BT increase Infinity 1 to up to 52Mb

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FROM today, people signing up to BT's Infinity 1 fibre broadband will be offered speeds of up to 52Mb, up from the industry standard of 38Mb which their rivals still offer.

The ISP have taken the launch of the newly boosted Infinity 1 to change the amount of data available to customers signing up to one of their capped packages.

The amount of cloud storage they offer customers signing up to one of their unlimited packages has also been changed - and vastly increased - from 5GB to 100GB for most customers.

Bragging rights

The new up to 52Mb service is the result of a new fibre broadband "profile" that Openreach began to roll out earlier this year.

There have been three different "upload profiles" for some time - up to 2Mb, up to 10Mb, and up to 20Mb - but until January there were only two standard download profiles available, offering maximum speeds of 40Mb (sold as up to 38Mb) and 80Mb (advertised as up to 76Mb).

The strange case...

Although Openreach say the new 55/10 profile is available to all of their customers (that is, every UK ISP bar Virgin Media that offers fibre), it's only to be expected that BT - who own Openreach - would be the first to offer it to their customers.

For one thing, it means BT can claim to offer faster entry level fibre broadband than all of their main rivals. Sky and TalkTalk, using the Openreach network, are limited to offering the old Infinity 1 with its speeds of up to 38Mb.

But now BT can claim to beat even Virgin Media - albeit by the tiniest of margins, as their entry level fibre deal offers up to 50Mb.

Of course, claiming to offer broadband up to a certain speed and actually providing connections that fast are two very different things - and Virgin Media have previously the edge when it comes to delivering on their claims.

Ofcom's latest report into broadband speeds, looking at November 2015 and released last month, showed just how close the performance of Virgin's up to 50Mb service is to BT's up to 76Mb service - and not in a way flattering to BT:

Package Overall average Peak (8-10pm weekdays)
BT Up to 38Mb 35.3Mb to 36.4Mb 33.8Mb to 33.1Mb
Virgin Media Up to 50Mb 54.2Mb to 54.3Mb 44.6Mb to 49.1Mb
BT Up to 78Mb 59.5Mb to 65.1Mb 56.9Mb to 60.5Mb
Virgin Media Up to 100Mb 105.8Mb to 107.5Mb 81.6Mb to 90.6Mb
Virgin Media Up to 200Mb 203.3Mb to 209.5Mb 148.0Mb to 164.4Mb

SOURCE: Ofcom, March 2016. Available here.

Total Entertainment boost

It's also possible that the decision to boost the fibre profile will give BT's TV service a bit of a boost too, by enabling more people to take their top package.

Total Entertainment, which includes the ultra HD version of BT Sport, is only available to people with fibre broadband technically capable of at least 44Mb.

BT: their broadband and more
Their TV in focus

Previously that meant that while we didn't have to take BT's faster Infinity 2 service, we had to be in an area where it was at least available, in order for the line into our home to support those kind of speeds.

But while it won't help anyone who already has Infinity 1 in its 38Mb form, the potentially speedier connections supported by the new profile should make it much easier for people interested in moving from standard to fibre broadband to also upgrade to BT's top TV deal.

Even if they don't have an ultra HD TV, the inclusion of the Kids TV pack and the HD pack is worth it alone, as buying them as bolt-ons to BT's other "Entertainment" deals will cost £7 - but Total Entertainment only costs £6 more than Entertainment Plus.

Package Broadband Price Line Rental Total cost
BT TV Entertainment Plus + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls Up to 52Mb
for 12 mths,
then £32.50
£18.99 £38.99
for 12 mths,
then £51.49
BT TV Total Entertainment + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend calls Up to 52Mb
for 12 mths,
then £31
£18.99 £46.99
for 12 mths,
then £49.99

On top of the extra channels - including an ultra HD sports channel that reviews suggest looks pretty sharp even on a standard HD screen - customers get BT's best set top box, the 1TB, ultra HD-capable version of their highly regarded Youview+ box.

Fresh limits and allowances

On the downside, however, anyone who wants to limit the expense of moving to fibre broadband by getting a capped deal will find that BT have boosted the speeds they can get, but reduced the amount of data customers get each month.

New fibre customers will now be subject to a 25GB cap; if they go over this they'll be charged for extra data in units of 1GB, at £1.50 per unit.

It's only new fibre customers who'll be expected to get by on less data; existing Infinity 1 customers will keep their 40GB allowance - and anyone signing up for BT's capped standard broadband deal will have an extra 2GB of data to play with compared to those who've signed up previously:

Package Broadband Price Total cost
Existing customers New customers
BT Broadband + Line rental Up to 17Mb
Up to 17Mb
£13 £31.99

Let's just take a moment to consider what the new lower limit means for Infinity 1 customers. Existing customers will have found that 40GB is enough to watch around 12 hours of standard quality video online each month.

New customers will find they're limited to around eight hours of standard quality video per month - and anyone with an HD Netflix subscription will find they can race through their whole month's allowance in less than five hours.

At present it still beats Sky's entry level fibre deal, which has an equivalent allowance and price - but can only offer a standard fibre connection of up to 38Mb.

The silver lining is that watching online content through BT TV where possible (which it certainly is for Netflix and the terrestrial broadcasters' catch-up services) still won't count towards any monthly data cap - and will also still get a little extra bandwidth to allow for smoother viewing.

In the clouds

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BT have added another sweetener to the idea of going for an unlimited package - particularly for Infinity 1 customers - by massively increasing the amount of Cloud storage they're offering new takers.

Previously most customers would be offered 5GB of space; people with one of BT's Plus packages or Infinity 2 were treated as a little more special and given 50GB of space.

But now the 5GB limit is reserved only for those taking a capped data deal; everyone else gets at least 100GB of Cloud storage - and those shelling out for Infinity 2 with its up to 76Mb connection get 500GB of space.

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