Cuckoo Broadband Gigabit Fibre To The Premises Review

We recently switched to Cuckoo Broadband’s “Eggceptional” 1 Gbps Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) service and so far are very happy with it.

It’s outrageously fast.

I’m seeing download speeds of almost 935 Mbps (Gigabit Ethernet can’t do much more than this with all the overheads, even if you tweak the MTU). Upload speeds are 110 Mbps and latency (ping) is very low at around 5 ms. The advertised download speeds are around 900 Mbps and upload speeds are about 115 Mbps, so this is delivering pretty much what is claimed. For closer servers (like the BBC) pings are consistently sub 4 ms, on Virgin cable this is more like 20 ms (and upload speeds are much worse too).

Cuckoo Broadband Gigabit Fibre To The Premises Speed Test

The 1 Gbps option (900 Mbps down, 100 Mbps up) is £55 per month but they also offer a slower FTTP option (100 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up) for £40 per month. There’s no point going Gigabit if you can’t make use of it. I have a dual run of Cat 6 to the garden office but if your house attenuates Wi-Fi badly like a wet sponge or you live in a Faraday cage then don’t pay for what you don’t need.

If you would like a £20 discount on Cuckoo then you can sign up using my link (I also get £20 and an extra £5 goes to charity).

Hi Fibre

The term fibre has been abused by the advertising/marketing departments of Virgin, BT and the like for a long time. So much so that they had to invent the term “Full Fibre” for when you actually get it all the way to the home. Despite the semantics, getting a fibre-optic line into your house is a game changer.

Virgin offer Gig1 in our area and the advertised download speed is a bit higher (1130 Mbps). However, it’s still the same coax cable (not FTTP) and it’s also more expensive. Additionally, the kit they ship only has Gigabit Ethernet rather than 2.5 Gbps (and you’re not allowed to use your own modem) so you are never going to be able to use all the bandwidth. Virgin require a cabled speed test if you call them about connection issues so this feels like a scam. The DOCSIS 3.1 cable technology used means a slower upload (52 Mbps) than full fibre and a higher latency too.

Our new upload with Cuckoo is higher than our old download. You can’t even max out our upload with a 100 Mbps Ethernet device. This makes it great for video calls, or for setting up a VPN or secure Zero Trust tunnel back to your home network. Some people think tunnelling is boring (and it is 😀), but it is also very useful if you want to self-host.

The installation process was smooth. The Openreach engineer was very helpful and ran the new fibre line to enter the property at a better location than the old copper line that they removed. They were more professional than Sky or Virgin technicians have been in the past and even cleaned up any brick dust from drilling.

The speed started a little low but climbed over the first day to the advertised speeds. It is actually quite challenging to measure the speed of a line so fast, as the bottleneck is usually not the internet connection. The server at the other end, the software used and the capabilities of the device can all become limits before the line (and that’s before you even get into the problems with Wi-Fi).

I’ve encountered these issues in practice as I’m currently working on a project to automate remote diagnostics of internet connections and make it easy to see where a problem lies. Get in touch if you’re interested in trying it out.

Transparency

I went with Cuckoo as they are trying to be the Octopus Energy of ISPs with a focus on customer service. It’s early days but so far I’ve been impressed with the responsiveness. They also promise no price rises in the first year of your service and donate to charity to get the rest of the world online.

I was fed up with the legacy ISPs that keep putting their prices up and making it as difficult as possible to cancel. This “bait-and-switch” like behaviour is not only a chore but results in unnecessary e-waste from switching.

BT is raising prices by CPI (5.4%) + 3.9% = 9.3% (about an extra £5 a month on a typical bill). Virgin are raising prices by over 13.5% (an extra £3.25 on a £24 per month bill) and if you reach the end of your contract they wil jack it up by over 83% (an extra £20 a month even on a basic package)!

The hardest part was calling our old ISP to cancel. You know the routine, letter in the post about a price rise with the bare minimum information required by the regulator and a link to visit. Visit the link and you find the same letter plus a number you have to call.

Call the number and listen to all the recordings (and read the text message they send you) about how it’s easier to do things online, apart from cancel (because they deliberately don’t allow you to do that online). Navigate the menu system and a robotic voice will offer you a mediocre discount that you ignore. 20 minutes later you are speaking to a real person in an outsourced offshore call centre and can finally be put on hold again while they process the cancellation. A day later they send you a survey to get your feedback about their intentionally difficult process!

“Beware of the Leopard” doesn’t even come close. I feel sorry for people trying to write satire in today’s world.

It’s not just ISPs that use these underhand tactics, lots of subscription services and insurance companies do the same. I would strongly support legislation like they have in California where “a consumer who accepts an automatic renewal or continuous service offer online shall be allowed to terminate the automatic renewal or continuous service exclusively online”. For example, I recently cancelled Disney+ and it was trivially easy.

It may be easier with some other ISPs as Cuckoo can do this for you:

Where possible we notify your provider that you are switching to Cuckoo, which should close your account with them. However, we would always invite you to check for a final bill and/or contact your existing provider in order to avoid being billed twice, e.g. if you were with Virgin Media previously. If you’re with Sky/NowTV or a provider that use their own network (Virgin Media, Hyperoptic or CityFibre) then you’ll need to let them know to make sure you don’t continue getting charged.

Kit

If you sign up for 12 months then you get free setup. If you cancel and leave before then you just need to pay back the £60 fee.

You can get a free router or choose not to be sent one and use your own router instead. If you cancel and leave you should return the router. Openreach supply the separate optical modem.

The router is the popular Technicolour DGA0122 but you might alternatively get the DWA0122 (without the green VoIP ports). Technicolor is what Thomson renamed to in 2010 (they used to make kit under the SpeedTouch brand).

You can get the router preconfigured with the Wi-Fi details of your choosing if you go for their one. I have a second-hand DrayTek router and wireless access points that I quite like, as you can do separate VLANs and Wi-Fi networks, but the Technicolour one is fine for basic home use.

Overall I’m very satisfied with with the Cuckoo service. Highly recommended.

If you would like a £20 discount on Cuckoo then you can sign up using my link (I also get £20 and an extra £5 goes to charity).

After you go live you will see £20 credited to your rewards and into your bank account if there is no bill to pay yet. Plus you get unlimited data too!


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