Advice for Best Full Fibre (FTTP) product overall on Openreach

Trying to advise a friend who has got Full Fibre availability from Openreach and whose O2 Mifi contract is ending. Maybe this will help someone else also.

The options HAVE to be Openreach FTTP providers. A non full fibre option is not an option. There are no other FTTP wholesale suppliers or alternative networks in the area. The speed required is at least a Gigabit (900Mbps) package. Thoughts/suggestions purely relevant to those conditions (rather than any other packages or other wholesale providers) would be appreciated. 

They value good customer service having (as have likely others) endured terrible customer service in the past with Vodafone Mobile, BT broadband, Sky etc. Flexibility and a clear price is preferred as well if at all possible.

Looking around just before Black Friday, I noted that providers like Zen or Cuckoo Broadband have high customer service ratings and offer the 900Mbps product with more flexibility and fixed pricing for the lifetime of the contract. 

Looking around on the Black Friday offer themselves, I noted that BT and EE (who also offer a 1.6Gbps package) give 3 months free, but their price is higher overall if you work out the contract term, not to mention 24 months with price increases so that seems pointless and their customer service record is well known. Sky seem to be living on another planet quoting prices even higher (than BT)! To me it seemed like Cuckoo is probably the way to go, otherwise Zen. Then today, I suddenly noticed Vodafone Broadband were showing on their website £36 a month for their 900Mbps product. 

The friend has had a poor experience with Vodafone Mobile in the past (long term customer for over 30 years at one point since they had a good signal at the work place and home) with terrible customer service with them messing up orders, mis-billing, incorrect upgrades, having to chase them up etc) and recently changed to Tesco Mobile after they moved house. I am wondering if the Vodafone price would suggest they are a good option to go for, or whether their customer service is going to be an abysmal experience that fulfils the motto people have after they leave bad providers of "I wouldn't go back even if they gave it for free". 

I get that ultimately Cuckoo, Zen, or Vodafone, or BT etc will all use the same Openreach line and you'd only need to contact Customer service if something goes wrong or when renewing or changing provider. Speaking to friends with Cuckoo and Zen, they've never had reason to contact them at all. I think one of them signed up when there were offers on those two providers, but I cannot see something equivalent right now online. 

I have seen on this MSE forum that deals via Comparison sites where you get a Voucher when signing up with the large providers like Sky, Vodafone etc often either don't work, involve chasing up buffoons who go in circles in their customer service departments or aren't honoured, so I'm just considering the cost stated on their website directly. 


Cuckoo Broadband 900 (12 months contract) = £54.99 a month with no price increases
or 30 day rolling for same price with £60 set up

Zen Broadband 900 (18 months contract) = £55 a month with no price increases

Vodafone 900 (24 months contract) = £36 a month with 2 price increases in each April 

It is my understanding from the news on ISP net and elsewhere that wholesale prices for broadband have been going down which is probably the reason why all the "big" providers have been dropping their prices (for new customers) for the last six months. I can see that Cuckoo and Zen did not increase the price at all for probably around a year at least. They have also not decreased their price. I am not sure if Cuckoo (assuming you signed up on rolling or on two sets of 12 month contracts) would decrease their price over time, though I find it hard to imagine they wouldn't in order to stay competitive given wholesale broadband costs going down and market pricing. If they did that would make them an absolute no brainer. Cuckoo and Zen clearly have a higher customer service rating than the others like BT, Vodafone, Sky, TalkTalk etc. Vodafone's normal price is not worth it in my humble opinion, but their offer price looks interesting at least.

Right now, if I did just the maths:

Taking the shortest contract option and comparing like for like and If Cuckoo don't decrease their price for the next 24 months OR if they decreased by £7 a month for the second year (a middle figure of the rough decrease in the BT price from £62 to £49 currently). Vodafone increase their price by the CPI figure + 3.9% each April. Assuming a medium ballpark CPI figure of 6% (though last year was significantly higher than that) for 2 years running. 

Over 24 months (rounding up):

Cuckoo with no price decrease = £54.99 *24 = £1,320
Cuckoo with potential price drop = £54.99*12 + £47.99*12 = £1,236

Vodafone (direct website offer price for Black Friday) with price rises = £36 * 4 + £36*1.1*12 + £36*1.1*1.1*8 = £968

Granted, this is a rough calculation, but that would be a rough difference of between £268 to £352 over 24 months, or between £11 to 14.60 a month if one went for Vodafone, though Cuckoo would mean you have a fixed price for 12 months and can change after just one year if you wanted to (and they might also drop the price). 

Customer service wise though, Vodafone as a company don't seem to rate very much better than BT or Sky etc. I personally wouldn't go anywhere near their Mobile department. Thoughts (please be sure to read the conditions of which products can be compared) would be appreciated?




Comments

  • Best provider, in my opinion, is Zen Internet.

    Costs slightly more but it's an overall better product than the masses like Sky, TalkTalk, etc.
  • Best provider, in my opinion, is Zen Internet.

    Costs slightly more but it's an overall better product than the masses like Sky, TalkTalk, etc.
    Yes I am inclined to agree that either Zen or Cuckoo are the best. Good product, excellent customer service and actually they work out slightly better value when you take into account they have fixed prices for the entire 18 months or 12 months contract respectively. In Cuckoo’s case, the price stays the same or goes to the new customer price automatically without any messing about. 

    Only thing is the Vodafone offer price in certain calculations might work out cheaper. 
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,663
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    If your friend isn't particularly price-sensitive, but values customer service, have they considered Andrews & Arnold?
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
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  • I've been with Zen for FTTC for over 3 years now, price has stayed the same and I've had zero problems with them. As soon as my street is upgraded to FTTP I'll be upgrading to that via Zen. Cuckoo look good on paper but I don't know anyone with experience of them as they appear to be a FTTP only provider, no FTTC available.

    Zen also issue you with a static IP address which is handy if you run any servers or something which requires it. 
  • 400ixl
    400ixl Posts: 2,642
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    Zen have had a very good service reputation for years and as you say keep their pricing pretty static. Vodafone like TalkTalk & Shell are an ISPs you couldn't pay me to be with and have a far worse rating than BT.

    If those are the only options (personally there are others) then I would go with Zen or if you want the shorter contract period Cuckoo.



  • QrizB said:
    If your friend isn't particularly price-sensitive, but values customer service, have they considered Andrews & Arnold?
    They are the best, which is what was asked for, but then the person asking the question started quoting prices as if they actually wanted something other than the best and price rather than quality was important.
    Proud member of the wokerati, though I don't eat tofu.Home is where my books are.Solar PV 5.2kWp system, SE facing, >1% shading, installed March 2019.Mortgage free July 2023
  • M25
    M25 Posts: 115
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    Zen if you can afford it.

    Vodafone (I have gigabit with them it's been very good) or Plusnet (BT owned) if you have a tighter budget.

    BT too if they have a good deal.

    Vodafone have a great deal at the moment for their 910MBPS/gigabit.
  • armith
    armith Posts: 96
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    I'd also recommend Zen, slightly different reason. I was with Now on their FTTC offering, never had an issue with them, ultra cheap, never had a price rise in the 4 years I was with them and they sorted my single customer-services issue smoothly when I was switching away.

    The only reason I left Now was because I'm a mile away from the cabinet and could only get 8mb/s down and <1 up. Now didn't/don't do "full fibre" so I signed up with Sky on their 150mb/s FTTP offering. Rejected - "FTTP not available to your property". Rang and they said try again, maybe it was because I was trying to port the phone number too, still rejected. Phoned again and they said it was because it was a "difficult install" - but it would be OK because they could ask Openreach to provide whatever was needed. Weeks of nothing happening (except Now being told I was leaving and them starting my move away, hence the call to customer-services to keep me connected). Kept getting the "problems with Openreach" answer, so I cancelled.

    I thought I'd try Zen, it's more expensive than Sky - but not that much, and it won't go up whilst I'm in my contract. They also said that Openreach had flagged me as a "difficult install". But Zen seemed to be able to somehow communicate better with them and soon got me connected, involving traffic lights, a lot of cabling and an unhappy Openreach engineer(!) The Digital Voice also transferred over seamlessly, keeping my phone number. All this was done with regular calls from Zen telling me about how it was progressing. In the 6 months since the install the internet has been flawless - the difference between FTTC and FTTP is amazing, no (work) VPN dropouts, ever, everyone can stream anything simultaneously and speedtests never show anything other than 110mp/s down and 20 up.

    This is just my experience - if you don't have a difficult install you'll probably be fine with anyone. Unless they put the price up to £ridiculous I'll stay with Zen, the extra between them and Sky is around the same price as a single trip out for a coffee for the two of us, so, put that way I'm convincing myself I'm happy paying it!
  • 400ixl said:
    Zen have had a very good service reputation for years and as you say keep their pricing pretty static. Vodafone like TalkTalk & Shell are an ISPs you couldn't pay me to be with and have a far worse rating than BT.

    If those are the only options (personally there are others) then I would go with Zen or if you want the shorter contract period Cuckoo.



    Yes I agree. I think Zen or Cuckoo. Both seem to be the best in terms of customer service and an actual fixed price which actually works out cheaper than BT and others when you take into account the latter raise their prices in April as part of their contract. 

    Looks like Zen and Cuckoo are basically the same price, with the first being an 18 month contract and the second being a 12 month contract. 

    And YES, I agree that many of these other providers, you couldn't pay me to be with!

    M25 said:
    Zen if you can afford it.

    Vodafone (I have gigabit with them it's been very good) or Plusnet (BT owned) if you have a tighter budget.

    BT too if they have a good deal.

    Vodafone have a great deal at the moment for their 910MBPS/gigabit.

    Zen and Cuckoo are both at £55 a month currently, the first being for an 18 month contract, the second for a 12 month contract. 

    Those two actually work out cheaper than BT, or Plusnet if you work out the cost of the fixed price contract over the term versus the "changing price" with the March/April price rises built into BT/Plusnet/etc. Once you take the BT price and factor in price rises, you end up paying more than the Zen/Cuckoo price (as in my example in the original post). 

    I do agree the Vodafone Black Friday deal price does look a great price (without the deal, their usual price again isn't much different to BT). Trouble is the potential customer service woes and long contract period. 

    QrizB said:
    If your friend isn't particularly price-sensitive, but values customer service, have they considered Andrews & Arnold?

    I know Andrews & Arnold offer great customer service, but I think the price might be a little too steep given Zen/Cuckoo are doing the Openreach product for around £55 (the latter is also on a 12 month contract like A&A). I think A&A would be great for the technically savvy and/or a business property and certain specific use cases. I do concur they are knowledgable and value their customer.  

    I've been with Zen for FTTC for over 3 years now, price has stayed the same and I've had zero problems with them. As soon as my street is upgraded to FTTP I'll be upgrading to that via Zen. Cuckoo look good on paper but I don't know anyone with experience of them as they appear to be a FTTP only provider, no FTTC available.

    Zen also issue you with a static IP address which is handy if you run any servers or something which requires it. 
    Yes heard the same things about Zen from a colleague. From what I understand Zen also cover CityFibre properties. I know at least one family member who has been with Cuckoo at least 18 months who has had an excellent experience with them and a friend who recently joined. They sound great as well on a 12 month contract at the same price as Zen (around £55 a month). Like you said, they're an FTTP only provider. I think for Openreach FTTP, it's Zen or Cuckoo. Cuckoo edge it slightly given the contract term and looks like the way to go.

    armith said:
    I'd also recommend Zen, slightly different reason. I was with Now on their FTTC offering, never had an issue with them, ultra cheap, never had a price rise in the 4 years I was with them and they sorted my single customer-services issue smoothly when I was switching away.

    The only reason I left Now was because I'm a mile away from the cabinet and could only get 8mb/s down and <1 up. Now didn't/don't do "full fibre" so I signed up with Sky on their 150mb/s FTTP offering. Rejected - "FTTP not available to your property". Rang and they said try again, maybe it was because I was trying to port the phone number too, still rejected. Phoned again and they said it was because it was a "difficult install" - but it would be OK because they could ask Openreach to provide whatever was needed. Weeks of nothing happening (except Now being told I was leaving and them starting my move away, hence the call to customer-services to keep me connected). Kept getting the "problems with Openreach" answer, so I cancelled.

    I thought I'd try Zen, it's more expensive than Sky - but not that much, and it won't go up whilst I'm in my contract. They also said that Openreach had flagged me as a "difficult install". But Zen seemed to be able to somehow communicate better with them and soon got me connected, involving traffic lights, a lot of cabling and an unhappy Openreach engineer(!) The Digital Voice also transferred over seamlessly, keeping my phone number. All this was done with regular calls from Zen telling me about how it was progressing. In the 6 months since the install the internet has been flawless - the difference between FTTC and FTTP is amazing, no (work) VPN dropouts, ever, everyone can stream anything simultaneously and speedtests never show anything other than 110mp/s down and 20 up.

    This is just my experience - if you don't have a difficult install you'll probably be fine with anyone. Unless they put the price up to £ridiculous I'll stay with Zen, the extra between them and Sky is around the same price as a single trip out for a coffee for the two of us, so, put that way I'm convincing myself I'm happy paying it!

    That's great to hear that Zen got you sorted out. Sounds like Zen, Cuckoo, A&A and others have far better customer service who actually care about delivering for the customer rather than just treating you like a number and getting another sale for a key performance metric. 

    Totally agreed on FTTP. It's a game changer and makes such a difference. 

    And yes, I know Zen commit to no price during the contract. Cuckoo does the same - it looks like you go to whatever the existing new customer rolling price is which looks like it hasn't changed since they started. 

    I'm inclined to agree that I'd rather pay a tiny bit more for a fixed price (which often works out cheaper overall anyway!), good customer service and not have to mess about or get messed about. 
     

    Many thanks all.


  • armith said:
    I'd also recommend Zen, slightly different reason. I was with Now on their FTTC offering, never had an issue with them, ultra cheap, never had a price rise in the 4 years I was with them and they sorted my single customer-services issue smoothly when I was switching away.

    The only reason I left Now was because I'm a mile away from the cabinet and could only get 8mb/s down and <1 up. Now didn't/don't do "full fibre" so I signed up with Sky on their 150mb/s FTTP offering. Rejected - "FTTP not available to your property". Rang and they said try again, maybe it was because I was trying to port the phone number too, still rejected. Phoned again and they said it was because it was a "difficult install" - but it would be OK because they could ask Openreach to provide whatever was needed. Weeks of nothing happening (except Now being told I was leaving and them starting my move away, hence the call to customer-services to keep me connected). Kept getting the "problems with Openreach" answer, so I cancelled.

    I thought I'd try Zen, it's more expensive than Sky - but not that much, and it won't go up whilst I'm in my contract. They also said that Openreach had flagged me as a "difficult install". But Zen seemed to be able to somehow communicate better with them and soon got me connected, involving traffic lights, a lot of cabling and an unhappy Openreach engineer(!) The Digital Voice also transferred over seamlessly, keeping my phone number. All this was done with regular calls from Zen telling me about how it was progressing. In the 6 months since the install the internet has been flawless - the difference between FTTC and FTTP is amazing, no (work) VPN dropouts, ever, everyone can stream anything simultaneously and speedtests never show anything other than 110mp/s down and 20 up.

    This is just my experience - if you don't have a difficult install you'll probably be fine with anyone. Unless they put the price up to £ridiculous I'll stay with Zen, the extra between them and Sky is around the same price as a single trip out for a coffee for the two of us, so, put that way I'm convincing myself I'm happy paying it!
    That reminds of back in the day when the likes of TalkTalk, Sky, etc, would not install you a new Openreach line and basically told you to get BT to put you a line in before switching over. E.g. They wanted you money/custom but without the leg work.
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