Comparing Business Broadband Services – We Review the Top 4 Broadband Providers (2023)

Comparing Business Broadband Services – We Review the Top 4 Broadband Providers

If you have your own business or are responsible for making business decisions, you may have wondered if you are getting the best deal with your business broadband. Below, we have looked into the history, reviews, products and pricing of the top 4 broadband providers to find the business broadband services offered.

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1. TalkTalk Business Broadband

History

TalkTalk was founded in 2003 as a subsidiary of Carphone Warehouse. By 2005, TalkTalk had 2.5 million UK customers following the acquisition of two smaller companies. It underwent a demerger with Carphone Warehouse in 2010 and was listed on the London Stock Exchange. As of 2012, TalkTalk was the second-largest provider offering bundled services (TV, broadband, phone and mobile) after Virgin Media. As of 2018, they no longer offer mobile contracts and are referring existing customers to O2. In March 2021, TalkTalk was acquired by Toscafund Asset Management.

TalkTalk has been working with UK businesses for just under 20 years, and today they support >180k businesses. The network also partners with >350 resellers, offering tailored IT solutions. The business division of TalkTalk stems from Opel telecoms which was founded in 1995.

They were acquired by Carphone Warehouse (predecessor to TalkTalk) in 2002 and remained the brand of TalkTalks business division until 2011, when TalkTalk made several acquisitions to expand its business offerings. Sky won the 2020 Uswitch award for being the most popular broadband provider and has the most significant number of business customers out of the services compared.

Pricing & Packages

TalkTalk has 20 years of experience working with business customers and is publicly working with DHL, BAM systems, Co-Op and Fullers. They won the MITEL EMEA cloud service provider of the year award in 2016 and received positive feedback from business customers (see reviews and customer satisfaction section).

TalkTalk offers four tiers of business connectivity: Standard, Superfast, Ultrafast and Dedicated. All services offer a wifi hub as standard along with a static or dynamic IP address. The network claims to be 99.995% reliable and offers 24/7 support for all packages.

The network claims to have higher than market average fix times, as well as higher reliability. This claim is qualitatively backed up by looking at customer reviews. They also have 70% more ethernet coverage than EE (BT), which is a distinguishing factor given that they both utilise the same fibre network.

TalkTalk offers a leased line service for large businesses (specified below). This service leads to less fluctuation of download/upload speeds as well as much faster speeds.

Setup costs are free except for separate phone lines (£10) and dedicated lines that come at considerable setup costs (TalkTalk pays the first £2800).

Standard:

  • From £16.45 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 12-month minimum contract
  • Calls charged at a pay-as-you-go rate
  • Superfast:
  • Simply Superfast
  • From £22.45 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24-month minimum contract
  • Speeds up to 76Mbps
  • Calls charged at a pay-as-you-go rate
  • Complete Superfast
  • From £28.45 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24-month minimum contract
  • Speeds up to 76Mbps
  • Unlimited landline and mobile calls
  • Free premises move

Ultrafast:

There are two types of ultrafast packages, copper-based and full-fibre. Pricing tables are below. All ultrafast packages offer:

  • Unlimited broadband
  • New line installation
  • 365/7/24 support
  • Wifi hub
  • Static or dynamic IP

Copper-based network:

Comparing Business Broadband Services – We Review the Top 4 Broadband Providers (2)

Fibre-based network:

Comparing Business Broadband Services – We Review the Top 4 Broadband Providers (3)

Dedicated:

Comparing Business Broadband Services – We Review the Top 4 Broadband Providers (4)

A Dedicated Leased Line will provide speeds that never fluctuate. This package is oriented to data-intensive businesses, especially those with flexible working practices.

Network infrastructure

TalkTalk relies on Openreach infrastructure to provide broadband services in the UK. Hence the services offered are very similar to those of Sky and EE (BT). (please see EE infrastructure section)

In 2018, TalkTalk announced plans to build a fibre-to-the-premise network by creating a new company and roll out new infrastructure. The new company “FibreNation” functioned independently to TalkTalk and also partnered with Sky.

The goal was to create a network independent of the industry-standard Openreach. In 2020, TalkTalk sold its fibre network to FibreNation to access the network instead of as a client. The goal of the deal was to facilitate the consolidation of the fibre network to ensure competitiveness. Other networks such as Vodafone are expected to tap into the FibreNation network, which aims to provide service across the entire country.

In October 2021, TalkTalk announced that it is in late-stage discussion to offer broadband customers a new service in partnership with Netgem. The company specialises in full over-the-internet streaming rather than the traditional satellite network generally used for television. TalkTalk is expected to use only a full-fibre connection, which provides 15x faster speeds than the older copper infrastructure common across the UK.

Reviews and customer satisfaction

Trustpilot:

TalkTalk has been rated 2.4 stars across 61k reviews. This is the highest Trustpilot star rating out of the four providers compared in this document.

TalkTalk Business broadband has been rated 4.4 stars across 6k reviews. This is by far the highest level of satisfaction of any consumer/business broadband service compared.

Other Review Services:

  • Broadband.co.uk: 2.4 stars based on 21k reviews
  • Review Centre: 2.9 stars based on 4k reviews
  • Reviews.co.uk: 1.3 stars based on 150 reviews
  • Landline Saver: 1 star based on 400 reviews

Negative reviews hinge almost exclusively on longer-than-expected wait times for installations and resolutions to issues. This is a problem across the industry, given the ongoing COVID-19 disruption. It is worth noting that every review has been responded to by TalkTalk customer service. This would indicate a level of attention to customer feedback not observed from other providers, which are compared here.

Upcoming rollouts

TalkTalk is yet to roll out its Netgem service for over-the-internet streaming. This service is expected to boost the availability of full-fibre services to broadband customers. The service is unlikely to affect business customers, who will benefit from the ongoing Openreach rollout to the same extent as EE (BT) and Sky customers. (please see EE infrastructure section)

2. Virgin Business Broadband

History

Virgin Media is owned by Virgin Media O2, a joint venture between Liberty Global and Telefónica. It has its roots in two older companies: Telewest and NTL. In 2005, Telewest announced a $16b purchase of NTL, creating one of the largest media companies in the UK. Later that year, NTL:Telewest and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile UK announced that talks had taken place regarding a merger.

NTL:Telewest made a successful £962.4 for Virgin mobile, making Richard Branson a 10.7% stakeholder. The deal included a 30-year exclusive branding agreement, and the NTL:Telewest rebranded as “Virgin Media Inc”.

This merger created a monopoly in UK cable broadband, with the newly formed Virgin Media having >90% of the market. It also became the first provider to offer full service (TV, broadband, phone and mobile).

The company was listed on the NASDAQ and the London Stock Exchange until 2013 when the British-dutch-American multinational telecoms giant Liberty National announced that they had agreed to buy Virgin for £15b. Between 2013 – 2015, the British telecoms industry underwent extensive consolidation and market cannibalisation. Notably, Virgin sold part of its telephone infrastructure to TalkTalk as a strategy to focus on broadband deals.

Virgin began transferring customers to TalkTalk in 2015. In May 2020, Liberty Global reached an agreement with Telefónica to merge Virgin Media and O2. The deal was worth £31band was completed in June. The resulting company is operating as “Virgin Media O2”.

The VirginMedia business division was founded in 2010 when they launched a dedicated leased line service for large businesses. In 2011, institutional dedicated data centres were installed, allowing for up to 10Gbps speeds. Virgin won the 2020 Expert Reviews award for “best broadband provider” based on a survey and differentiated itself through its innovative network independent of Openreach.

Pricing & Packages

Virgin broadband uses the same network as that marketed to retail customers, with the added option of a 4G backup in case of an outage (for an extra £7 per month). The network claims to be 99.9% reliable, and every package comes with 24/7 support. The Voom network covers 97% of the UK, with the average reported speed being 84Mbps. Virgins network is separate from those of TalkTalk, Sky and EE, given that it is the only one not to rely on BT’s Openreach provider. For this reason, it should be compared separately to the other three, which differentiate mainly on price and customer feedback.

Virgin won the ‘Cloud Computing Innovations of the Year’ category in the Information Age Awards in 2012 and was recognised as “operation excellence” by the British quality foundation.

Virgin supplies businesses with a Hitron CGNV4-BIZ router which offers 4-gigabit internet, dual-band wifi and can support 13 static IP addresses.

Virgin offers four tiers of business broadband: Voom fibre 1, 2, 3 and 500.

Voom Fibre 1:

  • From £32 per month (ex. VAT)
  • Up to 350Mbps download, 20Mbps upload
  • Dynamic or Static IP (multiple static IP’s available at the cost of an additional router)
  • 24-month minimum contract
  • Unlimited calls

Voom Fibre 2:

  • From £47 per month (ex. VAT)
  • Up to 350Mbps download, 30Mbps upload
  • Dynamic or Static IP (multiple static IP’s available at the cost of an additional router)
  • 24-month minimum contract
  • Unlimited calls

Voom Fibre 3:

  • From £50 per month (ex. VAT)
  • Up to 350Mbps download, 40Mbps upload
  • Dynamic or Static IP (multiple static IP’s available at the cost of an additional router)
  • 24-month minimum contract
  • Unlimited calls

Voom Fibre 500:

  • From £62 per month (ex. VAT)
  • Up to 350Mbps download, 50Mbps upload
  • Dynamic or Static IP (multiple static IP’s available at the cost of an additional router)
  • 24-month minimum contract
  • Unlimited calls

Each service also offers 4g backup for an additional £7 per month.

Network infrastructure

Virgin is the only provider of the four compared here, which doesn’t rely on Openreach infrastructure. This is a distinguishing factor that serves as a competitive advantage for Virgin. This is reflected in their price packages.

Virgin launched operation lightning speed in 2015 – a £3bn investment into infrastructure, allowing 4m homes and businesses access to 152Mbps connectivity. When Voom fibre was launched in 2017, speeds of up to 350Mbps were possible across most UK. An IDC report in 2017 found that 39% of businesses across the UK had speeds of less than 30Mbps.

Over the last three years, Virgin has rolled out a 3bn upgrade to its fibre network, boosting availability to 17m homes and businesses. This is the most significant investment in UK internet infrastructure in the last decade. Currently, Virgin has 330 ethernet nodes across the country and 38k street cabinets (which provide fibre connections to local areas). This is the most extensive fibre coverage of any network.

Reviews and customer satisfaction

Trustpilot:

VirginMedia has been rated 2.2 stars across 51k reviews. This is the second-highest highest Trustpilot star rating out of the 4 providers compared in this document.

VirginMedia business broadband has been rated 1.2 stars across 570 reviews. This is the same as EE (BT). Note that Sky business does not have a separate Trustpilot page.

Other Review Services:

  • Broadband.co.uk: 3.1 stars based on 140 reviews
  • Review Centre: 1.2 stars based on 1k reviews
  • Reviews.co.uk: 1.2 stars based on 190 reviews
  • Landline Saver: 1.2 stars based on 100 reviews

Complaints about Virgin Media’s business broadband generally speak of long wait times for customer service agents, which is not noted in a sample of reviews for other providers. All providers have seen large numbers of complaints speaking of issues around resolution and installation times, something unanimously blamed on COVID-19 disruptions.

Ofcom reports higher than average customer satisfaction for Virgin in terms of both complaints and complaints resolution.

Upcoming rollouts

Virgin is continuing with its Voom rollout, improving access across the UK. There are no upcoming rollouts likely to impact fibre performance for customers with existing connections.

3. Sky Business Broadband

History

Sky relies on Openreach infrastructure to provide broadband services in the UK. Services offered are very similar to those of TalkTalk and EE (BT). (please see EE infrastructure section)

Sky originated from a merger between Sky movies and The Movie Channel in the 90s. In 2005, Sky purchased the ISP EasyNet for £211m to expand into broadband services. This gave Sky access to an extensive network infrastructure which EasyNet had negotiated. By 2007, Sky had 1m customers in the UK. In 2013, Sky purchased the fixed telephone line and broadband business of Telefónica UK, which traded under the O2 brand.

By 2014, all customers had been transferred to Sky, which boasted 6.1m customers by 2017. In 2018, Comcast (the largest cable provider in the US) outbid 21st Century Fox for control of Sky UK (a 76.8% stake). Comcast then announced that it would acquire the remainder of Sky.

Sky launched its satellite service in 2010 – Europe’s first paid TV platform to become available to more than 10 million homes. In 2016, Sky launched a TV and entertainment service called Sky Q. At the end of 2019, Sky had 12.7m customers. They specialise in TV and broadcasting but offer a full range of services.

Sky mainly markets to households and small businesses with its popular bundled packages. They have won awards for their packages, including the Uswitch 2020 best triple-play provider. Sky is unrivalled in its services for pubs, clubs and hotels. As such, they market lower-bandwidth deals with TV included.

Pricing & Packages

Although Sky mainly focuses on consumer broadband, it is the primary provider to pubs around the country, given that its TV + broadband deals are popular. Sky has the least on offer for business customers of the four providers compared, notably not offering a leased line service. With lower maximum download speeds than its competitors, it will be most attractive to small businesses with low data intensity. It markets to this group of customers with competitive pricing, but larger businesses are likely to look elsewhere.

Sky offers three tiers of business broadband. Advantage, advantage pro and advantage max. Each service comes with a dedicated business phone and unlimited usage. Packages come with a dynamic IP by default, but static IP can be purchased for £3 per month.

Advantage:

  • From £39 per month (ex. VAT)
  • Up to 76Mbps download, 19Mbps upload
  • 24-month minimum contract

Advantage Pro:

  • From £55 per month (ex. VAT) (currently offering ½ price deal for first six months)
  • Up to 76Mbps download, 19Mbps upload
  • 24-month minimum contract
  • Always-on internet (4G backup connection)

Advantage Max:

  • From £95 per month (ex. VAT)
  • Up to 76Mbps download, 19Mbps upload
  • 24-month minimum contract
  • Always-on internet (4G backup connection)
  • Up to four phone lines

Network infrastructure

In 2005, when Sky agreed to purchase the ISP EasyNet, EasyNet was one of only two companies in the UK that had invested materially in LLU (local-loop unbundling). This meant that Sky had access to 232 unbundled (not tied directly to a network) telephone exchanges, allowing for better connectivity at a lower price for customers. By 2012, Sky had unbundled exchanges covering 70% of the UK, offering them a price and connectivity advantage over the competition.

In 2020, Sky introduced a fibre-to-the-home broadband offer following a partnership with BUUK. This gave them access to fibre networks across the country, mainly focusing on the new-build segment of the market. The service was promised to deliver up to 145Mbps, 12x faster than standard broadband. The service was made available to 7.3m households as of 2021.

Reviews and customer satisfaction

Trustpilot:

Sky has been rated 1.6 stars across 183 reviews. This is the fourth-highest (lowest) Trustpilot star rating out of the 4 providers compared in this document.

Sky Business does not have a Trustpilot page.

Other Review Services (Sky does not have separate review pages for its business offerings):

  • Broadband.co.uk: 2.7 stars based on 30k reviews
  • Review Centre: 1.8 stars based on 800 reviews
  • Reviews.co.uk: 3.4 stars based on 30 reviews
  • Landline Saver: 1.3 stars based on 50 reviews

As with other providers, Sky complaints speak of long wait times for engineers to fix issues. Notably, in the same of reviews compared. Sky has the highest number of complaints about speeds being lower than promised. However, Ofcom reports high satisfaction with complaint resolution. Anecdotal, there are numerous complaints of speeds not reaching what was promised, although these are typically resolved quickly.

Upcoming rollouts

In 2019, Sky launched its fibre-to-the-premise service, which business customers have well received. Most of the UK is now eligible for this service, although the rollout continues through 2021. Sky also benefits from the ongoing Openreach upgrades given that it uses the same network (please see EE infrastructure section)

2. EE Business Broadband

History

The BT group owns EE. It was the largest mobile network operator in the UK, with 27.5m customers in 2020. In 2009, Deutsche Telekom and France Télécom announced plans to merge their respective UK ventures 50:50 – T-Mobile UK and Orange UK. T-Mobile originated from Mercury Communications, which was formed in 1989. Orange launched services in 1994. The companies were to operate separately for 18 months before consolidating to save “over £445m annually from 2014 onwards”. The resulting company was renamed Everything Anywhere in 2010.

Each brand would maintain “its shops, marketing campaigns, propositions and service centres”. The main benefit of the merger was the plan to share networks, which was rolled out in 2010, quickly followed amid financial difficulties by the closure of several stores and back-office staff. In 2012, the company announced that the EE brand would be used across the entire network (EE, Orange & T-Mobile). Quickly after this announcement, all Orange and T-Mobile shops were rebranded to EE.

Interestingly, products continued to be sold inside the stores under the respective brands. The company’s name only changed to EE Limited in 2013. In 2014, it was announced that BT group had entered into talks to buy EE for £12.5b. The deal was approved in 2016, with Deutsche Telekom owning 12% of BT and Orange owning 4%.

Pricing & Packages

BT provides EE business broadband, and EE customers are referred to the BT website to purchase business packages. BT supplies business customers with a Smart Hub 2 router similar to the one provided to residential customers. One of the main differentiating points for BT broadband is that they promise no traffic management or fair-use policy for downloads. Other providers are known to limit downloads under these premises.

BT Offer free guest wifi and a square card reader with every business broadband package.

BT offers four different packages: superfast + digital line, superfast + value line, full fibre 150 + digital line, full fibre 300 + digital line, ultrafast 2 + value line, full fibre 500 + digital line and full-fibre 900 + digital line. Each package is guaranteed to have 24/7 connectivity and support. All packages also come with static IP, unlimited data and a fixed price promise.

Superfast + digital line:

  • £34.95 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24 Month minimum contract
  • Up to 76Mbps download, 19Mbps upload
  • Generic ethernet access
  • Superfast + value line:
  • £34.95 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24 Month minimum contract
  • Up to 76Mbps download, 19Mbps upload
  • Fibre to cabinet access

Full fibre 150 + digital line:

  • £34.95 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24 Month minimum contract
  • Up to 152Mbps download, 29Mbps upload
  • Fibre to premises access
  • Full fibre 300 + digital line:
  • £34.95 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24 Month minimum contract
  • Up to 314Mbps download, 48Mbps upload
  • Fibre to premises access
  • Ultrafast 2 + value line:
  • £44.95 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24 Month minimum contract
  • Up to 314Mbps download, 48Mbps upload
  • G.fast access terminals

Full fibre 500 + digital line:

  • £49.95 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24 Month minimum contract
  • Up to 500Mbps download, 68Mbps upload
  • Fibre to premises access
  • Full fibre 900 + digital line:
  • £49.95 per month (ex. VAT)
  • 24 Month minimum contract
  • Up to 900Mbps download, 104Mbps upload
  • Fibre to premises access

Network infrastructure

EE is owned by BT, which own Openreach, the provider of most broadband services in the UK. Hence the services offered are very similar to those of Sky and TalkTalk. Openreach is responsible for installing and maintaining the network used by many of the UK’s telecoms providers. (Sky, TalkTalk, BT). Openreach doesn’t sell phone, broadband or TV services directly to consumers. Instead, it works on behalf of service providers to maintain the local access network that covers their clients.

The Openreach network is the most extensive in the UK, rivalled only by Virgins Voom network. Because of the high fixed costs associated with network development, there is a lot of consolidation in the UK telecoms industry, evidenced by many of the largest providers using the Openreach network.

Openreach was established in 2006 as a part of BT. Following a series of critiques by Ofcom, they were instructed to incorporate as a separate company within the BT Group rather than as a division of BT. This was announced in 2016. Under the new structure, Ofcom was still owned by BT, but staff, management and strategy were independent. The change was required based on anticompetitive practices and concerns about monopoly.

The main concern was BT having too much strategic control of the decision making process at Openreach. The incorporation of Openreach as a separate entity meant that all stakeholders would be part of the consultation process when decisions were made. The restructuring was completed in 2018, and Ofcom continues to monitor “strategic independence” conditions on an ongoing basis.

The backbone of Openreach’s infrastructure is the “Ultrafast” fibre network. Which currently connects 15m homes and businesses in the UK. The network can provide a minimum of 30Mbps, with up to 1000Mbps in some locations.

Reviews and customer satisfaction

Trustpilot:

EE has been rated 1.7 stars across 420k reviews. This is the third-highest Trustpilot star rating out of the 4 providers compared in this document.

EE (BT) Business broadband has been rated at 1.2 stars across 250 reviews.

Other Review Services (Sky does not have separate review pages for its business offerings):

  • Broadband.co.uk: 2.8 stars based on 2k reviews
  • Review Centre: 1.2 stars based on 500 reviews
  • Reviews.co.uk: 1.5 stars based on 90 reviews
  • Landline Saver: 1.4 stars based on 80 reviews

Negative reviews for EE (BT) services mainly focus on longer than promised waits for setup and resolution appointments. This has been a pain point across the industry, which providers have chalked up to ongoing COVID-19 impacts.

There are also reports of billing issues, which are not an issue in the Sky / Virgin / TalkTalk complaints sample. These complaints generally speak of being over-billed and frustration over the time taken to resolve it.

EE’s service offers the same speed as TalkTalk and Sky, given that all three services run on the Openreach network. Speeds of up to 900Mbps are available in the densest areas—the main differentiator between the three networks being customer service and price. Average download speeds are reported to be 67Mbps.

Ofcom reports higher than average complaints about EE services and higher than average customer satisfaction regarding complaint resolution.

Upcoming rollouts

Openreach continues to roll out its “Ultrafast” network, which currently connects 15m homes and businesses, to connect 29m by 2030. They are also in the process of upgrading all UK phone lines from analogue/ copper to digital, intending to complete this project across the country by 2025. The rollout has been vastly accelerated in the wake of the new work-from-home paradigm following the COVID-19 pandemic, with renewed appetite across the country for faster broadband and fibre connectivity.

Other useful links about business broadband

Guess Wifi for Businesses

EE Business Broadband

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