Who's the best broadband provider in the UK?

Dan Howdle | September 22nd, 2023

Speed test on mobile device

When looking for a new broadband service, you probably want to know that you are getting value for money and a great service all wrapped up in one package. You may also want the deal with the fastest download speed, or with the most extras. Or the best broadband and TV deal. Or the provider with the best customer service. In other words, getting the best broadband can mean different things to different people.

As a result we have gathered together all the best broadband deals out there and put them on this one handy page, so you can easily choose the one that’s right for you.

Virgin Media logo

Best broadband for speed

Winner: Virgin Media

When it comes to high-speed broadband, there can really only be one winner, and that’s Virgin Media. For years, Virgin has held the honour of the fastest widely available broadband provider. With speeds ranging from 50Mbps to over 1000Mbps, it has always been streaks ahead in the UK broadband speed stakes

In recent years, however, the Openreach network has improved its fibre services, and is now rolling out ultrafast broadband across the UK, with speeds reaching 900Mbps. Used by BT, EE, Vodafone, TalkTalk and others, this presents clear competition to Virgin media. However, for now, these ultrafast speeds are not as widely available on the Openreach network as they are on Virgin’s own network.

Finally, if you are fortunate enough to be in a connected building or area, there are other full fibre providers, catering for more niche markets, including Hyperoptic, which specialises in offices and apartments and Gigaclear, which specialises in rural communities that lack any other kind of fast fibre service. Both these providers offer download speeds of 1Gbps (1000Gbps) and higher.

Read our Virgin Media broadband review

Our best Virgin Media broadband deals

Compare Virgin broadband

NOW logo

Best provider for cheap broadband deals

Winner: NOW broadband

When it comes to value for money, cheapest isn’t always best, but in the case of NOW broadband, you are essentially getting Sky broadband service at a reduced price. This means you can rest assured in knowing that you have the infrastructure of a large company supporting your service. In fact, we are baffled as to why exactly the same broadband speed is offered by NOW and Sky but the NOW service costs four pounds less than the Sky one per month, has a lower upfront cost, and comes on a shorter 12-month contract. But we’re not complaining.

A close contender to NOW broadband in terms of pricing is Shell Energy broadband and Vodafone broadband, both of whom come close second in price to NOW broadband for an entry-level fibre service averaging 36Mbps. Shell Energy broadband offers discounts to customers also taking their fuel services from Shell, and Vodafone offers extras like a free Amazon Fire tablet, which contribute even more to the overall value. NOW Broadband does not offer extras – but what you see is what you get.

Read our NOW Broadband review

Our best NOW Broadband deals

Compare NOW Broadband Call NOW 0330 041 2479

BT logo

Best broadband for reliability

Winner: BT

This is a bit of a tricky one, as reliability can be due to a whole range of different factors, from the type of broadband you have (ADSL, fibre or full fibre), the distance from your local street cabinet to your home, and even interference caused by the positioning of your router and the thickness of your walls.

Full Fibre services are by far the most reliable, since they do not use any copper wire in the cabling, which is known to slow down your connection speed. In our broadband provider survey, BT scored highest for reliability, along with specialist provider Hyperoptic.

Read our BT broadband review

Our best BT broadband deals

Compare BT broadband

Virgin Media logo

Best broadband router

Winner: Virgin Media

For years, Wifi 5 has been the standard for routers, but now the next leap forward in technology (ie download speed) requires the support of a Wifi 6 router. At the moment, Virgin Media is the only provider to offer a Wifi 6 router in the form of its Hub 5, and only with its Gig1 packages. Customers buying a package slower than Gig1 will receive the perfectly good Hub 4 router.

When it comes to providers with Wifi 5 routers, BT stands out as the best, with its Smart Hub 2. It comes with seven antennae, smart scan and smart channel selection to provide the best wifi signal around your home.

Generally speaking, if you choose any of the bigger providers for your broadband, you will get a pretty decent router. Some of the smaller and cheaper providers will likely keep costs down by providing a cheaper router. It will work, but will not provide as good a wifi signal as some of the higher end routers, especially when supporting faster fibre speeds.

Read our Virgin Media broadband review

Our best Virgin Media broadband deals

Compare Virgin broadband

Sky logo

Best broadband with TV

Winner: Sky

Sky and Virgin Media have battled it out to become the best TV provider, and there is still little to choose between them. For us, Sky has the edge with Sky Atlantic, the much-coveted TV channel that is home to Games of Thrones, which it will not share with Virgin Media. It also now leads the way with its Sky Stream and integrated Sky Glass offering, meaning no more requirement for a separate box or a rooftop satellite dish. Its Sky Q service is also excellent, however, and on a par with Virgin Media’s TV 360.

Virgin, as ever, wins when it comes to broadband speed – with its Gig1 service you can enjoy streaming as much as you want, on as many devices as you want, even in UHD. However Sky now also offers ultrafast broadband up to 900Mbps, although these speeds are not yet as widely available as Virgin Media.

Read our Sky broadband review

Our best Sky broadband & TV deals

Compare Sky deals

How to choose the best broadband deal

Everyone will have priorities when it comes to choosing a broadband package, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard all other aspects. With so many different broadband deals out there, it can be difficult to know where to start, but if you take into consideration the following things, you won’t go too far wrong.

Cost

The primary factor for the vast majority of people, the cost of broadband can vary considerably. It usually comes down to speed – the faster the download speed, the more expensive the package is likely to be. But watch out also for all the other associated costs. Keep an eye out for upfront costs, which can range from zero or a modest tenner for postage, up to thirty quid or so.

Also be aware of when your monthly price will go up. On average, providers tie you in for around 18 months, and after that time the price is guaranteed to go up. Make sure you know what the new monthly price will be before you commit, and budget for it in advance – or be prepared to switch provider again in 18 months’ time.

Contract length

The average contract length for a broadband service is 18 months, but there are some that extend to 24 months and others that are only for one month, rolling over automatically unless you choose to cancel. Make sure that you are able to commit to the contract length required, as if you need to cancel earlier, you will be charged a cancellation fee. The earlier you cancel, the bigger the fee will be. If you don’t know how long you can commit for, for example if you are renting or likely to move house soon, then consider a rolling monthly contract. They are often slightly more expensive than a comparable 18-month deal, but you won’t be charged if you cancel.

Speed

With download speeds seemingly getting faster all the time, it can be tempting to plump for a swanky ultrafast speed. However, these speeds are not yet widely available, and even if they are available to you, it’s not necessarily worth it. Consider both the size of your household and how many devices you have connected to your wifi before making a decision. On average, you should allow 10Mbps per user or 20Mbps for every user than streams in UHD or downloads a lot of large videogames or movies. A single UHD stream will require 25Mbps alone.

Upload speeds tend to be much lower than the accompanying (advertised) download speed, but avid gamers and anyone who regularly posts online (especially videos or live streams) will benefit from a fast upload speed, which will require an accompanying much faster download speed.

Bundles

Broadband packages traditionally always came with a phone line as standard, since the broadband connection relied on the copper phone line to get into your home. If you still want a phone line, then there are packages that come with inclusive calls, such as evenings and weekends or anytime. If you never use your landline, however, it’s worth thinking about taking a broadband-only package. The arrival of pure fibre connections has made this more common, although it may not always save you money.

If you want a TV service to go with your broadband, then Virgin Media, Sky and BT all offer excellent TV and broadband bundles that offer good value for money and keep all your bills with one provider. Since Virgin’s merger with O2, you can even bundle up a SIM deal with your package

Check broadband in your area

See also

Frequently asked questions

How do I find the best broadband in my area?

The easiest way to find the best broadband deals where you live is to use our postcode checker. Simply type in your postcode and we will show you an array of deals available which you can then filter by price, speed, contract length and much more to find the best broadband deal for you.

What is the best broadband speed?

This will depend on how many people live in your home, how many devices you need to have connected to your wifi and what you use your internet connection for. Taking a very rough average, anything between 60Mbps and 200Mbps is adequate for most homes.

What is the best broadband for gaming?

Gamers do not necessarily need a very fast download speed (unless you download a lot of very large games), but a fast upload speed is essential, along with a ping rate under 50 milliseconds. The majority of broadband packages come with a more than adequate upload speed of at least 10Mbps and an equally satisfactory ping rate.

Which broadband offers the best extras?

In terms of added value, both Sky and Virgin Media offer some of the best deals. Virgin Media offers customers the benefits of the O2 Priority app as a result of its merger with O2, which comes with freebies and discounts on food and drink, gigs and events. Sky frequently tempts new customers with a prepaid credit card or voucher and offers customers free wifi courtesy of The Cloud in thousands of locations around the UK.

Broadband in your area

Check speeds, packages and providers near you

Our broadband postcode checker will find you the best deals, providers and speeds where you live.

Check your area