FTTC in the UK

With a house move, comes the invariable search for the “current best deal” so I thought I’d make a few notes, only valid for October, 2012 but hopefully for a while longer. My criteria is for a good quality service, good (personal and technically knowledgeable) customer service and no restrictions, so that eliminates the major players ;-) Why am I writing this? Partially to help me make a decision and in the process, if it proves useful to someone else, then even better!

As the title indicates, I’m after FTTC as BT have told me I can get about 60M/s at my location, which puts me in the upper tier – i.e. most services will give you either up to 40 or up to 80 M/s. After a bit of googling I’ve found the following key resources:

Broadband is an area which is rapidly moving, so you can’t go on the above resources alone – you have to to do more digging and googling, which generally lands you somewhere in the ThinkBroadband or ISPReview forums. So after much research, I’ve got a shortlist of the following:

  • Xilo/Uno – I had my ADSL with them – relatively little problems.
  • IDNet – when I was last considering FTTC a bit under a year ago, these guys came out on top
  • Zen – I was with them before Xilo and they were OK, so I’ll check them out again also
  • Andrews Arnold – I would never go with them as they’re a bit pricey (even for me) but they are just so Hard Core, they have to get an Honorable Mention. If I was setting up for a business, I’d probably use them

Now for the comparison – I’m looking at a 100G plan as we don’t have PayTV and are increasingly watching online programs so this should be sufficient. For future planning though, I’m interested to know what the next plan up is which varies depending on provider.

Xilo/Uno Fibre+ 80Mb/20Mb, UM Off-peak – Standard Priority (15Mb AR) – 125GB Peak £37.99 & 300GB Peak £46.99
Zen Fibre ActiveDownstream Speed* Up to 76Mbps, Minimum Downstream Speed† Standard (12Mbps) Upstream Speed* Up to 19Mbps, Monthly Download Usage 100GB £27.60 & 200GB £35.40
IDNet Download Speed Up-to-76Mbps*, Upload Speed Up-to-19Mbps*, Upload Allowance Unlimited, 100GB £35.40 & 200 £45.00
Optional Extras: Traffic Priority +£10/mth, Enhanced Care +£10/mth, SLA +£10/mth

You can see that Zen and Xilo/Uno only guarantee a 12Mbps and 15MBps download speed, but I checked with IDNet and they only guaranteed 8MBps and you have to pay £10 extra per month to get around so Zen or Xilo, so that eliminates IDNet.

As mentioned, I’ve been with Zen, but their guaranteed rate is 20% less than that of Xilo and there seems to of been quite a bit of contention on their network (based on comments from ispreview), which chimes with my experience when I transferred from Zen to Xilo in a similar area (Reading). Finally, the results from testmy.net for Xilo are a standout to Zen and IDNet. So, I’ve therefore decided to stick with Xilo in the knowledge that they’re still the best for me. Once I have the connection I’ll write a review after a while.

If you do go with Xilo it’s worth noting that you can switch plans, sometimes with an £11 charge which is just a pass-on from BT. You can never go below the original plan that you’ve ordered, which you can easily upgrade the day you start. With this in mind, I’ve started with their “Fibre 75GB” plan as with all FTTC products, you’re locked in to a minimum 12 month contract.

Your criteria may be different though, but if you are looking for good quality broadband with good customer service there is hopefully enough comment, analysis and references to help you make your decision quicker than I did ;-)

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