Are YouFibre going to shake up the UK broadband connection marketplace?
In the first half of 2021 I received an advert on Instagram for a new internet service provider called YouFibre. As I had been looking for a new internet connection for a while I thought I would register interest not expecting anything to come from it.
Then back in July I received a call from Ian at YouFibre saying they were starting to take preorders for my area offering me a discount to preorder right there and then. Still not expecting much I thought I might as well so I preordered the 1GB package at £35 with an expected install date of December.
After a couple months of delays, two weeks ago I was lucky enough to have my new fibre internet installed and as a tech blogger I thought I should probably write about it. This review is based completely on personal experience and I didn’t apply a scientific process to testing the connection.
Who are YouFibre?
YouFibre are a new fibre to the premisis internet provider that has launched in the UK that launched in 2019 by Jeremy Chelot, former CEO of Community Fibre. Since then they have been expanding their network, reaching 2500 customers in 2021 and already reaching its 5000th customer by the 9th February 2022.
Similar to how BT uses the OpenReach backbone to reach its customers, YouFibre uses Netomnia to provide its infrastructure. This divide is quite interesting because it opens up the opportunity in future for Netomnia to potentially provide their fibre connections through other ISPs broadening their reach.
The new connection was installed on Thursday 3rd February by 2 engineers operating on behalf of YouFibre. After they arrived we had a chat about the different options for install and while unfortunately they couldn't install into my cupboard where the rest of my network equipment lives, they were able to bring it in where the desk is in the living room.
Then they got on with the install very quickly, pulling the new fibre cable to the property, drilling a tidy hold into the brickwork and then mounting a faceplate on the inside. They then mounted a modem on the wall and then were ready to setup the Eero mesh wifi system.
When setting up the system the engineer guided me though the app and they setup a default password for the network. They were super helpful and my only criticism is that the password they asked me to use was super insecure (according to https://www.security.org/how-secure-is-my-password/ it would take 1 minute for a computer to crack). The issue with this is that there is a huge number of users who wouldn’t go back and change this later and it doesn’t encourage the use of strong passwords.
Initially they provided 1 Eero Pro 6 as the gateway, and 2 Eero 6 to use as mesh access points. I queried this with them after the install and they said it was due to stock issues however as I reported performance issues with this setup they swapped out the 2 Eero 6’s for 2 Eero Pro 6’s which is what this review will be based upon.
What was included
As I purchased the YouFibre 1000 + YouMesh package they advertise it as including the following.
- Mesh wifi system — I received 3 Eero Pro’s
- Average speed of 920 Mbps* (My own performance tests are later)
- Free install
- Free expert set up
I did consider getting a dedicated IP address however at £10 extra per month I didn’t really find it necessary.
The performance of the internet connection, especially on devices that I am able to hardwire into the network has been more than I expected. I have been able to download games that I want to play at a whim and be able to play them often within a few minutes which has been incredible. I have been told the video calls I join for work are more crisp and now if I am on a call and the connection is poor I now can honestly say its not a problem my end.
Downloading a game from Steam
For my first real performance test I wanted to test a real world use case which is when I download a new game through Steam. I wanted to test downloading a game of reasonable size to see what sort of download speed I get. For this I chose Tomb Raider as I already had it in my Steam library however it wasn’t installed.
As the image shows, I achieved 70.8 MB/s download speeds. It is important to note here that this is Megabytes where as internet connection speeds are measured in Megabits so we need to multiply that by 8 to be able to compare it against my total connection speed. This results in 566.5Mb/s which while not the full 1000Mb/s its pretty impressive.
Downloading a game on the Xbox
Another common use case I wanted to cover in this review is downloading a game to the Xbox Series X. As I have Xbox Game Pass a common use case I find is I want to download a game quickly to try it out.
On my old connection I would have to pre-plan this, downloading the game the day before however in my tests on this new connection I seldom have to wait more than a few minutes to play a game.
For this speed connection test I selected DayZ from the Xbox Game pass and downloaded it to the internal SSD. In doing this I achieved download speeds of 634.04Mb/s however the speed did go up and down and I saw lows of 450Mb/s at times. The game was still downloaded in approximately 4 minutes though so perfectly reasonable.
One of the selling points of the YouFibre 1000 package is that it includes a mesh WiFi system as standard. In my case it was a Eero Pro 6 wifi system which boasts the following key features:
- Wi-Fi 6 (IEEE802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax)
- 2 Gigabit ports
- Triband — 2.4 GHz: 2x2 5 GHz Lo: 2x2 5 GHz Hi: 4x4
The great thing about the Eero system is that is all managed by an easy to use app where you can manage your Eero devices.
In the app you can see all your devices and manage their usage, you can even see which Eero unit they are connected to.
When it come to Wi-Fi performance, I have had a mixed experience with it topping out at 835mb/s but most common I get 400mb/s — 500mb/s.
I 100% understand that these speeds are a limitation if Wi-Fi itself, while I tested on my iPhone which supports the Wifi 6 standard the amount of interference and noise on the network can make a huge difference to the connection speed you can get.
Overall I am happy with the Wi-Fi performance and it provides more than enough speed for the devices I am using on Wi-Fi.
In comparison to other internet providers in the UK, YouFibre offers very few features in the way of security. For example, BT includes anti-virus and family filtering as standard features on their packages.
One area in which they could help resolve this without increasing the price of their service would be to allow their customers to signup to the Eero Secure and Eero Secure+ packages. These packages are sold directly by the Eero folk and include features like ad blockers, family friendly content filtering, anti virus protection and even dynamic DNS.
From reading around the subject, ISP’s that provide Eeros to their customers have the option to enable the ability to purchase these however YouFibre appear to have not enabled this. I reached out to support and they put me in contact with Eero support who confirmed that YouFibre had chosen to not make this option available.
I did manage to speak to someone at YouFibre about parental controls and found out they offer Cisco’s OpenDNS family controls. I think its great that they have at least considered this however its important to point out that this is a a free service anyone could use and offers no customisation.
This point is important because the OpenDNS site itself specifies that “Sites that deal with relationships (dating, breakups, marriage, divorce, LGBT, etc)” are categorised as adult content which is incorrect. I believe educational content in this area is important for kids to have access to if they need it while more adult content like dating sites, illegal drugs and pornography is what should be being blocked.
Beyond this, OpenDNS is limited in that it can only block requests for the DNS information, it cannot do filtering of the content itself where as Eero Secure is able to restrict a users Google searches to use safe search and block inapporiate videos on YouTube. While I assume Eero Secure isn’t perfect, the fact that I can customise it makes it more appealing solution.
Overall, as a user it sounds pretty straightforward for them to allow me to pay for the Eero Secure+ and resolve this issue. I am not asking for it to be free so hopefully they will eventually be able to offer this.
In summary, I am super excited to have this new internet connection installed, having lived with a max speed of 32mb/s connection previously the 31x increase in connection speed has been very welcome. My video calls are crisper, my game downloads are speedy and my smart home devices are more reliable.
In my interactions with the support team, they have been lovely and really helpful. There was some delay when they had to talk to the tech team however as the query wasn’t particularly urgent if I am completely honest an I understand that they might have been priorising more important queries.
One area I am disappointed in is the company not offering a solid offering when it comes to security. I think this would be something they could easily have solved by giving users the ability to signup with Eero to pay them for the secure+ product.
Overall I am happy with YouFibre as my new internet connection and have already cancelled my BT connection. I am hoping that as they continue to grow they offering and maybe one day my internet needs will grow enough I will upgrade to their 10Gb/s second package and that will of course need a fresh review.