Broadband in my area. How to check speeds, best deals, providers and availability
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Broadband availability varies across the UK, and knowing which providers operate in your area is the first step towards finding yourself the right level of service to meet your needs.
In this guide we’re going to show you how to quickly check availability using just your postcode, how to find out what speed your phone line is capable of delivering and look at your options if you live somewhere without traditional broadband coverage.
Check broadband availability & estimated speeds
Use our postcode checker below to find out which broadband providers operate in your area, see a list of the packages you have to choose from and to find out what your estimated line speed is.
Best broadband in my area
Choosing a broadband package is similar to choosing a car; you need to choose one that will suit your specific needs and essential features with a budget to suit. Unfortunately with broadband, one size does not fit all, and the different types of package suit different types of people.
To get the best broadband for you in your area, type your postcode into our availability checker above or see our broadband comparison page to compare speeds, usage, prices, contracts and much more.Compare best broadband
Broadband speed tests
Broadband speeds are expressed in terms of megabits per second, which can be shortened to either Mbps or simply Mb. The general consensus is that anything slower than 2Mbps shouldn’t considered true broadband, while at the other end of the scale the highest broadband speed available to UK consumers is 120Mbps – but only in selected areas.
The fastest broadband speed in your area will be determined by a number of factors including which providers operate where you live, the technology being used, how far you live from your local telephone exchange and the state of the local telephone network. You can use our free broadband speed test to find out how fast your current broadband package is.
The speed of your broadband connection can vary throughout the day, and at different times of the week so we recommend testing your connection several times and then averaging out the results. If possible run the test at different times of the day, on weekdays and at the weekend to get the most accurate picture of your broadband speed.
What affects broadband speeds?
If our broadband speed test tells you that your connection is slower than you were expecting it may be due to any or all of the following:
You’re using a wireless device – browsing the internet wirelessly will usually be slower than browsing with your device plugged straight into your router. To get a more accurate result connect your device to the router with a network cable, and then run the test again.
You have other programmes running – this can really dramatically affect your download speed. Make sure to close all other applications, especially things that use a lot of bandwidth such as P2P filesharing or Netflix, and then try again.
Other activity on your network – if you live in a shared or family home then other people on your network may be eating into your bandwidth. Make sure that no one else is downloading content from the Internet and then try our speed test again.
Online congestion – the Internet is busier at some times of day than others. Try using our broadband speed test at different times of the day and week to get a more realistic idea of what your actual download speed is.
Distance from the network – The farther you are from the exchange, and the farther you are from you cabinet/node (the box on your street from which the phone lines of your neighbourhood emanate) the more your broadband connection is likely to slow down.
Number of homes connected to your local cabinet –The more homes and businesses that connect to the Internet via your cabinet, the slower your connection is likely to be, especially at peak times.
Anything above 10Mbps can be considered fast broadband, and some providers offer super-fast packages with speeds of up to 100Mbps. A faster connection will let you download your files much more quickly than you could otherwise, such as an entire MP3 album in a few seconds or a whole movie in a matter of minutes
Most suitable for: downloading music, online TV streaming (IPTV) such as Netflix and the BBC iPlayer. The fastest broadband may prove to be essential for families/shared houses with multiple users.Compare fast broadband
As the name suggests cheap broadband packages are intended for the budget conscious web user. With a cheap broadband package you may get a slower connection speed than with a more expensive package, and you may well get a smaller download allowance of 10GB a month or less.
Most suitable for: Social networking & emailing.
Not suitable for: Heavy use, downloading music and movies, online console gaming.Compare cheap broadband
For the heaviest broadband users there is no better option than unlimited broadband. If you’ll be downloading a lot of movies or TV shows, especially in HD, then an unlimited broadband package is the one for you.
Bear in mind that a lot of unlimited broadband packages are still restricted by a fair usage policy and/or traffic management. This means that limits may be placed upon the amount of data that you can download, and you may find that your connection speed is temporarily reduced, or ‘throttled’, at certain times for the benefit of other users.
Most suitable for: downloading large amounts of music, downloading high definition movies; large families or shared houses.
Fibre optic broadband
Fibre optic broadband is currently only available to around half of all UK homes. Predictably, providers are for the most part rolling out fibre optic technology to more densely populated areas first.
To find out if you can receive fibre optic broadband, or to compare all of the different providers and packages available in your area please see our guide Can I get fibre optic broadband in my area?
Alternative types of broadband
An increasingly effective alternative to fixed line broadband is mobile broadband. The UK’s mobile broadband network is being expanded all the time, so if you find that you can’t get broadband over your phone line it may well pay you to look into the availability of mobile broadband in your area.
There are different types of mobile broadband and several competing providers, so the best place to start is with our guide to checking mobile broadband coverage in your area.
If you live in an outlying community with no fixed line or mobile broadband coverage there’s every chance that you’ll still be able to get online using satellite broadband. It’s usually not as fast as traditional broadband, and the equipment costs and monthly subscription fees can be much higher. However, if your budget allows, and if you’re able to erect a satellite dish on or near your property then it’s may be worth considering satellite broadband.
Some communities that aren’t serviced by the big internet providers are taking matters into their own hands and funding the installation of fibre optic broadband themselves, often with the help of the Community Broadband Network.
Since its launch in 2004 the Community Broadband Network has helped more than 100 rural and outlying communities to make the leap to fibre optic broadband. And as the price of the technology continues to fall - while demand continues to rise - you can expect to see many more community broadband projects in the coming years.
Why do we need your postcode?
Once you enter your postcode, Cable.co.uk will perform a live lookup and check all the available providers in your area.
This ensures you receive accurate information on the availability of providers and packages in your area.
Your information is safe with us. We won't share your postcode with anyone. Guaranteed.