BT Broadband

BT Broadband (2021) review: Improving all the time

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
per month (36Mbits/sec)

Customer service and support are improving but BT still has some catching up to do

Prices have come down
Improving Ofcom figures
Excellent Smart Home 2 router
Falls down on customer support and satisfaction
Rivals offer similar mainstream services for less

It’s no surprise that BT remains the biggest name in UK broadband. It currently has around 38% of the market – although that figure includes users of BT subsidiaries EE and Plusnet – and while its network arm, Openreach, is now run independently, there’s still a close relationship between the two.

However, when we last looked at BT Broadband in 2020, we found it was charging premium-grade prices for what weren’t always premium-grade services, particularly when it came to customer satisfaction and value for money. More than a third of its customers told our Broadband Awards Survey that they wouldn’t recommend BT Broadband to someone else.

This year, things are different. There’s still work to do on value for money and customer support but BT is improving its reliability and nearly 71% of users would now recommend it. It’s still one of the pricier providers but BT Broadband users don’t have to feel that they’re getting a raw deal.

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BT Broadband review: Standard Broadband

Unless you live in an area where no fibre service is available, you would have a challenge even finding out that BT still offers any ADSL services. It does, but only where you can’t get fibre, and there’s no money to be saved in getting it as the basic BT Fibre Essentials package currently comes in at the same price.

BT Broadband review: BT Fibre Essential

BT’s cheapest Fibre package delivers, on average, 36Mbits/sec download speeds for £26.99 a month, although you may find it discounted to £25 in one of BT’s regular offers. That’s not a bad price for a no-frills option, particularly when it now ships with the more advanced BT Smart Hub 2, rather than the older Home Hub 5.

The Smart Hub 2 delivers dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, four Gigabit Ethernet ports and support for both standard VDSL2 and fibre connections, making it one of the top ISP-provided routers. For an extra £10 a month you can also add BT’s Complete Wi-Fi service, which includes one of BT’s Wi-Fi Disc mesh extenders, with up to two more on offer if you can’t get a solid signal in every room.

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BT Broadband review: BT Superfast Fibre 1 and Fibre 2

If your connection will take a faster service, you can step up to BT’s Superfast Fibre 1 or Fibre 2 service. The former gives you an average download speed of 50Mbits/sec for £28 on a 24-month contract, while the second takes the speed up to 67Mbits/sec and the price up by another £2. BT tends to offer useful extras on these two plans, so watch for cashback offers or free use of streaming services.

These speeds will give you enough performance for 4K video streaming and even game streaming, as long as you don’t have someone else hogging bandwidth at the same time. That’s going to be good enough for most households but, if you have several people working, streaming or making video calls at the same time, then you might still want to take the next step up.

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BT Broadband review: BT Ultrafast and Full Fibre

As the biggest user of the Openreach network, it’s hardly surprising that BT takes advantage of its most cutting-edge technologies. In those areas that support G.Fast you can pick up the Ultrafast Fibre 100 and Fibre 300 packages, with average download speeds of 145Mbits/sec and 300Mbits/sec respectively. That’ll cover you for streaming two or more 4K video streams at once, or playing 4K games through streaming services without stopping a Netflix binge in another room in the process.

BT’s fastest services use Openreach’s growing FTTP presence, where the fibre connection extends all the way into each individual home or office. These peak at Full Fibre 900, which gives you a whacking 900Mbits/sec for £60 a month. Needless to say, this isn’t available everywhere, so don’t get too excited before you check your coverage first.

Broadband and fibre plans

BT BroadbandBT Fibre EssentialBT Fibre 1BT Fibre 2
Price per month (inc line rental)£25£25£28£30
Upfront costFreeFreeFreeFree
Average speed10Mbps36Mbps50Mbps67Mbps
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length24 months24 months24 months24 months

Ultrafast plans

BT Ultrafast Fibre 100BT Ultrafast Fibre 300BT Full Fibre 900
Price per month (inc line rental)£40£50£60
Upfront costFreeFreeFree
Average speed145Mbps300Mbps900Mbps
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length24 months24 months24 months

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BT Broadband review: Coverage

Roughly 98% of the UK population is now in reach of Openreach’s fibre services, so most potential BT customers won’t have any problem signing up for a decent high-speed connection. Fibre 1 and Fibre 2 still isn’t available everywhere, however, and in some cases you’ll find that your estimated speed on Fibre 1 will be the same as Fibre Essential, just because your connection to the local cabinet won’t let you go any higher.

The fastest G.Fast and FTTP services are only available in a limited number of areas. Currently, around 2.8 million premises can use a G.Fast connection, while Openreach continues to roll out FTTP to new locations, hoping to reach 15 million premises by 2025. There are some projects to bring FTTP to rural and semi-rural locations but, if you’re living outside a major urban centre, you probably don’t want to hold your breath for a 900Mbits/sec connection.

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BT Broadband review: Performance and customer satisfaction

The scores in last year’s Expert Reviews Broadband Awards Survey would have made grim reading for BT’s execs. This year, the news is slightly better. Some 71% of users would now recommend its services and two thirds of customers are either Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the speeds they’re getting. Three-quarters are either Satisfied or Very Satisfied with its reliability, leading to a Highly Commended award in our 2020 awards.

However, BT’s scores for Customer Support are still below average: only around half of its customers are either Satisfied or Very Satisfied, while more than one in five are Dissatisfied. Only Vodafone, TalkTalk and Virgin Media fare worse. Value for Money is another issue. Less than 40% of users are satisfied with the value they’re getting for BT’s prices. Here, only Virgin Media posts a worse result.

Ofcom’s latest findings aren’t quite so bad. BT’s Overall satisfaction score of 86% is nothing to be sniffed at, while the figures for customers with complaints and satisfaction with complaint handling are better than the average. Meanwhile, the most recent Ofcom speed research shows BT’s average download speeds are slightly ahead of EE and Plusnet, although Sky still edges out in front.

Some of this is reflected in the latest scorecard issued by Ofcom, as part of its work with the other major UK regulators. These are designed to help customers choose the best providers based on metrics from the Institute of Customer Services and Net Promoter Scores, among others. BT isn’t exactly battling Plusnet or EE for the title of Best Broadband service but it’s doing better here than some of its big rivals.

Overall averageBT
Complaints to Ofcom per 1000 subscribers5250

BT Broadband review: Verdict

BT is delivering faster and faster services across the country and improving in the areas where it used to fall behind. However, it still has a lot of work to do on customer support, and there’s a sense that you’re paying a premium over some rival providers without getting the kind of service you’d expect from Zen Internet or EE. It’s worth a look to see what deals are on offer and whether you can get a faster connection but when it comes to like-for-like comparison with Plusnet, Zen, EE and Sky, then BT falls behind.

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