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How can I find the best broadband deal for me?
Whether you’re thinking about switching suppliers or looking for a broadband deal for the first time, you’re in the right place. You’ll find everything you need to know about broadband, how to get it and how to find the best broadband deal for you.
The main things to think about when deciding between broadband providers are:
- Speed – fast broadband speeds are crucial, especially if you stream content or are into online gaming.
- Usage – you may need an unlimited data allowance if you have a big household, download large files or stream in 4K.
- Customer service – high customer service ratings are important if you suffer from lower-than-expected speeds or service outages.
- Cost – all the above may be fantastic, but does it come at the right price for you and offer good value for money? As well as overall costs, make sure you compare upfront costs for installation and/or a new router. Some deals won’t charge you any set-up fees.
- Contract length – broadband contracts typically run for 12 months, 18 months or 24 months. It’s always important to check contract length so you’re not tying yourself into a longer deal than expected. This could make switching more difficult.
- Hardware – do you need any new equipment to change or upgrade your service? You may need a new router or fibre-optic cables installing.
- Perks – you’ll find many broadband providers will use gifts and rewards to tempt you to choose their package. These can include free tablets or tech, cashback, vouchers or access to additional services.
- Bundles – you may be able to save money by combining your broadband with a paid TV subscription and phone package.
- Availability – while the majority of the UK now has access to fibre-optic broadband, you should check which speeds are available in your area. Ultra-fibre speeds, usually available through Virgin Media, require special broadband cables which are less readily available than standard fibre broadband.
Broadband Speed Test
AutoSergei can check your broadband speed and help you look for a better deal:
- Check your internet speed and see how fast your broadband connection is
- Compare your connection speed with other providers in your postcode area
- Find better, faster broadband deals
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – SWITCH WITH CONFIDENCE
If you’re finding that your broadband is an issue while you’re staying indoors or working from home, switching your broadband package could make things easier.
We want to reassure you that most broadband switches are currently unaffected by coronavirus. However, call centres are very busy, with many providers prioritising repair and maintenance services. If you do want to switch, check the situation with your current, and potential, provider.Learn more here
What are the best broadband deals available in my area?
To find out which broadband deals are available to you, simply enter your postcode and current broadband provider, if you have one, and we’ll show you deals with everything you need to know, including price, speed, data caps and more.
If you’d like to know what speed you’re actually getting from your current broadband, and compare that with the best speeds available in your area, use our broadband speed test.
What type of broadband deals are available?
There are several types of broadband deals to choose from:
ADSL: This works over the same line as your landline phone, and you can still talk on the phone while surfing the internet. ADSL broadband coverage is available to more than 99% of the population.
But this type of broadband is on the way out. Most providers are encouraging existing ADSL customers to upgrade to fibre broadband in line with Government targets. Some will no longer even supply ADSL if fibre is available at an address. But for those who live in remote rural areas, ADSL may still be the best option.
Fibre broadband: This offers speeds many times faster than ADSL or cable with a more stable performance, especially at peak times. Fibre is now the go-to choice for most internet users and is ideal if you stream a lot of music, video, or do gaming online. It’s also good for homes where several people use the internet at the same time, or you've got lots of devices.
Superfast broadband – which Ofcom defines as providing a minimum 30 megabits per second download speed – uses fibre-optic technology and is now available to 96% of premises in the UK.
The fastest fibre services are currently only available in around 10% of homes. Availability is increasing all the time though, as providers extend their full-fibre networks, so it’s worth checking if it’s now available to you.
Cable broadband: Faster than ADSL, cable broadband uses the same cables as a cable TV package. Cable connections are either fibre optic or coaxial and only available in certain locations. A couple of cable providers offer broadband without line rental.
Mobile broadband (3G or 4G): We don’t currently offer this comparison. This is a service you can connect to at home and on the go. It’s convenient and doesn’t require a landline, but it can be expensive.
- You’ll typically get a USB dongle to plug into your computer, or a special wireless box that just needs a power supply.
- There are no wires or cables and you can choose between pay as you go (PAYG), contract or SIM-only.
Satellite broadband: This is an option for people living in the few areas where a good ADSL, cable or fibre broadband connection isn’t available.
What broadband speed do I need?
The speed you need depends on the sort of things you’re using the internet for. If there’s only one or two of you in the home, or you only use the internet to check the news, shop online or send emails, you’ll find a standard ADSL broadband service should work just fine.
Broadband speeds are usually measured in Mbps. This stands for ‘megabits per second’ and refers to the amount of data you can download or upload in a second.
If you’re living in a busy home, with three or more people, or are downloading/streaming lots of content (particularly in 4K), gaming online or video calling, a fibre broadband speed of around 55Mbps should mean you’re never held back.
What broadband packages are available?
It’s worth considering a broadband package as it could offer a cost benefit and added convenience.
A broadband package is usually:
- cheaper than separate deals
- easier to pay in one single bill
- handier for customer support as it’s all in one place
Ultimately, you need to make sure the package suits your needs. A few things to check are:
- the cost of monthly line rental
- the charges if you exceed your data or call allowance
- package features (e.g. TV channels, anytime calls)
If you’ve already got a landline, and are happy to stick with Freeview TV instead of premium channels, you can simply go for a broadband package. The main choices you’ll face are around the type of broadband (ADSL, fibre or cable) you’re looking for, which will affect the speeds you’ll receive. You should also consider an unlimited data plan if you’re a heavy internet user.
All broadband deals available through Compare the Market offer unlimited data, so you can browse, download and stream as much as you like.
Broadband and phone packages
Because most broadband packages require a landline, getting a broadband and home phone package is usually cheaper than paying for these separately. By bundling the two together, you can get a discount on your overall deal. Options may include anytime calls where you get free calls to most UK landlines at any time of the day, as well as better rates on international calls.
Bundling your broadband and phone together can be particularly useful as you’ll have one point of contact if something happens to your phoneline, which can affect both your phone and internet connection.
Broadband, phone and TV packages
To keep things as simple as possible, you can have your broadband, phone and TV all in one bundle. This makes your services easier to manage, with one point of contact for all your needs. It could also be a great way to save money, as bundling these together is often cheaper than having them all separate.
Most providers allow you to tailor your package. If you’re always looking for the next new drama, or the latest box office hit, you can pick add-ons - movie and documentary channels for example. You can also add sports channels to avoid missing live matches, or kids’ channels to keep the little ones entertained. Providers with these packages also offer some of the best incentives - free access to services like Netflix, for example.
The main downside is that, by choosing to bundle everything together, you’re limiting yourself to a smaller pool of potential providers.
Frequently asked questions
Which broadband providers do we compare?
At Compare the Market, we work with many providers to bring you great broadband deals. You’ll find the main providers like Virgin Media and BT, but also plenty of other providers including TalkTalk, SSE and Plusnet. We also include offers from mobile providers like EE and Vodafone.
How can I compare broadband deals now?
Simply tell us your postcode and we can quickly help you compare broadband deals from leading internet providers. You can compare them in order of monthly cost, data usage, average speeds or contract length, to find the right broadband deal for you. Compare and find broadband deals in less than one minute**.
**On average it can take less than 1 minute to find and compare broadband deals through Compare the Market based on data in November 2020.
Can I get broadband without line rental?
Normally, internet service providers (ISPs) bundle broadband and line rental together. However, there are broadband providers who do offer broadband without a phone line. You may find there’s a smaller pool of deals available, but it’s definitely worth comparing broadband deals to find the right one for you.
What broadband speed could I get?
The broadband speed you can get depends on where you live as well as the package you choose. If you have ADSL broadband, or some types of fibre broadband, the distance of your home from the telephone exchange can impact your speed. When you compare, we ask you for your postcode so you can check all the options available for your location.
People who live in urban areas typically tend to have faster broadband speeds than in rural areas.
Check your broadband speed now with our broadband speed test.
Broadband providers now have to show the average speed available to 50% of their customers at peak times (8pm-10pm). However, when you’re comparing, it’s important to think about what speed you actually need. A superfast connection isn’t necessary for ordinary web browsing and emailing.
Find out more in broadband speed explained.
Am I guaranteed the advertised broadband speed?
Assuring specific speeds as an advertised guarantee has been difficult for providers. In recent years, Ofcom has stepped in to try to protect buyers from false advertising. Broadband providers can still advertise their best speeds, but must now also state more realistic speeds, based on peak usage times within the region.
Providers must also include a minimum guaranteed speed when you buy. If you find that your speeds don’t match this, you can receive money back from your provider or perhaps even cancel your policy at any time, with no cancellation fee.
Read both the advertisements and contracts carefully when switching your broadband provider, to ensure that you’re aware of realistic performance, and your rights if this isn’t met.
What can affect your broadband speed?
Getting fast broadband at home depends on many things.
Your broadband speed can be affected by:
- Connection type – this usually makes the biggest difference, with ADSL, fibre and cable broadband services offering different speeds. An ADSL connection will offer average speeds of up to 11Mbps, while the right cable service can max out at 900Mbps. Fibre connections offer some of the most varied speeds, which depend on the package you choose, but are most commonly generating speeds of up to 76Mbps.
- Distance from the cabinet/exchange – if you’re on a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) connection, the distance from your home to the street cabinet can make a big difference. While your broadband connection can still be fibre, a FTTC connection means that the fibre only runs to the cabinet. The remaining connection to your home is run on the traditional copper phoneline. Copper phonelines lose speed the further they stretch, so you can expect slower speeds if you’re further from the street cabinet. If you’re on a fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection, your speeds should not drop over distance, and you’ll typically receive the fastest speeds available, up to 900Mbps.
- Distance from your router – to get the best connection, you should make sure that your WiFi router is in a good location. If possible, have it in the room where most of your internet use takes place, and try not to block the signal by putting it in a cabinet, or hiding it behind furniture. The fewer obstacles in the way, the better the connection.
- The number of devices you’re using – if there are lots of you in the home, each using different devices to use the internet, you’re going to slow the connection down for everyone, particularly if you’re streaming 4K, downloading large files or gaming online.
- Time of day – you may find that your internet slows down during peak times, typically during the evenings. This is due to the increased traffic from other users. You should still keep an eye on your speeds, to check if they fall below any minimum speed guarantees.
Should I get an unlimited broadband deal?
An unlimited broadband deal gives you peace of mind to freely use the internet as you like. If there are lots of you in the house and you all like to browse social media, stream music, TV and films, or game online, your data usage can quickly eat through a cap. An unlimited broadband deal ensures that you can never use too much data.
Should I get a broadband package with usage limits?
If there’s only one or two of you at home, or you only use the internet for browsing the web, online shopping and email, you may find that a broadband package with usage limits is perfectly fine for you. Whereas, if you’re streaming lots of content, downloading large files or share your home with lots of people, you may want to consider an unlimited broadband deal.
Can I get fibre broadband?
Nearly everyone in the UK can now get superfast fibre broadband, while full-fibre broadband is available to around 10% of homes. Full fibre is fibre optic cable connected all the way to your home, not just the nearest street cabinet. It’s capable of delivering download speeds of up to one gigabit per second.
With more providers offering fibre broadband deals, it’s much more affordable than it used to be, with great offers making it only slightly more expensive than standard broadband. Fibre offers faster download speeds and greater reliability. That said, if you live in a remote or rural area, you may be one of the 4% who still can’t access fibre broadband.
To find out what’s available in your area, enter your postcode at the top of this page, select your current provider (if you have one) and click on 'Find deals'.
How do I claim my vouchers on broadband packages?
If you’ve switched broadband, phone and TV packages through us and your package included extras like a freebie, vouchers or other offers by the supplier as part of the deal, here’s how you go about claiming them:
Can I switch broadband at any time?
While it’s often best to switch broadband at the end of your current contract, you can switch your broadband provider whenever you like.
If you’re tied into an existing contract, you’ll usually have to pay an early-exit fee to switch to a new provider. Make sure that you check the potential saving against any early-exit fees, and make sure that the switch is still worth it. However, if you’re switching because the price of your broadband has gone up during your contract, you should be able to leave without a fee.
If you’re looking to switch because your existing provider isn’t giving you their minimum guaranteed speed, you should be able to avoid any exit fees. Get in touch with your provider if this is the case.
How do I know if I am out of contract?
You can check the status of your broadband contract by asking your provider or by logging into your account online. By law, they have to tell you if you’re still under contract, as well as when your contract ends. You might also be able to find the date your contract ends on your provider’s app or by checking a recent bill.
It’s important to know if you’re out of contract because providers often offer discounted rates for the initial contract period, then put up their prices.
What happens after my contract ends?
Your broadband provider should send you an end-of-contract notification before your contract is about to end, either by letter, email or text. They must tell you when your contract is ending and what you’ll pay after this date, as well as giving you details of any other deals that are available.
According to Ofcom, around 20 million UK broadband, TV and phone customers are out of their initial minimum-term contract of 12, 18 or 24 months, with many paying more than they need to by not switching. You could save money by getting a recontract with your existing provider or switching to a new supplier.
Will I lose connection when I switch broadband provider?
There may be a short loss of service when you switch broadband suppliers, but the process is a lot smoother than it used to be. In many cases, you should be able to switch with little or no service interruption.
On the day your switch is scheduled to take place, your new provider should advise if you’re likely to lose your connection. It shouldn’t normally be any longer than an hour though.