Broadband is an essential service, proven recently as so many of us were forced to work from home during the pandemic and having to rely on Zoom meetings and Netflix to get through each week. But unlike electricity or gas suppliers, there are real differences between broadband packages, from the router that's provided to TV services and other bolt-ons.
We'll explain what to look for, as well as comparing eight of the best providers and cherry-picking the best plan on offer from each one.
Quick picks: best broadband plans
- BT Fibre 2 + Entertainment bundle, 67Mbps average, £42.99p/m
- SKY Superfast TV Deal, 59Mbps average, £42p/m
- NOW Broadband Super Fibre Broadband & Entertainment, 63Mbps average, £29.99p/m
- TALKTALK Full Fibre 150, 147Mbps average, £32p/m
- EE Fibre Max 100, 145Mbps average, £39p/m
- VODAFONE Pro Broadband with Alexa, 35Mbps average, £38p/m
- PLUSNET Unlimited Fibre Extra, 66Mbps average, £25.99p/m
- VIRGIN MEDIA Gig1 Fibre Broadband, 1130Mbps average, £62p/m
BT Broadband - Best for choice
- Huge range of choices
- Guaranteed speeds
- Poor customer service rating
As the country’s largest supplier of broadband, BT has a huge range of options available. These go from standard wire-based ADSL connections that can provide speeds of around 15Mbps up to the incredibly fast Full Fibre Halo packages that max out at a blistering 900Mbps. It depend upon where you live as to the speeds available but you can enter your postcode on BT's site and it will let you know what packages are available in your area.
Of course, these are priced accordingly, with the slower speeds coming in at around the £20 a month mark, while the highest speed Fibre contracts are around £50. The best value though is found with the combination packages that bundle fast broadband in with streaming TV services including Sky (via Now TV), BT Sport and AMC. For example, at the time of writing you could get the Big Entertainment + Fibre 2 package for £52.99 per month, which includes speeds between 59Mbps-73Mbps, plus access to Sky Atlantic, Sky Originals, twelve Sky Cinema channels, AMC and others.
This package (like other BT fibre packages) doesn't require you to have a landline, which for many people will be an advantage, as they're fast becoming obsolete.
If you want the best TV package, then there’s BT TV VIP, which incorporates Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, Sky Entertainment, Eurosport, Freeview, AMC and BT Entertainment. You can read our full BT TV VIP review for more details.
Many plans offer what BT calls Your Stay Fast Guarantee, which sets a limit on the speed your connection can drop to, after which you can claim £20 back from the company. This is a good way to know that you should get a baseline level of performance, no matter which package you choose.
The BT Halo plans have a few cool features well worth considering as well, including Hybrid Connect, which utilises the EE network (owned by BT) to switch to 4G if the broadband connection goes down. If you’re on a BT Mobile contract, then you may see your data doubled as part of the package. There’s also Complete Wi-Fi - a mesh Wi-Fi system which increases the coverage in your home and is ideal for those with larger houses or places with thick walls.
Check out our BT Halo+ 3 review for more details.
While all of this is very impressive, one blot on the BT landscape is customer service. The Trustpilot ratings and reviews make for grim reading, and some of us at Tech Advisor have experienced getting lost in the labyrinthian hell that can be calling the helplines. When it works, the broadband is great, but if you need to get something fixed, you might want to put the kettle on.
Get BT Broadband
Sky - Best for entertainment bundles
- Good entertainment packages
- Fast fibre speeds
- Wi-Fi boosters cost extra
Sky is another behemoth in the UK, with its TV, movie and sports channels remaining hugely popular even in the face of competition from Netflix, Amazon and others. One of the other main services it offers of course is broadband, with a particular focus on bundles that incorporate all of the above products.
Sky has three main broadband tiers – Superfast, Ultrafast and Ultrafast Plus – each of which offers a higher top download speed than the last. Superfast promises average speeds of 59Mbps, Ultrafast 145Mbps, with Ultrafast Plus offering a pretty nifty 500Mbps.
As with BT, Sky gives a minimum speed guarantee for each tier with the promise that if you contact them about a slow connection, which persists for at least three days in a row and they can’t fix it within 30 days, you are free to cancel your contract with no fees or early termination costs. Unlike BT, you’ll still need to pay for a landline as part of your package.
While broadband is available on its own, the best deals are found when you combine it with the various entertainment packages, although BT does give these options a run for their money. If you’re happy with the standard Superfast Broadband, then for £42p/m you can get unlimited internet access, plus channels including Sky Atlantic, Sky One, SyFy, Gold, Discovery, National Geographic, Eurosport, MTV and a number of on-demand box sets. If you want more, then you can add Sky Sports for £20p/m, Sky Cinema for £11p/m plus various other options.
Sky does offer its WiFi Guarantee add-on for £5 per month, which promises Wi-Fi coverage in all areas of your house or the price of the add-on is refunded. If you can’t get at least 3Mb in each room of the house, then Sky will send you a Booster to extend the network. This does seem a little cheeky, as we’d expect a service to work properly without the need for customers to pay extra, but if your home has dead-spots then it could be worth investigating.
USwitch awarded Sky the Best Triple Play Provider for its TV, Broadband and Talk bundle in 2020, so it’s proven itself a decent service, but a number of reviews on Trustpilot disagree.
Get Sky broadband
- Cancel any time
- Well-priced contracts
- Cancel any time costs £60 up front
Yes, NOW is a part of Sky, so it does look like we’ve listed the same service twice, but as with the NOW TV packages that give you access to the premium TV content but without the need for long contracts, NOW Broadband is an interesting option if you’re staying in a location for less than a normal contract length or just like the freedom to cancel without a huge fee.
It’s not free, though, as you need to pay £60 up-front for the ‘no-contract’ option, but if you end the service several months before the terms mature, then you’ll save some money in the process, plus it’s good to know that you’re able to walk away at any time.
Whether you’ll want to leave is another matter, as NOW Broadband offers some decent deals with reasonably fast connections and unlimited downloads. There are three tiers, each with their own pricing and top speeds:
- Brilliant Broadband (ADSL with an average 11Mb speed) £18p/m
- Fab Fibre (average 36Mb) £22p/m
- Super Fibre (average 63Mb) £22p/m
All come with line rental and Anytime calls included (and there's no activation fee), but there is a £5 delivery cost for the router. If you use your home phone then the inclusion of Anytime Calls might prove useful, as these offer free calls of UK mobile and landlines. Stray outside those parameters though and the fees can get expensive, at around 20p per minute.
As you’d expect there are deals that allow you to get the NOW TV Entertainment packages as part of your subscription, with the best of the bunch at the time of writing being the Super Fibre + Entertainment Membership 12-month package for £29.99p/m.
With this you get the fastest connection NOW Broadband offers, plus access to the likes of Sky Atlantic, Sky One, Sky Comedy, Gold, SyFy, and a wide range of on-demand box sets of shows. You can also buy monthly Passes to watch the Sports or Cinema channels too, making it easy to keep your ongoing costs down but still be able to watch the match or latest movie.
You won’t find Wi-Fi 6 or mesh networking available on this platform, but that’s not the intention. Instead, you can get very a usable internet connection for streaming TV, video calls and general browsing all for an affordable price. Hard-core gamers and 4K fans might want to look elsewhere, but otherwise it’s a solid option.
Looking at the Trustpilot score for NOW is a bit confusing, as the Broadband service is mixed in with the streaming packages so it’s not fair to draw any conclusions. Still, with the option to cancel at any time (if you’re willing to pay the £60) then it could well be what you're looking for.
Get NOW Broadband
- Wi-Fi 6 router on some tariffs
- Good range of speeds
- Amazon eero routers are tied to TalkTalk
As with most of the services on this list, TalkTalk offers a variety of broadband tiers, increasing in speed and price as you move up the price ladder. What’s interesting is that the higher-cost plans (Fibre 150 and Fibre 500) come with Amazon eero routers, which offer Wi-Fi 6. This is something not currently available from the likes of the BT Smart Hub 2 or Sky Broadband Hub, so if you want the fastest and widest coverage of Wi-Fi in your home then TalkTalk should be on your shortlist.
Of course, you can buy the Amazon eero routers yourself and add them to any network, but at £139 each it’s not exactly a cheap option.
One thing to note, if you want to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6 then you’ll need compatible devices. If your phone is reasonably high-end and was manufactured in the last couple of years then you should be good to go. Even if not, Wi-Fi 6 can provide better speeds and coverage than Wi-Fi 5, even if you only have Wi-Fi 5 (or earlier) in your phone, laptop and other devices. To get these packages, you’ll need to live an area that has the fibre service available, buy you can check that on TalkTalk's website.
Another slightly different approach is that the TalkTalk plans recommend the maximum number of devices that you should use on each plan. Obviously, you can use more, but speeds will begin to deteriorate. This is true of most broadband connections, but it’s unusual to see it listed.
For instance, the baseline Fibre 35 package, which states average speeds of 38Mbps, is recommend for 1-5 devices. In this day and age with Amazon Alexa devices, smartwatches, multiple phones, Smart TVs, tablets and laptops often found in every home, this seem quite restricted, but you’ll just see the average speed drop rather than be refused access to the internet if you have more devices connected.
Prices start at £23p/m (for the aforementioned Fibre 35 package) and include unlimited downloads and free TalkTalk to TalkTalk calls, with plenty of other tiers going up from there. You can also add TV services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and others into a package all at quite reasonable costs.
Our pick of the bunch though is the Fibre 150 – Full Fibre tier that offers average speeds of 147Mbps, no need for a landline, and comes with the Amazon eero 6 router. This costs £32p/m on an 18-month contract, with a one-off £4.95 delivery fee.
One downside we found in the small print is that the Amazon eero devices are locked to TalkTalk networks, with the company stating, ‘The eero device is restricted use and can only be used on the TalkTalk broadband network and with TalkTalk eero enabled packages (currently Fibre 150 and 500 data-only), otherwise they may be deactivated’. So, while it’s a great feature, you won’t necessarily be able to benefit from the router if you switch services later on.
While the TrustPilot rating is 2.5 stars (which, surprisingly, is higher than both BT and Sky) it does once again have many people complaining about customer service. So, be aware of that while making your choice.
EE - Best for existing EE customers
- Data allowance boosts
- Fast fibre speeds
- 4G Wi-Fi plans are expensive
EE may be better known as a mobile phone provider, but the company also has a comprehensive range of broadband options available, thanks to the fact it's owned by BT. All of its plans are unlimited and the company states that it will not slow down the service at any time, so you should see a constant level of performance.
As with several of the other services on this list, including BT, you now have the option of a fibre plan without the requirement for a landline. So, if you’re keen to save a little money and rely on your smartphone for all calls, then this is an excellent option.
If you’re an existing EE customer, then you’ll also see your mobile data allowance bumped up by as much as 20GB p/m, plus there’s a 10% discount when signing up.
EE caters for a wide range of needs, with packages starting out with the Standard tier that gives average speeds of 10Mbps for £23.50p/m (with a 5GB mobile data bonus for EE customers), up to the Full Fibre Max 900 that should keep you at 900Mbps for £60 a month (and tops up your EE mobile data allowance by 20GB p/m).
If you want to add entertainment into the mix, then existing pay-monthly EE customers can opt for the Apple TV 4K and BT Sport package, which provides the Apple hardware and access to the BT channel for around £11-15 p/m depending on the tier.
Should you need to boost the Wi-Fi coverage in your home, then EE offers Smart Wi-Fi for an additional £10 p/m on any package.
For this you get the Smart Wi-Fi disc (the same as BT's Complete WiFi, but the discs are white instead of black, and have an EE logo on them), an upgrade to the Smart Wi-Fi router (Wi-Fi 5) if you don’t already have it, and a portable 4GEE mini hotspot with 2G of free data to keep you connected each month when you’re out and about.
Those who would like to go entirely mobile could also opt for a 4G or 5G router plan which means you can take it with you when you travel. The important thing to know about these is that they don't come with unlimited data. Also, prices on the 5G sides are quite high. The best deal is 100GB of 5G data for £67.50p/m on a 24-month contract, but for most people this will be an expensive luxury rather than sensible option, especially when companies such as Smarty offer unlimited 4G data for £20 a month.
Again, like most providers here, EE doesn’t rate too highly on Trustpilot.
Get EE Broadband
Vodafone - Best for features
- 4G backup connection
- Wi-Fi 6 booster on some tariffs
- Less coverage than other services
As with EE, Vodafone is another mobile network provider that now offers home broadband. It has the same sort of range as most of the others on this list, with average speeds going from 35Mbps right up to 900Mbps.
These are broken into three main categories: Broadband, Broadband Pro and Broadband Pro Xtra. All plans have unlimited downloads and prices start at £22 p/m.
Naturally the Pro and Pro Ultra tiers come with additional features as well as speed bumps. These include Super Wi-Fi guarantee, which means you should get good service all over the house or Vodafone will supply you with booster units to fix the problem.
There’s also 4G Broadband backup that will switch your connection to the Vodafone 4G network automatically (for free) if your broadband connection experiences difficulties. Obviously, you’ll need to check that you’re in an area with good network coverage for this to work.
Existing Vodafone customers on pay monthly contracts can also get discounts on the plans (currently up to £3p/m) and qualify for a free Amazon Tech Pack which includes an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD and Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen).
Vodafone saves some features solely for the Pro Xtra level, with the star of the show being an Apple TV 4K with a 3-month subscription to Apple TV+, but there’s also Anytime landline and mobile calls to UK numbers.
The most recent addition to the range is the plan that we think offers the best mix of features and value. This is the Vodafone Pro Broadband with Alexa built-in which comes with 4G Broadband backup (that kicks in if the main connection goes down) as well as an Alexa-equipped Super Wi-Fi Plus booster that Vodafone says has Wi-Fi 6 capabilities.
Now, the main router itself is Wi-Fi 5, so it's not clear if it's possible to get faster speeds from the booster or that the Wi-Fi 6 is there to improve coverage as well as being a form of futureproofing that will really come into its own when the main router is replaced with a Wi-Fi model.
The new package starts at £38 p/m and is a real contender against the BT Halo 3+ package, so long as you’re in an area covered by the Vodafone network.
Checking the Trustpilot ratings is equally as disconcerting as with every other company here.
Plusnet - Best for affordable broadband packages
- Affordable packages
- No high-speed fibre options
Plusnet has positioned itself as the ‘everyman’ broadband provider for years now and it seems to be working well for the company as it recently picked up the four main awards from Uswitch.
These were comprised of Best Broadband Provider, Best Provider for Customer Service, Best Value Broadband Provider, and Most Popular Broadband Provider. These have to be considered alongside the Trustpilot ratings, which tell a slightly less enthusiastic story.
The packages available are slightly more modest than those from the likes of Sky, BT, TalkTalk and others, but for most people there are options that will appeal.
You have three tiers to choose between: Unlimited Broadband, Unlimited Fibre and Unlimited Fibre Extra. You won’t find the crazy top speeds that are available on some other fibre connections, but the three tiers respectively offer average speeds of 10Mbps, 36Mbps and 66Mbps. While the simple Broadband tier would struggle to handle multiple devices streaming HD content, the £18.99p/m fee, which includes line rental, means it’s a good way to access the internet for a low cost.
Moving up to Fibre increases the cost to £22.99p/m, with the top Fibre Extra package available for £25.99p/m, all on 12-month contracts and with line-rental included. If you want call plans, then they are all available for around £10.50p/m extra.
There’s also the option to include BT Sport for £15.69p/m if you want to bolster your TV, but we think the best deal is the Unlimited Fibre Extra as it gives you speeds fast enough for everyday online activities, plus it’s cheap enough for most people to afford. As we said at the start, it’s the ‘everyman’ option.
Virgin Media - Fastest fibre connection
- Very fast potential speeds
- Good range of bundles
- Top-speed fibre restricted to a few cities
Virgin is a stalwart in the home broadband space and has been for many years. It’s not surprising then that the number of services and bundles it offers are some of the most comprehensive around.
You can opt for broadband with or without a phone line, a wide variety of download speeds, not to mention a wealth of entertainment options that include Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. There’s also the option to have your mobile SIM as part of a package, if you want all your digital chickens in one basket.
If you’re looking for a tier to suit your particular requirements, then there’s a good chance that Virgin Media has one on offer. But the plan in particular that sets the company apart from its rivals is the Gig1 Fibre Broadband package, though this is available in only a few cities.
Virgin states that it can deliver average speeds of 1130Mbps alongside upload speeds of 52Mb, which makes it the fastest service in this roundup. It's great for gamers, and those that want to stream 4K content to multiple screens at the same time, as well as those that have a large home full of bandwidth-hungry devices.
The Gig1 Fibre Broadband plan is also worth considering if you’re, like many of us, working from home and need to be on Zoom calls frequently, share large files in a flash, or simply have a rapid connection to the internet even when your kids or flatmates are binging Netflix in the next room.
Signing up to Gig1 Fibre will cost you £62p/m on an 18-month contract and involves a one-off set up fee of £35. At the moment the service is limited to only a few cities in the UK, so be sure to use the service checker on the Virgin Media site to see if you’re one of the chosen few. Otherwise, there are plenty of other fast plans available which come with features like Intelligent Wi-Fi (where the router will boost signals to devices the furthest away), although for a hardware booster you’ll need the Intelligent Wi-Fi Plus option that costs and additional £5p/m.
The Trustpilot rating for the broadband service averages 2 stars, which is better than several on this list. As we said at the start, it simply shows that there are a lot of unhappy broadband customers in the UK, and no service scores highly here.
Things to consider when choosing a Broadband service
When deciding, there are some key features to check. While speed is always a massive factor, most packages will have extras that could improve your day-to-day experience. Here’s a quick guide on the things to consider before signing a contract.
Obviously, speed is top of the list. In this age of video calls, 4K streaming, online gaming and everyone having multiple devices in a household, a slow internet connection can be incredibly frustrating. If you need maximum speed, there are specialists such as Hyperoptic that prioritise this over any other whistles (or bells) and there are fibre (short for fibre optic) services from BT and Virgin (among others) that offer greater speeds than the more standard contracts. You’ll see them listed below, measured in Mb - megabits - per second. The higher the number the faster the connection.
One thing to bear in mind when looking at speeds is that the main figure you’ll see will be for downloads (e.g., watching Netflix, surfing the web and receiving emails), but usually there will be a different upload speed. This is important if you make a lot of video calls, for example, as the upload speed will determine how good the quality of your video will be to others. Similarly, if you regularly need to upload large files, such as videos you're posting to YouTube or sharing with colleagues, you'll want a fast upload speed.
For more details on this, read what’s the fastest broadband in the UK?
You should check which services are available in your area, as many of the fastest fibre plans are usually restricted to cities and larger towns. For those in remote areas, there’s also the option of satellite broadband from companies such as OneWeb and Starlink, but due to the advanced nature of this technology it can be quite expensive.
Is there a data cap?
Most broadband plans come with unlimited data, but there are still some that cap the amount you can download each month. So, be sure to check the details of any plan you’re thinking of signing up to and look for unlimited download limits as opposed to a monthly allowance.
TV and phone bundles
Most providers offer basic broadband, but also have packages including TV streaming, music services, mobile data or other enticements. Therefore, it’s well worth totting up how much you already pay separately for these add-ons and whether getting them as part of your broadband package would save you money.
Which router is included?
A central part of how your broadband connection will function, especially on the Wi-Fi side of things, will come down to the quality of your router. Most packages will contain a bog-standard model, which in some cases could be using technology several years old. Typically, you won’t have access to the latest Wi-Fi 6 speeds or the extra coverage around the house that comes with mesh Wi-Fi networks.
If those latter things are important to you, then be sure to check which routers are in the package and whether moving to a more premium tier will be a better fit for your particular needs. You can, of course, connect and use Wi-Fi kit of your own choosing if you prefer, so take a look at our guide to the best Mesh Wi-Fi kits to see which ones we recommend.
Hopefully you won't need any tech support, but when do need assistance or simply to get in contact with your provider, good customer service is obviously a benefit. We've referred to Trustpilot reviews and ratings here, but no broadband service has great ratings. It's true that people tend to only leave a review when they've had a bad experience, and there's little incentive to leave a review when you've had good service, but even so, it's rather disappointing across the board.
Don’t be scared to switch providers each year
It’s a sad fact that in the modern era companies don’t seem eager to reward loyalty from customers. It’s rare that your bills go down if you’re a long-time subscriber, in fact they often creep upwards. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever now to change your supplier, and it’s probably a good idea if you want to ensure that you are getting the best value for money from your broadband service. Once your contract has come to its full term, you can approach another supplier, arrange a deal and then they will often handle much of the technical stuff, leaving you to tell your existing provider that you’re moving on.
To see what kind of contracts are out there, read best broadband deals in the UK.