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Chosen by the public

Chosen by the public

Since aspects such as customer service, reliability, equipment and value for money are customer-subjective concepts, we’ve interviewed 6,000 UK broadband customers to decide the best providers in these categories...

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  • Award

    Best Broadband Provider

    Winner

    Plusnet

    Plusnet See Plusnet Deals

    Best Broadband Provider

    Winner: Plusnet

    Plusnet scored highly in all categories – customer service, equipment, reliability and value for money – making it the winner of our most coveted award: Best Broadband Provider, 2015.

    Plusnet started life as Force9 Internet, a small provider launched by Choice Peripherals, a company specialising in PC accessories.

    In 2006 the Yorkshire-based provider was acquired by BT. Since then, Plusnet has become a major player in the UK broadband market and, it seems, has somehow managed to keep its small-provider attitude toward a now-heaving UK customer base, which is evidently extremely happy with the service it receives.

    Provider ranking

    • Plusnet
    • Sky
    • Virgin
    • EE
    • BT
    • TalkTalk

    About the winner

    Plusnet scored highly in all categories – customer service, equipment, reliability and value for money – making it the winner of our most coveted award: Best Broadband Provider, 2015.

    Plusnet started life as Force9 Internet, a small provider launched by Choice Peripherals, a company specialising in PC accessories.

    In 2006 the Yorkshire-based provider was acquired by BT. Since then, Plusnet has become a major player in the UK broadband market and, it seems, has somehow managed to keep its small-provider attitude toward a now-heaving UK customer base, which is evidently extremely happy with the service it receives.

  • Award

    Best Equipment

    Winner

    Virgin Media

    Virgin Media See Virgin Deals

    Best Equipment

    Winner: Virgin Media

    If you’d asked us, straight out, ‘Who provides the best gear of all the broadband providers?’, we would have replied ‘Virgin Media’. From router to set-top box to home phone, the equipment supplied by Virgin Media is, in our opinion, second to none.

    That’s due both to our own experiences with Virgin Media’s Superhub, Superhub 2 and TiVo set-top box, and to the constant positive feedback we hear from all of you out there. But of course, this award doesn’t rely on our ‘feelings’ to pick an outright winner in this category. You, the general public have done that for us. And we think you’re right.

    Provider ranking

    • Virgin
    • BT
    • Sky
    • Plusnet
    • EE
    • TalkTalk

    About the winner

    If you’d asked us, straight out, ‘Who provides the best gear of all the broadband providers?’, we would have replied ‘Virgin Media’. From router to set-top box to home phone, the equipment supplied by Virgin Media is, in our opinion, second to none.

    That’s due both to our own experiences with Virgin Media’s Superhub, Superhub 2 and TiVo set-top box, and to the constant positive feedback we hear from all of you out there. But of course, this award doesn’t rely on our ‘feelings’ to pick an outright winner in this category. You, the general public have done that for us. And we think you’re right.

  • Award

    Best Customer Service

    Winner

    Plusnet

    Plusnet See Plusnet Deals

    Best Customer Service

    Winner: Plusnet

    In 2015, of all the broadband providers operating in the UK, Plusnet’s customers love them the most. Plusnet, then, holds a fairly unique position when it comes to the love of its customers.

    If our customer satisfaction study has shown us one thing, it’s that the smaller the provider, the better the customer service tends to be. That’s because smaller companies tend to offer a more personal touch. And Plusnet occupies a nice middle ground in this respect: small enough to be flexible to the needs of individual customers, large enough to provide a range of services that compares well against the ‘big four’ – Virgin Media, Sky, BT and TalkTalk.

    Provider ranking

    • Plusnet
    • Sky
    • Virgin
    • EE
    • BT
    • TalkTalk

    About the winner

    In 2015, of all the broadband providers operating in the UK, Plusnet’s customers love them the most. Plusnet, then, holds a fairly unique position when it comes to the love of its customers.

    If our customer satisfaction study has shown us one thing, it’s that the smaller the provider, the better the customer service tends to be. That’s because smaller companies tend to offer a more personal touch. And Plusnet occupies a nice middle ground in this respect: small enough to be flexible to the needs of individual customers, large enough to provide a range of services that compares well against the ‘big four’ – Virgin Media, Sky, BT and TalkTalk.

  • Award

    Best Reliability

    Winner

    Plusnet

    Plusnet See Plusnet Deals

    Best Reliability

    Winner: Plusnet

    It’s Plusnet again – beginning to see a pattern here? Of the six UK broadband providers that qualified for consideration, Plusnet’s customers have voted it the most reliable.

    You may rightly question whether this is scientific or not. However, reliability is ultimately something ‘felt’ more than it is numerically described or mechanically rated.

    A pure ‘number of outages’ average for each provider would not, for example, properly define the experience for those suffering long outages versus those who typically need to reset their router once in a blue moon.

    Provider ranking

    • Plusnet
    • Virgin
    • Sky
    • BT
    • EE
    • TalkTalk

    About the winner

    It’s Plusnet again – beginning to see a pattern here? Of the six UK broadband providers that qualified for consideration, Plusnet’s customers have voted it the most reliable.

    You may rightly question whether this is scientific or not. However, reliability is ultimately something ‘felt’ more than it is numerically described or mechanically rated.

    A pure ‘number of outages’ average for each provider would not, for example, properly define the experience for those suffering long outages versus those who typically need to reset their router once in a blue moon.

  • Award

    Best Value

    Winner

    Plusnet

    Plusnet See Plusnet Deals

    Best Value

    Winner: Plusnet

    Once again, it is Plusnet’s customers who feel most strongly that what they’re paying for is exactly what they’re getting.

    It’s hardly surprising to us that the same provider who won this year’s award for outstanding customer service has also won the award for best value for money.

    After all, value for money can be a hard thing to quantify for a service that just slaves away silently in the background doing its job. Layer excellent customer service on top, however, and it’s hard not to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

    Provider ranking

    • Plusnet
    • EE
    • Sky
    • TalkTalk
    • Virgin
    • BT

    About the winner

    Once again, it is Plusnet’s customers who feel most strongly that what they’re paying for is exactly what they’re getting.

    It’s hardly surprising to us that the same provider who won this year’s award for outstanding customer service has also won the award for best value for money.

    After all, value for money can be a hard thing to quantify for a service that just slaves away silently in the background doing its job. Layer excellent customer service on top, however, and it’s hard not to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.

Chosen by Cable.co.uk

Chosen by Cable.co.uk

As one of the UK’s premiere broadband, TV and phone comparison services, Cable.co.uk spends a lot of its time shining a torch into places many broadband providers would rather nobody looked.

No provider is perfect, but most excel in at least one particular area. And that’s what the Cable.co.uk excellence awards are all about: rewarding excellence in the things that matter to you, the consumer.

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  • Award

    Fastest Widely Available Broadband

    Winner

    Virgin Media

    Virgin Media See Virgin Deals

    Fastest Widely Available Broadband

    Winner: Virgin Media

    Virgin Media has one huge advantage over BT, TalkTalk, Sky or any of the smaller providers. They all operate on the (BT) Openreach network, whereas Virgin Media is the only widely available broadband provider with its own network. And that network is exclusively fibre.

    That means it can set its own agenda when it comes to available speeds, while those providers beholden to Openreach are stuck at whatever speed BT decides should be the upper limit. Unsurprisingly, then, this award goes to Virgin Media, whose 200Mbps Vivid package absolutely thrashes all-comers, near-tripling the top speed offered by anyone else.

    About the Award

    Some smaller providers offering 1000Mb (1Gb) broadband in the UK right now. The problem is those speeds are unavailable to the vast majority of us. So this award cannot simply be about who offers the fastest connection, it has to be about the fastest connection that you’re likely to be able to actually get.

    The broadband provider that offers the fastest widely available broadband in the UK.

    About the winner

    Virgin Media has one huge advantage over BT, TalkTalk, Sky or any of the smaller providers. They all operate on the (BT) Openreach network, whereas Virgin Media is the only widely available broadband provider with its own network. And that network is exclusively fibre.

    That means it can set its own agenda when it comes to available speeds, while those providers beholden to Openreach are stuck at whatever speed BT decides should be the upper limit. Unsurprisingly, then, this award goes to Virgin Media, whose 200Mbps Vivid package absolutely thrashes all-comers, near-tripling the top speed offered by anyone else.

  • Award

    Best Broadband & Phone

    Winner

    Sky

    Sky See Sky Deals

    Best Broadband & Phone

    Winner: Sky

    Sky’s ‘free broadband for a year’ unlimited standard broadband packages came seemingly out of nowhere around the middle of this year. Although technically not free (since you will still find yourself paying line rental), we couldn’t help but greatly admire the fact that the package is free for 12 months, and the contract is only 12 months long.

    Sky clearly hopes you’ll like the service so much you’ll stay on as a paying customer, or that at least enough of you will to have made it worth their while. Either way, free broadband coupled with quality equipment and service mean Sky’s offering just ticks one or two more important boxes.

    About the Award

    The criteria for this award isn’t simply ‘cheapest’. Many budget broadband providers deliver broadband packages for almost nothing, but few of them couple that with quality equipment, installation, support and unlimited usage. It is the combination of these factors that helps us decide who has the best package each year.

    This year it’s Sky’s free-for-a-year broadband deal which, rightly, has won it many customers.

    About the winner

    Sky’s ‘free broadband for a year’ unlimited standard broadband packages came seemingly out of nowhere around the middle of this year. Although technically not free (since you will still find yourself paying line rental), we couldn’t help but greatly admire the fact that the package is free for 12 months, and the contract is only 12 months long.

    Sky clearly hopes you’ll like the service so much you’ll stay on as a paying customer, or that at least enough of you will to have made it worth their while. Either way, free broadband coupled with quality equipment and service mean Sky’s offering just ticks one or two more important boxes.

  • Award

    Best Broadband-only Package

    Winner

    Virgin Media 100Mb

    Virgin Media 100Mb See Virgin Deals

    Best Broadband-only Package

    Winner: Virgin Media 100Mb

    It should come as no surprise, then, that this year’s winner is the provider who singlehandedly owns this category: Virgin Media. It offers the only widely available, ‘truly’ broadband-only packages. Its middle-tier 100Mbps packages offer a nice balance between speed and cost.

    The further we move into the 21st century, the more a landline seems rather old hat and redundant. Cable.co.uk’s own research found that the older you are, the more likely you are to use a landline, with younger people less likely. It seems, then, that it will only be a matter of time before ‘broadband-only’ becomes the norm.

    About the Award

    There’s a problem with many providers who claim to offer ‘broadband only’ in that the way they define it is often not the way you, we, or the average Jane or Joe would. You see, when we say ‘broadband only’ what we really tend to mean is ‘we don’t want to pay line rental for a landline we will never use’.

    All but one of the providers who claim to offer ‘broadband-only’ as you pay for only broadband from them, still charge for line rental from BT.

    About the winner

    It should come as no surprise, then, that this year’s winner is the provider who singlehandedly owns this category: Virgin Media. It offers the only widely available, ‘truly’ broadband-only packages. Its middle-tier 100Mbps packages offer a nice balance between speed and cost.

    The further we move into the 21st century, the more a landline seems rather old hat and redundant. Cable.co.uk’s own research found that the older you are, the more likely you are to use a landline, with younger people less likely. It seems, then, that it will only be a matter of time before ‘broadband-only’ becomes the norm.

  • Award

    Best Inclusive Calls

    Winner

    Plusnet

    Plusnet See Plusnet Deals

    Best Inclusive Calls

    Winner: Plusnet

    Plusnet currently offers the most flexible inclusive call package in the UK. Layered on top of the usual inclusive weekend calls (and evenings with fibre packages), Plusnet offers an astonishing range of bolt-ons to suit whatever you need. You can basically build your own call package from bits and bolt-ons.

    Cheap international calling, anytime minutes to mobiles, free voicemail, free calls to other Plusnet customers and more. Even outside of your free call time, Plusnet’s national per minute rate is a whole penny per minute cheaper than BT’s. It’s hard to see how anyone, even a year from now, is going to beat Plusnet’s home phone deals.

    About the Award

    Free evenings, weekends, anytime. Everyone offers some variant of these with their broadband packages, so the winner of this award has to go one stage further. It has to offer that one thing – the only thing – that’s going to please everybody: maximum flexibility.

    If you want both to pay for only what you use, and make savings on the things you use especially often, one size most definitely does not fit all.

    About the winner

    Free evenings, weekends, anytime. Everyone offers some variant of these with their broadband packages, so the winner of this award has to go one stage further. It has to offer that one thing – the only thing – that’s going to please everybody: maximum flexibility.

    If you want both to pay for only what you use, and make savings on the things you use especially often, one size most definitely does not fit all.

  • Award

    Best Bundle (broadband, TV & phone)

    Winner

    Virgin Media’s Big Kahuna

    Virgin Media’s Big Kahuna See Virgin Deals

    Best Bundle (broadband, TV & phone)

    Winner: Virgin Media’s Big Kahuna

    This was a tough pick. Because while Virgin Media can’t quite match Sky’s TV offering, Sky can’t match Virgin Media for speed. To exacerbate the problem of choosing between the two, the channels offered by Sky that are not offered by Virgin are pretty non-remarkable, bar Sky Atlantic. And by the same token, though Sky’s top speed is exactly half of Virgin’s top speed, there are almost no cases where that much extra speed is warranted or useful.

    Virgin Media has won this year with its Big Kahuna bundle, primarily because it offers the option to bolt on a mobile SIM (or several) to your package, at an impressively low cost.

    About the Award

    When it comes to bundles, TV has to play a major role in who gets the award. Unfortunately for the UK’s smaller providers, this pretty much counts them out of this category.

    Despite a wide array of deals available from many providers across the UK, and despite an increasingly solid effort from BT (especially in the sport category), in 2015 it really comes down to just two – Sky and Virgin Media – to duke it out.

    About the winner

    This was a tough pick. Because while Virgin Media can’t quite match Sky’s TV offering, Sky can’t match Virgin Media for speed. To exacerbate the problem of choosing between the two, the channels offered by Sky that are not offered by Virgin are pretty non-remarkable, bar Sky Atlantic. And by the same token, though Sky’s top speed is exactly half of Virgin’s top speed, there are almost no cases where that much extra speed is warranted or useful.

    Virgin Media has won this year with its Big Kahuna bundle, primarily because it offers the option to bolt on a mobile SIM (or several) to your package, at an impressively low cost.

  • Award

    Best Business Broadband

    Winner

    Zen Internet

    Zen Internet See Zen Deals

    Best Business Broadband

    Winner: Zen Internet

    There’s a reason Zen Internet gets practically every business broadband award under the sun. Despite its more recent attempts to enter the home broadband market – finally offering competitively priced home broadband deals rather than only those that extend the office into the home – its focus continues to be on its business offering.

    And what an offering. Zen offers everything from simple, small business packages to solutions for vast, multi-site organisations. Scalability in every area of Zen’s offering, coupled with unmatched customer support, make Zen Internet business broadband our winner for 2015.

    About the Award

    Great speeds, reliability, unlimited downloading and uploading, 24/7/365 technical support, static IPs and, ultimately, the sort of invisibility that a home, small, or large business broadband package provides simply by never keeling over.

    All of which needs to be delivered in a package comprising easy set-up, low maintenance, great hardware and competitive pricing.

    About the winner

    There’s a reason Zen Internet gets practically every business broadband award under the sun. Despite its more recent attempts to enter the home broadband market – finally offering competitively priced home broadband deals rather than only those that extend the office into the home – its focus continues to be on its business offering.

    And what an offering. Zen offers everything from simple, small business packages to solutions for vast, multi-site organisations. Scalability in every area of Zen’s offering, coupled with unmatched customer support, make Zen Internet business broadband our winner for 2015.

  • Award

    Best Website

    Winner

    Virgin Media

    Virgin Media See Virgin Deals

    Best Website

    Winner: Virgin Media

    They say no one is perfect, and that’s certainly true of the websites of the UK’s broadband providers. Virgin Media pips this award just ahead of Sky thanks to a few small, but significant factors.

    Virgin offers livechat assistance which, unlike Sky’s, doesn’t demand visitors give up their personal details to use. Virgin Media also allows visitors to find the package or deal they are looking for by asking them a simple series of questions. That’s ideal if you arrive on the Virgin Media site and know only one thing – you want broadband, or you want a bundle, but you don’t know exactly what form that needs to take to suit your needs.

    About the Award

    Every year, we painstakingly navigate the websites of each and every one of the UK’s many broadband providers.

    Many factors are taken into account here. Ease of use is of top priority, and sites can score additional points for livechat and other informational aids. Attractive design is an asset. Among other factors, sites are marked down for funnelling customers to more expensive deals than they came for.

    About the winner

    They say no one is perfect, and that’s certainly true of the websites of the UK’s broadband providers. Virgin Media pips this award just ahead of Sky thanks to a few small, but significant factors.

    Virgin offers livechat assistance which, unlike Sky’s, doesn’t demand visitors give up their personal details to use. Virgin Media also allows visitors to find the package or deal they are looking for by asking them a simple series of questions. That’s ideal if you arrive on the Virgin Media site and know only one thing – you want broadband, or you want a bundle, but you don’t know exactly what form that needs to take to suit your needs.

  • Award

    Extra Mile

    Winner

    Vodafone

    Vodafone See Vodafone Deals

    Extra Mile

    Winner: Vodafone

    This year’s Extra mile award goes to Vodafone on account of its Rural Open Sure Signal programme. Open Sure Signal uses small femto units to create a 3G signal and has brought high-speed mobile broadband to rural communities up and down the UK which now and – in the foreseeable future – will not be served by mobile data coverage through traditional means.

    From Newton St Cyres in Devon to Walls in the Shetlands, there are people up and down the country this year for whom Vodafone is a true hero. It’s as simple as this: without Vodafone, they wouldn’t have reliable mobile broadband coverage until the government and/or BT pulls its finger out.

    About the Award

    The Extra mile award goes to a provider that stepped in and made some people seriously happy when no one else would. It needn’t be an act of pure philanthropy – broadband providers are businesses after all – but it might occupy that zone where commercial interests and public relations meet.

    In the world of broadband, that means bringing broadband to those who don’t have it, and wouldn’t otherwise get it.

    About the winner

    This year’s Extra mile award goes to Vodafone on account of its Rural Open Sure Signal programme. Open Sure Signal uses small femto units to create a 3G signal and has brought high-speed mobile broadband to rural communities up and down the UK which now and – in the foreseeable future – will not be served by mobile data coverage through traditional means.

    From Newton St Cyres in Devon to Walls in the Shetlands, there are people up and down the country this year for whom Vodafone is a true hero. It’s as simple as this: without Vodafone, they wouldn’t have reliable mobile broadband coverage until the government and/or BT pulls its finger out.

  • Award

    Rising Star

    Winner

    Origin Broadband

    Origin Broadband See Origin Deals

    Rising Star

    Winner: Origin Broadband

    Not everyone who experiences poor broadband thinks ‘I know how I can fix this – I’ll start my own telecoms company’, and yet that is exactly what – allegedly – took place when founders Henri Wust and Oliver Bryssau couldn’t stay connected to World of Warcraft. They decided to take matters into their own hands by offering superfast broadband via Yorkshire’s Digital Region fibre network.

    Here we are four years later and Origin Broadband now offers its services to homes and businesses nationwide, waving a flag that reads ‘cheapest UK line rental’ as it goes. It’s both a wonderful story of British entrepreneurship, and a wonderful provider.

    About the Award

    Competition in the market is a good thing. That’s why we’re offering this award not to the best newcomer of the year (that’s another award altogether), but to the broadband provider that has demonstrated the most progress.

    The likes of Virgin Media, Sky, BT and so on are stars long-since risen. So the Rising Star Award looks to reward those moving from small player to big fish.

    About the winner

    Not everyone who experiences poor broadband thinks ‘I know how I can fix this – I’ll start my own telecoms company’, and yet that is exactly what – allegedly – took place when founders Henri Wust and Oliver Bryssau couldn’t stay connected to World of Warcraft. They decided to take matters into their own hands by offering superfast broadband via Yorkshire’s Digital Region fibre network.

    Here we are four years later and Origin Broadband now offers its services to homes and businesses nationwide, waving a flag that reads ‘cheapest UK line rental’ as it goes. It’s both a wonderful story of British entrepreneurship, and a wonderful provider.

  • Award

    Best Newcomer

    Winner

    SSE

    SSE See SSE Deals

    Best Newcomer

    Winner: SSE

    SSE, formerly Scottish and Southern Energy was, as its former title spells out in big, unambiguous letters, an energy supplier. It still is, of course, but as of Spring 2015 it began offering broadband across the entirety of the UK.

    Times are terrifically hard for anyone trying to make an entry into the UK broadband market at the national level. The top four players have nine out of ten customers in the bag, while UK broadband users demonstrate time and again a reluctance to switch, with (according to our own research) around half of us never having switched at all. Essentially, you have to go in like you mean to become a major player.

    About the Award

    This award goes to the most notable newcomer to the broadband market each year. That means they not only have to be a new arrival, they also have to be making waves across the industry. That could be through offering the cheapest, the best, or the most flexible broadband yet. Or a combination of all three.

    This award is carefully considered, based on a combination of any number of these factors.

    About the winner

    SSE, formerly Scottish and Southern Energy was, as its former title spells out in big, unambiguous letters, an energy supplier. It still is, of course, but as of Spring 2015 it began offering broadband across the entirety of the UK.

    Times are terrifically hard for anyone trying to make an entry into the UK broadband market at the national level. The top four players have nine out of ten customers in the bag, while UK broadband users demonstrate time and again a reluctance to switch, with (according to our own research) around half of us never having switched at all. Essentially, you have to go in like you mean to become a major player.

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