SSE Broadband review - is it any good?

ByKim Staples
SSE logo

SSE is the bright spark behind Southern Electric, Hydro, and SWALEC, but it's got another utility under its belt too: broadband. So is it any good?

Let's take a deep delve into SSE Broadband and see how it shapes up. Keep reading to find out what we think of its packages, prices, and download speeds, and for our ultimate verdict.

Overview

What we like about SSE broadband

  • Good value prices
  • £5 per month discount for SSE energy households
  • 30-day rolling contracts mean no commitment
  • SSE Rewards gives you priority tickets to SSE venues
  • Unlimited downloads with every package
  • Anytime calls available
  • UK-based customer service

What we don't like about SSE broadband

  • High setup costs
  • Practises web traffic management
  • Not the best router on the market
  • Not many perks or extras
  • Website is a bit annoying to use

Cost

SSE doesn't quite have the cheapest broadband around, but it's far from expensive. You can safely consider it a low-cost option - though it does have an expensive £50 setup fee.

It tends to cost more than similar packages from budget providers like TalkTalk, Plusnet, and EE - but it's usually much cheaper than BT and Virgin Media.

Plus, if SSE is your energy supplier, you can get £5 off per month, which is a heck of a saving.

Broadband prices can change quite often though - special offers and deals frequently pop up. Always use our postcode checker to see what's best value for you right now.

Here are SSE Broadband's current deals:

See SSE deals

As well as that, all packages are available on 30-day rolling contracts - a rarity in the broadband world, which means no commitment and lots of flexibility. The only thing to look out for is the router charge; if you cancel within the first year, you'll need to mail your router back to SSE or pay an extra fee.

Speed

You can get SSE Broadband in three speeds: up to 17Mb (standard ADSL), up to 38Mb (fibre optic), or up to 76Mb (also fibre optic). That's the same as what's offered by nearly every other provider using the Openreach network - like Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, and Vodafone.

The speeds you actually receive on your line are fairly consistent too, according to users. At least, your download speeds won't be much different from other Openreach providers.

Ethernet cable

It's not the fastest you can get, mind you - Virgin Media's broadband goes up to 300Mb, and BT's basic fibre package is up to 52Mb rather than 38Mb.

Downloads and traffic management

SSE packages come with unlimited downloads all around, with no usage cap at all. You use and download as much as you want, which puts SSE in our good books.

However, it does manage web traffic. This means that at certain points in the day when the network is at its busiest - usually in the evening - SSE will slow speeds for certain web activities and prioritise others, in order to keep everyone's connections stable.

In this case, it prioritises VoIP (such as Skype) and VPN use, but slows down things like peer-to-peer file sharing. It's handy, as it means you'll always have consistent speeds… but if you'd rather not have anything throttled, you may be better off with a different provider. Most, including BT and Sky, have no traffic management whatsoever.

Router

You get a free router chucked in with your SSE Broadband - a Technicolor TG589vac, to be precise.

It's not bad! It's very easy to use and set up, and hooking your devices up to the 'net is a breeze. Dual-band Wi-Fi is present to help wireless speeds along, and gigabit ethernet ports are there to give you the fastest possible speeds on wired connections too.

Compared to most routers that come with ADSL broadband, it's one of the best; but that's not quite the case for routers that come with fibre optic packages. The BT Smart Hub and Sky Q Hub, for instance - available with BT Infinity and Sky Fibre - are just that little bit more high-powered and have some smarter features on board.

Home phone

Landline phone

Line rental is included in all SSE Broadband packages, as per most providers, and it comes with inclusive evening and weekend calls. That's a nice extra - especially at this price point. Or, you can upgrade it to Talk Anytime, which gives you anytime calls to UK landlines and 20 international destinations.

As low-cost home phone goes, that's not a bad lot, particularly for international calling. That said, it's a bit rubbish that only 20 countries are covered - you're out of luck if you want a cheaper way to phone anywhere else. There isn't any way to get reduced rates when you call mobile numbers either.

Extras and benefits

  • SSE Rewards - All customers have access to exclusive early bird tickets to events at SSE venues and arenas.
  • Energy discount - Get £5 per month off your broadband bills if SSE is also your gas and electricity supplier.
  • Security - A free 18-month subscription to SSE's security suite of antivirus software, firewall, and parental controls is included.

There's not a whole lot else as far as extras are concerned. SSE's focus is on keeping your bills down rather than on giving you bonus bits and bobs.

Our verdict

SSE Broadband is definitely good value - especially if SSE is your energy supplier too, and especially if you'll make use of SSE Rewards. The service is reliable, the fibre option reaches decent speeds, and it's decently secure. Plus, those 30-day contracts are a huge bonus.

On a few other fronts, however, better broadband can be found elsewhere. The supplied router isn't the best, for instance, and landline options are slim.

SSE's great if you want something straightforward: it's easy to pick a package, set it all up, and get online, and you won't be disappointed with the service. But if you have a more tech-hungry household - or want to add on some premium TV - you may prefer a provider like BT, Sky, or EE.

 

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