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Energy Supplier First Utility Opens UK Home Broadband Service to All

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 (8:07 am) - Score 3,554
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Last October we revealed that energy supplier First Utility was planning to launch their own UK fixed line home broadband and phone service (here), which initially only went live for existing customers. The good news is that their FTTCfibre” and ADSL based packages are now live for everybody.

The supplier hopes to replicate SSE’s approach, although they’ll be entering a crowded market where gaining new customers can be extremely difficult. On the other hand First Utility will no doubt also see advantages in customer retention (reduced churn) and as a result their initial packages have adopted a competitively low price point, albeit only for existing subscribers of their energy products.

The new packages are built around a wholesale agreement with TalkTalk, although it’s very important not to confuse the service provided via this Wholesale network with that of TalkTalk’s own retail offerings to consumers. The two can be very different, depending upon how First Utility chooses to balance their service.

Each package includes phone line rental, unlimited usage, free setup (no upfront costs, unless you need a new line installed then it’s £60 one-off), an included wireless router, 18 month contract term, £25 Amazon Gift Card (until 29th March 2017) and they also promise not to increase their prices (“Unlike other providers, at the end of the minimum period we’ll not increase your monthly charge“).

First Utility Broadband Packages

First broadband
Downloads up to 17Mbps ADSL
Price: £18.99 (existing energy customer) or £23.99 (standalone) per month

SuperFirst broadband
Downloads up to 38Mbps FTTC
Price: £31.99 (existing energy customer) or £39.99 (standalone) per month

UltraFirst broadband
Downloads up to 76Mbps FTTC
Price: £34.99 (existing energy customer) or £42.99 (standalone) per month

We had to hunt around a bit to get the standalone price for non-Energy customers but you can find their current telecoms price list here (PDF). The packages don’t include any bundled UK calls but you can add free evening & weekend calls for an extra £3 per month or anytime calls for £7 and there’s also an option for international calls.

Sadly there’s no mention of upload speeds anywhere on their website, although it’s safe to assume that the 17Mbps package will deliver about 1Mbps upload and the 76Mbps option should do 19Mbps upload. However we’re not sure whether their 38Mbps package went for the 2Mbps or 10Mbps upload profile.

Ed Kamm, Managing Director of First Utility, said:

“The parallels between the energy and telecoms markets are striking, with large swathes of households paying far too much for both services. We’ve been successful in unsettling the Big Six in energy and our next target is the Big Four in broadband.

This next phase of our business development will see us adding more diversified services to our portfolio while continuing to grow our domestic energy customer base. Broadband is the first step and is a natural extension of the business.”

Like many other ISPs, First Utility’s quality will be somewhat subject to the whims and pitfalls of Openreach’s (BT) national infrastructure and TalkTalk’s LLU platform, so they’re unlikely to deliver any sort of miracle improvement over the service that you can already get elsewhere.

Meanwhile savvy energy subscribers will already know that the only way to keep your bills down is to keep switching and this is still a lot less likely to go wrong in the energy than broadband market, which means that combining the two may not always make for the best fit.

Personally we like the flexibility of keeping them separate but that’s just us. However if you prefer to stay with one provider then at least First Utility promise not to hike their prices at the end of your broadband contract.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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6 Responses
  1. Avatar matt

    “service to all” seems like a bit of a misnomer, as it implies it’s universally available rather than just “new customers as well as existing ones can now place orders”

  2. Avatar matt

    Only really those of us out in bumpkinville where you can still only get 8-meg, as their slowest plan is 17.

    ….. Admittedly it’s not exactly a huge demographic, but it’s still not quite “all” 😛

    • Avatar alan

      NO their slowest plan is UPTO 17Mb and ALL can have that.

    • Avatar matt

      Sorry, that’s my bad then. I’d assumed that the 17mb service would be adsl2 only, and those stuck on ye-olde adsl-max would just be out of luck.

    • Avatar alan

      You would be hard pressed to find providers advertising old UPTO 8Mb ADSL-MAX products, it would not make sense.

      Getting 8Mb on a product sold as UPTO 17Mb means you can buy that product (the UPTO wording is key). Its not guaranteeing you will get 17Mb.

      ADSL2+ (at least when i had it from a LLU provider) will adapt when needed, you could (dunno about now) even force a connection that was ADSL2+ to connect using ADSL2 or ADSL on some modem routers by changing the modulation from ADSL2+ (ITU G.992.5) to ADSL (ITU G.992.1). Which can be helpful on longer lines, which you do not appear to have as you get the full ADSL MAX 8Mb.

      Weird you have not had a 21CN upgrade on your exchange if you can get the full 8Mb from ADSL MAX. Most of them were done long ago.

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