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BE broadband isn't necessarily the cheapest internet provider. What it seems to have done since it started in 2005 is aim to provide the fastest internet service it possibly can do. It reckons it was the first premium ISP in the country to have ADSL2+, giving it the fastest speeds at the time. The current aim is to be constantly improving the service.

BEbroadband comes in three flavours, known as BE Value, BE Unlimited and BE Pro. The top two had a 24 Mbps download speed in November 2009, making them the fastest available non-fibre optic deals around. You generally need to sign up for 12 months, although shorter contracts are available, and the top of the range deal comes with a static IP address.

A feature of all the offers is that they are completely unlimited, with no service shaping or throttling and a fair usage policy that only limits spam, the download of illegal materials and service use that adversely affects other users (that last one is still pretty vague and used by other networks regularly). It aims for a 1:1 contention ratio, which helps with performance and a stable internet connection. A trial with 'bonding' offers the hope for 50 Mbps through the connection of more than one high-speed line.

Providing fast internet access fits in with the BE unlimited broadband policy to offer the best possible internet services for gamers. It became the UK eSports Association's official broadband provider in February 2009.

BE internet was bought by O2 in 2006 and so became part of the Telefonica group, which has over 35 million customers throughout Europe. However, it remains independent and operates from a small London office, which is 'very cool' apparently. This is probably nothing to do with the heating system because the whole site is equally cool, with a garish colour scheme and photos of the staff in cool poses. There is a 'What We're About' section that is, apparently, 'like our manifesto but less angry'. And no, I don't know what it means either and whether it's meant to be funny, sales-pitchy or both.

The company does put a lot of effort into maintaining a community, with a forum, a user group and a blog. It has won a number of awards, the most recent being the Editor's Pick for Best Balance of Price and Performance ISPs (Consumer) in the 2009 ISP Review - an award name that certainly fits in to our mantra of "the best deal is the best balance". It also got a Best Buy status from Which? magazine and they normally love to criticise anything.

Despite all this, customer ratings are only just above average, with 3.4 stars out of 5 on one site. There is praise for reliability, customer service and forums, although inevitably there are some complaints citing speed issues and stability problems. BEinternet has resisted the temptation to locate its call centre in India like many other companies. Instead, it's in Bulgaria, which may not be an advantage and whether they can understand a Scottish accent is unknown.

There may be some confusion over the name, sometimes referred to as be there broadband, bebroadband or even bethere broadband (all one work). After all, the site address is www.bethere.co.uk and you need to get it right. Entering www.be.com takes you to some sort of shopping site while www.be.co.uk finds nothing at all because 2 letter .co.uk domain names do not exist (no idea why!).

If you were an online gamer or did a lot of downloading or video streaming, you might think about a top of the range deal from this company. They don't go for the real cheap deals but instead seem to focus on speed and reliability. The concentration is also exclusively on fixed line broadband with no phone and TV deals to cloud the issue. So, if you can put up with the garish colours of the website and the oh so cool posturing, have a look. If you're lucky, you might even be able to get a special deal such as the half price offer that was available for a time whilst we were looking. †

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