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Best broadband 2019: The best UK internet providers

Working from home more often, or just fancy seeing if there are better speeds out there? These are the best UK broadband providers in 2019

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Of all the decisions in life, picking a broadband provider should be one of the easiest – but it isn’t. There are contracts, speeds and bundles to consider, and so many providers offering similar-sounding deals that you might be confused by the very sight of them.

That’s why you came here. We’ve carried out an extensive review of the broadband packages and bundles on offer from each of the major providers, and below you’ll find our guide to choosing a supplier. There’s also advice on not getting locked into a contract if you’re not happy, and our choice of the best broadband bundles for 2019, with every budget in mind.

How to choose the best broadband provider for you

Coverage

There’s something you should definitely consider doing before you take out a broadband contract: your location. It makes a big difference, with ADSL speeds (where the data runs over your existing phone line) heavily dependent on how far your house is from the local telephone exchange. The closer you are, the better. If the right sort of cabling has been installed in your road, then faster fibre connections may be available, too.

All major ISPs have a postcode checker on their websites, so use these to see how fast you can expect your connection to be, and what services are available in your area. This is well worth doing first, to avoid disappointment later.

Contract length

ISPs like to push customers toward 18-month contracts. Two-year deals aren’t unheard of either. These are fine if you’re happy with the service they’re providing, and not looking to move house too often. However, when a faster service sets up in your neighbourhood this will limit your options if you want to jump ship. Look for clauses in contracts that let you leave after the first month if you’re not happy.

Total cost of contract

ISPs typically bill you every month but, when comparing packages, it’s worth totting up how much each will cost you over the length of the contract – including any setup fees. Carrying out a regular market-wide price review can pay dividends, too, as new deals come along regularly. If you’re in a position to switch provider, you can save money as a result.

When your initial contract ends, some ISPs will increase your monthly bill, so it’s always worth knowing exactly when you’ll be out of contract. That way, you can shop around for a better price. Phoning your ISP and telling them you’re thinking of moving to a different supplier is a good way of getting them to reduce – or entirely rethink – the hike.

Speed

Broadband providers have to advertise the average download speed of their packages, not the peak. This gives you a good idea of which deals will deliver faster speeds – but there’s one thing they don’t tell you, and that’s how reliable the connection is.

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, carries out an annual customer satisfaction survey, and we use this report to see how the different providers compare. It covers average speeds in both directions, as well as connection reliability, to give a broad picture. It’s worth noting that this covers the speed from the ISP to the router in your house, not beyond, so if your router is providing slow Wi-Fi, this won’t be taken into account. 

READ NEXT: Best routers

What else do I need to look out for?

Bundles, bundles, bundles. Many ISPs provide more than just internet access, with TV, home phone and mobile packages available. You can save money by signing up to all three from a single provider, and some offer special deals if you do this – particularly on mobile data. This is useful if you’re simultaneously looking for a new mobile phone contract.

Finally, there’s the router. Some ISPs offer a fast, high-quality box to pipe the data around your house, with BT and TalkTalk being especially good in this respect. Others do the basics, and while what they supply is usable, you may get better Wi-Fi speed and reliability if you replace their supplied router with a third-party model, especially if you live in a big house.

The UK's best broadband providers

1. Virgin Media Broadband: Speedy internet

Virgin regularly tops Ofcom’s charts, with speeds of up to 362Mbits/sec (five times higher than much of the competition) and an excellent record in reliability.

There are some downsides, though. To get these speeds you need to live in one of its cabled areas, and the price is quite high. Ofcom found that it meets the advertised speeds, but you might be better off with a cheaper package if your needs are more modest.

Get Virgin Media Broadband now

Vivid 50 fibre broadbandVivid 100 fibre broadbandVivid 200 fibre broadbandVivid 350 fibre broadband
Price per month inc line rental£35£40£45£50
Setup fee£25£25£25£25
Average speed54Mbits/sec108Mbits/sec213Mbits/sec362Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length12 months12 months12 months12 months

Read our Virgin Media broadband review

2. Plusnet: Reliable and at a great price

An ISP that doesn’t follow the herd, Plusnet doesn’t make you take line rental as part of your bundle, and contract options include just 12 months, or a monthly rolling option.

What it doesn’t have is a particularly wide range of services on offer. With one ADSL package and two fibre options, it keeps things simple. Prices are very reasonable, and in the Ofcom survey it scored highly for consistent speeds and customer satisfaction.

Get Plusnet Broadband now

Packages comparedPlusnet UnlimitedPlusnet Unlimited FibrePlusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra
Price per month inc line rental£19£24.50£28
Setup fee£5£5£5
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec66Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length12 months12 months12 months

Read our Plusnet review

3. EE Broadband: Competitive packages

You may know EE as a mobile phone provider, but it’s more than that. The company offers a range of home broadband options, with the usual ADSL and fibre choices enhanced by ‘Fibre Max’ services if you live in the right area. These offer download speeds of up to 300Mbits/sec.

The prices are competitive, and EE has a good customer service reputation, with fewer than average complaints in Ofcom’s survey. It also doesn’t raise its prices at the end of the 18-month contract. Its supplied hardware, the Smart Hub, is another plus, and EE mobile customers get an extra 10GB of mobile data each month for signing up.

Get EE Broadband now

EE Standard BroadbandEE Fibre BroadbandEE Fibre Plus BroadbandEE Fibre Max 1 BroadbandEE Fibre Max 2 Broadband
Price per month, including line rental£21£27£31£40£47
Setup fee£10£15Free£25£25
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec67Mbits/sec145Mbits/sec300Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months

Read our EE Broadband review

4. BT Broadband: Lots of added extras

As you might expect from the UK’s biggest ISP, BT did well in the Ofcom survey. It regularly exceeded advertised speeds, and performed well in terms of consistency, too. Its fibre connections aren’t quite the fastest out there, but its range of options offers something for everyone, even if its prices can be a little high.

However, you do get a lot of extras. Free weekend calls, access to a nationwide network of public Wi-Fi hotspots, cloud storage, and double mobile data if you choose one of its high-end options. It’s a service that’s worth considering if you’re willing to go all-in.

Get BT Broadband now

Sky Broadband 12GBSky Broadband UnlimitedSky Fibre UnlimitedSky Fibre Max
Price per month inc line rental£25£18 (for 18mths, then £30)£27 (for 18mths, then £38.99)£27 (for 18mths, then £43.99)
Setup fee£29.95£29.95£29.95£29.95
Average speed11Mbits/sec11Mbits/sec40Mbits/sec63Mbits/sec
Usage allowance12GBUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months18 months

Read our BT Broadband review

5. Sky Broadband: Consistent performance and attractive headline prices

Another provider with a narrow range of products but a high customer-satisfaction rating, Sky has attractive prices and packages that will suit most households.

Contracts last 18 months, and prices have a nasty habit of shooting up at the end of that period. In the Ofcom survey, Sky comes second after Plusnet for customer satisfaction, and does well at delivering advertised speeds too.

Get Sky Broadband now

Vivid 50 fibre broadbandVivid 100 fibre broadbandVivid 200 fibre broadbandVivid 350 fibre broadband
Price per month inc line rental£35£40£45£50
Setup fee£25£25£25£25
Average speed54Mbits/sec108Mbits/sec213Mbits/sec362Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length12 months12 months12 months12 months

Read our Sky Broadband review

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