Who is the best broadband provider?

7 min Read Published: 27 Sep 2022

Who is the best broadband provider?We know getting stuck with a bad internet supplier means wasting time, money and energy – but how do you find the best broadband provider in the UK? With so many home broadband providers on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to picking the right option for your household. Here we break down the major providers by the factors that will be most important to your customer experience. An affordable price and the right speed are always key components to the best deal, but it is important not to overlook other areas such as reliability and customer service when choosing the best broadband provider.

The best broadband providers

You can use our table to work out the best broadband provider by the features that are most important to you. The best broadband provider should offer reliable speed at a good price, as well as top customer service and the right level of flexibility. You can also find providers that will package multiple services together.

Remember that the speed advertised is not the speed you will always get. The average speed is based on the download speed of at least 50% of customers, recorded between 8am and 10pm. Check with your provider to find out what your guaranteed minimum speed is for your home and test your broadband for free to see what speed you are currently getting.

Broadband provider comparison table

Provider Min average download speed Max average download speed Installation cost TV package available Trustpilot score Minimum contract length Price range
Three 10Mbps 100Mbps £0 No 1.6 1 month £10-£24
EE 10Mbps 900Mbps £0-£10 No 1.7 12 months £24-£50
Vodafone 38Mbps 910Mbps £0 Yes 1.3 24 months £20-£53
Plusnet 10Mbps 500Mbps £0 Yes 1.9 12 months £21.99-£38.99
BT 36Mbps 900Mbps £29.99 Yes 1.6 24 months £24.99-£60.99
Sky 11Mbps 900Mbps £0-£10 Yes 1.5 18 months £25-£52
Virgin Media 54Mbps 1130Mbps £0-£35 Yes 2 18 months £26-£81
TalkTalk 11Mbps 77Mbps £0-£9.95 Yes 2.7 18 months £24.95-£56
NOW Broadband 11Mbps 63Mbps £5-£65 Yes 2.6 1 month £18-£22
John Lewis 10Mbps 66Mbps £0 No 1.5 12 months £25-£34.86
Shell Energy 11Mbps 67Mbps £4.95 No 1.6 18 months £18.99-£33.99
Onestream 45Mbps 800Mbps £0-£49 No 4.1 12 months £17.95-£39.95

Which broadband provider is best?

If there is one part of a broadband deal that you value above all else, you may want to pick a provider that specialises in that area. Here we cover some of the most important features of top broadband deals and give our views on which suppliers are better than the rest.

Best broadband for cost

Vodafone

Vodafone has made a relatively late move into offering broadband, considering it is such a well-established mobile network in the UK. Its efforts to make up ground seem to be good for consumers, as Vodafone’s offerings are currently very competitively priced. This is especially true if you are happy to take a longer contract of 24 months.

Best broadband for cost goes to Vodafone because its prices for fibre broadband – the most common type of connection in the UK – are consistently the cheapest around. On top of an affordable monthly price, Vodafone does not currently charge set-up costs. This can make a big difference when you compare the total cost of switching broadband providers.

Some Vodafone deals also come with great added bonuses and rewards, including shopping vouchers of up to £125. These can be used almost anywhere, so are worth taking into account when comparing the best broadband prices.

Best broadband for speed

Virgin Media

Virgin Media is still topping the speed gun among broadband providers in the UK. It uses its own coaxial cables to bypass the ageing copper wiring found in most homes, so does require a more intensive installation if your property has not had the service in the past. However, your speeds will far exceed anything a standard broadband set-up can offer. For households with a high level of usage, this could be the perfect option. If you need to know more about broadband speed, you can read more about it in our article 'What broadband speed do I need?'.

Virgin Media has been voted ‘Fastest Broadband Provider’ by Uswitch for ten years in a row, and it is still your best bet for a reliable service at the top speeds. However, the service is not available for all households and with full fibre coverage growing, it may not be top of the tree for much longer. You can find out more about the different types of broadband by reading our article 'Which broadband is best?'.

Virgin also offers a variety of TV bundles, which can make them an even more attractive option for households looking to bundle their TV package with their broadband.

Best broadband for customer service

BT

With its historical links to the origins of the UK’s communication network, BT is often the default choice for customers looking for a broadband connection. Luckily, this has not made it complacent when it comes to customer service. While we all hope to not have to contact our internet supplier, it is likely that over the course of a multi-year contract you will need to pick up the phone to resolve one hiccup or another. If you have had a bad experience in the past or are concerned you will need support at some point, BT might be a good bet.

BT Broadband is our top pick after topping Ofcom's 2022 customer service survey. On average BT answered customer calls in 106 seconds and managed to come away with a positive rating for handling customer complaints.

BT customers can also benefit from access to BT Sport and other streaming services as part of their broadband package.

Best Broadband for a top router

BT

A bad router can stop your household accessing the broadband speed you are paying for. This could be because it has poor range, slow connectivity or cannot handle multiple devices at once. A good router will help you get your money’s worth by connecting your devices to your broadband as efficiently as possible.

BT walks away with our top pick thanks to the BT Smart Hub. The router gets an impressive score of 88% from Which? thanks to its speed, coverage and ability to connect with multiple devices at once without slowing down. It is provided as part of all new BT contracts and is the best router included in any broadband package.

Best broadband for reliability

Zen Internet

It may not yet be a household name, but Zen internet has steadily gained a reputation as a reliable service provider. According to research by Which? magazine, households supplied by Zen were less likely to lose connection, suffer slow download speeds or experience disrupted streaming than customers of competitors.

Zen has topped the Which? Satisfaction survey for seven years in a row and was the only provider surveyed to score four stars for reliability this year. It is also rated as 'Excellent', scoring an impressive 4.3 out of 5.0 on independent customer review site Trustpilot. So while it may feel natural to go for a big name in search of reliability, Zen is proving that smaller companies are able to offer a popular broadband service to match the competition.

Zen also offers static IP addresses as standard, which can improve internet security and allows users to host their own servers.

Best broadband for flexibility

NOW Broadband

NOW Broadband is owned by Sky, but beats its more well-established parent when it comes to flexibility. Many of the big-name broadband providers start with minimum contract lengths of 18 months or longer, which will not suit every household. Some providers will also charge you a hefty cancellation fee to get out of your contract if you need to move or switch providers. NOW offers a month-to-month rolling contract, but a key selling point is its cancellation policy.

NOW broadband is our top pick for flexibility because if you need to leave your contract, you will pay a reduced fee based on how much you have been paying and how many months you have left. If you are a renter, or staying somewhere temporarily, this can be a huge money saver.

NOW also offers access to Sky’s entertainment, movies and sports packages, often at cheaper rates than customers not signed up for its broadband.

Best broadband for a TV package

Sky

Sky is one of the biggest names in UK sport and entertainment, but the services usually come with a hefty price tag. Premier League football, HBO dramas and big-budget action films do not come cheap, but bundling your TV needs in with your broadband can help to bring down the cost.

Sky is our top pick because combining all their entertainment services with a solid broadband offering can work out surprisingly cost-effective. If your household does not already have or need the TV side of the deal, Sky is probably not the package for you. But if you want to watch the football in HD every weekend, Sky Broadband could work out to be the top deal for you.

It is also worth remembering that Sky is no slouch when it comes to speed. If you live in an area where it offers a full fibre package, you should be able to access speeds that match or even beat Virgin Media.

Best broadband for rewards

Shell Energy

Broadband deals are constantly changing, so it is important to remember that the best broadband deal today, might not be the best deal tomorrow. At the time of writing it is hard to beat Shell Energy's special offer of free broadband until 1 January 2023.

Shell offers a range of different speeds, each priced competitively compared to its rivals. You will likely need to take out an 18 month contract, so you may need to look at a more flexible option if that length of commitment is not for you.

It is worth noting that there are also special rewards available through specific comparison sites, so comparing the providers could earn you some extra vouchers or a bill credit.

Best broadband for landline calls

John Lewis Broadband

The cost of making landline calls might not be something you immediately think about when you compare broadband deals, but it can make a big difference. Even the cheapest package can quickly become one of the most expensive after a few lengthy phone calls from your landline.

John Lewis Broadband is our pick for calls because they offer a package with free anytime calls that still includes a strong broadband speed. If you need your broadband package to also cover the cost of phone calls, and you don’t want to be hit by any surprising bills at the end of the month, this is likely to be the option for you.

John Lewis Broadband also offers vouchers to new customers that can be used in John Lewis stores, Waitrose and online, so keep an eye out for special deals directly and through comparison sites.