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What is broadband?
Broadband is a high-speed internet connection that carries data to your digital devices so you can browse, shop, stream and game online. It’s supplied to your home by an internet service provider (ISP), such as BT or Virgin Media.
Broadband replaced the original dial-up internet connection, which was significantly slower than today’s technology.
Look out for this great broadband deal
We've chosen this deal as it has an exclusive or particularly strong special offer.
Monthly prices are subject to increase each April in line with the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation.
Featured broadband deals
Our featured deals table promotes a diverse range of trusted providers and highlights an exclusive or particularly strong offer from each. To compare a wider list of packages, sorted according to your chosen criteria, you can enter your postcode in the box above.
**Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time (8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical factors. You can check the estimated speed to your property before purchasing.
We compare broadband deals from a range of trusted internet providers, including:
What types of broadband are there?
There are several ways you can get broadband, although some options may not be available where you live. The most common types of broadband are:
This type of broadband works over the same line as your landline phone, but it’s on the way out. However, for those who live in remote or rural areas, ADSL might still be the best broadband option. ADSL has the slowest average speeds, around 12-13Mbps (megabits per second).
This offers speeds many times faster than ADSL, with a more stable performance, especially at peak times.
Fibre is now the most popular choice for internet users and it’s ideal if you stream a lot of music and videos or enjoy online gaming. It’s also good for people who work from home or for families using multiple devices at the same time.
You can get superfast broadband (minimum 30Mbps) and ultrafast broadband (between 300Mbps and 1,000Mbps).
Faster than ADSL, cable broadband uses the same wiring as a cable TV package. Virgin Media is the main provider of cable broadband, offering some of the fastest speeds in the country. It also offer broadband without line rental.
Mobile broadband (3G, 4G and 5G)
Satellite broadband is an option for people living in the few areas where a good ADSL, cable or fibre broadband connection isn’t available.
How can I find the best broadband deals in my area?
Not every broadband deal is available in every part of the country. Some broadband networks aren’t yet installed in all areas. This makes it important to check which ones your home can get.
After all, you wouldn’t want to end up disappointed if you see a deal advertising lightning-fast download speeds, only to find you can’t get it because of where you live.
To find out which of our broadband deals could be available to you, go to our broadband postcode checker. Simply enter your postcode and current broadband provider, if you have one, and we’ll show you our deals, including price, speed, contract length and more.
What broadband packages are available?
It’s worth considering a broadband package that includes additional services like phone or TV, as it could end up being cheaper and more convenient than separate deals.
A broadband package is often:
- Cheaper than separate contracts
- 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. Choose between ADSL, fibre or cable.
Broadband and phone packages
Most broadband packages need a landline, and getting a broadband and home phone package is usually cheaper than paying for these separately. It also means you’ll have one point of contact if something goes wrong with either.
Broadband, phone and TV packages
To keep things as simple as possible, you can arrange your broadband, phone and TV all in one bundle. You’ll often get a bundle discount, and it also makes your services easier to manage, with one point of contact.
Things to think about when you’re looking for a broadband deal
Whether you’re thinking about switching suppliers or looking for a broadband deal for the first time, you’re in the right place. Find out more about broadband, how to get it and how to find the right broadband deal for you.
The main factors 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.
- Customer service – high customer service ratings are important if you suffer from lower-than-expected speeds or regular service outages.
- Cost – is it the right price for you and does the package offer good value for money? As well as overall costs, don’t forget to 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, 18 or 24 months. Always check the contract length so you’re not tying yourself into a longer deal than expected. This could make switching more difficult.
- Mid-contract price rises – your broadband provider could increase the cost of your monthly broadband bill in line with Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) every April. So, the price you pay at the start your contract could be different at the end of your contract.
- 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 might be able to save money by combining your broadband with a paid TV subscription and phone package.
- Availability – while most of the UK now has access to fibre-optic broadband, you should check which speeds could be available in your area. Ultrafast fibre broadband needs special cables which are less readily available than standard fibre broadband.
Compare broadband in three easy steps
Look for broadband, phone and TV deals with Compare the Market.
Tell us your postcode and your current broadband provider. We’ll show you a full list of deals available in your area.
Choose what broadband speed, contract length and phone options you want. You can also opt to see bundled TV deals.
Pick the deal you’re interested in, check the details, and if you like what you see, click ‘Visit now’ to go to the provider’s website.
What is the best broadband speed for my home?
The speed you need depends on what you use the internet for and how many people in your household use it at once. The greater the speed, the quicker you can download files and the better the picture quality your streaming content will be.
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.
10Mbps (light users) – 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, this is the minimum you’ll need. You should find that a standard ADSL broadband service works just fine.
30-60Mbps (families) – if you’re living in a household with three or four people using the internet, a fibre broadband speed of around 55Mbps should mean you’re never held back. But if you all like to stream content at the same time on different devices, you’ll probably need more.
60-100Mbps (student sharers and streaming households) – if you have more than four internet users in your household, or members of your household tend to stream content all at once, look for speeds of over 60Mbps. Superfast broadband deals could be worth paying a few extra pounds a month for, to avoid the frustration of constant buffering and slow downloads.
100Mbps+ (serious gamers) – ultrafast speeds are ideal for serious online gamers and households where people are streaming in 4K. They can also be useful if you often work from home and need to download a lot of large files, or take conference calls at the same time as others in your household.
Find out if your speed is fast enough for your needs with our broadband speed test.
What can affect your broadband speed?
Your broadband speed can be affected by:
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 13Mbps, while cable broadband can max out at more than 1,100Mbps. Fibre connections offer some of the most varied speeds, which depend on the package you choose, but most commonly they generate 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 shouldn’t drop over distance, and you’ll typically receive the fastest speeds available. If speed is the most important thing to you, a FTTP connection is probably the best broadband for you.
Distance from your router
To get the best broadband connection, 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 you have gamers in the family, or there are many of you each using different devices online, the connection speed is very likely to slow down, particularly if you’re streaming 4K or downloading large files.
Time of day
You may find that your internet slows 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.
Check your broadband speed now with our speed test tool.
Need help to choose the best broadband deal?
Take a look at some of our guides:
What our expert says...
“When you compare with us, you’ll be able to filter your results to include deals with a landline, as well as TV packages. If you want to compare the difference between broadband packages and separate broadband-only deals, simply choose ‘Deals without landline’ in the filter options.”
- Sajni Shah, Utilities comparison expert
Why compare broadband deals with Compare the Market?
At Compare the Market it’s all about keeping it simple. We can help you find the right product for you at the right price. And you can trust us to be impartial – we make money when you switch or take out a new product, so it’s in our interests to help you make the right choice.
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Frequently asked questions
Should I always go for a cheap broadband deal?
While the cost of broadband is an important consideration, it shouldn’t be the overriding factor. Speed also matters. If you can get a faster connection for a few pounds more, it might be worth paying the extra depending on what you use the internet for.
You should also consider contract lengths and whether it’s more cost-effective to bundle your TV and phone together with your broadband.
Can I get fibre broadband?
Nearly everyone in the UK can now get superfast fibre broadband as it’s available to 97% of households, while gigabit-capable broadband is available to 75% of all UK homes.
With more providers offering fibre broadband deals, it’s much more affordable than it used to be. 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 62,000 households who still can’t get a reliable broadband service.
To find out what’s available in your area, enter your details in our broadband postcode checker, select your current provider (if you have one) and click on 'Find deals'.
How do I claim my vouchers on broadband packages?
If 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 get broadband without a phone line?
Normally, internet service providers (ISPs) bundle broadband and line rental together because most broadband can only be delivered via a phone line.
But technology is changing rapidly and there are a growing number of providers, including Virgin Media, BT and EE, who now 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.
Am I guaranteed the advertised broadband speed?
Broadband providers can still advertise their fastest 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 your broadband service. If you find that your speeds don’t match this, you could receive money back from your provider, and possibly even end your policy at any time, with no cancellation fee.
Does broadband have data usage limits?
Most broadband now comes with unlimited data as standard. This is the case for all broadband deals available through Compare the Market, and it means you won’t need to constantly monitor your usage to avoid exceeding your data cap.
An unlimited broadband deal is particularly useful if there are many of you in the house and you all like to browse social media, stream music, TV and films, or game online.
Can I switch broadband at any time?
You can switch your broadband provider whenever you like. However, that doesn’t mean you should.
If you’re still tied into an existing contract, you’ll usually have to pay an early exit fee to switch to a new provider. Make sure you check the potential saving against any early exit fees, so the switch is still worth it.
If you’re looking to switch because your existing provider isn’t giving you their minimum guaranteed speed, or the price of your broadband has gone up by more than the rate of inflation during your contracted term, 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, your provider has 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 must send you an end-of-contract notification before your contract is about to end, either by letter, email or text, telling you what you’ll pay after this date, as well as giving you details of any other deals that are available.
According to Ofcom, around seven million UK broadband 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 new contract with your existing provider or switching to a new supplier.
Will I lose connection when I switch broadband provider?
In many cases, you should be able to switch with little or no service interruption, although activation may take longer if you’re switching to a provider that runs on a different network.
On the day of your switch, your new provider should advise if you’re likely to lose your connection. It shouldn’t normally be down for any longer than an hour though.
Are there any set-up costs when switching broadband?
There could be. That’s why it’s important to check for set-up costs on the deals you like the look of, to make sure you’ll still be saving overall.
When you compare with us, set-up costs are clearly shown in all the deals we list. These costs typically include paying for a router to be delivered, installation and activation fees.