Broadband in Greater Manchester

Getting fast broadband can be a postcode lottery. See how Greater Manchester fares for speed and how fibre broadband might help in the future. 

How do broadband speeds in Manchester compare?

Average broadband download speeds in Greater Manchester can vary, according to Ofcom data. Comparethemarket’s 2020 UK Broadband Index showed the average download speeds for the following Greater Manchester areas: 

  • Bolton, 84.9 Mbps
  • Manchester, 72.8 Mbps
  •  Oldham, 80.1 Mbps
  • Rochdale, 71.2 Mbps
  • Salford, 82.4 Mbps
  • Stockport, 90.2 Mbps
  • Tameside, 67.4 Mbps
  • Trafford, 82 Mbps 

Download speeds continue to improve in Greater Manchester. This may be thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many of us working from home and relying more on our broadband networks, there’s been a big push from local councils and providers to improve network infrastructure.

Salford’s connection speeds grew in 2020 and remain one of the highest in the region. With ‘Media City’ in Salford home to the BBC, ITV, Ericsson and Kellogg’s, plus more than 250 smaller media and digital businesses, internet service providers (ISPs) definitely have a reason for improving connectivity across the board in the area.

Stockport has the fastest broadband in the area. This is probably thanks to the Get Digital Faster programme, which aims to deliver superfast broadband to the area through fibre- enabled street cabinets.

Which are the best internet providers in Manchester?

There’s no one best internet provider that suits everyone. Especially given that Greater Manchester is home to more than 2.8 million people.

It’s likely to depend on what matters most to you and how much you’re happy to pay. It could be that keeping monthly costs low is the most important thing for you, or you might want the fastest broadband available.

It also depends on whether you want a plain old broadband service or you’d prefer to package it up with another service for the convenience of receiving just one bill each month. For example, one that includes your home phone or mobile. You can even bundle in TV services too.

What’s on offer varies between providers, so what’s right for you may depend on whether you want to watch the latest documentaries and dramas, or you’d rather spend your evenings online gaming. It could also be that you have a large family who want to be entertained in a multi-screen format. The length of the deal you sign up for will also affect prices and available choices.

Availability can depend on where you live and whether the area has access to high-speed services. The differences in broadband speed can vary not just from area to area, but block to block and street to street.

Can I get the fastest broadband available in Greater Manchester?

Potentially - the fastest broadband currently possible is available in Greater Manchester, but unfortunately not in every home. The speed of broadband you could get will depend on how your home is connected. While fibre broadband is being rolled out in the region, copper wire still prevails in some places, which is slower than fibre.

You can get broadband in a few ways:

  • ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) – uses the copper wires that deliver a phone service into your home. It’s the most common form of broadband.
  • FTTC (Fibre to the cabinet) – here speedy fibre is cabled up to your nearest street cabinet, but the last part of the system is still copper wire. This option should give you faster speeds, but it still isn’t quite as fast as full fibre. Many fibre deals currently use this technology, so it’s worth checking out if it’s available to you.
  • FTTP (Fibre to the premises) – this offers you an even faster option with fibre running all the way into your home.
  • HFC (Hybrid fibre coaxial, also known as cable broadband)  – Virgin Media’s network in the UK is fibre to the cabinet, but broadband is then delivered into your home using coaxial cable rather than copper wire, and is typically faster.

To see what options are available for your home, just pop in your postcode and select your current provider.

Did you know? 

Even though you might have fast broadband coming into your home, the speed you’ll experience on your devices will also depend on what your WiFi equipment can deliver.

How up to date it is, where your router is positioned and whether there’s any interference can all have an impact on your broadband speed.

Which internet providers are in Manchester?

Greater Manchester is served by all the main broadband providers, including (but not limited to):

You’ll get broadband, broadband and phone, and broadband and TV options depending on which provider you choose.

There are other suppliers, including John Lewis, SSE, Post Office, Zen and Hyperoptic available in Manchester.

Frequently asked questions

Is fibre broadband available in Greater Manchester?

Just pop your postcode into our broadband comparison tool and see what’s available. If you can get fibre it should be shown in your results. 

Your fibre options might include FTTC and FTTP, which can be much faster than copper line ADSL broadband.

Unfortunately fibre - whether to the cabinet or your premises - isn’t available everywhere yet. But high-speed internet is being rolled out all the time.

Openreach, the UK’s digital infrastructure company, says its Fibre First programme is integral to the UK government reaching its goal of delivering broadband capable of gigabit speeds to 85% of the UK by 2025. Gigabit capable broadband was available to 47% of homes in 2021 in the UK and Ofcom expects this to rise to over 60% in 2022.

Virgin Media, which currently reaches 15.5 million homes in the UK, is rolling out Project Lightning to deliver ultrafast broadband into homes across the country, including some parts of Manchester. Virgin has made Gig1 Fibre Broadband available with download speeds averaging over 1Gbps (gigabits per second) to around 891,000 homes around the Greater Manchester area.

CityFibre, a digital infrastructure provider, is also upgrading the network in Bolton with the aim of connecting up to 8 million premises with gigabit capable full fibre broadband.

Whether full fibre is available to you may depend on how far you are from the exchange and there’s no guarantee that full fibre will be run into every premises.

Other fibre installers may have plans for Greater Manchester, so it’s worth checking to see what options are available.

Can I get fibre where I live in Greater Manchester?

If your local exchange is set up for fibre, you’re more likely to be able to get it, but it’ll depend on whether the cables run to the cabinet nearest your home. Enter your postcode on the Openreach site and you can find out if fibre broadband is available in your area and if there are any planned upgrades.

How can I speed up getting fibre broadband to where I live in Manchester?

If where you live isn’t on the Openreach list of planned upgrades, there are still ways to encourage providers to consider getting fibre to your address. You’ll need to register your interest with relevant providers. When they have enough willing subscribers, they’re more likely to bring it to your area.

There are also some community-based options. Here a joint funding arrangement is put in place, which means the provider - Openreach for example - contributes some of the costs and your community funds the rest. An affordable solution is then put in place to meet the community needs.

Openreach has guidance on how to start this kind of community project if you’re interested. If you and enough neighbours are fed up with slow speeds, you might be able to prompt some action – a good place to start is by talking to your local council. If you live in a housing association property or council property, you could try persuading them to push for getting your estate or development cabled up faster.

What broadband speed do I need?

The ideal speed for you depends on what you use your broadband for.

Streaming – you’ve just reached a gripping moment in your favourite boxset and the drama is ruined by endless buffering. If this is happening to you, check out the minimum download speeds you need for happy viewing. Netflix needs higher rates than iPlayer or even YouTube, at 1Mbps (megabits per second) for SD and 3-5Mbps for HD. If you love catching up with friends and family on Zoom or other video calling services, you’ll need 2.6-3.8Mbps of download speeds for group calls in HD. See more in our guide to speeds needed for streaming.

Online gaming – whether it’s a first-person shooter or a point and click puzzler, having good connectivity can make a difference. Fast speeds offer a better experience when playing and downloading new titles. Take a look at the minimum download speeds needed in our guide for gamers.

Working from home – a combination of more flexible working arrangements and the coronavirus pandemic have meant more people than ever are working from home, including in Manchester. The download and upload speeds you need to work from home depends on how you use your internet to work. If it’s mainly browsing for research, you may not need too much speed but if you’re fielding video conference calls and downloading lots of big files, you may need to upgrade. If there’s more than one of you trying to work at home, it might help to ramp up your download speed to help get things done when working online.

Get more information on broadband for working from home.

Other than speed, what else should I consider when comparing broadband deals in Greater Manchester?

When it comes to broadband, speed is important, but it’s not everything. Here are a few things to bear in mind when comparing deals:

  • Is the broadband provider using traffic management to cap download speeds during peak times?
  • Could you get a better deal by choosing to package your broadband together with your home phone and TV?
  • Are there any freebies on offer that could make a deal worth your while?
  • How long is the contract? If you’re locked into a long-term contract, it could stop you from taking advantage of better deals in the future.

How much does broadband cost?

Broadband costs vary from provider to provider and are based on a few things, including: 

The type of broadband you choose – ADSL, fast fibre, superfast fibre or ultrafast fibre  The type of package you choose – broadband only, or a bundled deal  The length of your contract 
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What do I need to find a deal for broadband in Manchester?

To find a deal for broadband, enter your postcode into our comparison tool, choose your current provider – if you have one - from the drop-down list, and we’ll show you what deals are available for where you live.

It’s a good idea to start checking out possibilities before your current deal comes to an end, especially if the price is due to go up at the end of the deal, so you’ve got a switch ready to action as soon as possible.

Author image Sofia Hutson

What our expert says...

“If you’re looking for the best internet service in Manchester, it’s worth comparing deals regularly to see what’s available. With special deals, new fibre options and things changing fast, it’s worth checking to see if you can get a cheaper deal.

- Sofia Hutson, Digital expert

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[1] As of January 2023 Compare the Market had an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 from 23,670 people who left a review on Trustpilot. The score 4.8 corresponds to the Star Label ‘Excellent’.

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