BT Broadband Hell
June 1, 2009 1:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently with BT "Total" Broadband, who are by far the shitest ISP in Britian. We currently pay £24.46 their option 3 "unlimited" package. And it's crap, please help me pick an alternative ISP.

While we do get "ulimited*" bandwidth they cap the speed so much that whilst trying to watch a 5 minute YouTube clip (not even in "HD") it stopped and started over ten times.

So what options do I have? Which ISP has the same sort of plan (between 25-50GB p/m) but doesn't make you pull your hair out because it's so bloody slow.

I would class my self as "moderate to heavy" internet user.

Any suggestions as to which alternative ISP I should use would be great.



For anyone interested here's what BT are currently giving me:

Down: 0.93Mb/s
Upload: 0.37Mb/s
Ping: 66ms
posted by nam3d to Technology (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yer Moneysavingexpert bloke has this regularly-updated independent comparison of providers, and links to other comparison sites and and on-site forum discussion too.
Should note I've never actually chosen a service based off this as I'm living abroad and saw the site when wondering what was available if I moved home.
posted by Abiezer at 2:09 PM on June 1, 2009

My brother gets 17Mb/s down with Be Un Limited and is very happy with it.
posted by IanMorr at 2:13 PM on June 1, 2009

IanMorr unfortunatley Be Unlimited isn't available in my area (Cumbria).
posted by nam3d at 2:15 PM on June 1, 2009

Have you tried turning your router off for 5 minutes then restarting the computer?

This usually fixes the majority of my bandwidth issues.

P.S Virgin now have fiber connections in some areas.
posted by errspy at 2:17 PM on June 1, 2009

errspy, this has been an on going issue for sometime and BT are known for capping like hell, especailly when it comes to p2p (I use Spotify) and even some http download sites which I do use for work.
posted by nam3d at 2:20 PM on June 1, 2009

Before I moved to Be Unlimited, I was with Zen who were exemplary. I was on their unlimited Office 8000 Max service which was fast, low latency and I never heard a peep from them about the amount of bandwidth I used.

Several of my friends use their consumer level products and have similar reports of excellent service. It does cost more than BT, but you get what you pay for!
posted by BOfH at 2:27 PM on June 1, 2009

I use one of entanet's resellers (adsl24) and whilst it's capped and quite expensive, I've got nothing to worry about when it comes to throttling or port blocking. I get 30GB peak and unlimited off peak (midnight to 8am and all weekend).

I don't see any reason to move at the moment. If I was forced to do so then I'd probably give O2 a go as they are cheap if you have a mobile phone connected to them.
posted by mr_silver at 2:55 PM on June 1, 2009

O2 and Be are one and the same, incidentally.
posted by skylar at 3:14 PM on June 1, 2009

Are you sure it's actually BT throttling you, and not just you being too far from the exchange to get a decent ADSL connection? What does your ADSL modem report its link speed to be?
posted by flabdablet at 3:51 PM on June 1, 2009

It may not just be BT, the speed depends on the quality of your lines and the distance from the exchange. If it's something like that then it won't matter who your ISP is. You might also want to check the router is plugged into the main phone socket and you've got good microfilters on the router and all the phones on that line.

Sorry if you know all that already, but it's worth baring in mind.

Have you tried contacting them and seeing what they say about it? Having said that, i've thought BT are expensive for what they offer.

I've been with tiscali for about a year and they're fine. There's mixed reviews on their customer service etc, but they've been ok when I've had to call them. I recently asked to cancel my phone and broadband with them and they told me i could cancel the phone line for the future, but i'd need to phone up separately to cancel broadband, 48hrs before i want it removed. I remain sceptical that it will all go to plan!
posted by kg at 3:59 PM on June 1, 2009

It is BT that are throttling me, I'm now back to 5Mbps, so it has nothing to do with the exchange, in fact I'm quite close to the local exchange.
posted by nam3d at 4:25 PM on June 1, 2009

Be have no throttling, theoretically no cap (I've never hit it anyway, and my house has 5 continuous net users, though no heavy downloading) and I get 12MB/s even though I'm quite far from the exchange. That's for under £20/m.

Downsides is that to date they've had a few routing and DNS issues, but these didn't last long. Assuming you know how to assign alternate DNS servers when necessary, I would have no hesitation recommending them to anybody.
posted by fearnothing at 4:42 PM on June 1, 2009

Just to offer counterpoints to some of the recommendations:

Zen: Were forever sending me emails about my usage cap -- go above 25gb and you'll get the "50% of yr cap" messages and so on, even if you don't hit it. They're expensive, too, and their website and online billing is some comedy crapware.

Be: I had a miserable experience with them. They were bought out a few times since the glory days, and their infrastructure was allowed to rot, before being taken over by some Bulgarian. Their DNS is almost as bad as BTs, and that's saying something. Then they started having bad connections in the middle of the night. I spent five hours in their hold queue for support one night, and when I finally reached first place, they picked up and hung up on me.

It might only have been one overworked call centre dick, but it spelt the end of my time with Be. I then switched to BT, and wowsa, they are awful. I'm not sure where to go from here. Thought about Virgin, but a few years bag they were all about silent proxying and rate limiting. Getting good service is a completely mixed back, and there's far too much geographic variation involved to make any sort of online comparison halfway useful.

I really hanker for something like Demon was originally: set up to be just a good ISP and to hell with the profits. Zen do come close -- and they're not like the morons who signed up to IWF censoring (list here), but still, there's nothing like Demon was.
posted by fightorflight at 5:36 PM on June 1, 2009

I understand your frustration, but I use bt total broadband, I generally get about 6 of my allotted 8Mb/s, I download torrents at around 500kb/s and have never noticed any capping, I guess other ports may vary but I have never had any problems with the service - though at their premium price I wouldn't expect to.
posted by xla76 at 11:55 PM on June 1, 2009

I've recently switched to Plusnet, which is owned by BT so that might rule it out for you, but I haven't had any problems. If you're in the right area, you can get their basic service for £5.99 a month, though the download limit is 10 GB in peak times (unlimited off-peak). I do a moderate amount of torrenting and have approached this limit a couple of times so this might not be for you.

Their unlimited packages look pretty good but I have no experience of them. I've found their support team quite pro-active - they phoned me to let me know when the service was being transferred from my old ISP, and as I had previously been with Tiscali I nearly fell off my chair at such competent service. Once I recalibrate my expectations of ISP customer service I might change my opinion :)
posted by altolinguistic at 2:46 AM on June 2, 2009

I was with Tiscali (which were absolutely terrible, as I am sure any of their customers would tell you). I then resolved to go with the ISP that had a good customer satisfaction rating as opposed to just being well priced.

I am now with IDnet and they are fantastic. I pay about £25 pm for 30gb, their 60gb (+30gb offpeak) plan is about £34. Which is a little pricey but I have learned that here in the UK you really do get what you pay for. 1 month contracts, free ISP transfer, UK based freephone technical support - I can't rave enough about them.

Caveat: IDNet might be a BT reseller (insofar as they use their infrastructure), but I am not sure. I get 7mbps no problem in a rural area and they are adamant they will never throttle P2P. I download well-seeded torrents at speeds up to 700 kb/s. Hit me up in the mefi mail if you have any questions.

check out their customer forum. Everyone there will be happy to answer your questions.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 4:51 AM on June 2, 2009

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