BT’s Complete Wi-Fi service gives you a guaranteed wi-fi signal in every room of your home, or £100 back.
For many people, a major frustration when using the internet at home is a poor wi-fi signal which leads to buffering, drop-outs and slow downloads. With wi-fi connected devices now being used across the whole home, it’s never been more important to make sure your wi-fi network covers your whole home.
BT’s Complete Wi-Fi service is designed to give customers a guaranteed wi-fi connection in every room of their home. The service combines a next-generation Smart Hub 2 router with up to three Wi-Fi Discs that all talk to each other using mesh networking technology. This is backed by the Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee, which gives you £100 back if you aren’t able to get download speeds of at least 10Mbps in every room of your home.
In this article, we’ll review BT’s Complete Wi-Fi service including the Smart Hub 2 router and the Wi-Fi Discs you’ll get included. We’ll also look at how wi-fi signal strength affects download speeds around the home, and how newer mesh networking solutions compare to traditional wi-fi repeaters or wi-fi range extenders.
What is BT Complete Wi-Fi?
In a typical home, the strength of your wi-fi signal drops very quickly as you move away from the router. The reduction in wi-fi signal strength is affected by numerous factors including your distance from the router, physical barriers like brick walls, and interference from other devices. This can lead to a poor wi-fi signal or rooms where you’re not able to get reliable wi-fi.
Normally, the quality of your internet experience depends very much on the strength of your wi-fi signal. For instance, a poor wi-fi signal can lead to dropped connections, buffering during online video and downloads taking a long time to complete. It can also worsen the battery life of your devices as they need to work a lot harder to maintain the wi-fi connection.
The Complete Wi-Fi Solution
BT Complete Wi-Fi is an exclusive service for BT Broadband customers in the UK, guaranteeing a wi-fi signal in every room of your home with download speeds of at least 10Mbps (more than enough for watching a HD-quality video stream). The solution consists of a BT Smart Hub 2 router, up to 3 Wi-Fi Discs and BT’s Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee.
The improved and stronger wi-fi signal you get when using Complete Wi-Fi should reduce buffering and dropped connections on devices that are further from your router (including laptops, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, smart speakers and more).
It should also improve overall speeds. According to BT, a typical four-bedroom home will see a 25% increase in wi-fi speeds when using a single Wi-Fi Disc on the Complete Wi-Fi service. In some cases, however, it can be substantially more than this if you’re already suffering from poor wi-fi in certain rooms of your home.
Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee
The Complete Wi-Fi Service is backed by BT’s Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee.
When you take out the service, you’ll be given a BT Smart Hub 2 and a single Wi-Fi Disc to get started. According to BT, this should already cover the majority of homes, but up to two additional discs are available free of charge if you need them. If, after three months, you’re still unable to get a wi-fi signal and download speeds of at least 10Mbps in every room of your home, a credit of £100 will be applied to your bill.
According to BT, the Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee “covers your main home” and “does not cover outbuildings, gardens or sheds”.
The closest alternative to BT’s Complete Wi-Fi service is the Broadband Boost service on Sky. For an extra £5/month, Sky’s Broadband Boost service guarantees a minimum speed of 3Mbps in every room of your home (slower than BT’s guaranteed 10Mbps minimum). You can also get a Wi-Fi Booster from Sky if one is needed, but this uses older Wi-Fi extender technology.
BT Complete Wi-Fi Deals & Plans
You can add the Complete Wi-Fi service to any BT fibre broadband plan for an extra £10/month. This means it’s possible to get BT’s entry-level fibre broadband plan with Complete Wi-Fi for £36.99/month.
The following table shows a list of the fibre broadband plans currently available from BT:
|Service||Average Speed||Contract Length||Upfront Price||Monthly Price|
|36Mbps download||24 month contract||£10||£36.99/month|
with Complete Wi-Fi
|50Mbps download||24 month contract||£0||£37.99/month|
with Complete Wi-Fi
|67Mbps download||24 month contract||£0||£41.99/month|
with Complete Wi-Fi
You’ll be given the option to add Complete Wi-Fi after choosing your fibre broadband plan on the BT site.
Over the course of a 24-month contract, it will cost £240 in total to add Complete Wi-Fi to your BT Broadband plan. This compares to a stand-alone cost of £200 to get a BT Smart Hub 2 with a single Wi-Fi Disc. The standalone option comes without a Wi-Fi Guarantee, and without the ability to get more Discs at no extra charge should they be needed in your home.
If you cancel the BT Complete Wi-Fi service, the Smart Hub 2 will remain your property. However, the Wi-Fi Discs will remain the property of BT unless you pay an additional £30 per disc to keep it.
BT Smart Hub 2 & Wi-Fi Disc Specifications
The Complete Wi-Fi service comes with a Smart Hub 2 router and up to 3 Wi-Fi Discs that can all be managed through BT’s mobile application. You’ll also benefit from the BT Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee.
When opting for the Complete Wi-Fi service, you’ll receive the next-generation BT Smart Hub 2 router. The Smart Hub will plug in to your phone line, creating a wi-fi network from your fibre broadband connection. The second-generation Smart Hub supports dual-band Wi-Fi 5 technology (802.11ac) with speeds of up to 1733Mbps on 5GHz spectrum and up to 289Mbps on 2.4GHz spectrum. It uses 7 wi-fi antenna to optimise performance and speed on other devices. There are also four Gigabit Ethernet sockets for connecting wired devices to your network, and a USB port for connecting and sharing external storage. The Smart Hub 2 is also future-proofed for new technology, with support for DECT and BT’s Digital Voice service.
In addition to the Smart Hub 2 router, you’ll also receive a Wi-Fi Disc from BT (with two further Wi-Fi Discs being supplied at no extra charge should you need it). Each Wi-Fi Disc requires its own power connection, but apart from that, can be placed anywhere in your home. The disc communicates with your Smart Hub 2 to extend the range of your network and to boost the performance. Like the Smart Hub 2, it supports Wi-Fi 5 technology (802.11ac) with maximum speeds of 1733Mbps on 5GHz and 385Mbps on 2.4GHz. The Disc also has a Gigabit Ethernet socket for you to connect a wired device to your home network.
Both your Smart Hub 2 router and your linked Wi-Fi Discs can be managed through the My BT app. The app will also help you to set-up and optimise your wi-fi network.
Wi-Fi Signal Strength & Download Speeds
A poor wi-fi signal can lead to buffering and occasional pauses when you’re listening to music or watching video online. It can also cause slow downloads, dropped connections and poorer battery life on your devices.
Things that will affect your wi-fi signal strength include:
- The distance between your device and the router/disc. The further away your device is from the router or disc it is trying to connect to, the weaker your wi-fi signal will be.
- Physical barriers like walls and doors can block your wi-fi signal. Certain materials are notoriously bad for blocking your wi-fi connection such as insulated walls, concrete walls and metal roofs.
- Interference from other devices and microwave sources. For instance, things like your microwave oven, Bluetooth-powered devices, cordless telephones and baby monitors can interfere with your wi-fi connection.
- Interference from other neighbouring wi-fi networks. Your wi-fi network needs to compete against other neighbouring wi-fi networks for the same spectrum. This interference can reduce the speeds available on both networks.
Mathematically, the relationship between wi-fi signal strength and download speed is described by a formula called Shannon’s law. It probably isn’t that useful to understand all of the details of the formula. Rather, it’s just best to try and optimise the performance of your wi-fi network by placing your router in a central location and away from physical barriers and interference sources. Sometimes, however, your ability to do this will be limited by where the phone line enters your home. In larger homes, it’s often necessary to extend the range of your wi-fi network beyond what is available from a single access point or router.
Mesh Networking VS Wi-Fi Range Extender
BT’s Complete Wi-Fi uses mesh networking technology. This differs from many other solutions (especially those that are available on the high street) which use older range extender or wi-fi repeater technology.
The following table summarises the key differences between mesh networking and regular wi-fi range extenders or repeaters:
|Mesh Wi-Fi Networking||Wi-Fi Range Extender or Repeater|
|Mesh networking is a newer and more expensive technology. Historically, it’s been used in professionally wi-fi installations (e.g. in business and public locations).||A traditional wi-fi repeater is a cheaper way to extend the range of your wi-fi network. It’s more easily available as an off-the-shelf product and is often used in home installations.|
|Mesh wi-fi networks give the maximum speed wherever you go, without any slowdowns in the connection.||Speeds are normally slower when connected to a wi-fi extender or repeater (typically about half the speed).|
|Your device will always connect to the nearest node in a mesh network, giving the fastest available speeds at all times. The nodes combine to form a single network.||You may need to manually change the wi-fi network on your device to get the best speeds as you move around your home. Extenders create a separate wi-fi network.|
|Typically a more expensive solution, but now becoming more easily accessible to consumers.||Easier to purchase (e.g. on the high street), and typically a bit cheaper than mesh technology.|
Where possible, we’d recommend using mesh networking technology. There are several key advantages of using mesh technology over a simple range extender or repeater:
- Mesh wi-fi networks give you faster speeds. Older wi-fi range extenders communicate with your wi-fi router and re-broadcast the signal as a new network. As the extender needs to receive and broadcast a signal at the same time, the amount of bandwidth available on it is drastically reduced. This leads to a slower connection when you’re using the repeater. The additional congestion from having a separate network from the repeater can also reduce download speeds further. With a mesh network, this doesn’t happen and you won’t get the slowdown of using a repeater.
- You don’t need to juggle around with having multiple wi-fi networks. With mesh networking, you’ll get a single combined wi-fi network and your devices will always connect to the nearest node at all times. This gives you the maximum available download speed and performance. With wi-fi range extenders or repeaters, you’ll have multiple wi-fi networks for different parts of your home (e.g. one network upstairs and another one downstairs). Once you’re connected to either network, your device will stay connected to that network until it loses coverage entirely (e.g. it could stay connected to the weaker upstairs network whilst you’re downstairs). This means manual intervention is often required to ensure you’re always connected to the strongest wi-fi network at all times.
- There’s just one network name and password for your entire home. This greatly simplifies the set-up of wi-fi on your devices. With a wi-fi repeater or range extender, you’ll need to set up multiple wi-fi networks on every device you use (each one with a different network name and password).
- There’s no need to have a wired connection between extenders. To avoid a slowdown in connection speed, some people use a wired connection from their router to their wi-fi repeater or range extender. This isn’t necessary when using mesh networking technology.
- It’s easier to set-up a mesh wi-fi network. In general, it’s much easier to set-up a mesh wi-fi network, especially when you have multiple extenders. Most wi-fi range extenders and repeaters require more manual configuration.
Complete Wi-Fi is BT’s second mesh networking solution. Their first one launched in 2017 and was known as Whole Home Wi-Fi. The Complete Wi-Fi solution differs from Whole Home Wi-Fi in that your Smart Hub 2 is an integral part of the mesh network. Therefore, using Complete Wi-Fi with a single Wi-Fi Disc is equivalent to using Whole Home Wi-Fi with two discs.
Frequently Asked Questions
|What is BT Complete Wi-Fi?|
|How does BT Wi-Fi in every room work?||
BT’s Complete Wi-Fi uses mesh networking technology to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network across your whole home. The BT Smart Hub 2 router links up with your Wi-Fi Discs to form a single wi-fi network that covers every room of your home.
|What is the Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee?||
BT guarantees a minimum download speed of at least 10Mbps in every room of your home. If you’re unable to get this minimum download speed in every room of your home, you’ll get £100 in credit once you’ve been using the service for 3 months.
|How many discs do I get with BT Complete Wi-Fi?||
To start with, you’ll get 1 Wi-Fi Disc provided on the Complete Wi-Fi service. If further discs are needed, you can get another 2 discs sent out to you at no additional charge.
|How much does BT Complete Wi-Fi cost?||
You can add the Complete Wi-Fi service to any BT fibre broadband plan for an extra £10/month. At present, you can get fibre broadband with the Complete Wi-Fi service from £36.99/month.
For more information about the Complete Wi-Fi service, please see BT’s official website.