Is BT broadband, phone & TV any good?

bt building logo

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

Our Rating

Value for money:

Customer service:

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.

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

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.

Quick jump menu
BT Broadband
  • their router
  • free wi-fi
  • Adding calls
    What about their TV?
    Our conclusion

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


    BT's broadband deals are divided by speed and usage allowance:

    Package Broadband Total monthly Setup costs
    bt Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 17Mb
    12GB usage
    £31.99 £7.95 router delivery
    bt Unlimited Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 17Mb
    for 12 mths,
    then £36.99
    £7.95 router delivery
    bt Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
    25GB usage
    for 12 mths,
    then £39.99
    £49 +
    £7.95 router delivery
    bt Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
    for 12 mths,
    then £38.99
    £49 +
    £7.95 router delivery
    bt Unlimited Infinity 2 + Evening & Weekend calls Up to 76Mb
    for 12 mths,
    then £48.99
    £7.95 router delivery

    To see prices in full and by postcode see our deals table.

    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.

    Existing customers with an up to 38Mb connection should find they're upgraded over the next few months.

    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 ADSL2+, 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 2015.

    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
    Maximum 24 hours Peak time:
    8-10pm weekdays
    BT ADSL2+
    (up to 17Mb)
    9.5Mb to 11.8Mb 8.9Mb to 11.1Mb 8.8Mb to 11.0Mb
    BT Infinity 1
    (up to 38Mb)
    35.3Mb to 36.4Mb 34.3Mb to 35.5Mb 33.8Mb to 35.1Mb
    BT Infinity 2
    (up to 76Mb)
    59.5Mb to 63.1Mb 57.4Mb to 61.1Mb 56.9Mb to 60.5Mb

    SOURCE: Ofcom, March 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.

    However, since early 2016, even that restriction has been removed.

    Furthermore, at present customers on those capped use products also don't need 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 Hub 5

    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.

    The Hub 5 is still available to buy from the BT shop for those who want to upgrade from the Hub 4, or for non-BT customers - and it may well be worth it.

    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 30% on average a good router makes 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 - although those with a capped data product have fewer upgrade options if that's not enough.

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

    With the exception of those signing up for a capped deal, the allowances are much more generous than they were previously. Until July 2016 most users were allocated 5GB; now that's only the case for new capped deal customers.

    Existing customers with unlimited Broadband (17Mb) and Unlimited Infinity 1 now get 100GB - up from 50GB; Unlimited Infinity 2 customers get 500GB of space.

    The point 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 here.

    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:
    bt Online Exclusive: Unlimited broadband just £5.99 for 12 months (usually £18/mth) + £75 BT Reward card
    Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
    27 October 2016
    BT Unlimited broadband up to 17Mb
    bt Online Exclusive: Infinity 1 up to 52Mb (25GB usage) + Entertainment Starter just £11 for 12 months (usually £13/mth) + £125 BT Reward card
    Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
    27 October 2016
    BT Infinity 1 up to 52Mb fibre broadband (25GB usage) + Entertainment Starter
    bt Online Exclusive: Unlimited Infinity 1 + Entertainment Plus TV just £20.99 for 12 months (usually £32/mth) + £125 BT Reward card
    Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
    27 October 2016
    BT Unlimited Infinity 1 up to 52Mb fibre broadband (25GB usage) + TV Entertainment Plus
    bt £125 BT Reward card
    Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
    27 October 2016
    Any BT Infinity Broadband, with or without BT TV.
    bt £75 BT Reward card
    Hurry! Offer ends in 2 days!
    27 October 2016
    Any BT Broadband , with or without BT TV.
    bt Free phone line installation or reconnection worth £130With any BT Broadband package


    To get broadband, customers must take BT line rental.

    The price of line rental stays set across any BT bundle, although the standard monthly price may vary depending on what kind of inclusive UK landline calls come with the package.

    As mentioned above, all new deals come with weekend calls included - but people taking one of the capped broadband packages should be aware that if they want more than this the only option they have is the anytime deal, which costs £8.50 a month.

    By contrast, sign up for an unlimited broadband deal and there's the option to upgrade to either the evenings and weekends bundle or anytime calls.

    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, setting a kind of bar for the rest of the providers.

    Since July 2016 it's been £18.99 a month - compared to just £13.29 in October 2010.

    Until about a year ago 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 for broadband or BT TV. See our new phone line installation guide for more details.


    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.

    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, and prices vary from £4 to £16 extra a month, after any introductory offers. Here's how adding TV when ordering broadband affects the price of some of the available packages:

    Package Broadband Monthly price (inc. line rental) Setup costs
    bt TV Entertainment Starter + Unlimited Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 17Mb
    for 12 mths,
    then £31.99
    £49 +
    £7.95 router delivery
    bt TV Entertainment Plus + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls Up to 52Mb
    for 12 mths,
    then £50.99
    £49 +
    £7.95 router delivery
    bt TV Total Entertainment + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
    for 12 mths,
    then £54.99
    £69 +
    £7.95 router delivery

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

    Note the column for setup costs, which covers the various activation fees - anyone taking Starter TV will need to pay at least £49 for TV activation, and possibly more if they take Infinity as well; Entertainment Plus packages come with a £49 Infinity activation charge but no TV setup fee.

    Setup costs for those taking Total Entertainment include a £20 fee for installation - and for those taking Infinity 2 that's it. Anyone taking Infinity 1 also has to pay the £49 activation charge - making a total of £69 for setup.

    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, £6 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 our 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.

    The introduction of Sky Sports to BT's Youview service also means customers no longer face a £10 fee for the viewing card needed to watch using a BT Vision box. Upon signing up the channels will automatically be assigned to a customer's account, and should then appear in the channel guide.

    See our article here on where to find Sky Sports, and where's the cheapest, for more on this.

    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, and BT Sport channels - and other benefits - go a large way to justifying the provider's less than rock bottom prices.


    18 October 2016

    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.

    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

    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.

    11 October 2015

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

    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?

    15 March 2015

    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?


    17 March 2015
    Choose team

    Hi Babs,

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

    BT TV:


    BT, Sky or Virgin:

    Hope this helps.

    14 February 2015

    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.

    21 March 2014

    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 £11.25 per month. All in all, with the 12 month £7.50 Unlimted BB deal I got my bill down to less than £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.

    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 £57! I am now looking elsewhere as they are never available on the phone.

    16 May 2015

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

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