How to compare broadband deals
In this guide
- Our best deals
- How to choose the right broadband deal
- Best broadband providers
- Types of broadband deals
- Broadband bundles and and add-ons
- Broadband speeds explained
- Limited vs unlimited broadband
- What else do I need to know?
- Frequently asked questions
Our best broadband deals in December 2020
We've hand-picked the very best broadband offers available right now to save you time and money.
TalkTalk Fibre 65
£90 gift card£23 p/mZero one-off cost Visit Now
- 67Mb average speed
- Unlimited usage
- PAYG calls
BT Fibre 2
Three months free£31.99 p/mZero one-off cost Visit Now
- 67Mb average speed
- Unlimited usage
- PAYG calls
Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra
£60 Reward Card£24.99 p/m£24.99 one-off cost Visit Now
- 66Mb average speed
- Unlimited usage
- PAYG calls
How to choose the right broadband deal
The things you should consider when looking for a broadband deal suited to your home. You can use our filtering tools to find your perfect deal. If money is a concern, we have a dedicated page rounding up the cheapest internet deals available.
Speed. How many megabits per second (Mbps) you need to keep the house running smoothly. Allow 10Mbps for each person in your household.
Availability. Where you live affects the speed you can receive and the connection you can get. Use our postcode checker to find out what's available near you.
Price. How much can you afford? What upfront charges might you have to pay?
Contract length. How long will you be tied in with your new provider?
Offers. It's almost always better to pick a deal that's offering cashback, gifts or other rewards
Bundles. Consider if you want to add a TV package or SIM deal to your broadband
Terms. There are some good reasons why it's a good idea to know the basics of your contract
Best broadband providers for deals and offers
Choosing a home broadband provider can come down to whoever's offering the best deal. To help you, here are our most popular providers:
Look out for bill credits between £50 and £150. Also, price discounts, free gifts (less often) and free installation. Virgin Media usually run these offers as limited flash deals that last between three days and a week.
BT broadband isn't the cheapest. But it can be very competitive when it has a sale on or is offering cashback. Look out for price discounts, vouchers from M&S, Amazon and BT Reward cards usually between £50 and £120. Watch out for long contract lengths.
Of the bigger, more popular providers TalkTalk is the one most aimed at those on a budget. TalkTalk offer a cheap monthly price, combined with gift cards (usually on fibre broadband products) for popular retailers including Amazon, Tesco and Argos.
Yorkshire-based Plusnet is best known for its customer service, for which it has won a mountain of awards. It also offers broadband, broadband-only and basic broadband and TV bundle deals.
Sky can't match Virgin Media's broadband for speed, but it arguably beats it when it comes to bundled TV options. If you love TV, are looking for a bundle, and don't need Virgin Media's upper speeds, Sky is a good choice.
To find out more about the other providers featured on Cable.co.uk, take a look out our broadband providers page.
What types broadband deals are there?
Broadband providers often use different terms to describe their broadband products and speed. Which can be confusing. Let us help simplify those terms and types of broadband below:
Standard broadband (ADSL)
ADSL or standard broadband is advertised at speeds of around 11Mbps. ADSL is fast enough for a small household of 1-2 people. But may struggle with three or more people using the internet at the same time.
Fibre broadband (FTTC, Superfast)
Fibre broadband and Superfast broadband is advertised at speeds between 30Mbps and 70Mbps. Most fibre broadband deals available in the UK offer speeds in this range. Superfast broadband is enough for most households. Basic superfast packages are enough for households of up to four internet users. Faster packages are recommended for gamers in a house or of you stream 4K TV.
Full Fibre (FTTP, Ultrafast, Gigabit, Cable)
Full fibre is advertised at speeds of 100Mbps or greater. Full fibre broadband providers such as BT and Vodafone are currently offering up to 900Mbps in selected areas. Virgin Media is the only widely available provider to offer speeds at 500Mbps.
Find out what broadband speeds are available where you live. Use our postcode address checker.
Broadband with bundles and add-ons
Some providers allow you to combine a TV package or a mobile SIM with your broadband, which can save you money. Here are a few different types of deal available:
Broadband only deals
With one of these, just like it says, you'll get broadband and nothing else. Not even a phone line. Be aware, though that you will need a phone line with a calling contract from another provider in most cases. Virgin Media is the exception – it offers true broadband only in the sense you do not even need a phone line.
Some providers will let you bundle a TV package with your broadband. These commonly offer hundreds of additional TV channels. The best TV offerings are from Sky and Virgin Media, with BT a fairly distant third place. Other providers mostly offer Freeview channels with a few bolt-ons, their main draw being the set-top box they offer. These allow you to pause, rewind and record live TV.
You'll find few broadband deals where the broadband is all you get (so-called 'broadband-only'). At the very least you will usually get a landline with the deal. You can almost always add a calling package (free weekend calls, evenings and so on).
Some broadband providers allow you to sign up to a one-month rolling contract. Buyer beware – such deals can include higher upfront costs than broadband deals with contracts.
Broadband speeds explained
What is broadband speed?
The number of 'megabits per second', a number followed by 'Mb' or 'Mbps'. It determines how fast you can transfer information from the internet to devices in your home. The more Mbps, the faster you can do it.
The speed you choose matters. If you choose a package that's not fast enough you're going to experience problems when everyone's online in your household. Too fast, and you're probably paying more than you need to.
To check what broadband speed you're getting right now, you can use our broadband speed checker tool.
What broadband speed do I need?
An easy rule of thumb is to allow 10Mbps for every internet user in your household. Doubling it to 20Mbps for each person who is a gamer or streams 4K content. This will give you a decent ballpark figure to work to. Read our What broadband speed do I need? guide.
What do the advertised 'average' broadband speeds mean?
Depending on where you live, the connection supplied may be faster or slower than the advertised average. This is the overall average measured by the provider from a large number of customers across the UK.
Why do the broadband download speeds offered vary?
The speed you get from your home broadband service may depend on your distance from your nearest cabinet and telephone exchange. Old or damaged cables can also play a factor. Averages vary due to the mix of customer locations they are worked out from.
Limited vs unlimited broadband
A limited broadband package sets a limit on the amount of data you can download to the devices in your home each month. We're used to data limits on our mobiles, but limited data broadband deals are rare.
An unlimited broadband deal sets no such limit. You can use the internet as much as you like. Our advice is to avoid limited plans and choose an unlimited deal. That way you'll simply never have to worry about it.
Activities that increase your broadband usage
- Streaming video such as Netflix, iPlayer etc. requires between 5-8Mbps to stream in its preferred HD resolution. 4K TVs needs 20-25Mbps to stream at 4K resolution
- Large family or shared broadband. The more people sharing the same broadband connection, the faster it's going to need to be to keep up
- Gaming. Playing games online actually requires very little in terms of internet speed. But downloading and updating can take up your whole connection for significant periods of time
- If people in your household all have their own devices. Mobiles, smart TVs, computers, tablets, games consoles and so on. All these devices each require their own chunk of the available speed
- Video calling apps such as Facetime and Skype will generally use the best quality video. This can take up a sizeable chunk of your internet connection
If you want the best bang for your buck you need look no further than our roundup of cheap broadband deals.
What else do I need to know?
Here's a quick round up of the bits and bobs you may need to help you choose the right broadband deal:
Contract length can be important. Especially if you enjoy switching broadband to find a better deal. Most broadband contracts – outside of no contract deals – are at least a year. So bear in mind that if you want to leave during that time you're going to incur a penalty. This often means paying off every remaining monthly payment on the contract.
Freebies and offers
The best time to sign up to a new broadband deal is mostly when the provider is offering you something extra. Offers to new customers come in the form of cashback, shopping vouchers (e.g. Marks & Spencer, Amazon and so on). Free gifts (usually a games console, TV, smart home device or something similar). Or a price reduction in the monthly cost.
Choose a deal whose freebies appeal to you the most. But if at all possible avoid deals that offer you no incentive for signing up.
Depending on whether you already have a phone line installed. Some providers will charge a fee to get you connected. If you'd rather avoid upfront installation costs look for deals marked with either a low (£5-£10) or free set-up cost.
Read our provider reviews
Seen a deal you like, but you're not sure how good the provider is? Have a look at our broadband provider reviews where we weigh up all of the pros and cons.
Frequently asked questions
Who is the best broadband provider?
The best internet service provider depends on what’s important to you. We’ve had a look at speed, reliability and price.
- Best provider for speed – Virgin Media has some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK
- Most reliable provider – EE and Sky have fewer complaints than any other broadband provider according to Ofcom’s latest telecoms report.
- Best provider for price – cheap deals change week to week, TalkTalk, SSE, Plusnet and NOW Broadband offer some of the most competitive deals. Deals start from £17.99 per month.
What type of broadband deals are there?
Standard broadband (ADSL) – also known as ADSL, speeds on offer are around 10Mbps. Available from most broadband providers, this is the cheapest type of broadband.
Fibre broadband (FTTC) – also known as superfast or fibre optic broadband has speeds between 30Mbps and 299Mbps. Best for busy household and not that much more expensive than standard broadband.
Fibre to the premises (FTTP) – also known as cable broadband or fibre to the home, delivering speeds between 150Mbps-1Gbps. This type of broadband is the fastest available if you can get it. Expect to pay between £30-£60 per month.
Prices start from £17.99 per month. See our comparison listings for the latest prices and offers.
What broadband speed do I need?
The faster the broadband the more you can do online regardless of how many people are connected. You should allow for 10Mbps for each person in the house that uses the internet.
You need at least 1.5Mbps – 3Mbps for standard streaming services like BBC iPlayer or All 4. If there are gamers or household members who streams 4K (ultra-high definition) films and TV shows, you should double their allowance.
What is broadband?
Broadband the name given to describe the connection between the device you’re using and the internet. It allows you to stream your favourite shows, be social on social media or do the online grocery shop.
Are there any restrictions for switching broadband?
You can switch your broadband supplier any time you want if your contract has ended. If you leave before the end of the contract, you’ll have to pay a fee and this varies with each provider.
If you have a problem with your internet provider. Such as an unexpected price hike or consistently low speeds, you may be able to get out of the contract early. Our broadband cancellation guide will help you out.
How do I know if my broadband contract has ended?
Your internet service provider will send you an end of contract notification. By email, text or letter 10-40 days before your contract ends. Broadband providers are required by Ofcom to notify their customers when their contract is coming to an end. This includes:
- The date the contract ends
- How much you pay for the service you have
- What you’ll have to pay after the contract ends
- What their best deals and prices are, including those only available to new customers
- The notice period required to end the contract