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Best broadband in my area

Luke Thompson
Wednesday, November 22nd 2017

When choosing broadband it helps to know what services are available in your area. Whether you want standard or fibre broadband, our availability checker will tell you what you can get.

However, before you buy, there are some things you need to consider; broadband speeds, availability, and also the various things that can affect your broadband speed.

Find the best broadband deals where you live

To check broadband availability in your area, put your postcode into the checker below. You’ll then be shown a list of deals that are available in your area.

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Choose the right broadband

Knowing what kind of broadband you can get is the first step; next you need to consider what you’ll be using your internet connection for in order to choose the right broadband deal. You can jump right into our broadband comparison page if you already know.

Fastest broadband

A fibre optic line will give you the fastest broadband, but anything above 10Mbps is reasonable. Currently, the fastest speed widely available in the UK is up to 300Mbps from Virgin Media.

Pros

  • Faster downloads and uploads
  • Smoother video streaming
  • Suitable for gaming

Cons

  • Limited to certain areas
  • Can be more expensive than slower broadband
  • Not for everyone

Compare fast broadband →

Cheapest broadband

As you might expect, cheap broadband tends to run on standard broadband connections and is therefore slower than a fibre service. Cheaper deals are often subject to usage limits and traffic management too. This means the speed of your connection will slow down during busy times to ensure consistent speed across the network for everyone.

Pros

  • It’s cheaper than fibre broadband
  • Available in most areas
  • Will be sufficient for light users

Cons

  • Slow upload and download speeds
  • Traffic management may apply
  • There may be usage caps

Truly unlimited broadband

Alongside fast broadband, choosing a truly unlimited package is a good idea if you’re intending to download movies and music. With truly unlimited broadband you won’t have your usage capped or your connection slowed by traffic management systems. This means you’ll be able to download as much as you like without restriction.

Pros

  • Download as much as you like
  • No traffic management
  • No data limits

Cons

  • Usually more expensive than capped packages
  • Not necessary for very light users

Fibre optic broadband

If you’re looking for speed you may want to opt for a fibre broadband package. Fibre optic broadband provides faster speed than standard broadband, but stumbles when it comes to availability. At the moment fibre optic connections can be accessed by around 80% of the UK population.

The fastest widely available fibre optic speed is 300Mbps from Virgin Media. With fibre, you can connect several devices (laptops, smartphones and tablets) to the internet at the same time without anything slowing down. For more information on getting fibre optic broadband, take a look at our guide Can I get fibre optic broadband in my area?

Pros

  • You can download and stream content on several devices
  • Faster download and upload speeds
  • Ideal for gaming

Cons

  • Not available everywhere
  • Generally more expensive than standard broadband
  • Some fibre packages come with an activation fee

Broadband speed tests

The availability checker only gives you a rough estimate of the download speeds you’ll be able to reach at your postcode. For a more accurate estimate, try our easy-to-use speed test to find out the speed on your line.

Download and upload speeds are measured in Mb, which stands for megabits (per second). A megabit is different to a megabyte, with each byte consisting of eight bits. True broadband has to be over 2Mb to qualify, but with speeds over 100Mb available from some providers, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding speeds above the minimum.

When testing your broadband speed it’s worth bearing in mind that the speed can vary throughout the day. Peak times are usually the slowest, even without traffic management, as lots of users all on the same network will naturally clog up the line and reduce download and upload speeds.

Check your speed →

What affects broadband speed?

Broadband speed is a fickle beast, and can slow down and speed up throughout the course of a day. There are a few things that can affect your speed:

Connecting wirelessly

Wireless connections provide slower download speeds than wired cables. This is due to a number of factors including interference. If you connect your broadband router to your computer with a cable (Ethernet cable) you are less likely to get any interference.

Traffic management

Traffic management slows down your online activity during peak times, usually at the weekends and on weekday evenings. A truly unlimited plan has no traffic management on it and will allow you to download without restriction. However, your speed may slow down at peak times due to general network congestion.

Interference from devices

Broadband routers can pick up interference from household devices, like microwaves and baby monitors. Ensure that there are no gadgets in front of your router that may cause your broadband to slow down.

Out-of-date browser software

Out-of-date operating systems can affect your broadband speed. Make sure you are always using the latest version and your browser is up-to-date. To update your software, all you have to do is click a button. You’ll get update reminders on your computer screen to prompt you.

Distance from the nearest exchange

The further the distance that a broadband signal has to travel, the more it deteriorates, especially if it's travelling along old, copper telephone cables. So if you live a long way from your local exchange, the chances are your broadband will be much slower than if you lived closer.

Different types of broadband

In some rural areas, the distance from the local broadband exchange to your home is too great for the provision of broadband, because the signal slows down the further it has to travel. If you can’t get any kind of landline broadband, or even if you are looking for something different, a growing number of alternatives are available.

Mobile broadband

If you’ve got a smartphone, chances are you’re already using some form of mobile broadband in the form of 3G or 4G. In a similar way to fibre and standard broadband, 4G provides faster download speeds, while 3G still has marginally wider coverage. To find out more, read our guide to mobile broadband coverage, or compare providers using the link below.

Satellite broadband

If you’re outside the network areas for standard and fibre optic broadband, you might be able to get online with satellite broadband. Satellite download speeds are on the slow side and set-up costs are relatively high. As a result, this is often a last resort for getting online. To find out more, take a look at what satellite broadband deals are on offer.

Compare broadband

Now that you know what you can get, and which type of connection you should go for, it’s time to get comparing. Just hit the button below to jump onto our compare broadband page.

Compare broadband

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