Which is the best broadband provider for me?

The UK has many highly competitive broadband providers. Big-name internet providers such as BT, Virgin Media and Sky may have captured most of the market with their wide availability and blockbuster ads, but there are plenty of other suppliers out there vying to be the UK’s best broadband provider. Plusnet’s marketing campaign focuses on customer service, low prices and straightforward ‘Yorkshireness’. NOW TV’s broadband has taken the flexibility of its NOW TV passes and applied it to the broadband market to create month-to-month rolling deals. While SSE – which has its corporate roots in the energy industry – promises frustration-free broadband with no mid-contract price hikes. But with great choice, comes great confusion. 

For instance, should you buy your broadband as a standalone package or will you get better value if you bundle it with TV services or your mobile phone plan? Which supplier is the best broadband provider in the UK? And would the best one be best for you? Luckily, we’re here to help you clarify those questions and compare internet providers available in the UK to find the best broadband provider for you.

Broadband providers near me

When considering internet providers, the first thing to check is which broadband providers offer services in your area. Uswitch’s postcode checker can tell you which internet providers are available in your neighbourhood. It also reveals their average speeds, any download caps, contract length and costs, along with details of rewards that may be on offer for new customers. This is a great tool if you want to get a quick snapshot of the best broadband provider deals available near you. Once you’ve found a candidate for your best internet provider, you can find out more about it in our broadband provider reviews section

Broadband provider costs – what’s included?

The best internet provider for you will depend on a range of factors. Once you know which broadband suppliers are available in your area, you need to start making comparisons. Price is an obvious starting point when you want to compare internet providers, but make sure you include any initial setup costs when deciding which broadband provider is the cheapest. You also need to consider any included fixed-line call package and whether you will use it – especially if you already have unlimited calls as part of your mobile phone plan.

How much broadband speed do you need?

Your second consideration when investigating your best broadband provider is likely to be speed. While it’s tempting to think that faster is automatically better when you compare internet providers, you can save money by opting for a standard ADSL broadband connection that will give you around 10 or 11Mbps. This type of connection is fine if you live alone or in a couple and don’t play games online, use streaming services like NOW TV, Amazon Prime and Netflix, or watch catch-up TV or make video calls. On the other hand, if your home contains four to five heavy-internet users who enjoy streaming 4K video and multiplayer online games, then you need to allow around 20-30Mbps per person when choosing between broadband providers.

Check the broadband provider’s small print

As with any type of agreement, check the small print before you sign up with a new broadband internet provider. Most charge early termination fees if you decide to leave mid-contract, so make sure you’re happy to stay before you sign on the dotted line. Most broadband providers’ plans last between 12 and 24 months. It’s also worth seeing what payment options are available with each internet provider and whether you have to undergo a credit check, which may be a concern for some. 

Before deciding which is the best broadband provider for your needs, it’s a good idea to investigate the terms of use, too. Some internet providers set caps on how much data you’re allowed to download – sometimes ‘unlimited’ comes with limits, so it’s wise to check.

Comparing broadband providers: installation and switching process

You should also investigate how the service will be installed. Do you have to do it yourself or can one of the broadband provider’s engineers manage the process for you and, if so, how much more might that cost? Switching between broadband providers is relatively straightforward for most customers and should be completed within two weeks. In most cases, your new broadband provider will contact your old internet provider and arrange the switch for you. The only exception to this is for those switching to or from Virgin Media. This is because unlike other broadband providers, Virgin Media doesn’t use the superfast Openreach network. In this case, you’ll need to contact your old and new broadband providers to arrange things.

Is it cheaper to get broadband bundles with TV and mobile?

If you’re in the market for a new TV or mobile plan as well as a broadband provider, it makes sense to look at what you can get by combining all three in one contract. BT, Sky and Virgin Media all offer these types of deals and often offer discounts to new and existing customers who bundle services together. They’re not always necessarily the cheapest, however, so make sure you compare internet providers across the board. 

Broadband provider customer service

It’s also worth comparing different internet providers’ customer service. How can you get in touch with representatives if something goes wrong? The best broadband providers have a wide range of ways to get in touch. It’s also worth popping onto any official forum run by the company to see how quickly the internet provider responds to its customers’ issues. You can also get an idea of how your chosen internet provider is viewed by its customers by looking to see if it has won any awards. Uswitch hands out gongs to the best broadband providers every year in its Uswitch Broadband & Mobile Awards. Categories include Broadband Provider of the Year, Fastest Broadband Provider, Best Provider Customer Service, Most Popular Broadband Provider and Best Value Broadband Provider.

What about mobile broadband?

Most people still prefer a fixed connection supplied by a broadband provider for their internet needs at home. That’s because home broadband connections tend to be more reliable, cheaper and faster than using mobile network services – although this may change as 5G becomes more widely available. If you’d like to use mobile data to create a Wi-Fi – or Mi-Fi – hotspot, you can get a snapshot of mobile broadband deals here.