Why choose BT broadband?
By Dan Howdle | Wednesday, June 20th 2018
BT is the stalwart of the UK telecoms market. But does a big brand name means it’s the best option for you? We’ve checked out what’s on offer.
- Fastest entry-level fibre broadband in the UK alongside Virgin Media
- Free BT Sport for six months with BT Superfast Fibre
- Free access to more than 5 million UK wi-fi hotspots
- Store files, photos and music on BT Cloud
- BT will buy you out of your existing contract
- Cheap BT Mobile SIMs available to BT Broadband and Superfast Fibre customers
Fastest entry-level fibre broadband at 36Mbps
BT’s entry-level unlimited fibre deal – BT Superfast Fibre Essential – offers speeds averaging 36Mbps.
If you go up a notch, BT Superfast Fibre 1 (previously BT Infinity 1) is pretty damn fast at 50Mbps and the good news is you’re likely to get almost exactly what you’re paying for. Ofcom’s Home Broadband Performance report found Superfast Fibre 1 offered speeds with an average of 48Mbps.
BT Superfast Fibre 2 offers speeds averaging 67Mbps, which is in line with other providers’ fibre offerings (except Virgin Media). However, according to Ofcom, Superfast Fibre 2 offers average speeds of 60.5Mps – so not really a noticeable difference from what you get with Superfast Fibre 1.
You get a BT Smart Hub with BT Superfast Fibre
BT reckons the Smart Hub provides the most powerful wi-fi signal in the UK (compared to the hubs you get from other broadband providers). Whether this is 100% accurate or not is up for debate, but what is for sure is that the BT Smart Hub has seven antennas and these antennas are positioned to give the Smart Hub an extensive wireless range. The Smart Hub also includes the latest 4x4 Multi User MiMo AC chipset, meaning multiple devices can connect to wi-fi at the same time and all enjoy a fast connection.
Finally, the BT Smart Hub is thin enough to fit through most letter boxes, so you won’t need to be in when it’s delivered (just watch the dog doesn’t get it).
You get a BT Home Hub 4 with BT broadband
If you opt for BT’s standard broadband, you’ll get the BT Home Hub 4. It's perfectly adequate for the moderate-use household BT's standard broadband packages are aimed at, but it's not as fast or fancy as the BT Smart Hub.
Enjoy free BT Sport for six months with BT Superfast Fibre
BT fibre customers get free BT Sport on BT TV for six months. After that it’s £3.50 a month so remember to cancel unless you want to keep watching BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport 3 and BT Sport ESPN, plus HD versions of each. The BT Sport Pack will show all 351 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games broadcast live each season, plus the Premier League, FA Cup, European Rugby Champions Cup, Ultimate Fighting Championship, MotoGP, and loads more.
Free access to more than five million UK wi-fi hotspots
Both standard broadband and BT fibre customers get access to more than five million BT wi-fi hotspots for free. To use them, you need to download the BT wi-fi app to your phone, tablet or laptop, enter your username and password, and then search for nearby hotspots whenever you’re out and about.
BT Extras protect your devices and your kids
BT Virus Protect for two devices comes as standard with all BT’s broadband packages except Superfast Fibre 2, which allows you to protect up to 15 devices. BT Web Protect warns you if you're about to visit a harmful website either on your home BT Broadband or at a BT wi-fi hotspot.
Users also get BT Parental Controls which allow parents to turn on age-appropriate searches, set web browsing limits and filter inappropriate websites.
BT Cloud keeps your files safe
BT Broadband and Superfast Fibre (previously Infinity) customers get between 10GB and 1,000GB BT Cloud storage included, depending on which broadband package you choose.
BT Cloud backs up photos, videos, music, documents, your phone's contacts, text messages and call logs. This means you can both free up space on your phone and still access your stuff if something happens to your device.
BT will buy you out of your existing contract
Broadband contracts are usually 12 to 18 months in length and they’re tricky to get out of early without paying a penalty. Some providers – BT being one of them – will offset the cost of leaving your old provider and switching to BT by up to £300.
It sounds great but it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. You still have to pay your exit fees, but BT will knock a little off your monthly bill up to the value of your buyout or the aforementioned £300. Still, it's pretty generous if you’re stuck in a contract you' want're desperate to leave early.
You can add BT TV
BT TV is only available to BT broadband customers – you can’t buy it on its own. Packages range from a basic deal with Freeview channels and little else, to the Max package with more than 140 channels and a Youview+ UHD box.
The key selling point of BT TV is BT Sport. Now a major competitor to Sky Sports, BT Sport is essential for football fans. BT also has its own American drama channel AMC. It broadcasts classic series such as Mad Men, The Shield, Breaking Bad and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as its new shows including The Terror, and Fear the Walking Dead.
Discounts on BT Mobile
BT Mobile gives BT broadband customers a monthly £5 discount off both SIM-only deals and handset plans. BT Mobile piggybacks on the EE network, which is the biggest 4G network in the UK. Some BT Mobile plans include BT Sport, while the BT Family SIM allows you to get the same SIM for other family members at a discount, but only on certain deals.
Faster speeds are coming
BT’s in something of a speed race with Virgin Media. Admittedly it’s coming second but it’s the most serious competition Virgin has got. Superfast 3 and 4 are on their way, providing fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connections (which is better than fibre to the cabinet or FTTC).
The next generation of broadband, BT Ultrafast, is in the pipeline too. Ultrafast will deliver download speeds averaging 300Mbps and come 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.
Downsides to choosing BT broadband
- BT is expensive compared to other providers
BT is expensive compared to other providers
No one can argue that you’re going to get anything but a great service from BT. However it should be noted that thanks to the way BT tends to run its new customer deals – tending in favour of big cashback and/or vouchers up front – means you won’t exactly be getting bargain prices.
In fact, BT is one of the most expensive providers out there right now, and usually puts up its prices either once or even twice a year. Thankfully, should it do so you will be given the opportunity to move to a new provider, so there’s a silver lining there. Just remember, if you’re not particularly fussed about the stuff you can only get from BT (see the ‘why choose BT’ list above), there are cheaper deals to be had.
BT broadband – how to get the best deal
BT’s the best-known telecoms company in the UK and, unlike smaller challenger brands, has been around for donkeys’ years. That doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the dark ages though – it offers some of the fastest speeds around. The trouble is, super-speedy connections are not yet widely available. Is BT broadband right for you? Here’s how you decide, step-by-step.
1. Find out if you can get it
Unlike arch rival Virgin Media, BT has most of the country covered to one degree or another, so it’s a pretty safe bet. It uses the Openreach network – Openreach is part of BT but the two operate completely separately these days. Openreach fibre is available to around 96% of UK households, whereas Virgin Media reaches somewhere around 60%.
To find out which services BT can offer you, put your postcode in at the top of this page and we will tell you if you can get it.
2. What speed do you need?
BT has a broadband speed checker on its website which tells you the speeds you can expect to get on its services. BT's standard offering, simply called BT Broadband, offers speeds averaging 10Mbps. It's widely available, covering about 99% of UK homes and businesses.
BT's entry-level fibre offering, Superfast Fibre 1 (previously Infinity), offers speeds averaging 50Mbps, while Superfast Fibre 2 offers speeds averaging 67Mbps. BT Ultrafast, which will offer download speeds averaging 300Mbps, is on its way but not available in many places yet.
Do you need speeds of 300Mbps or so? You probably don’t if you just do day-to-day activities such as emailing, browsing the internet and streaming movies. BT Superfast Fibre 1 is easily enough for most households.
3. To bundle or not to bundle?
BT offers various bundle options: broadband and phone, broadband and TV, or broadband, phone and TV. You’ll need a phone line whatever you do – you can’t get BT broadband without one.
Packages vary depending on inclusive calls, the TV channels you want, and the TV set-top box (either a YouView box that pauses and rewinds live TV, or a YouView+ box that also records). Most bundles have an 18-month contract. Make sure you know when your deal is coming to an end as BT will hike the price (our advice is to call ahead of your contract ending, threaten to leave and see if you get offered a better deal).
4. Can you, and should you, switch to BT Mobile?
BT also offers BT Mobile. BT broadband customers get £5 off monthly tariffs and the option to get discounts on additional SIMs via Family SIM. Some deals come with free BT Sport (accessible by the BT Sport smartphone app only).