Founded in 1995, Zen Internet might not have the user numbers of the UK’s biggest ISPs, but it’s hugely successful when it comes to keeping its customers happy. It swept the board in our 2021 Broadband Awards, and 100% of users who responded to our survey said that they would recommend Zen Internet to someone else – no other provider could manage more than 86%.
Zen’s ADSL and Fibre plans aren’t exactly cheap but there’s more to value than a low monthly price. With Zen, the service justified the higher-than-average pricing, making it one of the best broadband providers around.
Zen Internet (2021) review: Zen Unlimited Broadband
Zen’s broadband options begin with the basic ADSL2+ Unlimited Broadband, available on a 1-month or 12-month contract with line rental bundled in. Speeds average out at 10Mbits/sec, which is just about adequate for everyday internet use and HD streaming if you’re not sharing your connection with the family.
At £28 per month over the year with a £20 setup fee it’s a good £10 more expensive than most rival options and even many fibre plans but – on the plus side – Zen offers a lifetime price guarantee, where the price won’t rise once the contract ends. This is far from a given with many other ISPs. Keep it on a rolling one-month contract, though, and the fees rise to £31 a month with a £50 setup fee. Unless you only want broadband in a property for a limited period, it’s better to sign up to the 12-month plan.
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Zen Internet (2021) review: Unlimited Fibre
Zen’s entry-level Unlimited Fibre package gives you average download speeds of 35Mbits/sec with average upload speeds of 6Mbits/sec. At £30 per month it’s barely more expensive than the ADSL2+ service with a £20 setup fee, and Zen offers the same lifetime price guarantee to ensure you won’t get a shock when the 12-month contract ends. Most rival 35Mbits/sec to 38Mbits/sec services come with a cheaper price tag and even waive the setup fee but at least Zen plays things straight and doesn’t wallop you with a price increase as soon as the initial contract ends.
For an extra £5 per month you can step up to Unlimited Fibre 2 with average download speeds of 66Mbits/sec and upload speeds of 17Mbits/sec, which should be enough for all but the most demanding users.
Both options come with phone line rental and UK support included, and Zen earns extra credit for including a Fritz!Box 7530 dual-band Wi-Fi 5 wireless router, which offers better performance and a wider range of features than many other ISP-supplied models. What’s more, Zen bundles in a free static IP address – a real bonus for gamers and remote workers. Zen also offers an EveryRoom upgrade with a Fritz!Box mesh repeater for an extra £8 a month although you may be better off buying one separately since they cost around £128 to buy outright.
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Zen Internet (2021) review: Zen Ultrafast
Customers in specific supported areas can opt for Zen’s even faster G.fast and FTTP packages, with speeds of between 300 and 900Mbits/sec – fast enough to download a 4K movie in around five minutes.
However, BT stalled its G.fast rollout last year while FTTP is far from ubiquitous across the UK, so it might be a while before Zen Ultrafast is an option in your neck of the woods. Prices start at £39 per month and differ from area to area, but there aren’t many ISPs delivering ultrafast services, so it’s well worth checking availability if you’re on the lookout for the fastest possible service.
|Unlimited Broadband||Unlimited Broadband (1 month)||Unlimited Fibre 1||Unlimited Fibre 2||Ultrafast Fibre|
|Price per month (inc line rental||£28||£31||£30||£35||From £39|
|Contract length||12 months||1 month||12 months||12 months||12 months|
Zen Internet (2021) review: Coverage
Zen runs the majority of its services across BT’s Openreach fibre-optic network, but also offers some of its higher-speed fibre services over Cityfibre’s FTTP network. This means that 95% of the UK should be within reach of its core Superfast fibre services, although you’re unlikely to get Ultrafast outside of major cities. You can find out whether this includes your home by checking the availability tool on the Zen Internet website.
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Zen Internet (2021) review: Performance and customer satisfaction
We don’t have any official Ofcom figures covering Zen Internet’s performance, but customers are certainly happy with its speeds. In our 2020/21 Broadband Awards survey more than 70% of Zen customers were very satisfied with the performance of their service, nearly 10% ahead of Zen’s nearest rival, Virgin Media, and with most of the competition sitting below 40%. In fact, Zen only had one dissatisfied customer in this category.
Reliability is just as impressive: 88% of Zen customers were very satisfied with the reliability of their broadband, and a further 10% are still satisfied.
Elsewhere, Zen scored consistently highly for customer satisfaction. Nearly 90% of Zen’s customers were very satisfied with its customer support, with an additional 8.5% satisfied. Some 86% were either satisfied or very satisfied with Zen on value for money. We don’t have any Ofcom scores to back up our own survey results but the fact that 100% of the Zen customers we surveyed would recommend their ISP speaks volumes; they’re an exceptionally enthusiastic bunch.
Zen Internet (2021) review: Verdict
It isn’t hard to find a cheaper alternative to Zen but you’ll struggle to find a broadband service with a better reputation for reliability, service and support. If you want a fast service you can trust and you’re happy to pay the extra, Zen should be at the top of your list.