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 covers everything there is to know about BT's superfast service.

The six things you need to know

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

To get a quick overview skip ahead to our conclusion.

1. Special offers

BT are known for offering Sainsbury's gift cards to new BT broadband customers taking Infinity online. Click here to visit BT's site for the latest deals.

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

£50 Sainsbury's Gift Card
ends 2 Sep 2015
Sign up online for BT Infinity broadband (with or without BT TV) to get this offer here
£25 Sainsbury's Gift Card
ends 2 Sep 2015
Sign up online for BT broadband (with or without BT TV) for this offer here
Free phone line installation worth £130 Free line installation or reconnection when you take a BT broadband package. Sign up for BT broadband and phone to get this offer here

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 where

In spring 2015, coming up for five years after Infinity's launch, the fibre service had been made available to about three quarters of UK premises, with the promise that 90% of premises will have access by 2016.

Even then, however, some households will only get a limited range of deals, so it's worth checking with a postcode 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 a particular are, there's a fair chance it will be within the next year or so.

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 38Mb Unlimited £16.99 £12.50
for 12 mths,
then £23
Visit BT
bt Unlimited BT Infinity 2 Up to 76Mb Unlimited £16.99 £26
for 12 mths,
then £28
Visit BT

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

Download limits

With BT Infinity there are just two options in terms of data usage: 20GB (as of December 2013; prior to that users were given 40GB a month) and unlimited.

Superfast broadband is best used for downloading files and streaming content; 20GB a month is enough for watching only about six hours of standard quality video online a month.

Anyone who goes over the limit will be charged for the extra data in units of 5GB, at a cost of £5.60 per unit.

Look at the prices: anyone who thinks they'll go over the 20GB limit more than once every now and again may find it cheaper to go with the unlimited package.

A further incentive for those doubtful about whether they can stay within a data limit or not is that since February 2013, there have been no fair use and traffic management limits for customers on BT's unlimited deals.

While users with capped broadband products are still subject to traffic management and fair use restrictions, BT say anyone with unlimited broadband 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're 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 with Virgin Media, it's not possible to get BT's fibre 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.

Some BT Infinity broadband packages come without any inclusive calls, but there's almost always the option to get 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 £2.50 a month, but now anytime calls at £7.50 a month are the minimum add-on for the no calls package.

4. The BT Home Hub 5 is a cut above

bt home hub 5

It's also worth noting all the Infinity deals now 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 802.11a/b/g protocol, 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

In addition, the Home Hub 5 is a VDSL modem as well as a wireless router, which means new BT Infinity customers won't have an extra box cluttering up the house.

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.

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 - explained further here - means that BT advertise speeds of "up to" 38Mb or 76Mb - slower than Virgin's 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 February 2015, found the following averages:

Advertised speed Ofcom average speed
(over 24 hours)
virgin media Up to 152Mb 129.5Mb - 135.8Mb
virgin media Up to 100Mb 94.3Mb - 99.5Mb
bt Up to 76Mb 59.9Mb - 63.1Mb
virgin media Up to 50Mb 52.5Mb - 53.3Mb
bt Up to 38Mb 32.1Mb - 34.4Mb

Aside from the obvious speed differences between BT and Virgin Media, however, 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 152Mb broadband, both providers come much closer to delivering on the speeds they advertise - the infamous "up to" - than they do on ADSL lines.

Virgin have the edge, but both really do deliver on their speed promises.

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 promise up to 10% of download (so we could expect to get an upload speed of 10Mb with their 100Mb broadband, for example).

Here, from Ofcom, are the average upload speeds over a 24 hour period:

Advertised Speed Ofcom Average Speed
bt up to 76Mb
(19Mb upload)
16.2Mb
virgin media up to 152Mb
(15Mb upload)
12.0Mb
bt up to 38Mb
(9.5Mb upload)
7.5Mb
virgin media up to 100Mb
(6Mb upload)
5.9Mb
virgin media up to 50Mb
(3Mb upload)
3.1Mb

SOURCE: Ofcom, February 2015.

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), which is 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. BT's often the cheapest place to get it

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

Every now and again it turns out that BT are offering some of the best value deals, and even beat some of the big "budget" providers by some distance. At the moment however, they're roughly on a par with each other.

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 monthly
sky Fibre Unlimited + Talk Up to 38Mb Unlimited £16.40 £10
for 12 mths,
then £20
£26.40
for 12 mths,
then £36.40
Visit Sky
talktalk SimplyBroadband + Fibre Medium Up to 38Mb Unlimited £17.70 £10 £27.70 Visit TalkTalk
plusnet Unlimited Fibre + Talk Evenings & Weekends Up to 38Mb Unlimited £15.95 £5
for 6 mths,
then £14.99
£20.95
for 6 mths,
then £30.94
Visit Plusnet

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

Package Speeds Limit Line rental Price Total monthly
bt Unlimited Infinity 2 + Weekend calls Up to 76Mb Unlimited £16.99 £26
for 12 mths,
then £28
£42.99
for 12 mths,
then £44.99
Visit BT
plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra + Talk Evenings & Weekends Up to 76Mb Unlimited £15.95 £10
for 6 mths,
then £19.99
£25.95
for 6 mths,
then £35.94
Visit Plusnet
talktalk SimplyBroadband + Fibre Large Up to 76Mb Unlimited £17.70 £15 £32.70 Visit TalkTalk

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

But the different ISPs reselling BT fibre each 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, it's not quite as simple as comparing by price alone, as the ISPs listed above won'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 and online storage.

The prices are competitive too.

Both deals compare fairly well with Virgin Media and with ISPs who offer a resold Infinity service. And while other providers, including Plusnet - full review here - offer similar deals for less than BT, they tend to come without quite so many frills.

All in all, race to Infinity sounds about right.

Comments

1
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.

2
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?

3
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 :)

4
5 June 2014
johnnyb245

Worth noting it is Home Hub 5 now.

5
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.

6
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.

7
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...

8
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.

9
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.

10
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.

11
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.

12
24 January 2014
Keith48

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

13
20 January 2014
Bertha

How many items can you have connected to BT Infinity?

14
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!

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.

15
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).

16
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.

17
25 March 2013
J Mckay

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

18
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.

19
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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