BT broadband and TV review

julia kukiewicz
By Julia Kukiewicz

bt building logo

AFTER years of being the provider for people who didn't know any better, BT's broadband and TV deals have been experiencing a bit of a resurgence.

Our Rating
Features:

Value for money:

Customer service:

Overall
4.5 out of 5

That's in large part because more recently BT have been playing to their strengths: decent quality, mid-market priced consumer deals.

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How good is BT for:

It helps that they've invested millions in fibre broadband, with speeds of up to 76Mb - and have boosted their entry level fibre deals to be faster than most of their rivals - up to 52Mb.

They've also gained significant customer numbers as a result of the effort they've made to expand and develop their TV - mostly through BT Sport - making them a much more serious challenger to Virgin and Sky.

This is our full BT broadband and TV review; and finally answering the question: are BT any good?

BT Broadband

BT's broadband deals are divided by speed from up to 17Mb to up to 52Mb and up to 76Mb with their fibre Infinity service:

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
bt Unlimited Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months £9.99 £26.99
for 12 mths,
then £40.99
bt Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
Unlimited
12 months £59.99 £31.99
for 12 mths,
then £47.49
bt Unlimited Infinity 2 + Weekend calls Up to 76Mb
Unlimited
12 months £59.99 £44.99
for 12 mths,
then £53.99

To see prices in full and by postcode see our BT broadband search here.

BT Infinity, launched in 2010, is provided through BT's fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) network, which the provider has been rolling out slowly but steadily across the UK. At the time of this update it covers more than 90% of UK premises.

Special offers
Click here to jump to BT's special offers

Infinity 2 offers the fastest connections with speeds of up to 76Mb. In April 2016, BT announced that Infinity 1 was getting a Virgin Media-style speed boost, with new customers automatically being offered the new up to 52Mb connection.

Take a look at our BT Infinity review for a more specific look at fibre.

Of course, the speeds shown above, both for Infinity and for BT's standard unlimited broadband, are "up to" speeds. Ofcom regularly publish tables of the average speeds achieved by users; the latest figures, released in March, show how users were faring in November 2016.

As this was before the introduction of the faster Infinity 1 service, they refer to the up to 38Mb version:

Average download speed during period
Advertised speed 24 hours Peak time:
8-10pm weekdays
bt Up to 17Mb 9.1Mb to 10.8Mb 9.0Mb to 10.6Mb
bt Up to 52Mb 47.7Mb to 48.6Mb 46.9Mb to 47.9Mb
bt Up to 76Mb 57.9Mb to 60.7Mb 57.0Mb to 59.8Mb

SOURCE: Ofcom, November 2016.

In February 2013, BT dropped their old fair use policy, as it applied to their unlimited deals, a move which lead to them declaring that they could offer "totally" unlimited usage.

After that point, the policy - which had actually only covered traffic on peer-to-peer activity during peak hours (4pm to midnight on weekdays and 9am to midnight at the weekend) - only applied to those with one of BT's capped use products.

Early in 2016 however, even that restriction was removed.

At the time of writing BT are only offering unlimited broadband and have removed their limited download deals.

However, when capped deals are offered, customers don't have to worry about how much data they use when watching on demand TV content through BT TV.

As long as the apps - iPlayer, All 4, and even Netflix - are accessed through the set top box, they won't count towards the broadband download limit, and they'll even receive additional bandwidth so as not to slow down normal browsing.

BT Home Hubs

A major selling point for BT, in broadband terms, is their range of Home Hubs.

The Home Hub 4, provided to standard broadband customers, offers dual band wireless connections using the 802.11b/g/n protocols; the Home Hub 5 and BT Smart Hub added the faster "ac" protocol to the mix.

bt smart hub

The BT Smart Hub, pictured here, has replaced the Home Hub 5 (below) as BT's router of choice for new Infinity customers.

The Smart Hub has more internal aerials and is configured to support what BT are calling "next generation ac" wireless, which should allow for even faster data transfers.

Whichever Hub BT customers have, they all constantly scan for interference from other devices, dynamically changing the wireless channel to maintain a better connection (as opposed to most routers, which just check for the least crowded channel when they're set up).

bt home hub 5

Given that speeds lost through wireless routers reduce broadband speeds by up to 30% a good router can make a significant difference to broadband connections.

Each also features a USB port, allowing the Hub to act as network storage space or a printer sharer.

We've looked at how BT's Home Hubs compare against rival hubs in this guide.

Free BT wi-fi and other extras

In addition to the router, provided free, other services come bundled that aren't often provided by other ISPs.

All BT customers can use the BT Wi-fi hotspot network (formally BT Openzone), the UK's largest, free, by logging in with their BT username and password when they're out and about.

While other providers have switched to a line rental only model, BT have recently moved back to offering all new customers weekend calls included as standard.

Users also get free BT Cloud secure online storage, to back up files.

Existing customers with unlimited Broadband (17Mb) and Unlimited Infinity 1 now get 100GB; Unlimited Infinity 2 customers get 500GB of space.

The point here is that while BT broadband deals might not seem like the cheapest around, the extra cost isn't just because of the brand name. There are real benefits included in every package.

What's more, they're not averse to reducing prices for new customers with a good special offer or two. The current crop include the following:

What's on offer? When you join online for: Need to know:
bt £150 BT Reward card with BT Unlimited Infinity broadband.
Hurry! Offer ends today!
24 August 2017
BT Infinity broadband, with or without BT TV.Upfront costs and 12 month minimum term applies.
bt £50 BT Reward card with BT Unlimited broadband.
Hurry! Offer ends today!
24 August 2017
BT Unlimited Broadband , with or without BT TV.Upfront costs and 12 month minimum term applies.
bt Free phone line installation or reconnection worth £130With any BT Broadband packageMinimum term applies.

BT Phone

To get broadband, customers must take BT line rental.

While they've recently been ordered to reduce the cost of line rental for landline-only customers, everyone else pays £18.99 - although the total monthly price will vary depending on what other products and inclusive calls are included.

As mentioned above, all new deals come with weekend calls included - with the option to add unlimited evening calls for £3.80 per month or unlimited anytime calls for £8.99 per month.

The return to bundling calls for everyone makes up in part for the fact that BT are almost always in the somewhat ridiculous situation of charging more for line rental than any other provider. Since July 2016 it's been £18.99 a month - compared to just £13.29 in October 2010.

In the past it was possible to shave the equivalent of two months' line rental off the yearly cost by paying upfront - but Line Rental Saver now costs £205.08, a saving of just 10% over 12 months.

At the same time, while it's possible to get Caller ID free of charge, many people have found themselves paying for it. We explain further in this guide. BT also charge for 1571 voicemail - but the monthly fee includes being able to access it from anywhere.

Note, also, that those households needing a new phone line installed - though most won't - can get it done free when they sign up an Infinity package. While those taking unlimited broadband will be charged £30.

Otherwise customers will need to pay £130 for the installation of a new line. Some customers may need to pay a connection fee and there is usually a £50 fee for activating an existing line provided by BT or another provider.

See our new phone line installation guide for more details.

BT TV

bt youview+ box

Last, but not least, BT TV has gone from strength to strength in the past few years.

The big draws are Youview, which offers Freeview, catch up and some extra channels, and BT Sport - although the appeal of the latter may dampen when BT TV customers have to start paying for it in August this year.

There are now three versions of the Youview box. The smaller basic version has just one tuner and can't record. This is the main box offered to those with standard broadband, with the most basic BT TV package:

Those with BT Infinity have far more choice. They can plump for the Starter package if they want, but they can also take one of the following packages:

The Total Entertainment package comes with BT's latest set top box. It looks similar to their existing Youview+ box, but it's ultra HD compatible - for BT Sport Ultra HD - and it has a 1TB hard drive for storing recordings. There's more detail on it here.

Adding BT TV to an existing subscription requires a new 12-month contract. Here's how adding TV when ordering broadband affects the price of some of the available packages:

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
bt TV Starter with Unlimited Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 17Mb
Unlimited
12 months £59.99 £24.99
for 12 mths,
then £36.99
bt TV Entertainment Plus + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls Up to 52Mb
Unlimited
12 months £69.99 £39.99
for 12 mths,
then £48.99
bt TV Max + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
Unlimited
12 months £59.99 £46.99
for 12 mths,
then £56.99

To see the full range of deals and availability by postcode see our BT TV deals table here.

Set up costs vary according to the exact package chosen and current offers and deals.

Entertainment Plus and Total Entertainment come with a £50 Infinity activation charge - but those taking either package with Unlimited Infinity 2 will get a reduced activation fee - just £20 - making their setup costs £29.99 in total.

BT also offer on-demand content and extras, from extra kids' channels to a second box:

More on BT TV
BT TV reviewed in-depth here
Against their biggest competitors
And against their closest competitors

The live Sky channels, HD pack, and Extra Box are only available for Infinity customers.

BT Sport and Sky Sports

BT have been steadily buying up the rights to sports matches for the past few years.

They now have exclusive rights to many football matches including all of the UEFA League games, numerous Premier League and Scottish Premier League games and FA Cup matches, plus the Aviva Premiership Rugby, MotoGP, NASCAR and others.

BT Sport is free for all BT TV customers within contract, £5 a month for those who have BT Broadband but not BT TV, and at least £5 a month for those subscribing through another TV provider.

See full guide to BT Sport for more on how it works.

As mentioned above, Sky Sports 1 and 2 are also available for £22 in SD for anyone with Infinity. Getting them in HD costs £27 a month.

See this article on where to find Sky Sports the cheapest, and this article if you need to choose between BT Sport and Sky Sports.

Customer service

Let's be honest, few of us have considered taking BT broadband for the service. They're a huge provider with a huge number of variably trained call centre staff.

At one point we might as well have replaced this section with a giant thumbs down picture, but they've improved a lot over the past couple of years, and they're promising to invest in further improving their customer service.

A particular upside is a really well staffed and useful online customer forum which can help with niggling service problems.

So: is BT broadband any good?

All in all, BT have really improved their broadband offering over the past few years, and they seem eager to compete against rival cable provider Virgin Media and pay TV nemesis Sky.

They're also bringing innovation to the market: the smart wireless provided by all their Home Hubs, free BT wi-fi, free BT Sport for TV customers (for now), and launching the first Ultra HD channel in the UK - go a large way to justifying the provider's less than rock bottom prices.

For more on BT's deals - see our main BT deals page here.

Comments

1
2 August 2017
British Telec****

Currently stuck with BT at the moment.

Was unfortunately lulled into a false sense of trust and security by one smooth experience with them in the past. This seems like a distant memory now after 3 months of beyond the worst imaginable customer service.

To elaborate on this just a little... Our original order for TV and broadband was mysteriously cancelled by one of BT's own staff members and the same individual brazenly called us and suggested we had cancelled it until we were eventually told it was due to a 'supplier issue' and they reordered the package for us. There has been later suggestion that the offshore workers cancel orders and put new ones through in order to earn commission and simulate a sale that they have made... Only they did not put through a replica of the deal that we ordered. It was put through with none of the add ons, with 3 mysterious connection charges adding up to 169.99 (£100 more than the original order), a lower broadband speed than was offered at the time of the original order and at a higher rate of expense. The cancellation meant we had to wait longer for our internet services to be switched on and a lot longer for the TV package to be fixed. Three months down the line we still don't have the free upgrade to the higher speed broadband package that was on offer when we placed the original order, we have now been declined cashback through a third party because the original order was cancelled and therefore not tracked (this is something that is no fault of our own but sees us £90 down - an incentive behind our choice taken away from us). All this doesn't even take into account the time that my partner and I have had to waste talking to BT representatives, incredibly disruptive to both work and free time. Representatives call randomly (instead of at previously agreed times) and make it incredibly difficult to get back in touch with them. I don't think any of them read the notes, we were constantly having to spend time re-explaining the complete mess they had made of it. Very few positives to be said for the process and absolutely no sign of an apology. Our open complaint seems to have now disappeared for a second time and there seems to be no level of accountability being taken - it's as if we are wasting their time.

To top this off, our broadband stopped working 6 days ago. We logged the issue with them and there was supposed to be a three day turnaround. What actually appears to have happened is they have closed the initial log as complete (pretending they met their SLA) and then re-logged the issue themselves at a later date... 6 days on we are still waiting with no internet and no contact from BT.

This really is only the key points and I think I could now spend weeks writing a book on the failings of BT.

I can't recommend due to their inability to provide a reliable service or react with any level of problem solving ability and customer care when things do go wrong. We still live in hope that they show us some respect and somehow turn it around.

2
4 March 2017
Emma Brown

I am absolutely disgusted with the customer service at BT. After 1 hour 4 minutes on the phone, and being transferred to 5 different people, just to be told that despite being within my 30 day cancellation period due to price increase, that it doesn't stand as I have to give 30 days notice or transfer to another provider before the 30 days are up. Which for me, according to the rather patronising customer service advisor, goes from the date of the email received on 8th Feb!
Apparently I am tied in to a 24 month contract which still has another 11 months to run. I can honestly say I would have never agreed to this length contract as I am well aware deals change quickly along with better prices. The customer service advisor within the cancellation team (5th person I got transferred to!) came across as patronising, and in the 18 years I've had a phone service I can honestly say I've never been more disgusted. Roll on 11 months or the complaint being resolved so I can move to a provider that offers good customer service and values its customers. I would never use BT or recommend them as a provider again.

3
14 February 2017
Louise Chilton

What a load of rubbish! BY FAR the WORST company I have ever had to deal with. Lying underhand arrogant company with staff who don't give a hoot about the customer. A CEO who clearly needs to wake up to the reality of his company as if they could be making hundreds of thousands more in customer retentions by actually training his staff in a more positive manner. I will be off with another company, ANY company, when I get out of this unfair contract. BEWARE they start your cooling off period when you order, NOT when you get the equipment or start the contract. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

23 February 2017
Aynil Holton

I am in same situation, got equipment set up Friday, phone not working properly, arranged for engineer to call out yesterday then didn't arrive in allocated time slot. I was asked to wait until 6, by which time the engineer would have been - but no engineer. Lost a day's pay and can't get out of contract because they are looking to charge loads, I still have no phone and contract. The actual get out is you have 14 days to get out of it from the time you say 'hi', not from the time the equipment arrives. As for the customer service, only 2 out of 6 people I have spoken to actually listened to me, and what was wrong.

4
27 January 2017
James

BT are still the worst company I have encountered in terms of customer service. Rude, incompetent and they actually hang up on you. Their managers actually manage to be worse than their subordinates. Their speed is ok, but not reliable, so not really a plus point there either. I used them 10 yesrs ago promising to never go back, gave them a second go just to be reminded why I promised to never use them again! Avoid, avoid avoid!

5
18 October 2016
Elisa

Hey guys please stay away from BT, it is rubbish! It took us over a month to have it properly installed as the BT people kept screwing up the orders (and the BT point was already installed in the house, that is why we chose BT ... we thought it would have been quicker ...LOL), poor customer service, internet speed is pathetic even if we are paying for top internet speed (I live in Reading, not in a remote village) AND most TV channels go on and off as the signal is too weak!!!! We are paying for this rubbish and it is not fair! So please people, as things stand on 18/10/2016, stay away from BT.

8 December 2016
Gavin

BT are not all bad. Although we had 9 visits from BT/Openreach engineers to install FTTP in our remote village, once up and running with Infinity 4 (300mb/30mb) even at busy times we get 312Mb download and 32Mb upload. Backing up data to Microsoft 365 1Tb cloud storage is a joy and so is downloading a whole album from iTunes in 7 seconds. Downloading the latest iTunes update took 14 seconds. Forget Wi-Fi extenders in the house though. We had to have the main rooms hard wired with cat 6 cable, which runs at full speed, and use 2 Ubiquity AC pro AP's (Wi-Fi senders) hard wired in which manage very nearly full speed. It does get a tad expensive.

6
12 August 2016
Mo Dolaghan

What a fraud!!! FREE broadband for whatever?? My friend had a 12 month FREE Broadband deal with BT and when they decided on the expiry date they no longer wanted it, BT charged them 40pound!! When asked what for, they stated it was in the small print!! con merchants

7
9 January 2016
Robertus Antoninus

If you have standard broadband and install BTTV your download speed is really, really slow. A bit of a con really, probably designed to make you upgrade to BT Infinity.

8
11 October 2015
olwen

I have BT Infinity, do I need an aerial to switch to BT TV?

9
3 October 2015
Sam Barton

I'm moving to a new house and the local exchange does not offer fibre.
I've ordered BT broadband & Line and I'm thinking about adding BT TV.
I have heard that BT TV comes via the broadband connection but as a separate line, i.e. the TV does not interrupt the data in on the regular DSL connection. I was told by BT that this was like having two DSL lines.
My download speed is going to be roughly 7Mb but the people who live at the house I'm moving to say they got around 12 - 14Mb.

Is it possible that whilst not watching BT TV that the regular DSL is able to use the full bandwidth available?

Has anyone experienced this?

10
15 March 2015
Babsyk

Thinking about joining BT but trying to find out if it is as good as Sky TV. I am just about to change from Virgin and I hate their Tivo - I am looking for something much more user friendly as Sky is.

Is the TV side of the BT package nice and simple to use please?

Babs

17 March 2015
Choose team

Hi Babs,

You may want to have a look at our guides to BT TV available here:

BT TV: <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.choose.net%2Fmedia%2Fguide%2Ffeatures%2Fbt-tv-infinity-youview-best-deal.html%3A5mdbFDambk7QcVUIdkiQwhNX2gg&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener">http://www.choose.net/media...</a>

And

BT, Sky or Virgin: <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.choose.net%2Fmedia%2Fguide%2Ffeatures%2Fpay-digital-tv-best-bt-sky-virgin.html%3AKh0dtC_FbR0xgiRhbX77vKw-Tlw&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener">http://www.choose.net/media...</a>

Hope this helps.

17 March 2015
Babsyk

I have had a look at this but I just want to make sure that the BT TV is much more user friendly than the Virgin Tivo box which I really do not like. I would like someone to tell me if it is more like Sky which is very user friendly.

11
14 February 2015
stoneage

Why don't BT allow unlimited broadband users to monitor their broadband usage? Is it to stop users from swapping back to 20 or 40GB cheaper packages if they want to?!

24 February 2015
James Martin-Davies

You can monitor your usage in many ways using software. BT don't need to do anything. You can watch it whenever you feel like it. Checking mine now, I've used 310GB this month in total. And you can never swap packages, as you're in a legally binding contract for the one you have chosen. Even after the contract expires, you can't jump back and forth when you feel like it and it wouldn't make sense to even attempt this. As with any legally binding company, contract changes can take effect after one month of cancellation, in which most service providers do. Basically, good luck in trying to downgrade in a contract. You'd have to buy out of your current one to get that lucky.

27 February 2015
stoneage

Thanks for the information James. Can I ask what software you use to monitor broadband usage? The only software I've found just monitors the device it sits on (i.e. laptop) and not all the data coming in such as mobile phones, tablets or smart TV.
My contract with BT finishes soon and I would like to have as much information as possible to enable me to make the right decision as it might be better for me to leave BT (or threaten to leave) and find a cheaper option.

12
21 March 2014
penworks

Oddly, the comment below is 3 years old but the article itself is only a year old. Weird internet syndrome!

Just thought I'd add a comment to bring the article up to date. I was a BE customer, got moved to Sky when the BE network got sold to them. Sky were horrible, took 2 months (increased fee) money with no warning, began to block some websites (usual torrent sites perhaps are expected, but political commentary sites being blacklisted is not acceptable). Their customer service was horrible (endless waiting on phones, limited phone options, unhelpful online chat, unhelpful emails).

I went back to BT as had been with them before. When I rang the number, a person answered! How rare is that? They were helpful, clear and didn't promise BS. For people who want solid normal broadband, and don't want product add ons like TV, talk, whatever, BT is a better deal. I paid line rental up front for a year and got that down to &pound;11.25 per month. All in all, with the 12 month &pound;7.50 Unlimted BB deal I got my bill down to less than &pound;20 per month for the whole thing. Remains to be seen what connection is like but when I was with BT before, it was absolutely fine.

13
10 September 2011
bill whyte

BT move the goalposts! They set a monthly amount to cover costs then say its not enough and you find yourself in debt - in my case it got to &pound;57! I am now looking elsewhere as they are never available on the phone.

16 May 2015
Dee

Switch to whole bill direct debit as opposed to monthly payment plan. For example if your charges are &pound;20/month but are paying &pound;25/month, after 3 months you will owe &pound;15. Your payments are quite clearly not enough to cover your charges.

23 October 2016
Mo

I think you mean, if your charges are &pound;25 but you are paying &pound;20 you will owe &pound;15.


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