UK
  • Some plans are truly unlimited
  • Save money with line rental saver
  • Add TV and phone packages
  • Plenty of extras including BT Sport
  • Below average customer service
  • Activation fee with fibre
  • It comes with line rental
  • BT Infinity isn’t available everywhere
  • Charges if you go over your capped usage

What we like

Widest coverage in UK

BT standard broadband is available to over 99% of UK homes and businesses. Its fibre optic broadband service, BT Infinity, is available to 68% of the population. If you’re in an area that can’t get BT broadband you may want to consider other providers, such as Virgin Media.

Some plans are truly unlimited

Truly unlimited usage lets you download as much as you like without any restrictions. Unlike a plan with a usage limit, you won’t be charged extra for exceeding an allowance. Furthermore, BT has no traffic management. This means your broadband speed won’t slow down during busy hours.

Save money with BT’s line rental saver

You have to pay line rental. This costs £17.99 per month. You can save by paying for 12 months in advance with the line rental saver. This costs £194.28, and has to be paid upfront. You can add it when you join or upgrade.

Add TV and phone to any broadband package

Bundling several services can be cheaper than purchasing them from different providers. BT has numerous TV packages and several call plans. You can add them to both standard broadband and BT Infinity. If you don’t add them when you join, you can upgrade later.

Plenty of extras including BT Sport

If you take BT TV with BT broadband you get four BT Sport channels for free. These are BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, ESPN, and BT Sport Europe. If you take BT broadband but don’t take BT TV, you will have to pay £5 per month to get the four BT Sport channels.

BT operates five million wi-fi hotspots in the UK and a further three million in international locations. You can use BT’s wi-fi as much as like, for free, without using your internet allowance. You can also get a BT Mobile SIM. These BT SIM-only plans last for 12 months and come with a set amount of minutes, texts and data.

Compare BT broadband deals

BT broadband has the widest coverage in the UK. However, there are some areas that can’t get it. BT standard broadband covers 99% of the population, while BT Infinity (fibre broadband) covers 68%. Our availability checker will tell you if you can get it.

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Featured deals

  • BT Business Broadband Unlimited

    BT
    • Up to 17Mb business broadband
    • Unlimited monthly usage
    • Free UK-based support
    £17
    per month See Deal
  • BT Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls

    BT
    • Up to 17Mbps broadband
    • Unlimited usage, 100GB BT Cloud
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    New customers only, £50 BT Reward Card & Save £150 over 12 months
    £7.50
    £20 after 12 mths See Deal
  • BT Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls

    BT
    • For existing BT customers
    • Totally unlimited usage
    • Add anytime calls for £7.95 p/m
    £20
    per month See Deal

What we don’t like

Below-average 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.

Activation fee with fibre

This only applies to BT’s fibre package – BT Infinity 1. The activation fee includes the charge for an engineer to visit the street cabinet (the green box) and in some cases carry out work in your home.

It comes with line rental

Line rental costs £17.99 per month. However, you can save money by paying for 12 months upfront with the line rental saver. You can add this scheme when you upgrade or join BT.

BT Infinity isn’t available everywhere

BT’s fast fibre optic service, BT Infinity, is limited to certain areas, covering two thirds of the UK population. If you’re unable to receive BT broadband, take a look at other providers, such as Virgin Media.

Charges apply if you go over your capped usage

Capped packages come with a usage limit. This can restrict how much you can do online. If you exceed your allowance you’ll be charged for every 5GB you use. If you regularly download content, you may want to upgrade to a package with unlimited usage.

Compare broadband deals

How fast is BT Broadband?

BT offers speeds of up to 76Mbps. That’s fast enough to stream a dozen high definition (HD) films at once. Upload speeds are also high, allowing you to conduct video calls and stream live video from your home computer without interruption.

Advertised speeds are just an estimate speed you can get. However, Ofcom’s reports give you an actual speed you can expect. So how fast is BT really? Let us explore….

Speeds of up to 76Mbps

Download speeds 17Mbps - 76Mbps
Upload speeds 1Mbps - 19Mbps
Download allowance 10GB, 40GB, Unlimited
Fair usage policy No
Traffic management No
Optional line rental £17.99 per month
Contract lengths 12 months and 18 months
Prices from £5 per month
Download speeds
17Mbps - 76Mbps
Upload speeds
1Mbps - 19Mbps
Download allowance
10GB, 40GB, Unlimited
Fair usage policy
No
Traffic management
No
Optional line rental
£17.99 per month
Contract lengths
12 months and 18 months
Prices from
£5 per month

Download speed

Download speeds determine how long it takes for content to transfer to your computer from the internet. Download speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps), and BT’s premium broadband package offers a download speed of up to 76Mbps. However, according to Ofcom, you can expect to get between 59.9Mbps and 63.1Mbps.

Upload speed

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. BT’s top upload speed is 19Mbps. According to Ofcom’s report, in reality you can expect to get an upload speed around 16Mbps.

BT standard broadband

BT standard broadband has the highest coverage than any other provider. It covers over 99% of the population and it’s cheaper than BT’s fibre service, BT Infinity.

You can add TV and phone to your broadband package. But what’s the best deal? Here’s all you need to know…

Without TV

Package Download speed Upload Speed Usage Contract length Line rental Monthly cost  
BT Broadband Up to 17Mbps Up to 1Mbps 10GB 12 months £17.99 per month From £5 per month

Call options available

You can get BT Broadband with weekend calls or without calls. There is also an option to upgrade to either Unlimited Evening and Weekend or Anytime Calls at an extra cost. It’s worth noting that free calls are restricted to 60 minutes. This applies to 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers. To avoid any incurring charges, just hang up and redial.

Packages come with a truly unlimited option

Some packages come with truly unlimited usage. This means you can download as much as you like without any limitations without worrying about any charges. Moreover, BT broadband has no traffic management. This means your online activity won’t be slowed down during peak times (4pm to midnight).

With TV

Package Download speed Upload Speed Usage Contract length Line rental Monthly cost  
Starter and Broadband Up to 17Mbps Up to 1Mbps 10GB 12 months £17.99 per month From £5 per month
Starter and Unlimited broadband Up to 17Mbps Up to 1Mbps Truly unlimited 12 months £17.99 per month From £7.50 per month

Starter is available with standard broadband or Infinity

The Starter TV package comes with 80 Freeview channels, including 12 in HD. You get a free YouView box, which lets you pause and rewind live TV, and catch up on shows you’ve missed. You can add extra channels, Netflix and Sky Movies – and also Sky Sports if you choose a BT Infinity service. TV Starter is currently free with all BT broadband plans.

You can watch BT Sport on TV

BT Sport is free to all customers who take a BT TV package with broadband. If you just take broadband on its own, you’ll get one channel free (BT Sport 1) or can pay £5 per month to get BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport Europe and ESPN to watch via the app and online player.

Bundles require an activation fee

All BT TV bundles require an activation fee. However, if you move house you won’t need to pay again.

BT Infinity broadband

There are two types of BT Infinity: 52Mbps and 76Mbps. Fibre broadband is ideal for large households that are constantly online. With BT Infinity you can share your connection with dozens of computers and devices without any disruptions.

BT Infinity isn’t available everywhere. Only two thirds of the population can get it. It’s also more expensive than standard broadband. Here’s what’s available…

BT Infinity 1

Package Download speed Upload Speed Usage Contract length Line rental Monthly cost  
BT Infinity 1 Plus Up to 52Mbps Up to 9.5Mbps 40GB 12 months £17.99 per month From £10 per month
BT Infinity 1 with weekend calls Up to 52Mbps Up to 9.5Mbps 40GB 12 months £17.99 per month From £12.50 per month
Unlimited BT Infinity 1 with weekend calls Up to 52Mbps Up to 9.5Mbps Truly unlimited 12 months £17.99 per month From £12.50 per month

Bundle your services

Like standard broadband, you can combine BT Infinity with TV and phone. You’ll get free weekend calls as standard. You can upgrade your call plan to evening and weekend or anytime calls. With TV, there’s a choice of four packages: Starter, Entertainment Plus, Total Entertainment, and Entertainment Max (the latter being for existing customers only).

Set-up fees apply

BT Infinity 1 requires an activation fee. This covers the cost of an engineer to come and carry out work in your area and home. BT Infinity 2 doesn’t require an activation fee unless you bundle it with TV.

Some plans come with a usage cap

BT Infinity 1 plans either have a usage limit, or are truly unlimited. The 40GB capped plan will restrict what you can do online. The truly unlimited plan will not. If you go over your usage limit you’ll be charged for every 5GB you use.

BT Infinity 2

Package Download speed Upload Speed Usage Contract length Line rental Monthly cost  
Unlimited BT Infinity 2 with evening and weekend calls Up to 76Mbps Up to 19Mbps Unlimited 12 months £17.99 per month From £30 per month

Allows several people to be online at once

With BT Infinity, you can share your connection across dozens of computers, smartphones, laptops and tablets. Unlike standard broadband, you shouldn’t experience any disruptions while you’re online.

You can add TV

All BT’s TV packages are available with BT Infinity. Entertainment Plus has over 100 channels and Entertainment Max (for existing customers) has more than 120 channels. You can also add Sky Sports or Sky Movies. BT Sport is available free to all BT TV customers.

Get 50GB Cloud storage

BT Cloud is an online facility where you can store files, photos and videos, for free. With BT Infinity, you get 50GB of cloud storage. With standard broadband, you get 5GB.

BT Infinity 3 and 4

Packages aren't available yet

BT is planning to offer speeds of up to 200Mbps with BT Infinity 3 and up to 300Mbps with BT Infinity 4. However, these speeds are not yet available, and probably won’t be for a while.

All BT Infinity broadband packages

Don't forget, Cable.co.uk now produces in-depth BT broadband reviews, so don't forget to check them out if you need more information.

Unlimited BT Infinity 2

3.8

Unlimited BT Infinity 2
BT Unlimited broadband

3.4

BT Unlimited broadband
Unlimited BT Infinity 1

3.4

Unlimited BT Infinity 1

BT Home Hub router

To get online you need a broadband router. There are two BT routers available: BT Home Hub 4 for standard broadband, and BT Home Hub 5 for BT Infinity. Both come with four ports for wired connections, and wi-fi for your smartphones and tablets.

It’s free, but you have to pay for delivery. If you upgrade to BT Infinity from standard broadband, you might have to pay to get the Home Hub 5. Here’s what you need to know…

Is it any good?

Standard broadband comes with the Home Hub 4

The Home Hub 4 is BT’s entry-level router. In addition to four ports for wired connections (yellow ports on the back), it also comes with dual band wi-fi. This reduces wireless interference, giving you a reliable signal that is password-protected. Parental controls are included.

BT Infinity comes with the Home Hub 5

It’s similar to the Home Hub 4, but is better suited for fibre (BT Infinity). It can handle speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, thanks to the four fibre ports (GigE). It comes with a USB port too. Set up is easy and it comes with in-built protection.

They’re free with BT broadband

While it’s free, there is a delivery charge. If you’re an existing BT customer intending to upgrade from standard broadband to BT Infinity, you’ll have to pay for the Home Hub 5. Routers are only free to new customers.

BT Hub 4 Specifications:

  • 802.11n dual band 5GHz & 2.4GHz wireless
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet, 3x 10/100 Ethernet
  • WPA / WPA2 & WPS security
  • USB 2.0 port

BT Hub 5 Specifications:

  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless
  • Integrated VDSL modem
  • 4x Gigabit Ethernet
  • WPS and WPA/WPA2 security
  • USB 2.0 port

How to save money with BT

BT offers packages for standard and fibre broadband (BT Infinity). These come with extras, including BT Sport and free public wi-fi. The packages can be quite pricey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save along the way.

You can save by downgrading your package or haggling to get a better deal. Here are our tips…

Pay your line rental in advance

All BT broadband packages come with line rental, which is an added cost to your monthly bill. BT’s line rental costs £17.99 per month. However, you’ll be able to save by paying for 12 months in advance with the line rental saver. This is available to new and existing customers and involves a one-off fee of £194.28. That’s equivalent to £16.19 a month.

Downgrade your broadband

BT offers three download speeds: 17Mbps, 52Mbps and 76Mbps. If you live in a large household that’s constantly online, 52Mbps Mbps is more than enough. However, 17Mbps is often sufficient. You’ll be able to carry out the same online activities and connect several computers without difficulty.

Tell BT you’re leaving

If you’re an existing BT customer and you’re coming to the end of your contract, you won’t be tied to the company. This is the best time to save money and tell BT that you would like to leave. Make sure you do your research beforehand and see what other competitors have to offer. BT may be able to match the price, throw in some freebies or give you a better deal.

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