BT Infinity broadband review

bt infinity

TO infinity broadband and... well, that's it.

Our Rating
Features:

Value for money:

Customer service:

Overall
5 out of 5

From the latest offers to the last word on speeds, this review covers everything there is to know about BT's superfast service.

The seven things we need to know

To keep things simple we've boiled Infinity down to seven things customers should really know to get the measure of the service.

To get a quick overview skip ahead to our conclusion.

1. There are frequent special offers

BT are known for offering Sainsbury's gift cards of various values to new customers signing up to take Infinity online. Click here to visit BT's site for the latest deals.

They also tend to offer better deals for Infinity than they do for their standard broadband packages. These deals change frequently, however, so it's worth keeping an eye out and timing any possible moves to grab a good one.

What's on offer? When you join online for:
bt Online Exclusive: Unlimited broadband just £5.99 for 12 months (usually £18/mth) + £50 BT Reward Card
Hurry! Offer ends in 4 days!
2 July 2016
BT Unlimited broadband up to 17Mb
bt Online Exclusive: Unlimited Infinity 1 + Entertainment Plus TV just £20.99 for 12 months (usually £35/mth) + £100 BT Reward Card
Hurry! Offer ends in 4 days!
2 July 2016
BT Unlimited Infinity 1 up to 52Mb fibre broadband (25GB usage) + TV Entertainment Plus
bt Free phone line installation or reconnection worth £130With any BT Broadband package

We endeavour to keep this article up to date, but offers are subject to change at short notice. Please check with the BT site for the most up to date information.

2. It's the best way to get BT TV

BT TV is only available to those with BT Broadband.

While everyone with BT TV can get BT Sport, lots of the other extras are reserved for those who have BT Infinity.

That includes the bulk of the premium channels like Comedy Central, Gold and National Geographic, the HD pack, the live Sky Movies channels - and BT Sport Ultra HD.

With the exception of this last channel, signing up for BT TV doesn't have to cost that much - at the time of this update, BT TV Starter is being offered free for 12 months - the length of the initial contract.

Package Broadband Price Line Rental Total Monthly
bt TV Entertainment Plus + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls Up to 52Mb
Unlimited
£20.99
for 12 mths,
then £32.50
£18.99 £39.98
for 12 mths,
then £51.49
bt TV Total Entertainment + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
Unlimited
£23.99
for 12 mths,
then £31
£18.99 £42.98
for 12 mths,
then £49.99

Although TV Starter only provides users with the basic up to 80 channels and seven day catch-up, it's possible to add bolt-ons like the HD pack or Sky Movies for a month at a time.

The kids' TV, music, premium channel, and HD packs each cost £5 or less per month, so it's possible to get a feel for the paid for content without having to commit to it for a whole year.

There's more on BT TV in our full review here.

3. It's available more widely than ever

By late 2015, more than five years after Infinity's launch, the fibre service had been made available to around 85% of the UK, with the promise that 90% of premises will have access by June 2016, and 95% coverage will be reached by 2017.

Furthermore, now a large part of the basic work is done, BT are starting to improve on what Infinity can offer; in April 2016 they announced that all new Infinity 1 connections would offer up to 52Mb rather than up to 38Mb, and that existing customers would be upgraded in due course.

There's more on what effect this will have below.

Even so, there are still areas that can't yet receive any kind of Infinity, and others that can only get a limited range of deals, so it's worth checking with a postcode search:

Postcode:
Enter your phone number and / or postcode above to check availability in your area.

For those in Infinity-ready areas, the deals break down like this:

Package Speeds Limit Line rental* Price
bt BT Unlimited Infinity 1 Up to 52Mb Unlimited £18.99 £10.99
for 12 mths,
then £15
bt Unlimited BT Infinity 2 Up to 76Mb Unlimited £18.99 £25
for 12 mths,
then £30

*BT line rental will be rising from £17.99 per month to £18.99 a month from July 3rd.

For more information on the various package options, including bundling calls and TV deals, and the extras available, see our main BT review here.

Download limits

With BT Infinity there are just two options in terms of data usage: 25GB and unlimited.

Not so long ago we were praising BT's decision to reinstate a usage limit of 40GB for their capped Infinity customers, up from the rather stingy 20GB limit, brought in back in December 2013.

But when they announced they were boosting the speed of Infinity 1, they also brought the allowance back down, this time to 25GB a month - enough for watching about eight hours of standard quality video online a month, or less than five hours of HD video.

Anyone who goes over the limit will be charged for the extra data in units of 1GB, at a cost of £1.50 per unit.

This is an improvement on the old system, where BT would charge people £5.60 for every 5GB unit they went over their limit by: someone who went over by just under 1GB would still have been charged £5.60, for example.

But it's still worth having a good idea of how much data we're likely to use - we've a guide here.

Anyone who thinks they'll go over the 25GB limit more than once every now and again may find it cheaper to go with the unlimited package.

Keen users of streaming services like Netflix (reviewed here), Amazon Video, or Now TV (review here) should probably err on the side of caution and go for an unlimited deal.

At least it's no longer the case that users with a capped deal are subject to traffic management.

BT relaxed their traffic management policies for their unlimited customers in February 2013, but it's only been since late 2015 / early 2016 that they've extended this to their capped broadband deals as well.

BT say they're "very proud" that everyone who takes their broadband can now download what they what, from wherever they want - and they won't be slowed down for doing so.

It's a bold claim from such a large provider, and one we're keeping an eye on.

See our guide to fair use here for more on BT's fair use policy and traffic management.

4. You need a phone line

Another point worth noting from the table above is that BT Infinity subscribers need to have a working BT phone line and pay BT for their line rental.

Unlike with Virgin Media, it's not possible to get BT's fibre without having a home phone line.

That means it's vital to factor in at least the cost shown in the table above for line rental when considering BT Infinity.

Some BT Infinity packages come without any inclusive calls, but the unlimited deals offer the chance to include weekend calls at the very least.

People going for the budget option used to be able to add evening and weekend calls for an extra few pounds per month, but anytime calls - currently £7.95 a month, soon to go up to £8.50 - are the minimum add-on for the no calls package.

5. The BT Home Hub 5 is a cut above

bt home hub 5

It's also worth noting all the Infinity deals come with the BT Home Hub 5.

Like its predecessor described in the video below, the router has been designed to cut out signal interference that can slow down wireless connections in the home by switching to the least used wireless band automatically.

Both the 4 and 5 will switch devices to a fast 5GHz 802.11n band when necessary, as well as using the slower 2.4GHz 802.11a/b/g protocols.

This simultaneous dual band means the router is able to provide two separate network connections - one for devices such as iPhones, which use the 802.11ac and older b/g protocols, and one for devices able to connect using 802.11n, such as an Xbox or the home computer.

In brief, this means devices that can connect at the fastest speeds aren't affected by older devices, mobile phones or other equipment around the home like remote controlled toys or microwaves.

But BT also say the Home Hub 5 offers faster wireless connectivity whichever band it uses, giving older, slower, devices, or those out of range of the 5GHz band, a bit of a boost.

bt home hub 5

The hub also boasts a faster processor and a slightly improved power saving mode than its predecessors.

The power saving feature helps to reduce power consumption when the connection isn't being used, without disconnecting the broadband - something which can cause havoc with smart equipment in the exchange, reducing speeds on what it detects to be an "unstable" line.

All in all, the BT Home Hub 5 offers far more than most other ISPs' routers.

6. It really is superfast

BT and Virgin Media are the only major UK infrastructure providers to offer FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) broadband throughout the country.

Both are using more or less the same technology: fibre to a cabinet, one of those green boxes on the street, and then copper cable from the cabinet to the home.

However, a slight difference in delivery - explained further here - means that BT have previously advertised speeds of "up to" 38Mb or 76Mb - slower than Virgin's up to 50Mb, 100Mb or 200Mb broadband deals, as they're now advertised.

The cynical would suggest that BT's decision to upgrade Infinity 1 to offer connections of up to 52Mb is so they can boast that their fibre is not only faster than that offered by the likes of Sky and TalkTalk, but also Virgin Media.

Even so, the technology used by the two providers means that there's still likely to be a difference in the actual performance - and until now the speed difference has been very real - even when we bring Infinity 2 into the equation.

The most recent Ofcom research into speeds, released in March 2016, found the following averages:

Advertised speed Ofcom average speed
(over 24 hours)
virgin media Up to 200Mb 168.0Mb - 179.9Mb
virgin media Up to 100Mb 93.3Mb - 98.2Mb
bt Up to 76Mb 57.4Mb - 61.1Mb
virgin media Up to 50Mb 49.4Mb - 51.6Mb
bt Up to 38Mb 34.3Mb - 35.5Mb

Aside from the obvious speed differences between BT and Virgin Media, these figures demonstrate that fibre broadband connections are far less likely to see speeds drop over long distances or suffer problems with interference.

With the exception of Virgin's 200Mb broadband, both providers come much closer to delivering on the speeds they advertise - the infamous "up to" - than they do on ADSL lines.

But as the results for BT's 76Mb fibre show, the reliance on copper for the final stretch does still have an impact.

Virgin have the edge - for now - but both really do deliver.

That said, BT Infinity beats Virgin on speeds when it comes to uploads.

With their up to 76Mb deal, BT promise up to 19Mb upload speeds while Virgin Media deliver upload speeds of less than 10% of download speeds (their 152Mb and 200Mb deals have top upload speeds of just 12Mb).

In the same set of Ofcom tests we mention above, these were the upload speeds on offer, and the averages achieved over a 24 hour period:

Advertised Speed Ofcom Average Speed
bt up to 76Mb
(19Mb upload)
15.2Mb
virgin media up to 152Mb / 200Mb
(12Mb upload)
12.1Mb
bt up to 38Mb
(9.5Mb upload)
8.5Mb
virgin media up to 100Mb
(6Mb upload)
5.9Mb
virgin media up to 50Mb
(3Mb upload)
3.1Mb

SOURCE: Ofcom, March 2016.

A very small number of households may also have one of BT's two ultrafast packages, offering up to 160Mb or 300Mb.

Based on BT's fibre to the home (FTTH, also known as FTTP - to the premises), technology, the cost of installation and taking the service has meant that after a short period on sale in a very limited number of locations, it's not been available to order for the past year.

Instead we're more likely to see BT pushing Fibre "To A Bit Further Than The Cabinet" in the form of G.fast, which they're planning to start rolling out from 2017 and have almost nationwide by 2025.

For a fuller comparison of broadband speeds see our fastest broadband guide here.

7. BT can sometimes be the cheapest provider

The BT Openreach fibre service is available from other providers, which means customers can get almost the same thing for a different price, elsewhere.

Putting to one side the introduction of that pesky 52Mb service, which makes a fair comparison that little bit more complicated, the competition between the providers means that there are always plenty of offers and discounts to be found.

Taking those into account, every now and then it'd turn out that BT were offering some of the best value deals - sometimes beating some of the "budget" providers.

Here's a quick breakdown of the main contenders selling BT Infinity in its various forms:

Packages offering BT fibre "up to 38Mb" speeds:

Package Speeds Limit Line rental Price Total monthly
plusnet Unlimited Fibre + Line Only Up to 38Mb Unlimited £16.99 £5
for 6 mths,
then £14.99
£21.99
for 6 mths,
then £31.98
Sky Fibre Unlimited + Talk Up to 38Mb Unlimited £17.40 £10
for 12 mths,
then £20
£27.40
for 12 mths,
then £37.40
talktalk SimplyBroadband + Fibre Medium Up to 38Mb Unlimited £17.70 £5
for 18 mths,
then £19.50
£22.70
for 18 mths,
then £37.20

Packages offering BT fibre "up to 52Mb" speeds:

Package Speeds Limit Line rental* Price Total monthly
BT Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb Unlimited £18.99 £10.99
for 12 mths,
then £15
£29.98
for 12 mths,
then £33.99

*BT line rental will be rising from £17.99 per month to £18.99 a month from July 3rd.

Packages offering BT fibre "up to 76Mb" speeds:

Package Speeds Limit Line rental* Price Total monthly
bt Unlimited Infinity 2 + Evening & Weekend calls Up to 76Mb Unlimited £18.99 £25
for 12 mths,
then £30
£43.99
for 12 mths,
then £48.99
plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra + Line Only Up to 76Mb Unlimited £16.99 £10
for 6 mths,
then £19.99
£26.99
for 6 mths,
then £36.98
talktalk SimplyBroadband + Fibre Large Up to 76Mb Unlimited £17.70 £10
for 12 mths,
then £22.50
£27.70
for 12 mths,
then £40.20

*BT line rental will be rising from £17.99 per month to £18.99 a month from July 3rd.

The wholesale product behind these packages is the same, and even the underlying physical engineering support is carried out by BT Openreach.

Because of this, every ISP who resells BT fibre now has the option to resell the 52Mb service as well; at the time of this update it's so new only BT themselves are doing so. Give it a few months and we may see more selling it, which will allow for simpler comparison.

In the meantime, the other difference between the ISPs reselling BT fibre, whatever the speed, is that each have their own customer service, technical support (before calling in Openreach, that is), traffic management and usage policies, and different add-on features and benefits.

In other words, it was never quite as simple as comparing by price alone, as the ISPs listed above don't necessarily offer an identical service.

For that reason, we've written a separate guide to the differences between the providers reselling BT fibre here.

So: is BT Infinity any good?

BT infinity broadband is superfast - and it really is superfast - from the big daddy of broadband.

That means 24/7 telephone support, and optional extras like TV. online storage, and free public wi-fi.

The deals compare fairly well with Virgin Media and with ISPs who offer a resold Infinity service. And while other providers, including Plusnet (reviewed here) offer seemingly similar deals at lower prices than BT, they tend to come without quite so many perks.

Race to Infinity sounds about right.

Comments

1
3 January 2016
Di Jonson

This site is rubbish - it is obviously a BT sponsored site as there is nothing detrimental about them here when obviously they are the ones causing all the problems! We have constantly dropping internet into the house, our wifi works fine through the Home Hub4. We have spoken to the usual friendly and helpful Indian customer support, who tell us to change the channel on the Home Hub to either 1, 6 or 11, despite the fact that on this site, the BT expert says that the HH will automatically scan for the strongest channel. Who is lying? I have a wifi checker on my mobile phone which tells me the signal is always strong within the house. BT only offer fibre to the cabinet, it is bog standard copper from there to the house. We could try changing to a different service provider, but they all piggy back from BT lines. Who cares about unlimited fast speed broadband when it doesn't actually make any difference if you can't keep a consistent and reliable connection. I have just tried to watch a live rugby match on BT Sport - first 60 minutes were fine, last 20 minutes just froze every few seconds - waste of time..... We are all being duped by BT - we have no choice but to put up with their lies and bad service. Unfortunately all companies are the same as once you are signed up they don't care.

17 February 2016
stamgast

Well with bt infinity bt also has a minimun guaranteed speed. And if that's not being reached it usually is breach of contract this states on their site and on the emails they send to you after you get bt infinity.

4 January 2016
Choose team

Hi Di,

We're sorry to hear about your problems with BT. We do cover the difficulties faced by customers due to BT Openreach delays in articles such as this - http://www.choose.net/media/gu... and also issues with their customer service in articles such as this - http://www.choose.net/media/gu...

BT customer support may be suggesting that you try a different Wifi channel as if your neighbours are using the same channel that could be causing interference and dropped connections. It could be worth trying with an ethernet wired connection to rule out problems with the Wifi or your actual broadband connection.

We also cover different kinds of connection problems in this article which may be useful - http://www.choose.net/media/gu...

Hope this helps.

2
29 December 2015
Fimble27

I have BT broadband only and have recently got a new smart TV. Unfortunately I can not get the Netflix to work on it. Netflix works on my smart TV upstairs and the iPad but not the new TV. I keep getting the error SW-2-5, something to do with my server. I have tried the shut downs and the turn broadband off and restarts, but still can not get Netflix, can anyone help?

3
11 November 2015
chrismhale

BT have still not been able to provide me with any broadband service, since I started paying for it at the beginning of August 2015. Despite numerous conversations with customer services in India, and an engineer visit, I am still waiting for a part at the exchange to be replaced.

4
29 September 2015
dingleburt

I struggled with a slow ADSL line for 2 years with talktalk, They sent numerous engineers out and finally fixed my line a few months ago. Now I connect at 20Mb/s however it's too late for them as BT are coming to install FTTP in a weeks time. ADSL is a nightmare.

5
20 March 2015
Max

One thing that they got wrong in the review was the statement that both BT and Virgin Media do FTTC which is not true. VM use DOCSIS 3.0 on a coax cable network. Very similar though.

6
23 February 2015
Nettles

I'm a BT customer. Infinity is available in my area and my local box is enabled, but BT have told me as I'm more than 1.1 miles from it Infinity can't cope with the distance and it won't improve my 3Mb speed I get on standard broadband. An independent comparison website has said distance has no impact and BT have more than likely sold all the capacity and are fobbing me off. Who is right?

29 September 2015
dingleburt

If you're only getting 3Mb's then you have a really bad line. You could try asking if FTTP is available to you. Failing that you could try to convince openreach to install a new copper line but it's a daunting task and you will spend weeks on the phone. It took me 2 years to get my line replaced but when they did my speeds went from 3Mbps to 20Mbps and that's an ADSL connection.

7
19 July 2014
wayne shearer

I've been with Virgin, TalkTalk, Sky and now joining BT. When I previously had Virgin fibre it worked flawlessly for the whole 18 months, but when I moved from Devon back to Durham Virgin was not available.

So in our new home we went with TalkTalk but moved to Sky shortly afterwards. (TalkTalk customer support is a joke by the way).

After having enough of living in a small village in the middle of nowhere we moved yet again but unfortunately Sky could not offer us fibre as there was no space on the exchange left. A problem that took Sky 3 weeks to inform us of.

So here I sit waiting for 6 more days to pass for my Infinity 2 with Home Hub 5. Fingers crossed this is the one :)

8
5 June 2014
johnnyb245

Worth noting it is Home Hub 5 now.

9
4 June 2014
johnnyb245

If you have BT already do they need to put in a separate (new) line or do they just change some wires at the cabinet?

20 March 2015
Max

No, they will not install a new line as all the new line installations are done at the cabinet. You will need a separate VDSL modem though.

10
24 May 2014
myself v2

Very well detailed guide. Will be switching from Virgin Media to BT very soon since the upload thresholds are just appalling. I can barely stream to TV for more than an hour before being throttled to less than 50% speeds. Just an awful business model for a supposed "access" provider. If there is stress on your lines, use our money for upgrading the infrastructure. This isn't rocket science for goodness sake.

11
8 May 2014
Dianne Campbell

I am thinking of changing to BT from Sky (had equipment now for 6 years) and they of course only want to look after 'New' customers! Just wondering on the TV/phone/broadband deal if I can record programs from the TV whilst watching a different channel.

9 May 2014
Choose team

See our BT TV guide for more on this http://www.choose.net/media/gu...

12
17 April 2014
Mackie B

I've been a BT customer for a few years and wanted a new deal but like somebody else noted, existing customers actually pay more, don't get the vouchers nor some of the options. This can equate to several hundreds of pounds. So much for loyalty. BT you need to keep customers as well as get new ones. I'm off elsewhere, to get the same internet AND save money.

13
7 February 2014
Richard

Ditched Virgin Media after months of problems. Ripping me off charging for (up to 120Mb) when in reality all they could deliver was my original 60Mb. Rude retentions department personnel when they finally get the message that a 6 year customer has finally had enough with their lousy service.

Waiting for infinity 2. In the mean time on BT broadband getting 10Mb unlimited I'm getting rock solid connection (absolutely unheard of with Virgin). I'm streaming Netflix to a smart TV, browsing on 2 tablets in the house AND a couple of smart phones.

Connects without any delay. And that's at 10Mb. I'm quite taken to the size and design of the Hub 4 it's so cute lol.

I'm glad I've changed to BT. Why sugar coat and go with a company that piggy backs onto BT in the first place. I'm glad I chose them.....
OK 1 niggle. The Indian call centres can be frustrating.

14
6 February 2014
gordonhudsonnu

The comparison with Virgin is meaningless as they drop your connection to 1.5Mb if you stream a movie for more than an hour. All they are providing is a 1.5Mb connection with the ability to burst occasionally to the upper limit. I know from experience with a 30Mb Virgin connection and a 16Mb BT ADSL2 connection that the BT was more useable more of the time.

18 November 2014
Zaza

True. And they keep saying long landline problems (50m to exchange). I left Virgin alone.

15
31 January 2014
Dillon Crowe

BT won't offer me the Sainsbury's voucher because for some unknown reason my address doesn't show up on the online postcode search. Their response is "tough luck, you can order over the phone but you won't receive the voucher" Really frustrating.

16
24 January 2014
Keith48

Just got infinity2 today, disappointed I loose signal after 9 yards. Beware.

17
20 January 2014
Bertha

How many items can you have connected to BT Infinity?

18
3 January 2014
jon

My dad had nothing but problems when he switched to Infinity, constantly cutting off. BT charge you top dollar for it... TalkTalk charge way less for the same thing, even beating BT on the line rental alone! If you go with BT then expect to get ripped off!

29 September 2015
dingleburt

It's not the same thing, BT's network infrastructure is superior to talktalk, lower pings, faster web browsing etc. You really do get what you pay for here and it's worth paying a bit extra for BT.

27 July 2014
richie

Jon ... Find out which equipment TalkTalk are using... then come back here. Lol.

16 April 2014
Naomi Huntley

BT are fine, I have had no problems with them and I'm on Infinity, maybe it's the way you set it up.

19
20 August 2013
Dave Prothero

Is it possible to run 2 TV's with the BT hub as you can with Sky?

13 October 2013
mshell

Yes, apparently you can use it on up to 4 TV's, but you need an adapter, as you will have to connect it to the same hub and watch the same channel on both/all the TV's (unlike Sky & Virgin, where you can watch different channels on different TV's) apparently that option should be on it's way in the New Year (2014).

20
10 April 2013
Pablo Canales

I am a BT client, broadband 40Mb, my real download speed and upload speed are, 6.9Mb and 1.1Mb, respectively. After reading this article, I decided to move towards an fibre optic plan since internet speed could be more stable. Nice to have a £40 voucher in Sainsburys for doing so. However it was more important the fact that I can shift from an optic fibre plan to my former plan if I move my flat to another without fibre optic.

21
25 March 2013
J Mckay

The £100 gift card is not available to existing BT customers. Not fair!

22
25 March 2013
Karl

Just cancelled my contract with Virgin shocking bad customer service, 60Mb broadband and I was lucky to get 30Mb with Virgin and the final straw was when I phoned up and complained about the service to be then informed of a problem with my connection that would restrict me to 16Mb to nothing until August for 5 months, all this after being with them for over 10 years.

17 November 2015
Melvyn

Hi, Karl. Hope you're still happy with the change from Virgin to BT. We are still with Virgin after many years and are seriously thinking of giving up Virgin as again yesterday they were having broadband issues in my area, which also happened a month previous, I'm not entirely convinced that BT are the solution as some reviews aren't very complementary. What do you think after your change to BT?

23
10 January 2013
brian

Great review, lots of info. We have just ordered BT Infinity 2 and hope to see a big improvement over the very slow adsl line at the moment 2.65Mbps.

18 October 2013
SalsaChick

How long is it between line takeover and the broadband engineer visit?

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