You never need to worry about how much you're using the internet when you sign up to an unlimited broadband deal. Unlimited broadband deals mean that you will never get a bill that surprises you because your household’s internet usage was too high.
Unlimited broadband means that you can use the internet as much as you like without being charged extra. Much like a mobile phone contract, some broadband deals will have a set amount of data that you can use – but once you go over that amount, you will be charged more. Luckily, nowadays almost all broadband deals are unlimited – meaning everyone can stream, online game, listen to music and socialise as much as they want without worrying about how much data they are using.
But did you know that not all unlimited broadband deals are not the same?
Here’s where things get a little more complicated. While the vast majority of broadband deals are unlimited there is another type of broadband deal called ‘truly unlimited’. So what’s the difference?
An unlimited broadband deal has no limit on the amount of data that you use, but your internet service provider might manage your traffic at certain peak times or if you are doing a particular data-heavy task – a techy way of saying that they could slow down your internet when demand is high to make sure everyone gets a steady speed.
Truly unlimited broadband means that your ISP will not impose any data limits but will also never actively manage your traffic – so you are free to use the internet as and when you want it without worrying that your connection will slow you down.
If the idea of unlimited internet seems a little overkill to you, you might be thinking that an unlimited broadband deal wouldn’t be worth it. And that could be true if you are a very light internet user, but the truth is that almost all broadband deals nowadays are unlimited to begin with. So, you will probably find that you can still get the best deal possible while having the peace of mind of an unlimited broadband package.
Something small like an automatic software update which you didn’t even know was happening in the background could trip you up and put you over your data limit – costing you money. We’d recommend opting for an unlimited broadband deal so that you never have to worry about how you are using the internet. Thankfully they’re much more common than limited broadband deals now, so you shouldn’t have an issue finding one that’s right for you.
To find the best unlimited broadband deal for you, you will need to work out whether you want just a basic unlimited deal or if you need a truly unlimited deal. If you use the internet regularly and just want the security of no download limits, then an unlimited broadband deal should be just fine for you. But if you are more of a power user, who doesn’t want to see any sort of speed decrease whatsoever, a truly unlimited broadband deal might be your best option.
Next, you need to work out what broadband speed you can get and then what you need. Use our super-handy broadband speed checker to see what your current speed is. Once you know what speed you can get, you need to work out how fast you need your internet to be. Generally speaking, the faster the internet, the costlier the deal.
With that in mind, you won’t want to pay over the odds for superfast broadband that you don’t need. The more people in your household that use the internet, the faster speeds you will need to make sure that they aren't constantly running into the dreaded buffering wheel. But if you have a smaller household and only use the internet occasionally for things like emails and social media, lower-speed broadband should be just fine for your needs.
Finally, you need to consider the cost. Nearly all broadband deals are unlimited, so chances are you won’t have to shell out a lot to enjoy unlimited internet – check out the latest broadband deals here.
If you’re looking for the best unlimited broadband deal, we’d recommend starting with an internet service provider (ISP) that offers a truly unlimited deal – meaning that you can use the internet however you want without your connection being artificially slowed down. Thankfully, most ISPs now offer a truly unlimited service, including many of the heavy-hitters:
BT does not practice any traffic management, which means that you will never experience a slow-down of your service during peak hours.
All of TalkTalk’s broadband deals are truly unlimited, with no usage caps, extra charges or speed reductions at peak times.
Virgin Media famously stopped all traffic management in 2018, after facing a backlash from its customers for a slower service during peak hours. Since then, all of its packages are free of any traffic management.
With Sky Broadband, it depends which package you have whether or not you will experience traffic management. If you are a Sky Broadband Connect customer, you will have to put up with traffic management, which could see your connection slowed down during peak times. But if you’re a Sky Broadband or Fibre customer, you won’t experience traffic management.
All of NOW Broadband’s unlimited deals are free of traffic management – so you can download and upload as much as you want without being slowed down.
If you are shopping for a new broadband deal, none of Plusnet’s deals have traffic management, so you won’t have any slow-downs. But, if you’re a current Plusnet customer, some of its older products do have traffic management – it’s best to get in touch with Plusnet to check if this is the case with your deal and if it’s possible to switch to a newer package.
Vodafone broadband doesn’t practice any traffic management across its broadband customers – leaving you with the fastest-possible speed during peak hours.
EE also uses no traffic management across its broadband services, leaving you free to download and upload as much as you like without experiencing any slow-down.
The Post Office’s unlimited broadband deals are not subject to any traffic management. However, its fair usage policy does say that it will monitor high-bandwidth users and you might be asked to cut back on heavy use during peak hours.
As you can see from the list above, most major broadband providers now offer truly unlimited broadband, but a handful of providers still use traffic management policies.
SSE broadband is one of the few providers that still uses traffic management to make sure that all of its customers experience a stable internet speed during peak times. SEE says: “We will take action to limit the impact of your usage of our Service where it goes beyond levels which we regard to be reasonable for a residential broadband product and would affect the network and service for our other customers.”
All John Lewis Broadband deals are unlimited, with no download caps. But the supplier does say that, during “exceptional circumstances” it might prioritise traffic on the network to make sure that “you get a great service no matter how busy it is”. For most people, this form of traffic management will not have a negative impact on their internet.
If you regularly use the internet as well as your home phone, opting for an unlimited phone call and broadband package could save you money in the long run. Because the vast majority of broadband deals require you to have a landline, bundling your internet package with calls can be a great idea.
Anytime call deals are particularly great if you use your home phone a lot during peak hours (usually 7:00 to 19:00). An unlimited broadband and anytime calls bundle means you can use the internet and your home phone as much as you like without worrying about any extra costs popping up on your bill. Find the best unlimited internet and anytime call deals here.
If you are interested in a mobile broadband deal, you might be surprised to hear that a few of the network providers offer unlimited mobile broadband.
Vodafone offers an unlimited data option for its mobile broadband products. While there are no limitations on the amount of data that you can use, Vodafone does limit the speed at which you can use the data, depending on which plan you choose.
Its GigaCube 5G mobile broadband offering has two cheaper limited options and one more expensive unlimited package, however the data limits are very high due to the speed of the connection.
Three offers a truly unlimited mobile broadband experience, with no data limits and no speed caps – a great choice if you will be using mobile broadband for data-hungry tasks like streaming and downloading movies, playing online games and video calls.
Most of the ISPs offering unlimited broadband packages will require you to have a landline in order to get their service to you. There are a handful of ISPs that do not need a landline to give you their service but you will need to have full-fibre broadband, also known as fibre to the premises (FTTP) – which is pretty limited across the UK.
Another option for unlimited broadband without a landline would be mobile broadband. The likes of O2, EE, Three and Vodafone all offer home broadband routers that use their mobile network – meaning that you don’t need a landline. But if you want unlimited data, only Three and Vodafone offer home routers with unlimited data.
The good news is that, if you are in an area with 5G coverage, you will be able to use the internet at very high speeds that rival even the fastest fibre broadband connections available!
As most providers offer unlimited broadband as standard, we think that most people should opt for an unlimited broadband deal. But for some people, unlimited broadband is pretty much mandatory. Here’s who, and why that might be the case:
If you’re a student, you don’t need us to tell you that money is tight. The last thing you want is an unexpected additional cost because you couldn’t help but watch the latest Great British Bake Off episode instead of studying. Going for an unlimited internet deal gives you that peace of mind.
Sharing a house can be difficult enough without a witch hunt over who has been downloading the most movies or streaming the most box sets. Opting for an unlimited broadband deal keeps the house free of arguments … over the broadband at least.
How many times have you logged onto your console or gaming PC just to find out that your favourite game has a 40GB update that you need to download? Online gaming and digital game titles eat up a tonne of data, so an unlimited broadband deal is definitely the best way to go if someone in your household plays a lot of games online.
Using the internet is an everyday activity for most of us and is especially important for families. Whether it’s researching homework, working from home, streaming TV shows, playing games online or keeping up with social media – your family will use a lot of data.
An unlimited broadband deal means that you won’t have to worry about running into any data caps and taking the family offline or paying over the odds for your internet.