Partial Eclipse: The ISP in review

eclipse internet

In October 2014 Eclipse Internet appeared to stop selling their award winning broadband and phone services to new residential customers.

They'd always been a business-first provider - this was the main reason their service was so reliable and their customer service a few notches above other ISPs' - but their residential services were highly rated too.

They had a moment in the sun a few years back when they were one of the few ISPs to offer what was then unheard of speed for a broadband connection (up to 24Mb!).

But then other providers caught up and passed them by, and as 76Mb fibre became ever more common, Eclipse sank back into respectable obscurity, quietly collecting award after award for their customer service.

In September last year they were dealt a serious blow by Which?, who, as well as giving them a score of just 67% in their annual ISP review, said they were no longer selling domestic broadband - which, at that point they still were.

But in the face of increasing competition from the big four ISPs regarding both speed and price, Eclipse appeared to decide to put more of their focus on their business connections.

This was the first inkling many domestic customers had:

The new site had no information about home internet packages, which seems to have confused many otherwise contented customers.

When questioned about the disappeared home broadband service, they issued messages like this one:

The site now has a very simple page for residential customers, telling them they're still valued and are welcome to "upgrade or regrade" their service.

So what was it that made people rate Eclipse broadband deals? And, if the provider was so good, why didn't it become more of a household name?

The upsides to Eclipse...

There were three things keeping Eclipse customers, and the people doling out the broadband awards, happy.

1. Reliability Eclipse are well known for their reliable network.

2. Good customer service Alongside reliable broadband usually comes good customer service, and Eclipse were no exception.

Their Devon-based call centre continues to offer legacy residential customers a similar level of service as that given to businesses with Eclipse connections. It's a small, technically savvy, support team.

3. Great extras Eclipse broadband came with a number of great extras.

Although most deals had limited usage allowances - see below - there was unlimited usage overnight, from 11pm until 9am. For those who like to back up their files online, that was very useful.

In addition, customers who took an Eclipse Bundle (broadband with line rental) also received 30 minutes of free BT Openzone wireless hotspot usage a month.

... and the downsides

1. High prices

There were downsides to Eclipse, the first and foremost of which was simply that their pricing was much higher than most other providers.

Again, this reflected their business-first ethos. Providing such reliable connections with such a high level of service doesn't come cheap.

Here were their prices for standard broadband deals.

Package Broadband speed Usage Price/month
Home Lite Up to 24Mb 2GB £12.50
Home Select Up to 24Mb 50GB £20.50
Home Pro Up to 24Mb 100GB £30.50

Unusually for an ISP these days, home customers were free to take their phone line from another provider. Those who took Eclipse's phone line received inclusive evening and weekend calls, and could choose to upgrade to anytime calls for a further £6.12 a month.

And here's the last known price for their fibre package:

Package Broadband speed Usage Price/month
Home Fibre Up to 40Mb 10GB £21.50

In addition to this, customers could buy extra data allowance each month, as follows:

Whichever package customers took, however, a router was thrown in free with a 12-month contract and there was no fee for switching from another provider.

2. Usage allowances

Another downside was that the provider's residential packages came with limits, and upgrading to an unlimited data allowance was costly, as seen above.

The packages were limited as follows:

Nowadays 2GB looks positively miserly. It will still allow extensive web browsing and email use, but considering the price (and that competitors such as Sky offer 2GB broadband free with TV) it was really not that impressive.

In addition, as services like Netflix become more common, the amount of data even previously modest downloaders could expect to use has been creeping up. Ofcom say the average household downloaded 53GB of data each month in 2014 - up almost 80% from 2013.

See our guide to how much people can expect to use here.

3. Confusing deals

Eclipse didn't really hone their selection of broadband deals, they just added more, or offered allowances on top of existing packages.

This made them one of the most confusing providers for the uninitiated to understand.

In conclusion

Eclipse offered pricey but well regarded broadband at better speeds than many of the other providers for a long time.

But those prices, and their focus on business customers, meant it was always going to be difficult for them to keep competing in an increasingly cheap and speedy fibre-enabled domestic market.

Meanwhile legacy customers are reporting mixed experiences, with some continuing to get five star broadband and treatment, and others reporting increased throttling and more laid-back approach to dealing with their issues.

It looks as though quiet internet stars Eclipse have been eclipsed.


28 July 2015
Alex Bailey

13 years I've been a customer of Eclipse and I've always sung their praises and recommended them to friends (I'm certain they've had a few sales out of me) however in recent years I've started to see a decline.

Don't get me wrong, I truly believe that you get what you pay for which is why I've continued to pay above the going rate for Eclipse and was very happy to when I upgraded to fibre despite better deals elsewhere... but as other providers have dropped prices Eclipse have failed to do so and it's only the fact that my employer pay a portion of my costs (since I'm a home worker) that has stopped me from looking for a better deal.

What makes this worse though is I'm starting to notice that traffic in some areas is being throttled. Given shows that I'm seeing speeds of near 40Mb I'm finding it impossible to stream video from places like YouTube during the day and downloading an HD movie from iTunes often shows it's estimated time in excess of 60 hours if I start it turing the day.

Then their "fair usage" policy seems all messed up. I'm limited during the hours of 09:00 and 23:00 on weekdays which I can live with... and I realise that my connection will be throttled if I exceed my allowance but what I didn't know until after 5 days of email hockey was that throttling apparently happens 24/7 (which is odd since my speed test at 08:58 on a Sunday showed I was running full speed which it did not 2 minutes later).

Worse, I'd blown my lower limit years ago and had been regraded quite quickly; this time, despite having placed the order while I was still within my limit I was told I'd have to wait 7 days and, if I wanted my speed back, pay a premium for 1Mb chunks of data.

That, and I am currently waiting a day between each of my complaints to get a response which seems to be more of a canned reply than an actual thought out reply to a loyal customer.

5 years ago I'd have given this company a 10/10, today it's barely 2/10. If you're thinking of switching to Eclipse, don't. Unless they sort this out before my current contract ends I will be taking my business elsewhere.

27 February 2015
Rosalind Ball

If you sign up keep the paperwork. We paid a month plus a month in advance. Gave notice. We were discontinued early, and then billed extra after about 15 years, feeling sad at the end of the relationship.

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