Note! Orange broadband has now been taken over by EE broadband (the new parent company of Orange and T-Mobile).
Click here to visit the EE broadband page to see the latest package options and to check availability in your area.
In the past, Orange Broadband has been a victim of what we like to call TalkTalk syndrome (that is: taking on too many customers, too quickly and falling apart as a result).
However, during the last two years Orange broadband have started to turn their service around: their deals are cheaper and their once dire customer service seems to be improving too.
But have they done enough? Will Orange Broadband prove sweeter than an, um, orange? Or will it leave you feeling like you're sucking on a lemon?
Our full review aims to find out.
Broadband providers with bad reputations are always keen to tell us that they're on the road to recovery but, in Orange's case, there's some solid evidence to back that up.
The broadband provider's LLU network, known for being unreliable and prone to faults, has now been switched over to the BT Wholesale network - the deal was signed in April 2010 and the exchange switch was completed in November 2011.
As a result, network problems have fallen significantly.
There's plenty of that 'road to recovery' atonement going on too: see the customer service section of the article for more detail on that.
Following a recent revamp, Orange have three pretty simple broadband deals, each with 'line speed' (what we used to call up to 20Mb) speeds and completely unlimited downloads:
|Broadband and off-peak calls||£5||£13.50|
|Broadband and anytime calls||£10||£13.50|
|Broadband and anytime mobile calls||£15||£13.50|
Orange line rental is mandatory - you can't get Orange broadband without it. It's cheaper than BT, if more pricey than many other providers (see our line rental guide for more information on that).
All customers get a free wireless router and, overall, Orange broadband deals are among the UK's cheapest.
Note that the prices above include Orange's customer discount.
Got an Orange phone?
New or existing Orange mobile customers get a £5 discount on their broadband.
The discount is available to pay monthly mobile customers and also to anyone with a PAYG Orange SIM who has at least £1 in their phone fund.
10% of each top up goes into the phone fund so you should qualify as long as you've topped up by £10. You can check on the Orange site here.
The discount is not available to Orange mobile broadband customers.
All in all, it's cheap: you can see why Orange are so popular among students.
It's rare to find unlimited broadband so cheap and part of the reason (Orange's large heartedness apart, of course) used to be a certain looseness with the word 'unlimited'.
For years, Orange have had a reputation for having one of most restrictive fair use policies in the broadband market, severely slowing users with little explanation.
Recently, though, Orange did a 180: now, they say, their broadband is completely unlimited, not a fair use policy in sight.
It's early days yet but we'd say that getting rid of fair use altogether is a positive step in the right direction.
Note, however, that Orange do manage traffic on their network.
During peak times (6pm to 11:30pm on weekdays and 5pm to 11:30pm on weekends) newsgroups and P2P will be slowed while VoIP and gaming will be prioritised over other applications.
Sounds fair to us.
Like their download allowances, Orange broadband's customer service has been infamous down the years for never quite delivering on its promises.
But in the past few months that seems to have changed too. The last large scale YouGov survey placed Orange top for customer service and Ofcom's last big survey of broadband satisfaction gave them a good review too.
And the fact that the head of broadband apologised for the poor service customers received in the past is, we think, definitely a plus.
"Our objective is to get to a point where we are no longer ashamed of what we are doing to our customers - or, to put it positively, where we are proud of what we are doing to our customers," he said.
It's rare for ISPs to put their hands up and, we think, a good sign.
If you are looking for a cheap broadband package with value and loads of features bundled in then consider going with Orange Broadband.
Cinema fans will be pleased to know that all Orange Broadband customers are eligible for 2-for-1 cinema tickets every Wednesday, which gives you an opportunity to see their 'don't let a mobile ruin your movie' cinema ads.
If on the other hand you are a sucker for top-notch customer service and fast, consistent speeds then you'd be better off elsewhere.
This article was last updated 10 July 2012, it was first published 1 April 2008.
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