Cuckoo Internet: is this the broadband provider we’ve being waiting for?

Cuckoo Internet
Bird brained: Cuckoo aims for simplicity

There are dozens of British broadband providers, yet the vast majority of people go with one of the big names. The smaller companies often only exist by having a USP – for example, I use Zen Internet, who are pricey but provide superb customer service. Cuckoo Internet could soon be added to that list. Its USP? It’s got only one tariff.

Who is behind Cuckoo?

Cuckoo is the brainchild of Alex Fitzgerald, a former Treasury official.

Alex’s dad was getting a really bad deal from BT. His mum is Indian and so was calling his grandmother a lot on the landline to India. The bills were ridiculous and, despite spending hours trying to hammer out a deal with BT, his dad couldn’t make it cheaper.

Frustrated with complex deals, including new customers getting better offers, Alex decided to do something different.

At the time, Alex was working at energy company Bulb as a consultant, helping them grow. If they could shake up the energy market, why couldn’t the same be done for broadband?

Last year, along with three other people, he started Cuckoo Internet, a broadband provider that hopes to be a breath of fresh air to the industry. Just over a year later, the first customers are being added.

Alex’s plan was simple – a modern internet provider, with a simple, clear offering and a promise that that existing customers will never pay more than new customers.

What do Cuckoo offer?

Cuckoo has only one package – up to 70Mbits/sec fibre with a one month rolling contract for £29.99 per month. You get a router sent to you and there is a £60 upfront cost. Cuckoo have been very up-front about the reasoning for this additional cost:

We thought hard about this. We know that an upfront cost might put off some customers. However, each time someone joins our network we need to pay Openreach about £60 to switch them over; and we’d rather be transparent about that rather than tying you into a long contract.

How to disrupt a £12bn industry; the Cuckoo pricing story

In comparison, TalkTalk, which is often regarded as one of the cheaper options, is £26 per month with nothing to pay upfront. However, TalkTalk is also notorious for its poor customer service.

The contract length for TalkTalk is… well, I struggled to find that information on its site. And this comes back to something that Cuckoo is railing against – the lack of clarity and simplicity in broadband tariffs. A quick Google showed TalkTalk broadband to have contract lengths of between 12 and 18 months, but without going down a deep rabbit hole, I couldn’t find a definitive answer on its site.

What about customer support?

Right now, customer service is offered via email and social media. Along with that, there are plethora of useful articles on the Cuckoo website (and, unlike most other companies, the contact details are not hidden away).

In the near future, the company is looking to add online chat and phone support and, slightly further off, a mobile app.

On top of everything else, Cuckoo has promised to donate 1% of of your bill (not profits) to internet-related charities. For example, providing essential internet services to conflict zones, natural disaster sites and developing communities. You can even vote on where, specifically, it goes.

Is Cuckoo worth trying?

Definitely (and I’ve put my name forward myself). Only that £60 upfront cost should put you off – if it doesn’t work out, you can cancel the contract after your first month but you’ll be out of pocket by £90.

All broadband providers have to give you a 14-day “cooling off” period after you switch, allowing you to change your mind and cancel the contract, however long it may be. But, let’s be honest, are you really going to know if you decision was right within a fortnight? Unlikely. In which case, with other broadband providers you’ll be stuck in a 12-month+ contract cycle until you can move away again.

If you still need convincing, consider joining Cuckoo’s online community – you can talk to the staff, including the CEO, about its plans and learn more about what they’re up to.

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About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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