Post Office broadband review: is it any good?
ALONGSIDE their range of banking, savings and travel money, the Post Office also offers range of broadband and home phone deals.
But is it any good? We take a look.
Delivered over TalkTalk's wholesale network, the Post Office offer three broadband deals; unlimited up to 17Mb; fibre up to 38Mb; and fibre plus offering up to 76Mb.
While the Post Office use TalkTalk's infrastructure, customer billing and support is managed separately; and as we'll cover that means a substantial amount of their service will be different to that experienced by TalkTalk's own customers.
In this review of Post Office broadband we'll look at their packages and prices, how well they compete on cost, and of course an in-depth look at their reliability and customer support.
The Post Office's current special offer brings their unlimited broadband deal in at just £19 for an extended 18-month period.
Post Office broadband offers
Post Office Broadband Offers
Post Office Broadband deals
In terms of broadband deals, the Post Office is on a par with most other comparable providers.
They keep it simple with three standard deals: up to 17Mb unlimited, up to 38Mb unlimited and up to 76Mb unlimited.
Compare prices on our Post Office broadband search.
Customers will need to take Post Office line rental to access their broadband deals, but the cost is included in the total monthly price above.
Unlike many other providers however, who have removed free calls with their basic line rental, the Post Office provides inclusive weekend calls to UK landlines, improving their value for money further.
And, as you can see in the table below, the Post Office is currently the UK's cheapest provider for long-term up to 17Mb standard broadband.
Home phone deals and call prices
While Post Office broadband customers will need to take the provider's home phone service too, it is also available as a standalone service.
Post Office line rental costs £16.99 a month, but is currently on offer for just £15 a month for the entire duration of the initial 12-month term.
Again, this makes the Post Office the cheapest provider for home phone too, as BT and Virgin charge £18.99 and £19 per month respectively.
The Post Office also offers a Line Rental Saver deal costing £179.88 upfront for 12 months of line rental, bringing the equivalent monthly price down to just £14.99.
|Post Office Call Package||Included calls||Price monthly|
|Evenings and weekends||UK landlines in the evenings and at weekends||£2.50|
|Anytime calls||UK landlines at anytime||£7|
|International Saver||Anytime calls to 40 international destinations, and up to 50% off calls to all other destinations||£4|
|Mobile 100||100 anytime minutes to UK mobile numbers||£2.50|
|Mobile 500||500 anytime minutes to UK mobile numbers||£7.50|
Outside of any bundled calls, there's a flat rate fee of 12p per minute to UK landlines. Calls to most mobiles cost 14p per minute at all times.
Calls to 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers cost 11p per minute, plus a service charge.
There is also a connection fee of 18p for any calls made outside of inclusive periods.
Customers can also nominate up to 10 numbers to be their "loved ones" and receive a 10% discount on calls to these numbers. Loved Ones numbers can include both UK and international landlines and mobiles.
The Post Office also offers a number of call features; unlike BT they offer caller display and basic voicemail free of charge - although users will need to request their activation.
Home phone call features cost:
- Voicemail (1571): £0
- Caller Display: £0
- Last Called (1471): £0
- Call Divert: £2.50
- Voicemail plus: £2.55
- Select to reject: £3.42
- Reject anonymous numbers: £4.08
Customers can save money by bundling some features: take two or three of call divert, incoming call alert and auto redial at £4 for any two or £5 for all three - which could make blocking nuisance calls slightly more affordable.
Up until the Post Office moved from BT Wholesale to TalkTalk Wholesale in July 2013, they were behind the curve offering only a very basic ADSL service with speeds of no more than 6Mb to 8Mb.
Today they offer the same up to 17Mb, 38Mb and 76Mb headline speeds as any other BT or TalkTalk reseller, including Plusnet and TalkTalk themselves.
The Post Office doesn't have a large enough customer base to feature in Ofcom's annual broadband speed tests, although we can look at TalkTalk's data to get an idea on how well the same network is performing.
However, it should be said that while the Post Office do use the same network as TalkTalk, there might still be actual differences in the service due to the way each provider chooses to manage traffic.
|Ofcom average speeds, published April 2017|
|Advertised speed||Over 24hrs||Peak time
|Sky||up to 17Mb||10.1Mb to 11.5Mb||9.9Mb to 11.4Mb|
|Plusnet||up to 17Mb||9.6Mb to 11.4Mb||9.5Mb to 11.3Mb|
|EE||up to 17Mb||9.4Mb to 11.7Mb||9.2Mb to 11.4Mb|
|BT||up to 17Mb||9.1Mb to 10.8Mb||9.0Mb to 10.6Mb|
|TalkTalk||up to 17Mb||8.6Mb to 10Mb||8.6Mb to 9.9Mb|
Fibre broadband speeds:
|Ofcom average speeds, published April 2017|
|Advertised speed||Over 24hrs||Peak time
|EE||up to 38Mb||33.6Mb to 35.2Mb||32.4Mb to 34.5Mb|
|Sky||up to 38Mb||33Mb to 34.6Mb||32.8Mb to 34.3Mb|
|Plusnet||up to 38Mb||31Mb to 33.5Mb||30.1Mb to 32.7Mb|
|TalkTalk||up to 38Mb||30.8Mb to 32.8Mb||30.6Mb to 32.6Mb|
SOURCE: Ofcom, UK Home Broadband Performance, April 2017.
As this data shows, TalkTalk isn't performing as well as other providers in terms of real world broadband speeds, with EE, Sky and Plusnet all delivering faster services.
We've omitted BT Infinity from the fibre table as their entry level fibre deal is up to 52Mb and is faster in any case. However, their real world speeds for this package are from 51.6Mb over 24 hours, and 51.2Mb during peak times.
The Post Office don't offer a "truly unlimited" broadband service like Sky and BT do. Instead they utilise a traffic management policy to ensure very heavy users don't slow down the speeds of other users in the area.
The Post Office's traffic management policy says that:
"A small number of customers use peer-to-peer file sharing services to upload and download files, such as music and videos, containing very large amounts of data."
"Uploading and downloading files uses a lot of network capacity and we will monitor usage by looking at a number of factors including the amount of time excessive usage continues as well as the bandwidth used. The systems that are used to provide Post Office Broadband can identify very high bandwidth users and those using peer-to-peer file sharing services."
So while the Post Office are clearly saying they will monitor for excessive use to prevent service degradation to others, what they don't specify is exactly how excessive users will be restricted or limited, or what they consider "excessive" use to be.
There's more detail in our guide to fair use policies here.
Fibre broadband router
The Post Office offers two fairly standard routers with its broadband deals.
Fibre broadband customers will receive a router compatible with the service, however the features are fairly similar.
Both routers offer wireless 'N' protocol for faster speeds with compatible devices, as well as backwards compatibility for older devices, and come preconfigured with wireless security settings and the firewall switched on.
Standard broadband router
The routers are similar to those offered by like budget providers Plusnet and TalkTalk. However, neither router beats the features of the smart wireless hubs now provided by the likes of BT, Sky or Virgin.
Whichever Post Office broadband deal customers choose, they'll currently receive their router free of charge, and additionally there is no postage fee to pay either.
When the Post Office moved to TalkTalk Wholesale in July 2013, they moved their customer support to a company called Capita.
But in October 2015, the Post Office prematurely ended the contract due to the company failing to meet a number of service level agreements.
During this time the Post Office came in for a lot of stick from unhappy customers who weren't receiving the best customer support.
At the end of the first year after the migration of 500,000 customers the Post Office even published a note on their website:
"As a result of some changes being made to our Broadband and Phone service we are experiencing technical issues which are resulting in calls to our Customer Care Line taking longer than normal to answer."
Customers say that the representatives at the Northern Ireland call centre were helpful when they finally answered, but that was cold comfort for those who couldn't get through in the first place.
Since the end of 2015 a company called HGS has taken over customer support for the Post Office broadband and now both customer and technical support call centres for the provider are based in Scotland.
Ofcom only report on complaints for Post Office's home phone service and not their broadband, as its only looks at the largest providers of each service.
In 2016, the Post Office had the third most complaints for their home phone service, with only Plusnet and EE scoring worse.
Only Sky and Virgin Media had less complaints than the industry average, a feat which they achieve for both home phone and fixed broadband services.
SOURCE: Ofcom Telecoms and Pay TV Complaints, December 2016.
Fuel Broadband customers
In June 2017, Fuel broadband closed down and migrated their 60,000 existing customers to the Post Office.
While the transfer was automatic, customers were given the choice of moving to a different provider without charge.
Moves like this can strain a service provider due to a quick expansion often leaving support provisions to catch up.
Verdict: Is the Post Office Broadband any good?
The Post Office broadband wins hands down on cost for it's unlimited up to 17Mb service, which with its current introductory offer is the cheapest in the UK.
The provider is also competitive for home phone. However, there are cheaper deals available for fibre broadband.
The Post Office brand may be reassuring to many, and we expect for the shear fact the Post Office dumped their poor performing customer support contract early - suggests they do care about the quality of service they provide.
However, as a budget provider reliant on outsourcing support and billing, they don't have the same level of control over quality as bigger players Sky and Virgin, which is shown in Ofcom's complaints figures.
We say they win the budget provider war; we like that they keep packages simple; and their customer service does seem to have improved.
A word on our ratings
Here we'll explain why we gave the Post Office broadband 3.5 stars.
- Rating: 5 out of 5
- Verdict: The Post Office get 5 stars for offering the UK's cheapest up to 17Mb broadband deal over 18 months. And it's unlimited too.
- Rating: 3 out of 5
- Verdict: Ofcom's broadband speed data published in April 2017, revealed wholesale provider TalkTalk's network doesn't perform as well as either Sky, EE, Plusnet or BT.
- Rating: 3 out of 5
- Verdict: Ofcom noted in their Q2 2017 report, the majority of the Post Office's fixed line complaints were as a result of faults and service provision issues.
- Rating: 2.5 out of 5
- Verdict: As of Q2 2017, the Post Office have the most complaints of the largest six fixed line providers in the UK. Although Ofcom noted that performance was similar to that of both TalkTalk and BT.
In addition, the Post Office has seen a number of handovers between customer support teams in 2013 and 2015, and additionally migrated 60,000 fuel customers in the summer of 2017 - likely adding further strain to support centres.
- Rating 3.5 out of 5
- Verdict: The Post Office offers some of the UK's most competitive prices on broadband and home phone deals, however it looks unlikely customer service issues have completely ironed themselves out.