BT Broadband vs TalkTalk Broadband

Last updated: 25 June 2024   By Samantha Smith

BT and TalkTalk and two of the UK's most popular broadband providers, but which is best?

BT offers broadband with a home phone and TV option, as well as premium extras like a WiFi guarantee and 4G mobile broadband back-up service.

TalkTalk meanwhile offers broadband over both BT's Openreach network as well as the CityFibre network, with a unique TV service in some areas.

Overall however, BT and TalkTalk are surprisingly comparable with equivalent prices, close broadband speeds, and not too dissimilar extras and add-ons.

bt or talktalk

In this guide:


At a glance

BT TalkTalk
Monthly price From £28.99 From £28
Setup cost Free Free
Minimum term 24 months 18 months
Annual price rise CPI + 3.9% CPI + 3.7%
Connection Part-fibre, full fibre Part-fibre, full fibre
Download speeds 36Mb, 50Mb, 67Mb, 150Mb, 500Mb, 900Mb 38Mb, 67Mb, 152Mb, 525Mb, 944Mb
Upload speeds 9Mb, 18Mb, 30Mb, 73Mb, 110Mb 9Mb, 17Mb, 30Mb, 72Mb, 110Mb
Router BT Smart Hub 2 TalkTalk WiFi Hub Black / Amazon eero 6
WiFi guarantee BT Complete WiFi N/a (eero 6 supports mesh)
Parental controls BT Parental Controls TalkTalk HomeSafe
Home phone £5 per month Available in part-fibre areas only
Anytime calls £18/mth (inc. UK mobiles) £16/mth (inc. UK mobiles)
TV EE TV TalkTalk TV (Openreach areas only)

Best deals

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 150 152Mb average £29 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Free setup and P&P
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £30.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 18/07/2024)

Price

Winner: It's a tie. TalkTalk and BT broadband are very similarly priced, with no major differences between equivalent packages.

While TalkTalk used to be known as a budget provider, they've moved their offering to a more premium service, with fast full fibre broadband speeds, the latest router, and option to bundle a TV service in some areas.

With the quality improvement has come a slight increase in prices however, and TalkTalk are no longer one of the cheapest broadband providers in the UK, often undercut by providers like Plusnet, Vodafone and NOW Broadband.

BT broadband has always been a more premium service, with bundled and optional extras including a home phone line, inclusive call plans, BT Halo, and a pay TV service. Their pricing is usually at the higher end, but more recently they've started cutting prices from time-to-time bringing them more in-line with mid-market and lower cost deals.

For entry-level full fibre deals, here's how they're pricing looks side-by-side:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 150 152Mb average £29 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Free setup and P&P
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £30.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 18/07/2024)

TalkTalk Full Fibre 150 currently costs £29 per month with free setup, while BT's equivalent Full Fibre 100 costs slightly more at £30.99, but there's not much in it.

BT do offer 24-month contracts compared to 18-months with TalkTalk, which means BT's lower introductory prices will last for an additional 6 months, while TalkTalk customers will have to recontract or switch away sooner.

So, unless customers want that extra flexibility of a shorter minimum term, BT may actually work out cheaper over the long-term.

Overall, we'd say TalkTalk and BT tie on price for their broadband deals, but actual savings may come down to individual requirements.

Compare more of TalkTalk and BT's pricing side-by-side in our free broadband tool.


Broadband packages

Winner: BT offer more optional extras than TalkTalk, including a digital home phone line, but again it's a closely-fought match with premium features also available with TalkTalk.

BT and TalkTalk both offer a similar range of broadband speed choices, with customers in full fibre enabled areas able to pick between entry-level 100Mb deals all the way up to gigabit-capable plans as well.

In part-fibre areas, TalkTalk use the same Openreach network as BT, so again, speeds are similar, and even in full fibre enabled areas TalkTalk also use BT's Openreach alongside some CityFibre coverage too.

Here are the main full fibre deals side-by-side:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 2 74Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £7/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 18/07/2024)
Full Fibre Essential 36Mb average £33.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price for 24 months (Ends 18/07/2024)
Full Fibre 150 152Mb average £29 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Free setup and P&P
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £30.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 18/07/2024)
Full Fibre 300 300Mb average £34.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £10/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 18/07/2024)
Full Fibre 500 525Mb average £39 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Free setup and P&P
Full Fibre 900 944Mb average £49 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Free setup and P&P
Full Fibre 900 900Mb average £44.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £15/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 18/07/2024)

And for those who've yet to be reached by either Openreach or CityFibre full fibre networks, these plans are available from TalkTalk and BT:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fibre 65 67Mb average £28 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Free setup and P&P
Fibre Essential 36Mb average £33.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 18/07/2024)
Fibre 2 67Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £7/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 18/07/2024)

BT offer more useful add-on services than TalkTalk however, with all customers able to add a digital home phone line for £5 per month, as well as access anytime call plans.

BT also offer a service called BT Halo, which basically combines a number of premium broadband services including the Complete WiFi guarantee and Hybrid Connect - a 4G back-up service. BT Halo also offers access to home tech experts, doubles mobile data on household plans, and includes a price promise and free upgrade to full fibre when it becomes available in the area.

Customers of BT broadband can also of course add BT TV, which is a pay TV service with access to premium Sky content through NOW subscriptions, TNT Sports, Netflix, and comes with the recordable BT TV Box Pro.

In contrast, TalkTalk offer some of these services but not all. Customers in Openreach areas can sign up to TalkTalk TV, which mirrors the NOW TV subscriptions, but comes with a simpler streaming box.

Customers who take TalkTalk's full fibre broadband in an Openreach network area can also sign up to Total Home WiFi and gain access to an extra Amazon eero to help boost wireless speeds, however unlike BT Complete WiFi there is only one device, instead of up to three, and no whole home guarantee.

Overall, BT beat TalkTalk for broadband packages as they offer more choices and arguably better service extras.

Read more in our reviews of BT broadband and TalkTalk broadband.


Broadband speed

Winner: TalkTalk broadband has faster download speeds on average at peak times than BT broadband does.

BT and TalkTalk both offer broadband connections on the Openreach network, although as a Local Loop Unbundled provider, TalkTalk has their own equipment in exchanges and so manages their network separately to BT.

TalkTalk also offers full fibre broadband connections in areas where CityFibre has coverage, which is over 3 million premises so far. Although Openreach has now passed 13.8 million premises with full fibre.

Broadband speed choices are fairly similar however, with each provider offering at least two part-fibre plans, as well as entry-level 100Mb+, mid 500Mb, and gigabit-capable 900Mb plans in full fibre areas.

BT offer the following broadband speed choices:

Average download speed Average upload speed
Fibre Essentials 36Mbps 9Mbps
Fibre 1 50Mbps 9Mbps
Fibre 2 67Mbps 18Mbps
Full Fibre 100 150Mbps 30Mbps
Full Fibre 500 500Mbps 73Mbps
Full Fibre 900 900Mbps 110Mbps

These advertised average download speeds must be received by at least 50% of BT's customers during the peak hours of 8pm to 10pm when the network is busiest. As such, they're a reliable measurement of how fast a connection is likely to be.

TalkTalk's average broadband speeds are slightly faster:

Average download speed Average upload speed
Fibre 35 38Mb 9Mb
Fibre 65 67Mb 17Mb
Full Fibre 65 77Mb 20Mb
Full Fibre 150 152Mb 30Mb
Full Fibre 500 525Mb 72Mb
Full Fibre 900 944Mb 110Mb

The difference in average download speed is likely down to the different ways TalkTalk and BT manage the networks, as well as the inclusion of speed data from CityFibre network areas too.

Minimum speed guarantees

Alongside advertised averages, we can also look at a provider's minimum speed guarantees to get a better idea of how fast their service is likely to be.

However, while at least 50% of customers receive the average download speed, minimum speed guarantees are really worse case scenarios and ideally shouldn't be what customers experience. Although, if they do, it's reassuring that they'll be able to cancel their contract and switch to a better provider.

Here are the minimum speed guarantees of a selection of BT and TalkTalk broadband deals for two locations, one with full fibre and one without:

Estimated download speed range Minimum guaranteed download speed
BT Fibre Essentials 35 - 36Mb 32Mb
TalkTalk Fibre 35 36 - 37Mb 35Mb
BT Fibre 2 71 - 73Mb 68Mb
TalkTalk Fibre 65 72.2 - 73.6Mb 68Mb
BT Full Fibre 100 150Mb 100Mb
TalkTalk Full Fibre 150 150 - 153Mb 120Mb
BT Full Fibre 500 500Mb 425Mb
TalkTalk Full Fibre 500 517 - 526Mb 440Mb
BT Full Fibre 900 900Mb 700Mb
TalkTalk Full Fibre 900 875 - 948Mb 725Mb

As with advertised average speeds, TalkTalk offer faster speed estimates and a faster minimum guaranteed download speed in our test locations.

Overall, while specific areas will vary, this does suggest TalkTalk offers a slightly faster broadband service than BT across equivalent packages.


Router

Winner: TalkTalk offer a WiFi 6 enabled router across all their full fibre deals, while BT only provides a WiFi 5 router on all plans.

Since launching full fibre broadband deals, TalkTalk now provides customers with either an Amazon eero 6 or an eero Pro 6 on the fastest plans.

The Amazon eero 6 and Pro 6 support the latest WiFi 6 protocol, upgraded WPA3 security, and Intelligent mesh, so additional eero devices can seamless extend coverage around a home.

The faster eero Pro 6 also offers tri-band wireless, which means there are more channels to send signal and data over, improving coverage and speed where multiple devices are going online at the same time.

In contrast, BT's Smart Hub 2 only supports dual-band WiFi 5 and WPA2, and while it does supports speeds up to 1Gbps, it's starting to look outdated next to newer devices, and is closer in specifications to TalkTalk's WiFi Hub Black which is now only provided to part-fibre customers.

bt smart hub 2

Here are the specifications of TalkTalk and BT's routers side-by-side:

BT Smart Hub 2 TalkTalk Amazon eero 6
WiFi protocol 5 (802.11ac) 6 (802.11ax)
WiFi band Dual-band Dual-band (Tri-band with eero Pro 6)
Mesh Yes Yes
Ethernet LAN 4 x 1Gb 2 x 1Gb
Security WPA2 WPA3

Customers who take TalkTalk's Full Fibre 900 plan will receive two Amazon eero Pro 6 routers, while those on other plans can get an additional device for an extra £6 per month with TalkTalk's Total Home WiFi which we look at just below.

Overall, TalkTalk beat BT in the router category, particularly for customers who take a full fibre broadband deal.


WiFi guarantee

Winner: BT's Complete WiFi add-on is a more comprehensive whole home WiFi guarantee, but TalkTalk Full Fibre 900 comes with an extra WiFi booster for free.

BT and TalkTalk have each taken different approaches to helping customers struggling with their WiFi coverage.

BT's Complete WiFi add-on is a more comprehensive service, customers get sent up to three WiFi discs to place around their home to help boost coverage. However, BT use the My BT app to test the wireless signal in each room, ensuring customers have a 'strong' signal.

If the signal in each room in the home is less than strong, and three devices have already been supplied, the customer can claim £100 back, although the minimum term of 24-months on the add-on can't be cancelled.

BT Complete WiFi costs £10 per month, although sometimes new customers can access special offers when they sign up.

TalkTalk's add-on, Total Home WiFi, is cheaper at £6 per month, but this includes just one additional Amazon eero router. There's little in terms of a guarantee but customers will be able to cancel the add-on if they don't get at least 10Mbps speeds in each room and an engineer can't resolve the issue.

TalkTalk Total Home WiFi is also only available to full fibre customers in Openreach FTTP areas, while BT's Complete WiFi is available to all customers.

Overall, we think BT beat TalkTalk in terms of a WiFi guarantee, but we like the fact TalkTalk Full Fibre 900 customers get two WiFi devices included as standard.


TV

Winner: BT TV has more features than TalkTalk TV, including a recordable box. However, TalkTalk TV is a very similar service that also offers better on-demand app support for additional content subscriptions.

Whether BT TV or TalkTalk TV is better will depend on exactly what a customer is hoping to gain from a premium or pay TV service.

TalkTalk TV is a much more pared down service, it offers access to NOW TV memberships and the streaming box has good support for on-demand apps, but there is little else.

BT TV is also based on NOW TV memberships, but customers can also add TNT Sports, get bundled access to Discovery+ and some plans include Netflix too.

The main winning factor for BT however is the BT TV Box Pro, which offers access to Freeview as well as the ability to pause and rewind live TV, and record live channels to the box to watch later.

Here are a few comparable broadband and TV bundles from TalkTalk and BT:

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
TV Hub + Full Fibre 150 70 152Mb average £34 Free 18 months
offer Offer: NOW Entertainment just £4.99 for 12 months (was £9.99) + NOW Boost free + Free setup and P&P
Entertainment + Full Fibre 100 96 150Mb average £50.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card (Ends 18/07/2024)

As you can see, for a simple entertainment TV plan, BT is much more expensive than TalkTalk, although customers do need to add the £4.99 fee for NOW Entertainment to TalkTalk's above pricing. While both plans include NOW Entertainment, BT also comes with Netflix.

Overall, BT TV is more comprehensive with greater choice on TV content to add, as well as access to Freeview and a recordable set-top box. However, TalkTalk TV will appeal to those on a budget or who don't want to overspend on TV.


Customer service

Winner: BT have a better overall customer satisfaction rating than TalkTalk does, they also resolve customer service complaints more satisfactorily and have less complaints overall.

BT has much better customer service ratings than TalkTalk according to research from the industry regulator Ofcom into customer satisfaction and complaints.

In fact, TalkTalk generally have one of the highest complaints records in Ofcom's quarterly complaints figures, having the most or the second most complaints in most recent quarters and all above the industry average.

Here are the comparable figures from Ofcom's most recent Comparing Service Quality report, published in May 2023:

BT TalkTalk
Overall satisfaction 83% 78%
Satisfaction with speed of service 80% 76%
Complaints per 100,000 customers in 2023 47 71
Satisfaction with complaints handling 55% 46%
Customers with a reason to complain 19% 24%
Complaints resolved on first contact 44% 34%

BT moved their call centre operations back to the UK in 2020. They also upgraded their call centres and consolidated 300 locations to just 30, to help streamline operations. Since then, they've seen an improvement in their customer satisfaction scores and complaint figures.

In contrast, TalkTalk are one of very few providers who still use overseas call centres, despite experiencing call centre fraud between 2014 and 2017, that resulted in a £100,000 fine from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). While they've since moved call centres from India to South Africa and the Philippines, they don't seem to have any UK locations at all.

Read more about customer service in our main guide, however, on this occasion we'd pick BT over TalkTalk for customer service as they outperform them across most metrics.


Verdict: BT or TalkTalk broadband - which is best?

Overall winner: It's a tie. BT and TalkTalk broadband are surprisingly similar in their offerings these days, with extra features that will appeal on a more individual basis.

Both TalkTalk and BT offer a similar array of broadband deals and speeds, that are very close on price across equivalent plans.

There are a few areas that separate the provider, such as BT offers a home phone option and TalkTalk does not, BT also arguably offers a more comprehensive TV bundle, but TalkTalk TV will still appeal to those who prioritise on-demand apps.

TalkTalk may have slightly more availability than BT for full fibre, as they also resell access on the CityFibre network, which so far passes around 3 million premises, although there could be some overlap with Openreach's FTTP network.

BT probably has better customer service if problems arise, and customers may appreciate the UK-based call centres when they do need to phone up.

Overall, TalkTalk offer up to date broadband deals with the latest routers and a TV plan with high value for money for those who like to stream on-demand. However, BT have a more reassuring customer service record, as well as extras that many households may find necessary, such as a home phone line and better supported WiFi guarantee, so we call a tie on this one.

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