By Tom Brook
Looking for a faster and more reliable broadband service? Here's a rundown of the best broadband providers in the UK.
Picking the best broadband provider for your needs isn't a simple task. After all, there are so many different providers available, and each offers its own range of packages and speeds. As a result, unless you know exactly what you're looking for, it's easy to make an expensive mistake.
Thankfully, help is at hand. We've put together this guide that outlines the top broadband providers in the UK right now. We've also detailed the specialisms of each provider, how affordable they are and the types of packages they're currently offering. With our help, you'll have no problem selecting the best broadband deal on the market.
So here are the best broadband providers in the UK in 2023.
The excellent range of BT broadband deals includes a fantastic selection of medium-to-fast speeds. The company only provides ADSL connections to properties that are ineligible to receive fibre broadband, but it does offer a near unbeatable selection of both fibre and full fibre packages with options that range from 36Mbps to 900Mbps.
As well as providing download speeds to suit almost any need, BT also offers speed guarantees, smart Wi-Fi hubs, good internet security and a knowledgeable customer services team that's easy to contact.Given their price and availability, it's easy to see why the company's Full Fibre 1 and Full Fibre 2 packages are two of the most popular broadband options in the UK today.
We think that BT is undoubtedly one of the top internet service providers in the UK. However, this doesn't mean that its offering is flawless. Before you sign up with the provider, you should be aware that the company specialises in 24-month contracts. Plus, its deals aren't the cheapest and it cannot compete with Virgin Media's fastest options.
That said, BT - via the Openreach network - has been aggressively expanding its full fibre network, and it is beginning to inch closer to its rival.
Sky is one of the best known and most popular internet service providers in the UK. It's easy to see why, too.
Sky has claimed countless awards over the past few decades, offers some of the best internet and TV bundle deals in the country and regularly offers great incentives and discounts on its contracts.
On top of this, Sky's broadband deals include a speed to suit every household. Its fibre deals start at 36Mbps, while its fastest fibre offers average download speeds of 900Mbps. Plus, the company also offers a 'wall-to-wall Wi-Fi' guarantee. Loyal customers even receive VIP incentives, which many providers reserve for new customers.
That said, Sky also relies on the Openreach network that's utilised by BT. This means it cannot compete with some of the speeds offered by Virgin Media. Plus, the company also specialises in 18-month contracts, which can be restrictive.
Searching for the fastest speeds available? Virgin Media's broadband deals are likely to be the best for you.
Virgin Media has one major advantage over some of its other competitors: it uses its own network. This means it doesn't need to rely on old copper cables that are slow at transmitting data.
As a result, the entire Virgin Media network is now gigabit ready. All but one of Virgin’s tariffs offer average download speeds of 100Mbps or faster, and the company usually offers good incentives and discounts on some of its contracts.
However, although Virgin's network provides the fastest connections in the UK, it's still very much under development. This means the company's coverage isn't the best. Estimates suggest that only around 60% of properties in the UK can access Virgin Media's broadband packages. Although those who do receive excellent speeds, great customer service and a range of incentives.
Although it used to be considered a value option for broadband, Plusnet now offers a lot more than a cheap connection. In fact, Plusnet's broadband deals are considered to be great all-rounders and the company often tops lists like this.
It's easy to see why, too. Not only does the company undercut the deals offered by the likes of Sky, BT and Virgin, but it also offers excellent customer service and top-notch reliability. This means Plusnet customers usually receive excellent value for money.
Overall, Plusnet offers a great range of contract lengths, a good selection of fibre internet deals and a friendly, reasonably-priced service that customers can rely on. Perhaps it's no wonder that the company was voted as the 'Large Broadband Provider of the Year' by Uswitch in 2023.
EE's broadband deals are solid and the company offers some of the best levels of customer service in the industry. Plus, the company also offers some attractive discounts and incentives for existing EE pay monthly customers.
Since 2016, EE has been a member of the BT family. This means that, generally speaking, the company provides many of the same pages as BT does. It also means that customers receive solid and dependable connections that they can rely on.
Overall EE is a solid broadband provider you can trust; especially if you’re already an EE pay monthly customer. However, there are a couple of downsides you should be aware of. For example, the company's contracts are inflexible and its TV and internet bundles leave something to be desired.
There's no doubt about it, NOW Broadband is one of the best value internet services providers in the country.
NOW Broadband is owned by Sky, but this brand is specifically focused on providing the cheapest tariffs on the market. You may be surprised to hear that some of its deals start from as little as £20 per month when they're in the sale.
As a result, in surveys, NOW Broadband's customers rave about the value for money they receive. Plus, many are also happy with the reliability of their connection and the customer service on offer.
Added to this, we should also mention that NOW Broadband is one of the most flexible providers out there and the company even offers a number of one-month contracts. As such, it's ideal for renters and students.
However, although there are a number of reasons to pick up a NOW Broadband deal, it's worth noting that the company does not yet provide full fibre connections. So, if you want download speeds in the hundreds of megabits per second, you'll need to look elsewhere.
Vodafone is home to Britain's longest-running mobile phone network (the company placed its first call in 1985). However, it was a relatively late in entering the broadband market.
That said, the company is now more than making a statement: Vodafone's broadband deals are aggressively priced and come with fast download speeds. So it's no surprise that Vodafone's customers regularly praise the speeds they receive and the value for money available.
However, although the company offers a great range of speeds and a particularly affordable 36Mbps option, its standard contract length is 24 months, which is the longest in the industry. Plus, customers do complain that it's difficult to contact the company and the customer service provided isn't the best.
Like NOW Broadband, TalkTalk specialises in affordable broadband contracts. In fact, the company's Fibre 35 package is usually available from around £25 per month. Plus, it comes without any set-up fees. Added to this, TalkTalk's broadband deals also provide you with great discounts on NOW TV passes. This is great if you're looking to bundle your broadband with your TV.
Although the company specialises in deals across both traditional copper lines and fibre lines, it also offers a Full Fibre 900 contract that offers average download speeds of 900Mbps. This means it can compete with the fastest speeds offered by both BT and Sky.
Specialist full fibre providers to consider
Don't like the sound of any of the major UK broadband providers? Well, certain smaller providers like Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and Zen Internet specialise in fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) internet connections that provide some of the fastest broadband speeds on the market.
So, if you're interested in a FTTP connection, which is also sometimes referred to as 'full fibre broadband', then it may also be worth checking out these providers. This is because all these companies specialise in this type of connection.
Things to consider when selecting your new provider
So, now you know all about the best broadband providers in 2023, how do you know which is right for your needs?
Well, each of the above broadband providers has its own specialisms and things that make it unique. So with this, the one you consider to be the 'best' is largely down to personal choice and your unique circumstances. However, before you sign up, here's a list of things you need to consider:
- Coverage in your area
- Whether you receive a 'minimum speed guarantee'
- Contract length
- The total cost of signing up
- Whether you'll receive an incentive for signing up
- Whether you need any extras, like a landline or TV package
Of all the above points, coverage is the first thing you need to check. For example, while companies such as Sky and BT use the Openreach network and can provide fibre connections to around 96% of the country, Virgin Media uses its own network. However, although they can provide quicker speeds as a result, only around 60% of the country can actually receive a Virgin connection.
Similarly, although 96% of homes can access fibre speeds via the Openreach network, only eight million homes are eligible to receive full fibre connections. So, it's worth checking what's actually available at your address before you do any detailed research.
When you're researching available speeds at your address, you should also make sure that you're not lured in by 'headline' speeds and 'average' speeds. This is because not every property is eligible to receive these speeds, which are merely an illustration of the download speeds received by the average property. Today, as well as advertising an average speed, a number of the top broadband providers in the UK also offer a 'minimum speed guarantee'. You should check this and make sure it's still quick enough for your needs.
Following this, you should decide what length of contract you're looking for. While some providers specialise in offering short-term deals, many of the larger suppliers like Sky and BT only offer 18 and 24-month contracts that can be prohibitive. However, these can be cheaper in the long run and often come with incentives. Plus, if your chosen supplier does not meet the minimum speeds guaranteed in your contract, you can usually leave without penalty.
This leads us onto our next point: sign-up costs. Nowadays, the vast majority of providers charge some form of sign-up fee. This can be as low as a £5 delivery fee for your new router all the way up to £70 for an engineer visit. This is something you should check before you sign up. Again, if you choose to go with a longer contract, then these fees may be waived entirely and you may actually receive a freebie like a gift card.
Finally, you need to consider whether you'd like an internet-only package, a broadband deal that includes a landline or an option that bundles together your internet, phone and TV packages. Again, this is largely a personal choice. But, if you do regularly watch shows on Sky Cinema or BT Sport, then you may find that bundling your TV and internet together with a broadband and TV deal provides you with a considerable cost saving.
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Tom is a freelance copywriter and content marketer with over seven years' experience. Originally from an agency background, he is proud to have worked on campaigns for a number of energy providers, comparison sites and consumer brands.
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