Hey David

Our contract with Plusnet for telephone landline and (not full) fibre broadband ends on 25 November. I started looking around for cheaper and/or better alternatives back in August. Not that there was anything wrong with Plusnet’s service. In fact, compared to Sky and TalkTalk, they’re bloody brilliant. But end of contract time usually means either a hike in price to stay loyal, or finding a new provider that offers new customers a better deal than its existing customers.

So, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover a full fibre broadband option available in my area. Apparently, a company called Hey! Broadband had laid there own network of fibre-optic cables in my street, meaning that we could replace our maximum 67Mb download speeds for £28 (due to go up to £54) a month with 900Mb download and upload for 99p a month for the fist six months, and then £29 a month thereafter. It sounded too good to be true!

Of course, we don’t need ten times faster broadband, but the extra bandwidth and improved coverage would be nice. It’s not uncommon now to have one of us in a Teams meeting, another gaming on his Switch, another watching internet TV, and another doing general internet stuff. The first three, certainly, have all complained at times of lag and buffering. And even the last one has found online work meetings in my bedroom-cum-office occasionally impossible due to poor connectivity.

Hey! Broadband make it clear on their website that they cannot guarantee to be able to connect new customers to their network even if your address is within their network area. There may be unforeseen problems. They also make it clear that potential new customers should not cancel their existing broadband service before you have your new Hey! Broadband service up and running for a couple of weeks without any major issues.

So, I wasn’t expecting a smooth service. For one, I had no knowledge of when or where the new fibre-optic cables had been laid in our cul-de-sac. On the adjoining road, maybe. But I would let them sort that out. When the two engineers from Hey! Broadband’s sub-contracted installation company arrived on 2 October things didn’t immediately look hopeful. They were very friendly, but looked barely old enough to be out of school, and had no idea where the cables were outside to connect us up.

After an hour or so of looking around the local area, they came back and informed me of the good news and the bad news. The good news being that they had found a cable that we could, in theory, be connected to. The bad news being that it was on another street around the corner “about three doors away”. They would need to get permission from the homeowner to go into their premises and then somehow connect the cable up to our non-adjoining property. But I didn’t have to worry, they would take care of everything, and we should hear something within five to seven working days.

Of course, seven working days later when I phoned them, nothing at all had been done, and in fact, they asked me to provide contact details for my “neighbours” and to go knock on their door and ask permission to enter their property. Which I could have done, but as I pointed out, I don’t know them, or which house it is, and even if I did, I have no official ID to show that I’m an engineer from Hey! Broadband. I asked to speak to a manager, and was told someone would call me back later.

Days passed until another engineer appeared at my door. He was even friendlier than the previous two, and old enough to have a young child of his own. He’d already had a look around and found the cable in my next door neighbour’s outside storage cupboard (as well as my little kid’s trike in our storage cupboard, which he wondered if I still wanted, and if not, could he take it for his little kid?). I let him take the trike, and he promised someone would call later that day to book a new installation date.

No one called, although we still had the revised installation date for 31 October, and another even friendlier and slightly older engineer showed up. He actually managed to connect us up, pulling the cable through from the street next to our cul-de-sac (“the longest pull” he’d ever done), cabling it out from our neighbour’s storage cupboard up and over our communal porch and up our wall to our first floor flat. He drilled a hole in our wall (reassuring my wife that, no, the hole wouldn’t let cold air or creepy crawlies in) and set us up with new full fibre broadband.

It turned out that he’s self-employed, and does up to five of these installations a day at a £100 a go. He left school aged eleven unable to read or write. As he wired up our new modem, he told me how he had a habit, when younger, of setting fire to things. He went back to college to learn to read and write when his kids started coming home from school asking for help with school work, and he didn’t want to tell them he couldn’t do it. He didn’t ask for a trike, either.

Funnily enough, I met him again two days later around the corner from my big kid’s school while we were feeding the community cats. He was doing an installation there, or trying to. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to pull the cable through on this occasion.

We’ve had Hey! Broadband for a week without any issues at all, and full 900Mb ethernet speeds as advertised, with wifi speeds around 150Mb down and 250Mb up. No telephone landline anymore, which is no loss, as we only ever used it to answer scam calls. I’m now a [Hey! Broadband Brand Champion]heybroadband.co.uk/champion) (referral code: HeyDavid M39)