Broadband deals from some of the UK's most popular providers:
Broadband is an essential utility nowadays. It's necessary for work, education, entertainment, and keeping in touch with family and friends. But many people are paying too much for their internet connection, often staying with the same provider long after their original contract has ended.
Luckily, finding a better broadband deal is easy. But it helps to be familiar with broadband lingo— to know your fibre from your cable and just how fast superfast is. It's also important to understand what types of connections and what kinds of speeds will suit your household and its internet habits.
When you find that perfect deal, switching provider is simpler than ever. There are no special codes needed and generally no need to notify your old provider or wait weeks for a visit from an engineer. The handover will be negotiated between your new provider and old provider, generally with no downtime for you.
Broadband speeds are measured in Megabits per second (Mbps).
They key figure advertised by any broadband provider is the download speed. This basically measures how quickly you can download or stream files. Broadband deals are advertised using average speeds - that means the speed on the ad is what 50% of users experience at peak time.
Superfast broadband is defined as broadband with speeds exceeding 24 Mbps. If you want superfast broadband, you'll need a fibre-optic or cable connection. Superfast connections are recommended for anyone who streams TV and films, plays online games, or has multiple internet users in their household.
Many broadband providers offer package deals bundling TV services in with an internet connection. If you’re interested in expanding your TV choices beyond Freeview, you should check out ISPs like Sky, Virgin, BT, and TalkTalk. Bundling your broadband and TV services could be a way to save money and avoid the hassle of having multiple providers for different services.
Today, the vast majority of broadband deals offer unlimited data. This means you can consume as much internet as you like without penalty or extra charge. A few home broadband providers still offer tariffs with caps and, while they might be cheaper, you should approach them with caution. They’re generally unsuitable for anyone who wants to stream video content, for example. Without careful monitoring of your usage, it’s easy to incur fees for excessive usage.
There are four main types of broadband connection in the UK. There are three fixed line or ‘home’ broadband technologies, which operate over in-ground wires (ADSL, fibre optic, and cable). The fourth, mobile broadband, works using mobile networks.
broadband that operates over the copper wires of the landline phone network. ADSL delivers average download speeds of 10 to 11 Mbps. It’s available to 99% of UK households.
Fibre optic broadband delivers internet over fibre optic cables. This allows for a faster connection than you'd get with copper wires. Most forms of fibre broadband available in the UK are FTTC, or fibre to the cabinet. This means the last mile between your local street cabinet and home uses standard copper telephone lines. FTTC connections are available to 95% of UK premises, often for just a few pounds a month more than ADSL packages.
FTTP (fibre to the premises) or full-fibre is much faster, but less readily available. FTTC connections work with fibre cables going all the way to your property. However, FTTP is only available at 4% of UK addresses.
Cable broadband bypasses the copper phone network entirely and delivers the internet over coaxial cables. The main cable provider in the UK is Virgin Media, which offers broadband with speeds starting at 54 Mbps all the way up to 362 Mbps.
Virgin cable connections are available to just half of UK addresses, however. It's also important to keep in mind that switching to or from a cable provider will mean you'll probably require a viist from an engineer to get set up. Your new provider will handle this but it might add an extra couple of weeks to the switching time.
Mobile broadband is internet delivered over the 3G and 4G mobile networks. To get online, you'll need a device such as a dongle or personal hotspot (MiFis), or a data-only SIM. You can get online with a mobile broadband device wherever you have adequate phone service but speeds tend to be more limited than those for fixed line broadband.
One exception here is 5G. If you live in a 5G ready area, and are happy to pay a premium for a 5G router, you'll benefit from speeds that beat most fixed line connecitons.
Mobile broadband connections will be limited by download allowances. This means that mobile broadband isn’t usually cost-effective substitute for fixed line broadband in your home. However, its portability could makes it an attractive additional service for people who want internet on the go.