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Vodafone broadband and fibre broadband review 2018

By Dan Howdle
Thursday, July 26th 2018
4/5

Vodafone, though gargantuan in the world of mobile, is still a relative newcomer to broadband. It's aiming to gain customers quickly by offering some of the cheapest fibre broadband deals on the market. But does cheap come at the cost of quality? Is Vodafone broadband truly any good?

What we can tell you is that there's no reason to be suspicious. The UK broadband marketplace is heaving with providers right now, and with a limited number of potential customers, broadband providers are falling over one another to bring you onboard.

If you see a Vodafone deal that looks like it's too good to be true then, don't be alarmed. Vodafone is every bit as good a provider as any out there, a fact to which the remainder of this review aims to amply attest. It's fast, reliable, and Vodafone reportedly offers great customer service.

Overview

Average download speed 35Mbps & 63Mbps
Average upload speed 10Mbps & 20Mbps
Broadband Fibre
Home Phone Yes
Digital TV No
Prices from £23 per month

Pros and cons

  • No upfront/installation costs
  • Exceptional value for money
  • Fast enough for almost all households
  • Not as fast as Virgin Media
  • Short customer service history
  • No TV bundles

Speed – how fast is it?

Would you believe that the average household in the UK uses 112GB of data each month? That number might not mean much to you, but it's a lot. Back in the 1980s that would have been more than a warehouse full of IBM mainframe computers. The majority of that data consumption is down to streaming TV shows and films. If you're like most households, you probably do it to a lesser or greater extent, whether that's the odd episode of Dragon's Den on BBC iPlayer or the obsessive streaming of everything Netflix puts out in UHD 4K.

With this ever-increasing demand for speed, Vodafone has decided to no longer offer standard broadband, instead choosing to focus on fibre. With two speeds averaging 35Mbps and 63Mbps on offer, which one is best for you?

Vodafone Superfast 1

With this entry-level fibre package, you'll get an average speed of 35Mbps download (10Mbps upload). This is on a par with most other providers' offerings.

This speed would ideally suit a household of four or five people of internet-using age. If you're a couple, with a couple of kids old enough to use the internet, social media, stream Netflix on their tablets, play games and so on, this speed will suit. You may, however, start hitting the ceiling of that speed if one or more members of the household likes to stream excessively in 4K, download lots of videogames or otherwise engage in activities that might deem them a 'heavy' user.

Vodafone Superfast 2

You might have seen that Virgin Media is offering a a whopping 350Mbps at its top end. Vodafone's top speed averages just 63Mbps, which sounds rather puny by comparison, but again, is roughly in line with the top speeds of most other providers, and is more than enough for the average home.

63Mbps (with a 20Mbps upload speed) is best suited to households full of folk who like to do a lot of stuff online and – importantly – don't do most of that stuff together. If you're streaming Amazon Prime or whatever in the living room and you're all watching it, you're probably taking up less than 10Mbps of that bandwidth. If you're all off in separate bits of the house downloading this and that, watching different stuff on different screens, then 65Mbps is going to struggle.

To be honest, there really isn't a lot in it cost-wise. If you never want to have to worry about everything slowing down, perhaps a few extra quid a month is worth the peace of mind.

Equipment – what's the router like?

In a word: great. We could get super-techy here, but you wouldn't like us very much after that. Instead, we'll briefly explore what some of those jumbled letters and numbers mean in the real world. The router is of the 802.11ac standard. See, you're confused already. But wait. All that means is it's capable of sending the highest possible speeds over wi-fi.

Vodafone broadband router

It also operates on both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz band. This is a useful feature, as the 2.4Ghz band is the one most home broadband routers use to send and receive wifi signals. Problem is, it's getting awfully crowded, meaning you may suffer slow speeds due to interference from other routers, depending how populated the area you live in happens to be. That’s where the addition of the 5Ghz band comes in.

The Vodafone router also offers something called 'beamforming technology'. What this does is allow you to ask the router to make an extra-special effort to communicate with a specific device. Say your bath is at the other end of the house from your router (speaking anecdotally here), and you want to languish in it half the day while reading from your tablet, and your wi-fi signal doesn't quite reach. Well, this will focus a higher-intensity signal to the specific location of the device. Handy.

All in all, Vodafone's router – which unlike the Virgin Hub, Sky Q Hub and whatnot doesn't have a name – is a very capable bit of kit.

Customer service – what do people say about Vodafone?

Here at Cable.co.uk we conduct satisfaction studies among customers of the UK's various broadband providers every year, and guess who made it into fourth place in 2017? Yep, it was Vodafone. Now before you come back with something like 'Fourth place, that's not even a bronze medal', you should know that was out of around 20 providers.

When you consider that this was Vodafone's first full year as a broadband provider, to beat some of the most established players is a remarkable feat. Vodafone's broadband customers, generally speaking, are very happy indeed.

Conclusion

Vodafone can't match Virgin Media for speed. It can't beat Sky for TV – Vodafone doesn't offer any kind of TV service. But that's not the point. Vodafone's sell is that it's extremely cheap. It offers a premium service that's capable enough for pretty much everyone, but at a price – especially when Vodafone's running a sale – that is in many cases substantially cheaper than the premium competition. Do we recommend Vodafone broadband? Hell yes, we do.

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