What is a good broadband deal?
A good broadband deal is one that suits the needs of your household. If you have avid gamers living with you, Netflix shows constantly on the go and children at home using the internet, or you regularly work from home, you’ll need a broadband package that caters for your activity.
At the end of the day, the best broadband deal is the best one for you.
But remember, the needs of your household change over time, which means that whatever makes a good broadband package now may not be suitable for you a year or two down the line.
When searching for the best package for your household, consider what you’ll be using the internet for, what extras you’d like to get (TV bundles, landline services, mobile phone deals, etc) and what you definitely want to avoid.
You can compare a wide range of broadband deals with Uswitch. Just filter your search results by speed, price and provider to help you make the most accurate choice.
See our guide for more info on how to choose a broadband package that’s right for you.
What are the best broadband deals in my area?
Another thing you need to consider when looking for a great broadband deal is whether or not a service is actually available where you live.
If you have your heart set on a provider that advertises 300Mbps download speeds, you might end up disappointed if it turns out your house could only get a fifth of that because its network is not available in your area.
Broadband availability depends on the fixed lines and the infrastructure in your area. So if your street has had a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network installed then ultrafast, even gigabit broadband speeds could be yours for the taking. However if you only have access to copper phone lines, you’ll be limited to more widely-available but slower connections like FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) broadband or standard copper-based ADSL.
Before browsing and comparing broadband deals online, first use our broadband postcode checker to narrow your search down to deals that your area can actually get. Just make sure to confirm your specific address’s coverage on the provider’s site after you click on a deal you like.
We recently launched a more specific broadband checker, currently in beta-stage, that can actually tell you which broadband deals you can get at your home, not just your local area. Try our Network Checker for a more accurate search.
How to compare broadband deals
Here are a few things to consider when finding the right deal for your household:
Check the monthly price
The first thing most of us look at when comparing internet deals will be the price. And if you’ve finished your initial contract, a new broadband deal will usually be cheaper than your current one.
You would have committed to a fixed term contract when you initially signed up with your provider, but when that period runs out your provider will likely hike up the price by a significant amount — which Uswitch has found to be as high as 61% at times.
So straight away when comparing new deals to switch to, you know that you’ll be able to save with the options you have.
End of contract notifications
Organising your household bills is a tough job. With so many contracts to keep track of, it’s easy to forget when you initially signed up for each service. But it’s important to know that if you’ve unknowingly finished your fixed-term broadband contract, you might be paying more than you should be right now.
If you can’t remember when you signed up, there’s no need to worry. Ofcom has made it compulsory for broadband providers to remind you when your contract is ending — or to let you know if you’re already out of contract — in order to help you avoid an expensive price hike.
This notification must also come with an offer of similar deals that the provider currently has available, but it’s worth noting that those deals won’t necessarily be better than other offers on the market. So it’s worth looking at deals across a range of providers before you go for the first one you see.
To get more information, like when you should be notified and additional services the provider might offer, check out our full guide on end of contract notifications.
Compare broadband speeds
After price, broadband speed is usually the most important deciding factor when choosing a broadband package. Faster download speeds let you do a lot more online at any one time and allow you to stream in a higher quality, but they typically come with a higher monthly price as a result. So make sure you choose a broadband service that’s fast enough, but don’t go for more speed than you need if you want to keep costs down.
Of course, you could always prioritise finding the cheapest broadband package on offer, but if it’s not a fast enough speed for your household’s broadband usage, it won’t really be that much of a deal for you.
Check the contract length
Broadband contracts tend to be offered as either 12- or 18-months long, with a few providers offering flexible rolling plans or, at the other end of the spectrum, 24-month contracts. But don’t be scared of longer contracts — despite being a longer commitment, they often just mean that you’ll be paying a lower monthly price for a longer period of time.
Just be cautious if you’re a student or renting your home, as you don’t want to get stung with early termination fees if you have to move before your contract is finished.
Keep in mind set-up costs
Make sure to check for set-up costs as they can offset some of the savings you make from a low monthly price.
Set-up costs are clearly shown below monthly prices on all of the deals we display — they typically include all the delivery, installation and activation costs you will incur when purchasing a specific broadband package.
Extras, add-ons and bundles
There’s more to life than just broadband — there’s extras, add-ons and bundles too. You can compare broadband packages from providers that combine services like pay-TV subscriptions, call plans (known as triple-play) or even mobile contracts (quad-play) from larger providers.
Free gifts, vouchers, reward cards and cashback
In order to make their deals stand out, providers will often “sweeten the pot” with some kind of reward or incentive — like cashback, bill credits or a free gift of some kind.
Depending on the value of these rewards (and specifically their value to you), they can make the effective monthly cost more ‘worth it’, or enrich your package a little bit more. These rewards are typically limited-time offers, but don’t let that force you into making a decision too quickly.
If you know what you want from a new broadband deal, try not to be seduced by short-term wins like a £100 gift card if it’s not the right deal for you. However, if the deal is what you’re looking for, don’t wait too long and miss out on some good freebies.
What broadband speed do I need?
The higher the speed, the faster you can download files and the higher quality your streaming content will be. But how much broadband speed do you really need, and are the top-end options really worth you paying a higher monthly price?
Broadband speeds are usually quoted in Mbps, which stands for “megabits per second”. This refers to the amount of data you can download (and upload) in a second.
If you’re happy with how fast your current broadband service is, then it’s a good idea to only search for deals that provide your current speed. It’s very easy to filter out deals with higher or lower speeds than what you’re looking for on all of our deals tables — just go through the left sidebar and choose the speeds you’re searching for.
Read our guide for more detail on what broadband speed you need.
What’s my broadband speed?
A good way to find out what speed you currently have is to run a broadband speed test while you’re at home and on your Wi-Fi network. This will tell you the download and upload speeds you have with your current package.
You can then use that reading to search for broadband deals that match your speed criteria. If you’re finding your broadband is slow, unreliable, constantly buffering or taking ages to download content, then it would make sense to look for something faster.
Broadband speeds for your home
0-30Mbps (1 – 2 people per household)
- Fine for those that don’t use the internet for much more than browsing or social media.
- Mostly serviced by ADSL broadband, which offers average speeds around 10Mbps.
30-60Mbps (3+ users per household)
- Suitable for multiple people using the internet at the same time, especially when streaming video.
- Infrequent streamers and smaller houses can likely get away with a broadband deal offering these speeds.
- Fibre broadband packages will give a more consistent, reliable service.
60-100Mbps (serious streaming households)
- You’ll want to make sure you’ve got a steady connection to try to avoid buffering, especially if multiple members of the household are streaming at once.
- Aim to have at least 63Mbps to ensure uninterrupted streaming, gameplay and frequent file downloads for larger households.
- Faster fibre broadband deals are usually only a few pounds more per month and are worth it for heavier broadband users.
100Mbps or higher (working with large files and downloads)
- Ideal for serious online gamers and those with a lot of connected devices throughout their home.
- Great for people who often work from home and need to download a lot of heavy files.
- Faster connections are vital for conference calls and those that rely on frequent file-sharing.
To get more detail on how much download speed certain devices use up, check out our broadband download speed calculator.
Which are the most popular broadband providers in the UK?
- BT: The UK’s largest telecommunications provider — and the most established — with a history spanning back over 160 years.
- Sky: Best known as one of the biggest TV brands in the UK, Sky has a great selection of broadband and TV bundles.
- Virgin Media: Virgin Media is one of the few providers that runs on its own dedicated cable broadband network, offering some of the fastest speeds in the country.
- TalkTalk: Known for its range of competitively-priced offerings that focus on value for money.
- Plusnet: A popular brand for value-led broadband products and great customer service.
- Vodafone: One of the UK’s largest and best-known mobile network operators, Vodafone also provides superfast fibre services with discounts available for mobile subscribers.
Will I get the advertised broadband speed?
Broadband speeds are always advertised as ‘average speeds’, meaning you won’t always be guaranteed to get that speed every time you use the internet on your Wi-Fi.
In order to be accurate, average speeds are measured during peak times — between 8pm and 10pm when most people are online — and must be available to at least 50% of users. This means you’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting speeds above or below this number.
What can affect your broadband speed?
There are a range of factors that can impact the broadband speed you get.
1. The type of connection you have
In general, fibre broadband offers faster and more reliable speeds than ADSL broadband. Which makes sense since fibre-optic cables transfer more data in a given time period and suffer from fewer interruptions than the copper wires ADSL relies on.
2. How far you live from the exchange or cabinet
Despite its name, fibre broadband doesn’t necessarily mean your connection is serviced entirely by fibre-optic cables. In a lot of cases, it just means that most of it is.
If your fibre package is fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), the final journey of the connection from the local street cabinet to your home is serviced by the same traditional copper wires as ADSL broadband. Therefore, the farther you are away from that cabinet, the more reliant you are on copper cables, which means your connection might be slower.
However, fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, commonly known as full fibre, does in fact connect fibre-optic cables straight from the broadband exchange to your property, which eliminates the slowdown you get between the cabinet and your home. This results in the fastest connections available, with gigabit speeds (1000Mbps/1Gbps) potentially in reach.
3. Where you put your router
If you’re experiencing slow internet speeds, the solution could be as simple as moving your Wi-Fi router to a better spot. Let’s face it — routers aren’t usually the prettiest of things, so we tend to hide them behind furniture or in cabinets.
However, this interferes with the Wi-Fi signal in your home and could slow your broadband connection down significantly, especially if it’s blocked by thick walls, surrounding metal or even a fish tank. For a better signal throughout your home, keep your router in a central location out in the open and ideally away from any other electronic devices.
Take a look at our guide for more help on how to fix broadband connection problems in your home.
4. The time of day
Just like rush hour traffic, the busier the internet is, the slower it tends to be. With more people logging onto their Wi-Fi during peak times, the demands on broadband providers drastically increase, which results in slower speeds for each household. Again, this is an issue that mainly affects people on ADSL broadband plans.
Sometimes a provider’s Fair Usage Policy will kick in, which might occasionally cause slower speeds for you if there are others in the area who aren’t getting their fair share of bandwidth.
Read more about the Fair Usage Policy in our dedicated guide.
Can I get fibre broadband?
Fibre broadband is far superior to ADSL, and is now available to over 96% of the UK. Also, as its availability has increased the market has become much more competitive, meaning fibre broadband is usually very reasonably priced these days and often not much more expensive than ADSL deals.
The majority of providers offer fibre broadband deals that are well worth the few extra pounds per month. Compared to ADSL, fibre broadband has a couple of significant benefits:
- Faster speeds: Fibre broadband will always be faster than ADSL and can range from roughly 36Mbps to 1000Mbps (or 1Gbps), depending on the type of fibre connection you choose. By comparison, ADSL broadband can usually offer around 10Mbps.
- Reliability: Due to the infrastructure behind it, fibre broadband offers a more reliable connection than ADSL. Fibre-optic cables can carry more data than copper wires, so households with fibre broadband won’t experience the same sluggish broadband during peak times.
Compare broadband bundles and packages to find a better deal
While broadband is pretty much a household utility nowadays, it probably isn’t the only essential service you’d get from a telecoms provider. So if you’re looking to get a landline or TV subscription as well as broadband, it could work out cheaper to combine them into a bundle of services.
Broadband and phone packages
A number of broadband providers offer call packages as well, which can potentially save you money if you’re still using your landline. If you’re interested in finding a broadband deal with calls included, check out our dedicated comparison page for broadband and phone deals.
Broadband and TV bundles
In addition to calls packages, a number of major broadband providers offer TV bundled together with their broadband deals. These are better value only when you’re looking to take full advantage of your TV package, whether that’s by watching exclusive content, recording shows or watching live events.
Once you know what features and channels you want out of a broadband and TV bundle, you can compare broadband and TV deals on our featured page.