Is there anything more frustrating than slow wifi? Back in the 1980s, we were prepared to wait half an hour or more for a computer game to load. Now, a video can buffer for just a few seconds and we'll lose our rag.
It's therefore for good reason that broadband speeds are one of the top five things people research when moving house*, alongside public transport links, schools, crime and amenities.
Until recently, our choice of broadband provider was relatively clear cut. We'd either go for the cheapest (according to Broadband Choices, 34 per cent of Brits are still buying their broadband on price), or we'd likely pay more for Virgin's ultra-fast fibre connection.
In March 2019, Virgin Media was yet again named fastest broadband provider in the UK by Broadband Genie. And for the 7th year in a row, no less. Analysis from the broadband comparison website recorded an average download of 71.5Mb for Virgin Media customers – almost three times faster than its nearest challenger.
There's no doubt Virgin is fast – I've been a customer for years for that reason alone. However, it's always good to have a little bit of competition – especially for us consumers. So when I heard about BT's new Complete Wifi service, I decided to give it a try.
BT Complete wifi – what's it all about?
BT's main aim with Complete wifi is to improve both speeds and coverage – boosting average speeds in a four-bedroom house by up to 25 per cent, and fixing 'patchy' wifi issues.
According to its BT Modern Families report, 43 per cent of people believe poor wi-fi restricts life at home, 52 per cent of families are put off living in, or buying, a house with wi-fi black spots, and 43 per cent of families claim they would be more productive and happy if their wifi worked across the whole home.
To deliver a stronger signal, the BT Complete wifi system uses unique wifi 'Discs' that pair with its Smart Hub 2. The Discs essentially act as wifi extenders, pushing reliable wifi to every corner of the house.
So confident is BT in its new system, it is offering a 'Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee'. When you sign up you'll get a Smart Hub 2 and one Wi-Fi Disc to extend the signal. But if these don't result in strong wifi in every room, BT will send two more discs free of charge. And if that still doesn't do it, you'll get £20 cash back.
How much does BT Complete wifi cost?
The cost varies depending on whether you are a BT Fibre customer or a BT Plus customer. The service is available as a Superfast Fibre package from £39.99 per month. BT Plus customers, on the other hand, can pay £5 more a month for the Complete wifi service.
By comparison, Virgin fibre broadband and phone packages start at £28 for 12 months, jumping up to £44 a month after that initial year. However, to match the 300Mbps speeds offered by BT, a comparative Virgin package is £43.99 a month.
BT Complete wifi – is it any good?
We've been trying out BT Complete wifi for a couple of months now and we've been extremely impressed, on the whole.
Setting up the service proved a bit tricky. The Smart Hub 2 and Disc are posted to you, so that bit's easy. However, in our case they needed to be set up by engineers from both BT and OpenReach, who look after the fibres and phone lines.
On multiple occasions, an installer was automatically booked in without anyone at BT first checking to see if anyone would be at home, resulting in cancellations and delays in us getting the service up and running.
Now that we are finally online, however, the service is incredible. We are even able to get wifi in the garden, which wasn't the case with our previous providers and is fabulous for streaming music and watching big events like Glastonbury and Wimbledon on sunny days.
We haven't experienced any buffering, speed issues or service outages. Even when three or four of us are watching video, gaming or listening to music online. And we've found it simple to connect up systems like Sonos, Hive and Google Home.
So far, so good, but we'll keep you posted!
*According to a 2019 survey by regulated property buyer Good Move
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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