Which are the most popular broadband providers in the UK?
At CompareBuddy, we let you compare deals from the most popular broadband providers in the UK, including:
- NOW broadband
- Direct Save Telecom
- Community Fibre
What is broadband?
Broadband is a type of internet connection that links your devices to the internet so you can do things such as streaming, online shopping or browsing social media.
In the past, the only way to access the internet was through a dial-up connection. But broadband is much, much faster.
What types of broadband are there?
Broadband comes in a variety of forms, and availability depends on where you live.
The most common types of broadband are:
ADSL: the most basic and familiar type of broadband internet connection, ADSL works over the same technology as your landline phone. It’s the slowest and cheapest of the three main types of fixed-line broadband available to buy for your home.
Fibre: Significantly faster than ADSL and offers a more stable performance to boot. It also tends to come at a higher price. It’s not accessible everywhere but as providers extend their reach availability is increasing all the time. Fibre optic broadband comes in two forms: Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP).
What is broadband?
Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), relies on a mixture of fibre optic and copper wiring to reach your home. Conversely, fibre to the home is delivered to your property entirely through fibre optic wiring. For that reason, true FTTH broadband is the fastest type of internet connection in the UK.
Cable: While ADSL broadband is dependent on BT’s copper phone line infrastructure, cable broadband providers like Virgin Media use coaxial cables instead. They offer faster speeds but Virgin Media’s service isn’t as widely available.
Mobile broadband: Mobile broadband is a service you can connect to at home and on the go. It’s convenient and doesn’t require a landline, but it can be expensive. You’ll usually get a USB dongle to plug into your computer, or portable wireless router known as a MiFi. There are no wires or cables and you can choose between pay as you go (PAYG) or a contract.
Satellite broadband: broadband transmitted through satellite signal is a good bet if you live in one of the few areas where a good ADSL, cable or fibre broadband connection isn’t available. Downside is, satellite broadband isn’t as reliable as fixed-line broadband and generally works out more expensive.
What other services can you get with broadband?
Many providers also offer other services alongside broadband, including phone and/or television packages. It can sometimes be cheaper to combine services into bundles as your provider might offer a discount or certain incentives if you go for this option, however it’s always worth comparing your choices. Here are some common tariff types:
- Broadband only
- Broadband and phone
- Broadband and TV
- Broadband, phone and TV
Keep in mind that many broadband tariffs come with landline already included, as ADSL and cable broadband connections are established through phone lines.
How do I choose which broadband deal is best for me?
Whether you’re looking for a broadband deal for the first time, or you’re thinking about switching suppliers, there are various factors to think about when comparing providers and deals. Read our guide to discover everything you need to know about broadband and how to find the best broadband deal for you.
The main things you should be thinking about when deciding between broadband providers are:
Speed: Your connection speed is one of the most important factors, especially if you stream a lot of content or game online
Usage: Many providers offer unlimited downloads for home broadband, but not all – if you’re a heavy user be sure to check for any download limits
Cost: A tariff may offer everything you’re looking for, but does it come at the right price and offer good value for money? Shopping around is a vital part of finding the right tariff at the best possible price
Availability: some connection types aren’t available in every location across the UK, and most providers will offer a postcode checking service to let you know what you’ll be able to access Good customer service: Reading customer reviews can give you an idea of a provider’s customer service record. If you were to experience any service outages or lower-than-expected speeds, this is very important
Contract length: Most broadband contracts are 12-month deals, but it’s always important to check, so that you’re not tying yourself into a longer deal than expected. This could make switching more difficult
Equipment: When you find a new provider, or if your current provider is offering an upgrade to your services, you might receive new equipment. This could be partly or completely subsidised by your provider, but this isn’t always the case – you may have to pay extra for the new kit
Freebies: Many broadband tariffs come with tempting incentives like cashback or vouchers to certain stores – but you should consider whether these are as important as factors such as speed and cost.
Where you live plays a big part in how reliable your broadband connection will be. ADSL broadband, for example, is available to the majority of the UK. Whereas cable and fibre to the premises broadband is usually solely available in large towns and cities.
What broadband packages are available to you really depend on where you live. To find out what’s available and start comparing the best deals, enter your postcode below:
What broadband speed do I need?
As a rule of thumb, the more people using the internet at any one time, the slower the connection will be.
To that end, if you live in a large or shared household with four or more regular broadband users, a fibre optic broadband deal, with speeds of over 34Mbps, will be the best option.
However, if you live with fewer than four users, a standard 10Mbps service will do the trick. Should you find that streaming movies and playing games online becomes a struggle, though, it’s worth going for a faster package.
Lastly, if you live alone or only use the internet occasionally to open emails or check in on social media from time to time, a low cost package will do the job just fine.
Think you’ll need fibre optic broadband is your best option? Hit the button below to find out more and compare deals
What’s my current internet speed?
Worried you’re not getting the correct speed or want to see if you can get faster? Hit the button below to try the CompareBuddy broadband speed test. It’s easy to use, and you’ll get a result in seconds.
Can I get fibre broadband?
Right now, fibre optic isn’t available to every household in the UK – and if you live in a rural area, your chances of getting fibre optic broadband are even smaller.
If you live in a large city or a town, you’re more likely to be able to get a fibre optic deal. Use our quick and easy postcode checker to find out if fibre broadband is available in your area.
Generally, broadband contracts come with 12-month, 18-month and 24-month terms. Typically, the longer the contract, the less you’ll pay in the long-run as they tend to come with special introductory offers.
30-day contracts are also available from the likes of Now Broadband and . You’ll be able to chop and change your services whenever you need with these types of contracts, though they tend to come without introductory offers, perks or other incentives.
No upfront cost/setup cost
It can be tempting to pick a deal on the basis of having nothing to pay upfront. But this isn’t always the best option.
You see, a deal with slightly higher upfront costs might also come with a lower monthly charge, so you’ll actually pay less overall.
To see what the lowest-cost deals really are, sort your results by total first year cost. Or take a look at today’s cheapest broadband deals.
If there are lots of you at home streaming music, watching TV and films via Netflix or Amazon or playing games online, an unlimited broadband deal ensures you never go over your data cap.
Thankfully, most broadband connections nowadays come with unlimited data as standard, so you won’t have to worry about exceeding any data allowance.
Should I bundle broadband and TV?
Generally, bundling your TV and broadband services means you’ll save money. This is because providers usually offer discounts to customers who want to sign up to multiple products.
Other perks might include cashback, vouchers or priority tickets to tickets to gigs. You may even come across free laptops and tablets sometimes too.
Moreover, getting your broadband and TV in one handy package allows you to manage your bills much better. So if you watch a lot of TV, bundling might be the best option for you.
Is it cheaper to bundle my services?
Usually, yes. You’ll find that providers such as BT and Sky will typically offer special offers for those wanting to bundle their services together.
You’ll find managing your bills a lot easier, too, as you only have a single, easy-to-manage bill to pay.
Should I bundle broadband and phone?
Because most UK providers use BT’s Openreach telephone line infrastructure to deliver broadband, the majority of broadband deals come with line rental as standard.
You can add extras to your line rental such as:
- Evening and weekend calls
- Monthly minutes
- International calls
- Calls to premium-rate numbers
- Mobile phone calls
Can I switch broadband? Are there any restrictions?
First, check if you’re still within your minimum contract term with your current provider, before switching to a new one.
If you want to switch during your minimum term, expect to pay for the number of months you have left on your contract, in one go.
To find out more about your rights as a consumer, read our comprehensive guide.
Mid-contract broadband switching costs explained
If you’re out of your contract’s minimum term, you’ll be able to switch without forking out early termination fees.
However, if you’re within the minimum term, you will have to pay early exit fees if you want to switch. Typically, this will mean paying for the number of months you have left on your contract, which can be pricey.
Lastly, if your provider has hiked the price of your contract in the last 30 days or you’re not receiving the speeds you agreed to, you may be entitled to switch early without paying extra.
Find out more about your consumer rights.
Should I get a new broadband deal?
Comparing broadband deals, even when you already have a tariff in place, is always a good idea. By shopping around, you may find a package that offers more than what you currently have but for a cheaper price, a higher download limit or a faster connection.
Today’s broadband speeds are much higher than they used to be. And switching your broadband provider can help you get faster download speeds at affordable prices, but you might also find a provider that offers superior customer service and even useful free gifts such as new gadgets or shop vouchers.
Compare broadband tariffs with CompareBuddy
If you’re looking to switch broadband providers, comparing tariffs on CompareBuddy is the best way to find a cheaper deal. We compare broadband, TV, landline, and mobile services from leading providers as well as the up and coming, so you’ll be sure to find something suited to you.
Just give us your postcode and we’ll put together a list of broadband deals all available in your local area. You can compare them by broadband speeds, download limits, and overall cost as well as anything else included in the deal, whether it’s a freebie, a TV or landline package, or a mobile SIM. Once you’ve found the deal you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.
Sources and methodology
*Based on average monthly bill of £32.69 from nationally representative sample (1000) vs cheapest monthly cost for superfast broadband (>55Mbs), Vodafone £22/m. Annual saving £128.28.