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Should I get 52Mb or 76Mb BT Infinity broadband?

By Luke Albiges
Wednesday, April 25th 2018

Previously known as BT Infinity, BT's fibre broadband essentially offers two options – Superfast Fibre 1, with an average speed of 50Mbps, and Superfast Fibre 2, with a higher average speed of 67Mbps. But which of the two packages will be best for you?

Ever since BT raised its entry-level speed to 50Mbps, the smaller gap between performance on the two fibre options has made it tougher to decide whether the faster one is worth the extra money. With that in mind, let's run through a few cases where the extra tenner or so a month would be money well spent, and those where Superfast Fibre 1's solid speeds should be more than enough.

Is 50Mbps fast enough?

In most cases, the short answer is probably 'yes'. Considering that the speed recommendation for streaming Ultra HD media is only around 25-30Mbps, Superfast Fibre 1 (previously Infinity 1) is certainly quick enough for this demanding task with a little extra left over for other devices, assuming they're not too numerous or too active.

For light users who only use their broadband for browsing the internet, email, and social media, 50Mbps is actually fast enough to be considered overkill – it's plenty fast enough for streaming HD media, online gaming, and chucking around large files at respectable speeds as well, in fact.

Considering that most other providers' entry-level packages come in at around 36Mbps, BT's quicker speeds on its Superfast Fibre 1 equivalent are a welcome boost that allow for more devices to be connected at once without troubling the bandwidth cap in most cases. But naturally, there will be some households where going faster still will be preferable.

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Too many devices for Superfast Fibre 1?

While Superfast Fibre 1's speed cap is never going to be threatened by several devices streaming media at once while people potter around on Twitter on their phones, all those little bites out of the speed quota can quickly add up.

In larger households where the number of connected devices runs into double digits, it might be the case that you'd end up close to (or even hitting) bandwidth limits at busy times and seeing performance suffer as a result. The peace of mind of having everything work properly all the time (well, most of the time – we all know technology can be fickle) may well be worth the extra cash each month.

Bear in mind as well that since both Superfast Fibre packages use exactly the same line, it should be relatively straightforward to upgrade from Superfast 1 to Superfast 2 should you go for the entry package and later find it's not quite got enough internet to go round in your tech-heavy household.

Superfast Fibre 2 is better for gaming

If you or your family are into video games, there are several factors that make the quicker Superfast Fibre 2 (previously BT Infinity 2) a more attractive package. For one, being roughly 50% faster than Superfast 1 in terms of raw speed simply means that games, patches, and other content will download significantly faster.

player unknown's battlegrounds

Since these digital downloads are getting bigger all the time, that extra juice could mean several fewer hours of staring at progress bars and several more hours actually playing. Everyone hates progress bars – the darn things never tell the truth – so that's a pretty solid reason to go for the quicker package.

Secondly, Superfast Fibre 2's max upload speed of around 20Mbps is double that of Superfast 1, translating to a slight performance boost for some online games. But that doubled upload speed will be of more interest to those who like to live-stream their gameplay, as Superfast 1's speeds don't leave a lot of wiggle room around the speed requirements for full HD streaming, especially if other devices are using the connection at the same time.

The same goes for content creators that like to shout over games on the YouTubes or whatever it is that the kids do these days... twice the upload speed means you can fill your channel with forced reaction videos and clips of your barely-adequate Fortnite performances twice as fast.

While Superfast Fibre 1 is perfectly serviceable for gaming as well, Superfast 2 is clearly the preferable pick if there's a gamer in the house – and even more so if there's more than one.

Get faster upload speeds with Superfast Fibre 2

As mentioned in that there bit about gaming, Superfast Fibre 2 (previously BT Infinity 2) offers twice the maximum upload speed of its apparently-slightly-less-infinite counterpart – around 20Mbps, so basically the best you're going to get without having a dedicated fibre line run to your property. For anyone who regularly uploads HD video or photos in bulk, that means you could share your stuff with the world in half the time. Imagine all the extra likes you'd be able to not get in that time!

It's not just good for video and photo buffs, of course. This upload speed boost helps out wherever you might want or need to pass large files around quickly, whether it be tossing myriad work files back and forth between office and remote locations, dealing with large digital art files, backing up lots of important data and files... anything that needs uploading. If that's a thing you like or need to do frequently, the extra speed makes Superfast Fibre 2 a no-brainer.

What if 67Mbps isn't enough?

Wow, you really like downloading, streaming, and uploading stuff, huh? No problem – while Superfast Fibre 2 may be BT's fastest widely available option, it's not the very best line the provider can offer.

family with too many devices

Assuming you're lucky enough to be in an area where the new Ultrafast lines are rolling out, BT has two Ultrafast packages that blow Infinity's speeds out of the water. The first comes in at 152Mbps (more than double the speed of Infinity 2), with the second boasting a whopping average speed of 300Mbps. Both also come with a minimum speed guarantee – BT is offering cash payouts should speeds ever drop below 100Mbps.

Aside from smaller regional operators, the only other provider offering similar speeds is Virgin, whose VIVID bundles offer top speeds of 50, 100, 200, and 350Mbps. Availability for these is estimated at around half of the UK – anecdotally greater than BT's equivalent at the time of writing – so there's a decent chance you'll be able to get speeds faster than Openreach-powered fibre lines, should you want or need them.

You'd really have to tick most of the above boxes to make such high speeds necessary, but there's an undeniable joy in seeing downloads that would once have taken days, finish up in minutes or even seconds.

50Mbps versus 67Mbps: a practical speed comparison

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. While we're not entirely sure on what the numbers-to-words exchange rate is these days, we'd wager it's probably pretty high – it's always good to get a little perspective on exactly how long things will take with the aid of a little numerical data, after all.

Let's start with something relatively small – a high-quality album download or a handful of high-definition images, which you can expect to be around the 100MB mark. It's a small file so times don't look much different: around 17 seconds on a 50Mbps connection, five seconds faster on a 67Mbps one, and almost instant on a 300Mbps line.

Up the ante with an HD movie download of, let's say, somewhere around 8GB and here, 50Mbps users are looking at about 22 minutes at best, down to 15 minutes with 67Mbps, and just shy of four minutes at 300Mbps. Crank it up again with an entire 4K video game download (around 100GB) and the gap gets wider still – approximately five hours at 50Mbps, around three hours at 67Mbps, and under an hour on a 300Mbps line.

Conclusion

In most practical cases, the 50Mbps speeds of Superfast Fibre 1 should prove plenty, although some will still want to consider the faster Superfast Fibre 2 option, especially those in households with a lot of connected devices or where upload speeds are important. Superfast Fibre 2's faster speeds are welcome if you frequently download (or upload) numerous large files, although you'd probably do well to look into your ultrafast options if that's the case as the speed hike will be much more significant.

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