BT Infinity broadband review
To infinity broadband and... well, that's it.
From the latest offers to the last word on speeds, this review is all you need to know about BT's new superfast service.
The six things you need to know
To keep things simple we've boiled Infinity down to six things you really need to know to get the measure of the service.
To get a quick overview skip ahead to our conclusion.
1. The latest special offers
BT are currently offering a £50 Sainsbury's gift card to new BT broadband customers taking Infinity online, click here to visit BT's site to get this deal.
As you can see below, BT offer better deals for Infinity than with standard packages. These deals change frequently, however, so it's well worth timing your move to grab a good one.
|Half price unlimited broadband for 6 months + £25 Sainsbury's Gift Card||Sign up for BT Unlimited broadband online for this offer here|
|£50 Sainsbury's Gift Card||Sign up for BT Infinity broadband online for this offer here|
|£25 Sainsbury's Gift Card||Sign up for BT broadband online to get this offer here|
|Free phone line installation worth £130||Sign up for BT broadband and phone to get this offer here (Only applicable if you need a new phone line)|
We endeavour to keep this article up to date, but offers are subject to change at short notice, so please check with the BT site for the most up to date information.
2. What's available to your home
As we update this article in early 2014, four years after Infinity's launch, the fibre service is available to about two thirds of UK premises.
Even then, however, some households will only be able to access a limited range of deals so it's worth checking your home with a postcode and phone number search:
Enter your phone number and / or postcode above to check availability in your area.
As we said, BT Infinity is still rolling out so if it isn't yet available in your area don't lose hope just yet. There's still a fair chance you could be connected within the next year or so.
If you are Infinity ready, the deals break down like this:
|BT Infinity 1||Up to 38Mb||20GB||£15.99||£10
for 6 mths,
|Unlimited BT Infinity 1||Up to 38Mb||Unlimited||£15.99||£16
for 3 mths,
|Unlimited BT Infinity 2||Up to 76Mb||Unlimited||£15.99||£20
for 3 mths,
For more information on the various package options, including deals with BT's pay TV service, see our main BT review here.
As you can see above, BT Infinity offers a choice of download limits: 40GB and unlimited.
Superfast broadband is best used for downloading files and streaming content and 40GB a month will be enough for watching about 12 hours of standard quality video online a month.
At the beginning of February 2013, BT dropped the fair use and traffic management from all of their unlimited deals.
BT now say that users on unlimited products can download as much as they like whenever they like and they won't be slowed down for doing so.
It's a bold claim from such a large provider, and one we'll be keeping an eye on.
See our guide to fair use here for more on BT's fair use policy and traffic management.
3. 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 with a BT calls package.
Unlike Virgin Media's fibre deals, it's not possible to get BT's service without 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.
BT Infinity broadband packages currently come with inclusive weekend calls as standard.
Evening and weekend calls can be added for an extra £2 a month, and households that use the phone during the day can add an inclusive anytime calls deal for an extra £7 a month.
4. The BT Home Hub 4 is a cut above
It's also worth noting that the Infinity deals above now come with the BT Home Hub 4 which, like its predecessor in the ad below, has been designed to cut out signal interference that can slow down wireless connections in the home.
It's slimmer at just 3.1cm deep, albeit slightly longer, than the Home Hub 3, and both are a fair size smaller than the chunky Home Hub 2.
The first of its kind in the UK, the Home Hub 4 takes the Smart Wireless technology of the Hub 3 and combines it with a concurrent dual band.
A concurrent or simultaneous dual band means the router is able to provide two separate network connections, one for devices such as your iPhone using the 802.11a/b/g protocol and one for devices able to connect using 802.11n, such as an Xbox or your 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.
Alongside the "technology that avoids interference for an ultra-reliable connection" then, BT's Home Hub 4 also boasts a faster processor, improved user interface design and the slightly improved upon power saving feature of the Hub 3.
Now automatic, the Hub 4 offers a power saving feature that can help to reduce power consumption when the connection isn't being used and 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 4, and Hub 3, are offering far more than the generic routers that most ISPs offer.
5. 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, see our BT Infinity vs Virgin Media article for more, means that BT advertise speeds of 'up to' 38Mb or 76Mb - slower than the Virgin up to 50Mb, 100Mb or 152Mb broadband deals, as they're now advertised.
And that speed difference is real.
The most recent Ofcom research into speeds, released in April 2014, found the following averages:
|Advertised speed||Ofcom average speed
(over 24 hours)
|Up to 30Mb||30.2Mb - 31.4Mb|
|Up to 38Mb||31.4Mb - 34.2Mb|
|Up to 60Mb||59.2Mb - 60.4Mb|
|Up to 76Mb||61.6Mb - 68Mb|
|Up to 120Mb||113.2Mb - 116.7Mb|
Note that these averages are from before Virgin Media upgraded their speeds (their slowest package is now up to 50Mb) so actually the difference between the two is greater than these figures suggest.
Aside from the difference between BT and Virgin Media, however, these figures demonstrate that all fibre broadband connections are much less likely to see speeds drop over long distances or suffer problems with interference.
Both providers come much closer to delivering on the speeds they advertise - the infamous 'up to' - than they could on ADSL lines.
Though Virgin have the edge, both are really delivering on their speed promises.
BT Infinity does win over Virgin on speeds when it comes to uploads, however.
With their up to 76Mb deal, BT promise up to 19Mb upload speeds while Virgin Media promise 10% of download (so 10Mb with 100Mb).
Here, from Ofcom, is the difference that actually makes, in terms of average upload speeds over a 24 hour period:
|Advertised Speed||Ofcom Average Speed|
|up to 76Mb
|up to 120Mb
|up to 38Mb
|up to 60Mb
There's no independent data for BT's superfast 160Mb and 300Mb deals yet - as these use FTTH, fibre to the home (also known as FTTP - to the premises), and are currently only available in a very small number of areas.
While BT are rolling out on demand access to these products to the mass market from this year, prices are expected to be high.
For a fuller comparison of broadband speeds see our fastest broadband guide here.
6. It's available cheaper elsewhere
BT sell their fibre service on to other providers, which means you can get about the same thing cheaper, or at least from a different provider, elsewhere.
Here's a quick breakdown of the main contenders reselling BT Infinity:
Packages offering BT fibre 'up to 38Mb' speeds:
|Package||Speeds||Limit||Line rental||Price||Total Cost|
|Essentials Fibre + Talk Weekends||Up to 38Mb||40GB||£14.50||£15.99||£30.49||Visit Plusnet|
|Infinity 1 + Weekend calls||Up to 38Mb||20GB||£15.99||£10
for 6 mths,
for 6 mths,
|Fibre Unlimited + Talk Weekends||Up to 38Mb||Unlimited||£15.40||£7.50
for 6 mths,
for 6 mths,
|Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls||Up to 38Mb||Unlimited||£15.99||£16
for 3 mths,
for 3 mths,
|Fibre + Evening & Weekend calls||Up to 38Mb||100GB||£13.50||£25||£38.50||Visit John Lewis|
Packages offering BT fibre 'up to 76Mb' speeds:
|Package||Speeds||Limit||Line rental||Price||Total Cost
|Unlimited Fibre + Talk Weekends||Up to 76Mb||Unlimited||£14.50||£19.99||£34.49||Visit Plusnet|
|SimplyBroadband + Fibre Large||Up to 76Mb||Unlimited||£15.95||£18.50||£34.45||Visit TalkTalk|
|Unlimited Infinity 2 + Weekend calls||Up to 76Mb||Unlimited||£15.99||£20
for 3 mths,
for 3 mths,
|Unlimited 76Mb Fibre Broadband + Weekend calls||Up to 76Mb||Unlimited||£15.40||£36||£51.40||Visit EE|
However, it is worth noting that while the wholesale product behind these packages is the same, and even the underlying physical engineering support would be carried out by BT Wholesale, the different ISPs reselling BT fibre will have their own customer service, technical support (before calling in BT Wholesale), traffic management and usage policies, and different add-on features and benefits.
In other words, unfortunately it's not quite so simple as comparing by price alone as the ISPs listed below won't necessarily be offering an identical service for a higher or lower cost.
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 super fast, from the big daddy of broadband.
That means 24/7 telephone support and optional extras like TV and online storage.
The prices are good too - both deals compare fairly well with Virgin Media and with ISPs who offer a resold Infinity service, though other providers, including Plusnet, full review here, offer similar deals for less than BT, although perhaps without quite so many frills.
All in all, race to Infinity sounds about right.
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