John Lewis Broadband Buyers Guide
Can I get John Lewis Broadband?
John Lewis, well known for their quality homewares since 1864, have now branched out into broadband services. John Lewis Broadband prides itself on offering customers the same high quality customer service and the same price deals no matter where they live.
This means that unlike most other ISPs, you are able to get the same ADSL (standard) broadband packages whether you live inside or outside areas where some suppliers have installed their own equipment at the telephone exchange. As a result, you can get the same price broadband package halfway up a hill in the Pennines as you could in Central London.
However, John Lewis Broadband’s faster fibre-optic broadband packages are still restricted in availability to those areas where the telephone exchange and street cabinet have been upgraded to support fibre optic cables as far as the cabinet. This currently extends to around two-thirds of UK households, typically in cities and towns, so if you are up that hill in the Pennines, you might be out of luck. To find if you live in a fibre area, you can use our postcode checker.
What packages are available?
John Lewis Broadband offer three basic broadband packages:
- John Lewis Unlimited Broadband - ADSL broadband at speeds of up to 17Mb with unlimited usage
- John Lewis Fibre Broadband - fibre-optic broadband at speeds of up to 38Mb download and up to 1.9Mb upload with unlimited usage
- John Lewis Fibre Extra - fibre-optic broadband at speeds of up to 76Mb download and up to 19Mb upload with unlimited usage
The speeds are advertised as ‘up to’ because a variety of factors can affect your download speed, as John Lewis Broadband openly acknowledge. These can include the wiring in your home, time of day (for example, the extra volume of users at peak times means a slower service than late at night) and the length of your copper telephone cabling to either the telephone exchange, in the case of ADSL, or the street cabinet, in the case of fibre. The further away you are in terms of line length, the slower your potential speed is likely to be. You can find out how far you are from your nearest telephone exchange with our postcode checker (we can currently only offer an estimate of likely fibre speed if you enter a BT line rental phone number, but John Lewis will be able to give you an accurate estimate before you sign up).
John Lewis Broadband packages are also subject to traffic prioritisation, which drops the priority of certain types of traffic at peak times to ensure that heavier uses of the Internet don't overwhelm others - such as limiting file sharing and software update traffic at peak times. Prioritisation varies depending on the package with Fibre Extra having higher priorities for some types of traffic than standard Fib. Traffic management can help to ensure a smoother service for you on average at peak times even if your speed may be slightly reduced.
These packages all come with a home phone service and line rental - there are no standalone broadband options. The phone service comes with inclusive weekend & evening landline calls as standard, allowing you to call most UK landlines for free between 7pm and 7am during the week and anytime at the weekend, but this can be upgraded to inclusive anytime calls for an extra £5/month. For an extra £7/month, an anytime and international call package is available, offering inclusive calls to most UK landlines all week as well as 300 call minutes to top 20 international destinations, including US cellphones.
Which package should I choose?
Your primary concerns when choosing a package should be what speed you need, whether you can keep to a download cap, and whether the extra expense is worth it for you - there is never any point paying for more than you need.
For those who can receive it, the fibre options' speeds of up to 38Mb or 76Mb can be tempting, but the ADSL broadband speeds are likely to be enough for the most users, assuming they're close enough to the telephone exchange to enjoy the full speed. Even if you only achieve half the advertised speed, this will still usually be enough for activities such as watching streaming video, downloading MP3s, using Skype, web browsing and e-mail. Where fibre may have an advantage is with those who do a lot of gaming, or heavy downloading, and thus require a faster connection. This can also be an issue for large households with many people sharing a connection - especially if these people are doing bandwidth-intensive activities. As a result, student flats and large families may also benefit from fibre broadband.
The choice between the standard Fibre and Fibre Extra packages may come down to upload speed rather than download, with Fibre Extra offering an upload speed that's 10 times faster. If you make use of Cloud backup services or upload a lot of photos or videos to services like Facebook or Snapchat then you're likely to notice the difference when upload speed increases, especially if you're in a home with several people using the connection at once.
Points to consider before you choose
- How much do you value John Lewis' investment into quality UK-based customer and technical support?
- Do you regularly use the Internet for bandwidth-heavy activities like gaming or downloading large files?
- Do you regularly send files to the Cloud or upload a lot of photos or videos?
- How many people will be using your broadband connection?
- Is speed or capacity a greater priority for you?
- Do you use your landline to make a lot of calls?
- Would the expense of the faster speed be worth it for you?
What do I get when I sign-up?
It's always good to know upfront what you'll get when signing up with an ISP so you know what you can enjoy for free, or to budget for any extras you may want.
- Free wireless router - New customers with John Lewis Broadband get a free inclusive wireless router to help them manage their connections. ADSL broadband customers will receive a Technicolour TG582 router with wireless ‘N’ technology to give a better wi-fi signal in your home with less interference from other devices, as well as a firewall, wireless security, and 4 ethernet ports. Fibre broadband customers will instead receive a Netgear N150 WNR1000 router with wireless ‘N’ technology, a double firewall, wireless security, optional parental controls, and 5 ethernet ports.
- Online security package - John Lewis Broadband offer a variety of online security options depending on your computer. PC users can download BullGuard, a PC security package with online backup protection, antivirus and antispyware tools, a firewall and a spam filter. Mac users can instead get Intengo software security products with 32% off their retail cost as a John Lewis Broadband customer.
- Free home move - John Lewis Broadband offer one free home move per year, meaning that if you move house and your new phone line is suitable for broadband, you can move your broadband with you without any administrative fee.
What are the benefits of John Lewis Broadband?
The benefits offered by an ISP may be what seals the deal in your decision to buy a package from them.
- Free UK-based customer service - Unlike some other ISPs, John Lewis Broadband’s UK-based customer service is freephone, and open 9am - 6pm, 7 days a week. There is also an online portal for those who would prefer to have their queries and issues answered in that format.
- Equal pricing - For John Lewis Broadband offers customers the same prices no matter where in the UK they live. This stands in stark contrast to most low cost ISPs who offer different prices at different telephone exchanges, usually favouring urban and central exchanges at the expense of many rural customers.
- No hidden costs - The John Lewis brand prides itself on being matter-of-fact and straightforward with its deals, and so what you see is what you pay - there are no hidden costs unlike with some other ISPs. This includes having no activation fees, giving you a free connection on existing phone lines.
What are the drawbacks of John Lewis Broadband?
Let's face it, not everything can be perfect, and even the best deals may have a downside.
- Premium pricing - John Lewis Broadband is not among the cheaper ISPs out there. However, they balance this with their ‘no additional extras’ approach, presenting themselves as a reliable option for those with a little more money in their pockets.
- No standalone broadband - All John Lewis Broadband packages include a home phone service and line rental. This is only really an issue for those who do not plan to use a landline or do not wish to change their existing phone provider, but they might reconsider given that John Lewis Broadband offer a variety of phone offers with their broadband, including free inclusive evening & weekend calls as standard.
- No short contract broadband - Customers hoping for shorter contracts may find themselves disappointed by the 12 month minimum contract length.
- Not truly unlimited - Traffic management is used to lower the priority of some types of real time traffic over others, for the majority of users this will improve the performance of the service at peak times, but if you make heavy use of the type of traffic that's given low priority then you may prefer to opt for a truly unlimited supplier instead.