How to compare fast broadband
- The fastest broadband deals in September 2021
- What’s the fastest provider in my area?
- Which ISP has the fastest broadband?
- How can I tell if I’m getting the advertised speed?
- What broadband speed is right for me?
- What’s the difference between superfast, ultrafast and gigabit?
- Can I get a fast connection that’s not fibre?
- Fastest broadband providers
- Frequently asked questions
If you live in a large household where multiple users vie for a share of the internet connection, you may be on the lookout for faster WiFi that allows everyone to enjoy a reliable and quick connection.
This page will tell you everything you need to know about fast broadband; what the best speeds are in your area, which providers offer the quickest service, and the differences between fast broadband types.
The fastest broadband deals in September 2021
We’ve sorted through all of the fast deals currently available in the UK to bring you the best of what’s on offer.
Virgin Media M350 Fibre Broadband
No set-up fee£56 p/mZero one-off cost Buy Now
- 362Mb average speed
- Unlimited usage
- No phone line
BT Fibre 2
£90 Reward Card£29.99 p/mZero one-off cost Buy Now
- 67Mb average speed
- Unlimited usage
- No phone line
TalkTalk Fibre 65 + Unlimited UK Calls
£65 Reward Card£29 p/mZero one-off cost Buy Now
- 67Mb average speed
- Unlimited usage
- Inclusive calls
What’s the fastest provider in my area?
Internet speeds vary across the UK, so it’s best to use our quick postcode checker to find out what the fastest speeds are in your area. Simply enter your postcode to view all available deals, then sort your results by ‘download speed’.
Which ISP has the fastest internet?
Virgin Media has its own network, delivering the fastest widely available speeds in the UK. Hyperoptic’s pure fibre network actually offers speeds that are quicker than Virgin Media’s (up to 1Gbps or 1000 Mbps) but the provider only covers very restricted areas of the country at the moment.
Here’s a rundown of the speeds you can expect from the four fastest providers in the UK:
BT fibre: BT offers some of the fastest speeds in the UK, with fibre broadband that’s widely available in all areas. Average speeds reach around 67Mbps, making it a little faster than its competitors on the Openreach network. BT also offers what it calls ‘ultrafast’ to a tiny percentage of UK households, with typical speeds of between 100Mbps and 150Mbps (technically, ultrafast usually refers to speeds over 300Mbps).
EE broadband: EE is also owned by BT, so it’s no coincidence that it’s the only other UK provider to offer average top speeds of 67Mbps (all other providers offer between 63mbps and 66Mbps).
Hyperoptic broadband: Hyperoptic offers symmetrical (upload speeds same as download speeds) pure fibre at speeds of up to 1,000Mbps. Unfortunately, it’s only available to a tiny fraction of UK homes at the moment.
Virgin Media broadband: The brand has the fastest average broadband speeds in the UK, reaching up to 516Mbps and soon to be even higher. It’s so fast that you’re unlikely to ever need a quicker internet connection, no matter how large or busy your household.
Aside from Virgin Media and Hyperoptic, all of the other UK ISPs use the Openreach network to deliver standard / ADSL or fibre broadband, so average speeds don’t vary all that much across different companies. To see how the providers stack up against one another, read our expert broadband reviews.
After the quickest UK service? Here’s a look at how the rest shape up in terms of fast internet. We’ve included the fastest four companies (BT, EE, Hyperoptic and Virgin) for comparison:
|Broadband Provider||Top Average Speed||Network|
|Virgin Media||516Mbps||Own network|
|Shell Energy broadband||63Mbps||Openreach|
How can I tell if I’m getting the advertised speed?
There are a number of things that can affect the speed of your broadband, one of which is the distance from your property to the local exchange or street cabinet. The further your property is from the cabinet, the slower your connection is likely to be. Our guide to the effects of distance from the exchange on broadband speed will tell you more.
You can use our quick and simple broadband speed test to find out if you’re currently getting the speed that was advertised at the start of your current broadband contract. Simply make sure you’re connected to your home broadband wireless network and click ‘Go’ - the test runs itself in seconds.
If your current speed isn’t matching up to what was originally advertised by your provider, we’ve put together a guide that will help you make a complaint and (hopefully) get what you paid for!
Knowing your current speed will also help you determine whether you need a new deal with a quicker speed, or whether you’re currently enjoying the best internet speed you can expert where you live.
What speed is right for me?
A fast or superfast connection is great, as long as you really need it. If not, you’ll be paying over the odds for your internet.
If you live alone or in a small household and only use the internet for things like online shopping and browsing social media, the slower speeds of standard / ADSL should meet your needs.
Faster speeds are only usually required for large households where everyone wants to be online at the same time, and where people regularly do things like streaming HD content or online gaming.
Our guide to broadband speeds will help you work out the best broadband speed for your household needs.
What’s the difference between superfast, ultrafast and gigabit?
Superfast, ultrafast and gigabit all have specific definitions in terms of the speeds they’re able to achieve.
A superfast connection refers to download speeds that exceed 30Mbps.
According to most ISPs, ultrafast applies to speeds of 100Mbps and higher, although Ofcom defines it as involving speeds of above 300Mbps.
Gigabit broadband only refers to the very fastest connections, those of around 1Gbps or more, and is delivered by Fibre to the Premises (FTTP only). This type of broadband can’t currently be accessed using a WiFi signal, and requires an ethernet cable which tethers you to one spot.
To compare broadband download speeds, take a look at the following example:
To download an hour-long episode of your favourite Netflix show would take 10 minutes and 48 seconds using standard broadband. 3 minutes and 18 seconds with superfast broadband, 1 minute and 6 seconds with ultrafast broadband and 7 seconds with gigabit broadband.
To download an average length HD movie, you would need to wait 58 minutes and 34 seconds with standard broadband, 17 minutes and 53 seconds with superfast broadband, 1 minute and 6 seconds with ultrafast broadband and an amazing 38 seconds with gigabit broadband.
Finally. To download a PS5 game, you would need to wait 21 hours, 41 minutes and 30 seconds using standard broadband, 6 hours, 37 minutes and 40 seconds with superfast broadband, 2 hours, 12 minutes and 33 seconds with ultrafast broadband and 14 minutes and 18 seconds with gigabit broadband.
For a full list of speeds required for streaming your favourite shows, read our guide.
Can I get a fast connection that’s not fibre?
The fastest available ADSL / standard deals offer average speeds of around 10Mbps, and are available from most UK providers.
A standard service uses the existing network of copper phone lines to provide internet service, and isn’t generally considered fast enough for anything other than single people or smaller households who don’t use the internet regularly.
Our guide to standard vs fibre will tell you more about the difference in speed between the two types.
Frequently asked questions
Who's the fastest broadband provider in the UK?
The fastest widely available provider is Virgin Media, which is available to around 60% of UK households and offers top speeds of 362Mbps (soon to be 500Mbps). Both Hyperoptic and some other local/community providers such as B4RN offer 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) broadband, but only to a tiny fraction of the population.
How fast is my current connection?
Checking your broadband speed is easy. Our broadband speed test will let you know how fast your broadband is. To get the best results, we recommend plugging your device into the router itself when you test your broadband speed. WiFi won’t give you reliable results.
What does download speed mean?
‘Download speed’ refers to the ‘downstream’, the part of the connection that receives data from the internet. This is part of your bandwidth, and a higher download speed allows you to receive faster broadband. The higher your bandwidth, the more data can move down your broadband connection at the same time.
What does upload speed mean?
This describes the amount of data your connection can send at one time. It’s only important if you publish lots of files online, such as videos on YouTube or on other social media. A higher upload speed will allow you to publish them faster.
Can I get ultrafast internet from a local provider?
Yes, in some areas of the UK. Some members of the local community in almost exclusively rural areas have created their own internet provision service and offer pure fibre networks with fast-speed broadband of 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) or more. We suggest using Google to find local providers. We don’t list them because they can’t provide us with postcode or availability data.
What's the fastest standard/ADSL broadband?
The fastest standard ADSL broadband averages 11Mbps. However, if you live close to your nearest cabinet your speed will be significantly higher. Only operators on the Openreach network offer ADSL (everyone but Virgin Media).
What is ‘throttling’?
‘Throttling’ is a measure that internet service providers take to limit the speed of your connection artificially. They may take this measure if you’re performing an activity of which they don’t approve.
How much do the fastest packages cost?
Prices vary. Although some service providers start at as little as £30 per month for their broadband, you’re looking at approximately £50 to £60 or month, or possibly more as time goes on. We recommend using our tool to see what’s available in your area.