A couple of people have come to the end of their 18 month “BT Infinity” contracts recently, and asked whether they should switch ISP. BT’s reputation as an ADSL service provider was pretty poor, so I usually say “definitely”. But I noticed a few reports that their FTTC service may be better, so I did some research.
I found that BT are doing much better in the speed rankings these days, but I suspect this is entirely due to clever marketing of the BT Infinity products. Joe Public has been led to believe that “Superfast fibre broadband” is exclusively from BT, or that BT Infinity is superior to “fibre broadband” from other ISPs. It seems that I am having to correct these misapprehensions whenever I talk about FTTC. With attractive packages, expensive advertising, and a huge existing customer base, there’s no doubt that BT Infinity is selling extremely well.
Now the cunning part is that BT Infinity is only available on lines which can achieve 15 Mbps, and their very low profile alternative product for slower FTTC connections is poor value. So most of the slower and problematic connections go to other ISPs. Also bearing in mind that FTTC is way faster than ADSL on average, and that speed tests usually combine both, result comparisons are now virtually meaningless. They no longer bear any relation to ISP performance where it matters; for example in contention and congestion management.
For many people, customer service is by far the most important factor, so I was interested to read about this new “Which?” consumer survey. So, what to do? I recommend starting by reading this excellent summary from ISPreview. To get bang up to date, ThinkBroadband base their ISP chart on the monthly ratings from their huge subscriber base, keep track of the latest package offers, and provide detailed mapping of statistics.
Finally, if you are inclined to renew your existing contract, don’t forget that you can probably negotiate a lower price if you point out you could save money by going elsewhere.