All about BT Broadband
BT owns the Openreach network that most fixed-line providers use to get ADSL and fibre optic internet into your home.
But as well as being responsible for the core broadband infrastructure, it’s one of the most popular broadband providers in the country, and also a top choice if you’re looking for quad-play or triple-play bundles combining broadband with TV, home phone, and even mobile services.
Read on to discover what services BT has to offer, and find out whether a BT Broadband deal is right for you.
ADSL broadband (BT Broadband Essential)
ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) is the standard entry-level broadband service. It is often the cheapest way to get home broadband, and it’s available to most homes and businesses so is something that just about all of us can get.
BT ADSL broadband deals include unlimited data and no traffic management or fair use policy, so you can use the internet as much as you like without worrying about extra charges. All packages include a free Wi-Fi router, free BT Cloud storage, and free access to the BT Wi-Fi public hotspot network.
However, ADSL is an older technology, and slow by current standards. It can still handle streaming, downloading, web browsing, and all the other things you’ll want to do online, but it’s increasingly outdated and is especially unsuitable for shared homes where more than one or two people may use the internet at the same time. If you need something faster, consider BT Fibre broadband instead.
BT Fibre broadband is significantly quicker than ADSL, with average download speeds on even the cheapest deals more than three times as fast. This makes it ideal for tasks such as large downloads, gaming, streaming HD video, and uploading files to cloud storage
Fibre optic is also essential if your home broadband is for a family or shared household, as it will allow everyone to use the internet at the same time without the connection grinding to a halt.
All BT Fibre deals include unlimited data, free Wi-Fi router, free BT Cloud storage, and free access to the BT Wi-Fi network.
BT Fibre offers a choice of packages with different speeds:
BT Fibre Essential
BT Fibre Essential is the cheapest BT Fibre package. But with average download speeds of 36Mb and upload speeds of 9.5Mb it’s much faster than ADSL, and suitable for many homes where the connection is shared among a few people. We recommend BT Fibre Essential for households of up to three people.
BT Fibre 1
BT Fibre 1 offers a small bump in speed over Fibre Essential, delivering an increased average download speed of 50Mb, although upload speed remains the same at an average 9.5Mb. BT Fibre 1 would suit homes with up to five people sharing the connection.
BT Fibre 2
BT Fibre 2 is, for many of us, the fastest BT Broadband service available. It provides an average download speed of 67Mb and upload speed of 19Mb. If the connection is shared with more than five people, or even if there’s just one or two of you with very high usage (like lots of downloading, gaming, and streaming) then Fibre 2 is recommended.
BT Ultrafast Fibre broadband
In a few areas, BT offers even quicker ultrafast fibre packages using G.fast technology:
- BT Ultrafast Fibre 100: 145Mb download, 28Mb upload.
- BT Ultrafast Fibre 250: 300Mb download, 47Mb upload.
While it is a lot speedier than most other BT Fibre services, coverage for Ultrafast Fibre is currently quite limited. It’s always worth checking what’s on offer at your postcode, but in many cases, you’ll find that BT Fibre 2 is the fastest you can get.
BT Full Fibre
BT Full Fibre is the next generation of fibre broadband, giving you an FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) connection with download speeds up to 900Mb.
However, at this time the availability of Full Fibre remains even more limited than Ultrafast Fibre, so it’s sadly not an option for many of us yet.
BT Wi-Fi routers
All BT Broadband deals include a free Wi-Fi router which hosts a home network (using cables or Wi-Fi) so you can share files and connect all your devices to the broadband.
There are several different types of router, and the model you receive will depend on the package you choose. To learn more about Wi-Fi routers in general and what the various tech terms and features mean, read our introductory guide to Wi-Fi.
BT Smart Hub
You will receive the BT Smart Hub with any ADSL broadband package or a BT Fibre Essential deal.
This is a dual-band 802.11ac router, with seven antennas. It also has 4x gigabit LAN ports, and a USB port for sharing printers and hard drives.
BT Smart Hub 2
The Smart Hub 2 is included with all fibre packages (except Fibre Essential), including Ultrafast and Full Fibre. Like the Smart Hub, it is also a dual-band Wi-Fi router which supports fast 802.11ac devices, as well as a gigabit wired networking.
BT phone packages
All BT Broadband deals come with a landline phone, and the price of a broadband package includes line rental. This is required to use BT, and most other providers, so if you’re after broadband without a phone line you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Most BT deals do not come with inclusive calling, you’ll just pay for what you use. If you don’t ever, or only rarely, make voice calls then this is the best option.
If you do use the phone regularly then it is worth getting an inclusive call package. For calls to UK landlines and mobiles, BT offers a bundle with 500 minutes, and another with unlimited inclusive calls.
To save money on international calls, you can choose from the following inclusive call bundles:
- Friends & Family International: Discounted calls to 236 destinations for £2.02 per month.
- International Freedom: 600 minutes to 36 destinations, discounted calls to another 199 destinations. £8.61 per month.
BT TV is an optional extra you can get with any BT Broadband service.
While it doesn’t have quite the same range of channels as Sky or Virgin Media, it can give you access to many channels like Sky Cinema, AMC, Sky Sports, at a cheaper price than some other TV services. Rather than signing up to a long contract, it uses flexible TV passes which you can change for free each month.
BT TV bundles include a YouView box, which supports streaming and catch-up TV (including iPlayer, Netflix, and Amazon Prime) as well as receiving Freeview broadcasts.
Can you get BT Broadband bundle deals?
BT offers a variety of bundle deals which can save money compared to signing up for separate providers.
BT Broadband and phone
All BT Broadband deals come with at least a phone line. If you regularly use the phone, you can choose from a selection of inclusive calling bundles.
BT Broadband, phone, and TV
BT TV can be added to any BT Broadband package. Your bundle will come with a free BT TV box. Premium channels can be added with flexible monthly passes.
BT Broadband, phone, TV, and mobile
All BT Broadband customers can get £5 off a BT Mobile plan. Signing up for BT Halo also lets you get an unlimited data bundle which includes an exclusive unlimited mobile plan.
BT Broadband: free gifts and extras
BT Reward Cards
BT regularly offers broadband deals with a bonus BT Reward Card; a Mastercard pre-loaded with credit for you to spend. Typically, the reward amount is £50-£80, but it’s not unknown for them to offer £100 or more.
To find out about the latest BT offers, visit our BT Reward Card page.
BT Wi-Fi hotspots
BT Wi-Fi is a nationwide public hotspot network with hundreds of access points around the UK.
All BT Broadband packages include free access to BT Wi-Fi, so you can stay connected outside the home without using mobile data.
BT Complete Wi-Fi
BT Complete Wi-Fi is an optional extra that can be added to any BT Broadband package. It’s a mesh network kit which extends your Wi-Fi coverage using ‘Wi-Fi Discs’ that are placed around your home. The discs and router work together to create a single seamless network where your devices will automatically connect to the access point with the best signal.
If you’re having problems with Wi-Fi coverage then Complete Wi-Fi offers a simple solution. It’s easy to set up, includes a mobile app for managing the network, and you can get help and technical support from BT.
BT Virus Protect
BT Virus Protect is a free anti-virus tool included with all BT Broadband packages. You’ll receive at least two licenses (meaning it can be installed on up to two devices at once), though some BT packages come with 15 licenses. Virus Protect can be installed on Windows, Apple Mac, and Android smartphones and tablets.
BT email addresses
Free email is part of any BT Broadband deal. BT email addresses can be accessed via a web browser, or an email client using the POP3 or IMAP protocols.
However, we do not recommend using BT Email, or any other email service offered by an ISP, because if you leave the provider you will either lose access to the address or have to pay a fee to keep it.
BT Broadband: the pros and cons
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To learn more about BT and whether it’s right for you, read our full BT Broadband review.
Frequently Asked Questions about BT Broadband
Can I get BT broadband?
Almost everybody can get BT Broadband; if you can get a telephone line then it’s almost certainly available.
To find out if BT is available, enter your postcode on our comparison table to show the deals available in your area.
Does BT Sport come free with BT Broadband?
BT Sport 1 used to be included for free with all broadband packages, but now you will have to pay to access it. You do not need to have BT TV to get BT Sport, however, as it can be viewed via the BT Sport mobile app or on the web.
Is BT Broadband expensive?
BT is one of the more expensive providers, though it does come with a few useful free extras - notably BT Wi-Fi - and its free Wi-Fi routers are very good, especially the latest Smart Hub.
There are also lots of deals available on BT Broadband which can make its effective monthly cost (the overall value of a deal taking into account free gifts) very competitive.
How do I switch to BT? Is it difficult?
Switching to BT is easy. Start by entering your postcode to check availability in your area. Once you’ve found a deal, click and begin the sign-up process. If you’re already using a provider on the Openreach telephone network (which is almost every ISP) then BT will handle the switch for you, and you don’t even need to notify your old ISP.
If you’re currently using a separate network (like Virgin Media) you will need to manually cancel the old service.
For more information, our guide to switching broadband goes into a lot more detail about the process.