Community Fibre vs BT

Last updated: 2 February 2023   By Lyndsey Burton

Community Fibre is a dedicated London broadband provider, while BT has in the past been the UK incumbent, making the pair interesting rivals to compare.

Community Fibre offer cheap but fast full fibre broadband connections specifically in London.

Meanwhile BT are the UK's largest provider, covering 93% of the UK and 92% of London, while their full fibre network has so far reached around 860,000 of homes in London, slightly more than Community Fibre's footprint of 624,800 homes.

While these two providers are markedly different, we'd lean towards Community Fibre over BT simply because of their cheaper prices at around half that charged by BT.

london city

At a glance

Community Fibre BT
Price from £17.99 £28.99
Superfast broadband 50Mb, 75Mb, 150Mb 36Mb, 50Mb, 67Mb, 150Mb
Ultrafast broadband 300Mb 500Mb
Gigafast broadband 920Mb, 3000Mb 900Mb
Anytime UK calls £10 (inc. UK mobiles) £16
TV content Netgem TV BT TV with Sky
Customer satisfaction - 88%
Customer complaints - 18%
Trustscore 4.9 from 24,000 reviews 1.5 from 12,000 reviews
Minimum term 12 or 24 months 24 months
Community Fibre BT
Pros pros Cheaper prices at almost half of BT Wider availability with rapid full fibre expansion
Symmetrical upload and download speeds BT TV offers access to Sky content on a flexible basis
Full fibre as standard with advanced Linksys Velop router Home phone plans more flexible
Cons cons Limited availability and doesn't operate outside of London Much more expensive
Home phone doesn't support international calls Slower upload speeds even on full fibre plans

Verdict: Who is best for...

Community Fibre BT
Price Community Fibre wins
Speed Community Fibre wins
Router Community Fibre wins
Call plans BT wins
TV BT wins
Customer service Community Fibre wins
Overall Community Fibre wins

Price

Winner: Community Fibre offer cheaper and more affordable broadband packages than BT does.

Community Fibre are cheaper than BT, with their prices currently coming in almost half the price of equivalent BT deals.

Their current promotional offer on their 150Mb plan at £17.99 per month is one of the cheapest broadband deals available in the UK right now.

In contrast, over the length of the 24-month contract BT broadband costs out a lot more. Yet, for this, customers can choose to bundle extra services including a more flexible home phone line and a flexible way to access Sky premium TV content.

However, Community Fibre also win points in the price category for their approach to out of contract price rises, which they've decided to cap at just £2 extra. BT's out of contract prices are likely to increase more than this.

In terms of mid-contract price rises that take place on an annual basis, while both providers have implemented contractual price rises, Community Fibre increase their prices by slightly less than BT, adding just 2.9% onto inflation compared to BT's increase of 3.9% above inflation.

For households struggling with their bills during the cost of living crisis both Community Fibre and BT offer social broadband tariffs. Yet again, Community Fibre is much cheaper costing just £12.50 per month compared to BT's lowest price tariff at £15.

Overall, for the cheapest broadband Community Fibre are the easy choice over BT where they're available.


Broadband deals

Winner: Community Fibre offer cheaper prices for equivalent full fibre deals than BT, although BT offers more extras like the BT TV service.

Both Community Fibre and BT offer a range of broadband deals, with Community Fibre offering dedicated full fibre and BT still supporting older fibre to the cabinet options, as well as their own selection of full fibre packages.

Cheapest broadband

Community Fibre's cheapest option is currently their 150Mb plan, which is on offer for just £17.99 per month. In comparison, BT's equivalent Full Fibre 100 plan costs almost twice as much.

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
150Mb Fibre Broadband 150Mb average £18.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Installed in 48 hours + Free setup
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £9/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 25/04/2024)

It's not even possible to get broadband from BT for less than £28.99 per month, so Community Fibre's deal worth over £10 less than BT's slowest broadband package offers serious value for money.

Ultrafast broadband

Both BT and Community Fibre offer packages with ultrafast download speeds. Community Fibre offer a 300Mb plan, while BT offer a 500Mb full fibre plan.

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
300Mb Fibre Broadband 300Mb average £24 £9.95 24 months
Full Fibre 500 500Mb average £34.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £15/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 25/04/2024)

Over 24 months the Community Fibre 300Mb plan would cost £576 in total, whilst BT's deal would cost almost twice as much at a total of £1103.76. This simple calculation highlights just how much more value for money Community Fibre are offering.

Gigabit broadband

It's possible to sign up for gigabit broadband speeds with both BT and Community Fibre, with each provider offering similar average download speeds.

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
1Gbps Fibre Broadband 920Mb average £26 Free 24 months
offer Offer: Installed in 48 hours + Free setup
Full Fibre 900 900Mb average £59.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card (Ends 25/04/2024)

As with their ultrafast and superfast plans however, Community Fibre are still much more affordable with a total cost over the contract of £648, compared to £1343.76 with BT.

In addition, for those who want the fastest broadband, it's worth pointing out Community Fibre offer symmetrical upload and download speeds on their full fibre connections, whilst BT offer just 110Mb upload speeds on their gigabit plan.

Overall, while BT do bundle in extras, including a money-back voucher of between £50 and £100 at the time of writing, Community Fibre offer the best value for money for a faster broadband connection.

For those who can get it then, Community Fibre is the better choice when compared to BT. Read more in our Community Fibre review and our review of BT broadband.


TV

Winner: BT TV is more comprehensive than the Community Fibre partnered Netgem TV service.

Community Fibre and BT both offer their broadband customers exclusive access to a premium TV service.

However, there is a notable difference between the two services, with BT offering the ability to access premium content from Sky, while the Netgem TV service offered by Community Fibre misses out on some of the most popular channels.

Community Fibre TV BT TV
Premium channels 215+ Up to 125
Pause and rewind live TV Yes Yes
Netflix Optional Included
Prime Video Optional Optional
BritBox Optional Optional
BT Sport Optional Included
Sky Sports No Optional
Sky Cinema No Optional
Sky Atlantic No Optional

While Community Fibre's TV service does support Netflix, Prime Video, Britbox and BT Sport, it misses out on Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, and Sky entertainment channels like Sky Atlantic.

In contrast, all these are optional with BT TV, which also includes Netflix and BT Sport as standard in its Entertainment and Sports packages respectively.

In addition, BT TV customers have the added benefit of being able to switch TV plans on a monthly basis, so one month they can be watching sports, and the next switch to an entertainment or movies plan.

Overall, while the TV service from Netgem will be adequate for many people, the BT TV service is much more comprehensive and likely to keep viewers satisfied with the wider range of premium content available.


Broadband speed

Winner: Community Fibre offer faster speeds overall, with symmetrical uploads and full fibre connections as standard.

Community Fibre offer customers a range of broadband speed options from 50Mb to 920Mb, and even a 3000Mb package.

Download speed (average) Upload speed (average)
50Mb Fibre Broadband 50Mb 50Mb
75Mb Fibre Broadband 75Mb 75Mb
150Mb Fibre Broadband 150Mb 150Mb
300Mb Fibre Broadband 300Mb 300Mb
920Mb Fibre Broadband 920Mb 920Mb

Meanwhile, BT offer customers a choice of superfast plans from 36Mb to 900Mb gigabit broadband.

Download speed (average) Upload speed (average)
Fibre Essential 36Mb 9Mb
Fibre 1 50Mb 9Mb
Fibre 2 67Mb 19Mb
Full Fibre 100 150Mb 30Mb
Full Fibre 500 500Mb 73Mb
Full Fibre 900 900Mb 110Mb

It's worth noting that while BT's Fibre Essential, Fibre 1 and Fibre 2 packages are much more widely available - around 97% of UK homes can get them - the fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connections can be slower and less reliable than the full fibre to the home plans.

FTTC connections can experience attenuation (slowing down) due to distances between a customer's home and the nearest street cabinet, as well as from the exchange.

Full fibre connections on the other hand, as offered by Community Fibre as standard and BT on their full fibre packages, delivers broadband via a fibre optic cable laid directly into a customer's home, which means the connection is unaffected by distance and provides a faster and more stable connection overall.

One of the biggest differences between Community Fibre and BT regarding broadband speed is that Community Fibre's network provides symmetrical upload and download speeds, which can be useful for people working from home, making video calls, or online gaming where data is sent to the Internet as well as downloaded from it.

In constant BT's upload speeds are much slower than its headline download speeds, with even their fastest gigabit package only offering 110Mb upload speeds on average.

Read more about the fastest broadband in the UK.


Routers

Winner: Community Fibre offer a slightly more advanced router on their faster plans, and also offer a fairer WiFi guarantee.

Community Fibre provide customers taking its broadband service with a Linksys router, with faster packages coming with more advanced router specifications to handle the increased speeds.

Customers taking 150Mb plans and upwards get a tri-band version of the Linksys router, which means there is more bandwidth available over more wireless channels compared to a dual-band router.

All router options support mesh and customers can choose to upgrade to the WiFi in Every Room service which costs £10 per month and provides additional Linksys mesh routers to help extend the wireless network seamlessly across larger homes or where solid walls are causing the WiFi signal to deteriorate.

Community Fibre BT
Router Linksys Velop BT Smart Hub 2
WiFi Band Dual or Tri band Dual band
WiFi Protocol WiFi 5 WiFi 5
Intelligent Mesh Yes Yes

BT provide all of their broadband customers with the BT Smart Hub 2. First launched in 2018 a year after the Linksys Velop router, the BT Smart Hub 2 supports dual band WiFi on the 802.11ac or fifth WiFi protocol.

WiFi 5 supports speeds of up to 1.73Gb depending on the mode used, and the BT Smart Hub 2 also supports intelligent mesh so it can also be seamlessly extended with boosters like Community Fibre's Linksys Velop.

BT Complete WiFi also offers customers a WiFi guarantee for £10 per month. BT provide customers with up to three Complete WiFi discs to improve a wireless signal around a home. The guarantee promises a 'strong' signal in every room or customers get a £100 bill credit.

The only downside to BT Complete WiFi is if it fails to deliver the add-on contract can't be cancelled and has a 24-month minimum term.

Overall, we think Community Fibre win over BT when it comes to the router provided and also the WiFi guarantee add-on for larger homes and people needing to extend their WiFi signal.


Call plans

Winner: BT offers a more comprehensive and flexible approach to a home phone service than Community Fibre.

Community Fibre broadband comes without a home phone line as standard, but customers can add one for an extra £10 per month.

For this, they also get unlimited anytime calls to UK landlines and mobiles. However, premium numbers and international calls aren't supported by the phone service.

BT broadband also comes without a phone line as standard, but can be added with pay as you go calls that cost 22.84 pence per minute for £5 per month.

Customers can also upgrade to inclusive calls, with 700 minutes costing £7.50 per month and unlimited minutes costing £16 per month.

Community Fibre's home phone service uses a digital line which is reliant on mains electricity to work and sends the voice signal over the Internet connection. While some on BT may still be using the analogue phone network, full fibre customers will be moved to a digital line as well which works in a similar fashion to Community Fibre.

Overall, BT offer more flexibility for people wanting to make use of their home phone service, but Community Fibre's straightforward approach provides good value for money.


Customer Service

Winner: Community Fibre has an untarnished Trustpilot profile with 96% of Excellent reviews from over 24,000 reviewers.

BT had just under the industry average of broadband and landline complaints in Ofcom's most recent complaints data, and considering their size they also rank in the top three providers for customer service according to our own market research.

Community Fibre aren't large enough to be featured in Ofcom data yet, but they're the highest ranked provider on Trustpilot, with a Trustscore of 4.9 out of 5 from over 24,000 reviews.

They also picked up the Best Consumer ISP award at the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) in 2021 and 2020, and were only beaten by Hyperoptic in the 2022 awards.

According to Ofcom's Comparing Service Quality report, published in May 2022, BT had the most satisfied customers out of all the major broadband providers, scoring 88% for satisfaction with overall service, and 83% for satisfaction with speed of service, both over the industry average of 83% and 80% respectively.

The same report also noted BT had just 18% of customers with a reason to complain compared to the industry average of 20%. This figure was only beaten by customer service heroes Sky and EE, the latter being part of the BT Group.

Overall, we'd say it's a tightly run race for customer service between BT and Community Fibre, although as BT are around third in Ofcom's reports, we'd suggest Community Fibre's untarnished Trustpilot reviews may win this round for them.


Availability

Winner: BT Broadband has wider availability than Community Fibre and more rapid rollout targets for their full fibre broadband network.

Community Fibre is a dedicated London broadband provider and so their network is only available in the capital. So far, the provider has passed over 624,800 homes and has plans to reach 2.2 million by the end of 2024.

In contrast, while superfast BT broadband is available to over 92% of London homes, BT's full fibre network so far only reaches 23% of them, or around 860,000.

Outside of London, BT full fibre broadband is available to over 8.8 million premises at the time of writing, with the provider aiming to reach 25 million by the end of 2026.

Looking at the below map from Thinkbroadband, we can see the penetration of Community Fibre broadband across London:

community fibre coverage london february 2023

In comparison, this is full fibre coverage in London on the Openreach network as sold by BT:

bt fttp coverage london february 2023

We can see from these coverage maps that Community Fibre and BT are fairly even in terms of coverage, although clearly some areas are covered by one provider and not the other yet.

As a result, while Thinkbroadband stated in January 2023 12.38% of London premises had the choice of at least two or more full fibre providers, compared to the UK average of 7.73%, the majority of Londoners will find they only have one provider to choose if they want the fastest and most reliable broadband connection.


Special offers

Offer Terms

1Gbps Community Fibre broadband just £26 per month for 24 months.

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. £30/mth after 24 months. Prices rise by CPI + 2.9% from April 2025.


150Mb Community Fibre broadband just £18.99 per month for 24 months.

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. £22.99/mth after 24 months. Prices rise by CPI + 2.9% from April 2025.

Offer Terms

£50 BT Reward card with BT Full Fibre 100 just £29.99 a month with free setup

Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
25 April 2024

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. From £34.99/mth after 24 months. BT offers are subject to price increases on the 31st March 2024 by CPI +3.9%.


£50 BT Reward card with BT Fibre 1 just £29.99 a month with free setup

Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
25 April 2024

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. From £34.99/mth after 24 months. BT offers are subject to price increases on the 31st March 2024 by CPI +3.9%.


Summary: Community Fibre or BT?

Overall Winner: Community Fibre are the cheaper, more straightforward, broadband provider, with full fibre connections as standard.

Both BT and Community Fibre are strong broadband provider options with both performing well for customer service and complaints metrics, and catering for different types of customer.

Yet the providers are also both substantially different, with Community Fibre operating solely in London, and BT being the largest provider across the UK.

We like Community Fibre because:

  • Cheapest and most affordable broadband deals
  • Full fibre connections as standard
  • Symmetrical upload and download speeds
  • Advanced Linksys Velop routers

In contrast, BT are the better option for:

  • Customers who want a more flexible home phone service
  • Bundling the BT TV platform with access to Sky Atlantic, Sky Cinema and Sky Sports alongside Netflix and BT Sport
  • Wider availability with larger expansion targets means BT will be an option for more homes than Community Fibre

Overall if customers living in London are lucky enough to have the choice between Community Fibre and BT full fibre we'd be minded to go with the cheaper option and opt for Community Fibre, unless TV is important and then BT TV might win over.

Read more on the differences between Community Fibre and Virgin Media and BT or Virgin Media for another strong London provider.

Comments

John Hosking
20 April 2023

Well, if Community Fibre are using telegraph poles to deliver their fibre, you cannot help thinking CF are closer to BT than they wish to admit.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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