Best Broadband Providers
As Of June 2022
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Award-winning unlimited broadband for only £24.95/month
- Nothing is set in stone as you can add & remove monthly extras
- Get the Fast Broadband + TalkTalk TV + TV Lite Box for just £28.95/month
- Great for families offering security & parental controls
- Talk Talk takes on the process of switching supplier for you
Don't miss out on deals starting as low as £27.99
- Complete solutions with phone line, mobile & TV packages
- Fibre 2 deal offers a 24months contract for £32.99 with a 73MB max speed
- Protect your family by setting parental control & online limits
- Manage your broadband on-the-go via the award-winning apps
Best Broadband Providers for a Fast and Reliable Connection
Access to the internet has become a necessity, whether you are just replying to work emails or in need of some entertainment. As such, broadband connection has increased over the years in the UK. Having fast and reliable connections is a must as all the more people rely on the internet for communication, work and even TV.
But the market is full of providers, from major telecommunication companies like EE, Virgin Media and BT to up-coming providers. It all makes choosing the best provider a tad bit more difficult.
Apart from getting the fastest broadband, there are other factors to consider, such as the reliability, prices, contract length, not forgetting some icing on that package with gifts and other offers.
Every provider has its pros and cons, but the only way to pick the best service provider for you is by knowing what you need. Our comprehensive buying guide helps you list down your needs and what features to consider, allowing you to choose the best broadband provider for your home.
What is broadband?
Broadband is a high-capacity data transmission or frequency that enables the transportation of traffic and multiple signals. Simply put, it refers to a connection between the internet and your devices that allows you to access the web. This will enable you to browse through different search engines, connect to social media sites and even stream content online from streaming sites.
It can be found in four different forms, DSL, fibre-optic, cable and satellite. Have you ever used the old dial-up connection? Well, this is the only non-broadband internet service.
How to choose the best broadband provider for you
Before picking one providers there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Check them while browsing for the best one and we are confident that you’ll make the right choice.
Location is one of the key determinants when it comes to getting the best broadband provider. Not all Internet Service Providers are available in all areas, and some ISPs have better coverage in some postcodes than others.
The connection reliability and speed of the ADSL and fibre connections rely heavily on the distance between the local exchange point and your home. It also depends on the quality of the lines between the closest streetside cabinets and your home.
Before settling for any provider, go through their website and check whether their service is available in your location. If it is, confirm the speed it offers in your area to see how much speed you expect to get if you sign up with them.
Major ISP providers in the UK provide this information on their website, making it easy for prospective customers to get all the information they need regarding coverage to make an informed decision.
Don’t Let the Advertised Speed Fool You
Because internet service providers know consumers care a lot about the speed of the connection they get, they are always advertising how ultrafast their connection is. But don't let their advertised superfast speed fool you into buying a package without reviewing it further.
You also need to know how consistent and stable that connection is, and customer reviews from current and previous users could help with this. Ofcom also publishes an annual report of customer satisfaction for various broadband providers, so check out their survey, too.
Keep in mind that the data from Ofcom's survey only shows the speed between your router and the ISP. The speed could be lower if you have connected devices like your smartphone and laptop via WiFi.
Also, consider customer support; is it reliable and friendly? You need dedicated customer care support to help you sort problems fast when the connection is slow or experiencing other issues. Poor customer service will only frustrate you and take longer to sort out your issues, even when they are not complicated.
Also, pay attention to other extra services that come with your connection, which could also increase the connection cost. Some providers will add a line rental, TV deals, and phone packages.
If you are looking for extra services, like mobile data, it could be worth considering a provider who offers all of it at an affordable price. But if your concern is just a broadband connection, pay close attention to what else the package you are signing up for comes with and decide whether it is necessary for you.
While most providers will send you a monthly bill, you should consider the broad connection's overallcost. How much are you paying for setup costs? Is the current price the retail price, or is the provider offering a discount or some promotion price for new customers? Are there other charges that might arise after the promotion period if you sign up during a promotion?
The truth is all these costs add up in the long run, and a provider whose prices seemed affordable could end up costing you more than you had budgeted for.
While at it, ensure you review the terms and conditions and see what happens to your connection after the contract expires. Some providers will hike the price after the contract has expired, sometimes with a significant margin. You can negotiate for a lower price, but some providers will not budge, in which case, you are allowed to search for a provider with an affordable connection.
While some ISP providers offer unlimited broadband connections, there are others with a limit. The data limit puts a cap on how much data you can use in a month without incurring an extra cost or the provider slowing your speed when you get to particular data usage.
Of course, no one wants a limit on how much data they use for whatever period; one minute, you are happily streaming the latest episode from your favourite TV show, and the next, you are dealing with a buffering connection.
We recommend you go for a package with unlimited connection, even if it costs you a few extra pounds. You will never have to worry about an additional bill showing on your account for surpassing a set limit.
Free Gifts Offers
The competition for broadband services is relatively high, and providers are always looking for ways to retain their customers and lure in new ones. As such, many will often have offers and even give gift vouchers. You might get a shopping voucher or prepaid credit cards, which is fantastic but still stay focused on finding the best one that suits your requirements.
What types of broadband are there?
There are different types of broadband in the market, so make sure you opt for the one that works best based on your location and needs.
It is also referred to as standard broadband. ADSL broadband the most common and affordable broadband connection. ADSL uses the BT line (Openreach) telephone networks, making it easy for almost every household to access broadband.
The average connection from an ADSL broadband is 10Mbps, making it ideal for small households. The speed is slow compared to others and might not be suitable if your home relies heavily on a stable internet connection for work and entertainment.
Fibre Optic Broadband
With an average speed of 35Mbps, fibre optic broadbands offer more than what the ADSL connection provides. But, full fibre optic connections are limited, making this broadband less accessible to households than the ADSL.
Virgin Media Broadband
While most networks use the Openreach telephone lines, Virgin Media operates its own nationwide network using coaxial cable broadband. The connection is still faster than what most providers offer, getting as high as 516Mbps. Although it is not available throughout the UK, Virgin Media broadband is available in about 60% of locations.
What broadband speed do I need?
Everyone is always looking for fast speed because it determines how fast you can upload and download content. It also affects pictures' quality when streaming from online sites like YouTube and Netflix or when gaming.
But fast speed is subjective. It varies between individuals, depending on one's needs. Whatever speed is suitable for your household might not necessarily be enough for your neighbour.
To know how much speed all the preferred broadband packages offer, check the quoted Mbps. It stands for megabits per second, meaning the amount of data you can upload or download per second.
If your household is always online and has high data usage, like online gaming and streaming, you will need a package with high Mbps. But if you are rarely home and don't use the internet that much even when you are home, lower and more affordable Mbps options will work for you.
If you currently have a broadband connection and are shopping for a new provider, the best way to know what speed you need is to run a speed test when you are home and connected to your broadband. It will show you the current upload speed and download speed, giving you an idea of what to look for from other packages.
Depending on the size of your household, here's is a quick guide on how much speed you might need:
0 to 30Mbps
This is ideal for a small household of 1 to 2 people and only needs the connection for basic browsing and social media. It is a standard package from ADSL broadband that offers an average speed of10Mbps.
30 to 60Mbps
An ideal connection for a household of over three people, but smaller families might also benefit from this. The internet is usually fast for simultaneous usage, even when streaming. For this speed, go for a fibre broadband package, which is more reliable.
60 to 100Mbps
Does your household rely heavily on streaming? Whether they are gamers or fans of TV programs, a steady and reliable connection will ensure they do not suffer from a buffering internet connection. This is the best package to go for, with at least 63 Mbps in mind.
100Mbps and above
This package offers the best speed for heavy file downloads and uploads. If you are always at home, have people in the house who are always connected to the internet from multiple devices gaming or watching, or you are constantly sending and downloading heavy files, it is worth paying the high price for this package.
What is 'average' speed for broadband?
The Advertising Standards Authority requires all internet providers to advertise their service's speed using 'Average' speed rather than 'up to' speed. Due to this, you will notice that many providers will give you an average speed for their packages. What does that mean?
It simply means the speed received in Mbps by 50%+ of their users within the UK's peak period, that's between 8 pm and 10 pm. However, there is no guarantee you will receive the average speed. Ensure you check the provider's minimum speed, especially during peak hours.
The average broadband speed in the UK is about 35Mbps. Not every provider will offer this much, so you can expect to get about 10Mbps from most ISP providers.
Major providers will offer superfast fibre connections, but this will cost you more than you can get from competitors with lesser packages. Unless your household has heavy internet users, this average speed will be adequate for everyday usage.
How to compare broadband deals
Apart from checking customer reviews and guides from major companies that do reviews in the UK, you can compare broadband deals on Ofcom. Ofcom, or the Office of Communications, is the UK's regulatory and competition authority for telecommunications, broadcasting and post office service providers.
Ofcom's website has a price comparison page where consumers can run searches and compare the service ratings from the different providers to make an informed decision.
Can I order broadband deals over the phone?
Are you aware of the best broadband deals and just need a fast way to order without having to dig through the internet or the company’s website? A simple phone call can sort all this out, but not every ISP provider has made it possible for customers to buy their packages over the phones. Pay attention to whether the same deals apply online and over the phone, as some don’t support them.
But, there are a few providers with this option, in case you decide to purchase their packages:
- EE broadband: 0800-079-0075
- BT broadband: 0800-783-5462
- Plusnet broadband: 0808-168-5438
- TalkTalk broadband: 0808-783-5462
Is fibre broadband available in my area?
Fibre broadband is available in about 90% of the UK, so your area likely has fibre broadband. Other areas have both fibre and Virgin Media broadband, allowing you to choose your preferred provider.
There is no telling whether your area has fibre broadband without doing some research. You can easily do this by running a search on the broadband’s provider website. They make a point of listing where they have fibre connections.
How to decide what contract length should you go for?
The last thing you want is to commit to a broadband contract that sticks you with slow internet for months. Or worse, an expensive connection that does no justice to the amount of money you cough out of your pocket.
As such, ensure you are aware of the contract duration for each service provider. While most ISP providers are still providing a 12-month contract, others are still trying to have their customers commit to more extended periods. Do not be surprised when you see an 18-month contract; they are pretty standard now. Other providers, like BT and Vodafone, have a more extended period, up to 24-months.
This, of course, means you will be stuck with the provider for an extended period. If the service provided is not what you expected, moving from your current provider to another will be emotionally draining and quite expensive.
The silver lining to this is that Ofcom has a regulation that allows you to get out of contracts if the provider is not delivering as promised. Also, many providers are now providing some sort of grace period, like one month, during which you can back out of the contract if they are not offering the service you signed up for.
Still, pay close attention to the contract duration to avoid going back to the drawing board after a few months. If you want a long term commitment, you can go for a provider with a longer contract duration. But if you’re going to test the provider and rate their service, consider opting for a shorter period.
Will I have to pay anything upfront for broadband?
Probably. Many providers will need a setup cost. Others will refer to it as an activation fee. It is common practice with major providers, and they request this to activate your contract or even cater to the router's delivery. The cost is not usually high, and it ranges from £10 to £60, depending on the provider.
Luckily, many providers are getting rid of this upfront fee while other run offers that allow new customers to sign up without paying this upfront fee.
If you opt for a more extensive package that offers TV packages, there is a high possibility of paying the setup cost for the set-top box to be connected.
Are Wi-Fi and broadband the same?
Definition-wise, no, they are not the same thing. Broadband connection requires the use of an Ethernet cable. On the other hand, WiFi allows you to connect your devices through a wireless connection, using a router that comes as part of your broadband package.
But in other situations, there is no definitive answer for this. The answer depends on one’s situation. Many providers are offering broadband options with both broadband and WiFi connections. That means you can connect using both a wireless connection via the router or the ethernet cable.
How often can you switch broadband providers?
It all depends on whether you're receiving what you pay for or signed up for in the contract. With many contracts running from 12 months to about 24 months, it can make switching to a different provider without incurring an early termination fee a bit challenging.
Yet, Ofcom allows you to switch to a different provider without incurring this cost if the service you are getting is not what you signed up for. It also gives you a 'cooling off' period of 14 calendar days. This is the period through which you can cancel or switch to a different broadband provider without incurring any cancellation costs.
4G and 5G home broadband: what are they?
By now, you have already heard the big debate between 5G and 4G networks (forget the conspiracy theories). So, which one is best for your home broadband?
5G is the latest network, referring to the 5th generation of technology standard. Together with its predecessor, 4G, these networks use the same airwaves to transmit data between devices. The major difference is that 5G uses 100MHz to 800MHz while 4G uses up to 20MHz.
It basically means that the 5G connection is faster than 4G. It also incorporates into a mobile broadband WiFi hub instead of a smartphone sim like the 4G. This allows it to connect to devices using a WiFi signal just the same way the fixed standard broadband routers do, allowing you to have a fast connection without using a wired connection.
A broadband connection is a long-term connection, regardless of the contract length. As such, it requires meticulous attention when shopping for a broadband service provider. There are many things to consider, from the contract length to the speed, customer care service and extra features like landline and TV packages. Thankfully, we have you covered!
So, avoid committing to a broadband provider that will cause you frustration. Simply use our guide to determine which provider is the best one for you!