BT Infinity broadband review

bt infinity

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:

Phone number:
Postcode:
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:

Package Speeds Limit Line rental Price
bt BT Infinity 1 Up to 38Mb 20GB £15.99 £10
for 6 mths,
then £15
Visit BT
bt Unlimited BT Infinity 1 Up to 38Mb Unlimited £15.99 £16
for 3 mths,
then £23
Visit BT
bt Unlimited BT Infinity 2 Up to 76Mb Unlimited £15.99 £20
for 3 mths,
then £26
Visit BT

For more information on the various package options, including deals with BT's pay TV service, see our main BT review here.

Download limits

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

bt home hub 4

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.

bt home hub 4

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)
virgin media Up to 30Mb 30.2Mb - 31.4Mb
bt Up to 38Mb 31.4Mb - 34.2Mb
virgin media Up to 60Mb 59.2Mb - 60.4Mb
bt Up to 76Mb 61.6Mb - 68Mb
virgin media 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
bt up to 76Mb
(19Mb upload)
17.4Mb
virgin media up to 120Mb
(12Mb upload)
11.4Mb
bt up to 38Mb
(9.5Mb upload)
7.3Mb
virgin media up to 60Mb
(3Mb upload)
3.1Mb

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
plusnet Essentials Fibre + Talk Weekends Up to 38Mb 40GB £14.50 £15.99 £30.49 Visit Plusnet
bt Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 38Mb 20GB £15.99 £10
for 6 mths,
then £15
£25.99
for 6 mths,
then £30.99
Visit BT
sky Fibre Unlimited + Talk Weekends Up to 38Mb Unlimited £15.40 £7.50
for 6 mths,
then £20
£22.90
for 6 mths,
then £35.40
Visit Sky
bt Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 38Mb Unlimited £15.99 £16
for 3 mths,
then £23
£31.99
for 3 mths,
then £38.99
Visit BT
john lewis 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
(w/o offers)
plusnet Unlimited Fibre + Talk Weekends Up to 76Mb Unlimited £14.50 £19.99 £34.49 Visit Plusnet
talktalk SimplyBroadband + Fibre Large Up to 76Mb Unlimited £15.95 £18.50 £34.45 Visit TalkTalk
bt Unlimited Infinity 2 + Weekend calls Up to 76Mb Unlimited £15.99 £20
for 3 mths,
then £26
£35.99
for 3 mths,
then £41.99
Visit BT
ee 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.

Comments

1
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).

2
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.

3
25 March 2013
J Mckay

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

4
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.

5
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?

Please read our full disclaimer for important information that relates to the service we provide and your use of this site.

We aim to provide free reviews and comparisons of consumer products and to keep our editorial content as objective as possible. To keep the site free, we are paid by some providers when new customers take products after they've clicked on our links. We don't allow our editorial content to be affected by those links, however we may not include all of the products available in the market. Finally, we do not submit or process any applications for any products or services and we cannot guarantee that any product or service listed on this website will be available to you. Credit providers make the final decision on whether an application for credit will be accepted.

If you would like to get in touch with us you can contact us here.