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By on April 18, 2012 at 13:20 PM

Introduction to BT

BT is the UK's largest home phone and broadband provider.  The telecommunication giant offers three services: home phone (line rental and call plans), standard (ADSL) and fibre-optic broadband, as well as the less popular BT Vision digital television service.

BT's services

BT offers three basic home phone plans: Unlimited Weekend, Unlimited Evening and Weekend, and Unlimited Anytime - as the names suggest they come with free UK landline calls at various times of day. In addition you can add either an international or a mobile calling plan, or both.

BT offers two different broadband services. The internet service provider delivers standard (ADSL) broadband over the BT copper wire phone network, and BT Infinity which supplies superfast fibre optic broadband, over BT's new fibre optic cable network.

BT Infinity has limited coverage, but it is growing fast. All BT broadband plans come with the BT Digital Vault online storage system. This lets you back up all of your important files, including precious family photos, so if your computer crashes, you won't lose them.

In addition BT offers customers free Wi-Fi connections outside the home via BT Openzone. There are Wi-Fi hot spots all over the country, in places like cafes, which let you go online while on the go.

BT Vision is a major strategic initiative for BT, but it has yet to catch the public's imagination and as a result has not attracted the sort of customer volumes that Sky and Virgin Media currently enjoy.

It provides TV programming delivered via a Freeview aerial and via the BT broadband connection. As such it offers the full range of Freeview channels plus thousands of on demand shows and movies, available from £1 per show.

BT's Vision+ box is a personal video recorder that lets you record up to 80 hours of programmes. You can also use it to pause and rewind live TV or record two shows at once without the need for tapes or DVDs. The V-box comes standard with all BT Vision packages.

Is BT right for me?

Once you have a landline you can pick a calling plan. All of BT's plans include free BT Answer 1571 voicemail and free calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers during your selected free call periods. You can also send text messages (at a cost) from your landline to other UK landlines and mobiles

If you make a lot of overseas calls, you may want to upgrade your plan with International Saver. It gives you cheap rates to many international destinations. You can also opt for the International Freedom plan, which gives you free calls to 36 popular destinations. Similarly, if you call mobiles from your landline very often, you can get the Mobile Saver add-on which can save you money in the long run.

More about BT's Broadband

BT Total Broadband will give you access to internet services with monthly usage caps, for example 10GB or 20GB if you opt for cheaper packages. If you want unlimited services, you can expect to pay more but rest assured that you will never be penalised for using more than your monthly allowance.

More often than not, BT will supply you with a free BT Home Hub. According to the company this is more than just a wireless router. It has twice the range of other routers so you won't lose the connection at a crucial moment. It also has a built-in firewall to protect your computer from online viruses. The Broadband Wizard lets you know the moment there's a problem with your connection and will help you get back online. There's also a power save mode to help you conserve electricity.

The Home Hub also gives you access to BT Vision, BT's digital TV service.

More about BT Digital Vault: This feature lets customers backup up to 5GB of important files online. You'll never have to worry about losing precious digital family photos or important electronic documents. Digital Vault Plus gives you a massive 50GB of back-up storage space. This can be incredibly useful if your computer crashes. You will have to decide whether this peace of mind is worth £4.99 a month.

More about BT Vision

BT Vision is BT's digital television service. It comes with all of the Freeview channels, plus thousands of hours of on-demand programming, including films and popular TV shows. With BT, you don't have to pay for channels that you will never watch. You can pick from a selection of value packs or just pay per view.
BT Vision comes with the V-box, a personal video recorder that allows you to pause and rewind live TV. You can record up to 80 hours of programming, and even record two shows at once. The V-box is not as sophisticated as Sky's Sky+ Box, but it's absolutely free.


You can save money by opting for one of BT's bundles, rather than individual services. It's also worth keeping an eye out for deals as BT often gives out vouchers and freebies.

Why it may not be right for you
BT is more expensive than some of the other providers. If you do not need services like the Digital Vault, you may be better off with a cheaper provider like TalkTalk.
BT Vision gives you access to thousands of hours of on-demand TV. However, if you want hundreds of channels with live programming, you may want to consider either Sky or Virgin Media.

Also, to get the BT Total Broadband deal, you will have to sign an 18-month contract. Other providers only require a 12-month contract. So if you're planning to move, BT may not be right for you.

BT history

The world's oldest communication company has reinvented itself into a 21st century telephone, broadband and digital TV provider. BT can trace its origins to 1846 and the Electric Telegraph Company.

From 1896 - 1981, the Post Office was in charge of telephony. The British Telecommunications Act of 1981 made British Telecom a separate public corporation. In 1984, it was privatised, coming full circle to the early days of commercial telegraph services.

With such a long history, it's not surprising that BT is the current leader in home telephone provision. In addition to dominating the field within the UK, the company operates in more than 170 countries around the world.

In 2006, BT launched its Total Broadband service, along with its unique Home Hub wireless router. This gave customers the option of getting broadband from a familiar and trusted supplier. BT Vision was launched later that year, making BT a triple-play communications provider.

In addition, BT Openzone allows BT customers to go online in cafes, pubs, airports and other locations. You can join the BT Fon network by agreeing to share your connection with others. In return, you get to use other member's Wi-Fi when you're away from home.

From ADSL to fibre

Here's a brief account as to how the BT broadband exchange, which used to deliver ADSL broadband services, has advanced in technology in recent times.

There have been many developments in BT's broadband exchange in the technology used to deliver broadband services and equipment for broadband providers.
BT announced that by March 2010 broadband users in special trial areas could benefit from high speed, super-fast broadband direct to their homes with the aid of fibre optic broadband cable.

Ever since then, the fibre craze has begun. Its fibre broadband services currently supply speeds of up to 40Mbps via FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) services and up to 100Mbps through FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises).

These speeds are to grow further. FTTC customers can expect to see speeds of 80Mbps and FTTP users will look at downloads reaching up to 330Mbps.


FTTP (fibre-to-the-premise) is a more direct route for broadband, where fibre optic cable comes directly from the telephone exchange into the customer's home - therefore delivering much faster speeds.

FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) is also deployed directly from the telephone exchange, but it only reaches the telephone cabinet in the street near to the customer's home. From there the connection is made using copper cable and runs from the cabinet to the customer's home.

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