Signing up for a new broadband package in 2023 can be a massive commitment, especially if you enter a long-term contract over 12 months. With how long these contracts last, you don’t want to be left in a situation where you regret not considering another option.
When choosing the right broadband package for you, there’s a lot to think about that should influence your decision. With all these different factors, it can be tough to choose the right provider for your situation, and many customers in the UK are currently wishing they went with another option.
This article will highlight the key factors you need to consider when comparing broadband packages and review the UK’s leading providers in 2023 to help you find the ideal option.
What is broadband?
Before we explore the different aspects that make an excellent broadband package, it’s important that you’re clear on what broadband is.
Broadband is the service that gives you access to the internet. It’s provided through wires that connect from a box on your street to your house. These wires are usually made of copper, and your home connects with this wire through your own connection. Without broadband, you won’t be able to access the internet on many of your household devices.
With how society has grown to become more digital-focused, good broadband is essential for many aspects of life, both for work and entertainment.
What to consider when choosing the right broadband
There are a lot of different things that you can consider when choosing the right broadband, and this is because one package from one provider can be very different from another.
Not all of these factors will be important to everyone, as individuals may value one aspect of their package over another. Knowing what you value the most in your package can help you build the right service for you and also save you money in the process.
Here are some things you need to consider when choosing the right broadband.
For many people, the broadband price will be the most significant factor that heavily influences which provider they choose. With many providers increasing their costs for new customers this year to match inflation, it pays to be frugal and compare the prices offered by different providers.
Most broadband contracts are paid monthly, meaning that to afford your broadband properly, you’ll have to be sure that you can cover the costs reliably throughout the year. If your income is unstable, selecting a cheaper broadband option might be worthwhile to ensure you’re more likely to afford it.
When reviewing the prices of your broadband, ensure that the prices you’re quoted match the package you’re choosing. When you get broadband, you can select contracts that guarantee certain speeds, with the slower ones being the cheapest. If you know what level of speed you want, be sure to compare the costs of that level of service.
Internet services in the UK usually start at around £18 a month, but this will be for the most basic coverage with a low speed of 10Mbps. For families or even single users who stream video, this level of cover will not be able to handle your demands. This means that when using the price to help you decide on your broadband, you also need to factor in the speeds you’re getting, as some will not be able to provide you with the internet access you need.
The cost for a fibre internet package, typically enough to handle a small family’s worth of data and internet usage, starts at around £22 a month.
When comparing the prices of different providers, look for various deals or promotions, as this could help you save money while accessing a more sophisticated service.
Despite the UK being a well-connected location, some providers don’t have a good level of coverage in some regions of the UK. Much like how your mobile phone connection can fluctuate and change depending on where you are in the country, the same phenomenon can happen with broadband.
There can be various reasons for this. For example, a rural area may not have a good level of coverage by some providers because of its terrain or isolation from busy areas.
If you live in a major city, you’ll likely have many different broadband options that can provide you with good speeds and quality of service. Your internet options may be limited if you live in a small town or village.
This means that before rushing in and buying broadband from the fastest providers on average, you’ll first need to check that they can provide a good and reliable service in your area. You can do this on various websites online, and if you’re concerned that your current broadband providers aren’t delivering the best quality, you can perform a speed test here.
Another thing that can affect the quality of the coverage you’ll get is the infrastructure in your town and home. For example, if your area doesn’t use fibre optic cables to provide internet to their inhabitants, then the speeds you can get will be limited. Plus, if a copper wire is used to connect your home to the service box located on your street, you may not be able to get fast speeds depending on the length of this wire.
So, if your home doesn’t have the capabilities to support ultrafast broadband with speeds of over 100Mbps, there is no point in you wasting money paying for a package that offers this speed, as you’re unlikely to receive it.
When you sign up for a broadband contract, you’ll likely find that many are trying to tie you in for a long-term commitment, with many providers having a minimum term of 24 months.
The contract length should be a thing that you consider because if things aren’t working out, it can be tough to leave a contract without paying exit fees.
Many broadband providers offer these contracts because they’re aware that many customers in the past used to switch to save money regularly. Having a longer arrangement and issuing fines and additional charges to people who exit early puts many people off making a switch.
Having a long contract may not be a big issue if you’re settled in your home and are happy with your broadband. However, it can be a big consideration if you’re renting a temporary residence and are unsure if your provider will be able to provide you with good quality internet in your new location.
A long contract can also be a hassle if you’re a student setting up broadband for a student house that only needs the converge for 12 months.
If you know that you don’t need broadband for more than a year, try to find a provider that offers a 12-month contract, or even better, flexible contracts that you can cancel anytime.
Short-term contracts are usually more expensive per month. For example, a 12-month contract may be £25 a month whereas a 24-month contract is £22. Although it may look cheaper to get the longer contract, you may pay more if you need to cancel early, as you could be hit with costly cancellation fees. Some companies require you to pay for all the months you’ve not used before being able to cancel. In this scenario, if you’re cancelling a 24-month contract after 18 months, you’ll have to pay the equivalent of 6 months worth of bills.
When selecting your broadband, pay close attention to contract length and the details of your contract so that you understand what’s required to get out of it.
How you intend to use your internet is going to dictate the best broadband options for you massively. This is because your usage level will inform what packages best suit your requirements.
For example, if you’re a single person living in a smaller home and only use the internet sparingly for checking emails, online shopping, and reading the news, then a cheaper broadband package that offers a maximum of 10Mbps will suit your requirements.
However, suppose you’re a massive gamer or streamer and spend a lot of time downloading high-resolution videos or require the ability to stream in 4K with multiple other users doing the same. In that case, you’ll need a much faster broadband speed of around 100Mbps or more.
When selecting a broadband package and when comparing providers, you need to have in mind your intentions for the broadband, as getting the right price point for you can help you save money.
For example, if you’re an average user that streams Netflix and uses the internet for social media, then a mid-level speed of around 30-60Mbsp would suit you, meaning that you won’t need to pay extra for a speed that you’re unlikely to make the most of.
Although it may be nice to know that you have the bandwidth to handle more intense demands, if you do not regularly need those speeds, then you’re wasting money.
With that said, do be aware that some providers have usage limits depending on the level of broadband you get. It’s important to be aware of these limits because if you go over, you could have to pay extra, increasing the cost of your broadband.
Offers and Bundles
Bundle deals can make comparing and finding the right broadband for you more challenging. A bundle is where a provider will add another service into your package so that you’re paying for multiple things with one contract.
A lot of providers use bundles to make their services appear more valuable. However, if you don’t need the added service and never intended to get it, paying extra for the bundle can be a waste of money.
For example, many broadband bundles also include digital TV. If you were looking to get a wider choice of television channels, this bundle could save you money compared to getting broadband and TV separately.
However, if you’re happy with Freeview TV and mainly stream on platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, then you may not get the most out of this bundle.
Don’t completely rule out a bundle, though, as providers may offer decent value options that can help save you money. For example, some premium bundles include a free TV in the price. Of course, this bundle will be expensive if you’re not looking for a new TV, but it can be an excellent money-saving deal if you’re in the market for one.
Also, look out for bundles that offer money off a subscription service. For example, many may provide 3-months free of Disney+ or something similar. If you can use these free periods, these bundles could save you money.
It’s all about weighing up what you need and then deciding on what broadband packages best suit your requirements.
When choosing the best broadband provider, you need to consider the quality of their customer service team. This is because, throughout your contract, you’ll likely need assistance for a fault or may require help to upgrade or make changes to your contract.
Going with a provider with a good level of customer service and a helpful support team can make your broadband experience a lot better.
When reviewing your options, check out how each provider reviews on certain aggregator websites, such as Trustpilot. Here you’ll be able to see their average star rating, which is a good indicator of their quality.
Not only will sites like Trustpilot give you insight into how good the customer service team is, but they can also inform you of what to expect regarding other aspects of their service. Do be aware that most people leave reviews after a negative experience, and few are inclined to leave a good review when things go well. So, if you see a negative skew like this, it may be because of this.
When checking out the customer service of any potential broadband provider, make sure that you’re aware of their different contact points. Some providers only have a customer service team that can be contacted by phone, which may not suit everyone’s preferences. Others may also have live chat functionality built into their website, allowing you to find support for smaller queries.
When using customer service to influence your decision about which broadband provider you want to select, value things like response time, where their call centres are based, and how easy they are to access.
Which Broadband Provider Is The Best?
When deciding which broadband provider is best, it will depend on unique factors based on you. This is why it’s impossible to say which one is best because it’ll be different for each individual.
Even when just comparing the price of each broadband provider, these prices will change depending on where you live. For example, the cheapest option in London may be a lot more expensive in Swindon. That’s why to find the best broadband provider for you; you will need to compare for yourself.
To help you decide which provider looks to be the most suitable for you, here’s a look at some of the key highlights of each of the leading providers, focusing on their positives and negatives, benefits, price points, area of coverage, and reviews.
BT is the UK’s largest broadband and landline provider, serving millions of customers in the UK.
BT has over 160 years in the telecommunications industry, making it one of the most trusted names in the market.
You can get all types of products from BT, from standard ADSL up to superfast, fibre-optic broadband. What’s great about BT is that they cover an extensive area in the UK, and you’re likely to get coverage from them no matter where you live.
BT Broadband Key features
Their broadband runs at a maximum speed of 67Mbps, making it perfect for families that have people streaming on multiple devices at once.
When you get BT broadband, you’ll also be given free equipment such as the wireless router. This helps BT stand out because you’ll have to pay for this with many other providers.
With BT, you also get access to one of the best routers on the market: The BT Smart hub. This uses AC Wi-Fi that gives your entire home a quality service.
You can also get a range of other products with BT as part of a bundle, including their sports products and landline products.
BT Broadband Price
Their fastest package costs around £45.99 a month. With that, you get over 100Mbsp and unlimited downloads.
Their cheapest package costs £29.99 a month for a 24-month contract with an average speed of 50Mbps.
All their contract also includes a £29.99 total upfront cost.
BT Broadband Reviews
BT Broadband has a Trustpilot score of 1.6 out of 5 stars after around 11,300 reviews. This is a pretty low score for businesses. However, it’s important to say that many broadband providers have an unfairly low score that may not be a true reflection of their service.
The biggest compilation against BT is against their customer service, in which many reviewers stated they were unhelpful and unable to resolve long-standing issues with their connection.
BT Broadband Pros and cons
- Their products are widely available in the UK
- There are five million hotspots available across the UK
- BT router and online storage free with all packages
- No fair usage policies
- Broadband is more expensive than other providers
- There are faster fibre optic broadband options
Sky has been a significant player in both broadband and digital TV and has changed the landscape of these services in the UK.
Sky is one of the leading internet service providers, with only BT supplying broadband to more people.
With Sky, you can get broadband-only deals, which is great for those who don’t require any extra services, although Sky’s biggest selling point is that their bundled deals give you access to a lot of sports, TV, and Movies.
Sky Broadband Key features
All Sky broadband deals come with unlimited downloads, meaning you won’t get any charges for going over a limit. You also get McAfee security that’s provided free of charge.
When you bundle your broadband with Sky TV, you’ll also get access to one of the country’s most popular and respected digital TV providers.
Sky also allows you to create a package that best suits you, adding and removing specific products as often as you like.
Sky Broadband Price
Sky’s fastest package costs around £52 a month, which is fairly expensive. However, with that, you are getting one of the fastest broadband available, with an advertised average speed of 900Mbps that will never drop below 600Mbps.
Their cheapest package costs £25 a month for an 18-month contract with an average speed of 36Mbps. This may be expensive for this speed; however, you do get a Sky Q broadband hub as standard.
Sky Broadband Reviews
Sky Broadband has a Trustpilot score of 1.5 out of 5 stars after around 9,000 reviews. This is a pretty low score for businesses, although it’s important to remember that most broadband services rank poorly on review websites.
Despite that, this score does make it one of the worst. Many reviews focus on the price of the service and how they’re not experiencing a product that justifies the price tag. There are also many accounts of a faulty connection, implying that it may not be that reliable.
Sky Broadband Pros and cons
- Get a sophisticated TV experience with a broadband and TV package
- Available in a lot of places in the UK
- Can get access to an excellent of movies and TV shows via Sky Cinema and On Demand
- Can find cheaper broadband elsewhere
- You will need a satellite dish to access Sky Q
- Can access Sky products at a more affordable rate elsewhere
TalkTalk is one of the biggest names in the telecom industry, offering customers TV and mobile phone services in addition to their broadband offerings.
With TalkTalk, you can get two different types of broadband: standard and fibre, allowing you to get the option that best suits you. TalkTalk offers smaller contracts than most, making them much more flexible than other providers.
TalkTalk Broadband Key features
When you get broadband from TalkTalk, you’ll also receive a free TalkTalk mobile sim which includes 500Mb of data, helping you stay connected at home and on the go.
You can bundle their broadband with many other services, helping you create an easy-to-manage subscription for all your telecommunication needs.
Like other providers, you can also get free security software to help secure your internet. You can also set parental controls with TalkTalk, making it a great option for families.
Their fibre broadband option is very well-priced in the marketplace, meaning it’s a good choice if you can get coverage.
TalkTalk Broadband Price
Their fastest package costs around £32 a month for an 18-month contract. At that price, you get an average speed of 147Mbsp, which is faster than other providers at a similar price point.
Their cheapest package costs around £24 a month, yet still gives you access to 38Mbsp of speed, which is a good speed for that price.
TalkTalk Broadband Reviews
TalkTalk has a Trustpilot score of 2.7 out of 5 stars after around 67,000 reviews. This is a fairly average score for a business. However, when compared to the other scores within the broadband industry, it’s a lot better than some other competitors.
Some of the biggest complaints with TalkTalk is against their customer service team. Despite offering a good product, it seems that when things do go wrong, it’s tough to get the support that you need.
TalkTalk Broadband Pros and cons
- Good broadband speeds at a low price
- Flexible TV add-ons that allow you to add and drop channels whenever you want
- Offer an affordable, yet simple, TV service
- Often include giveaways and vouchers
- Free security software and parental controls
- They don’t seem to have a good customer service team
- You’re unable to get TalkTalk TV without it being part of a bundle
Now offers a flexible broadband option that could suit many UK consumers. Initially starting as a streaming service, Now has transitioned to providing broadband well and remains a good option.
When you get broadband from Now, you get access to many of Sky’s premium channels – such as Sports and Cinema – which makes it a good, cheaper alternative.
Now offers 12-month contracts and positions themselves as a unique option in the market because they can also provide broadband with no contract at all.
Now Broadband Key features
The flexibility of their contracts makes them a good option for those that can’t commit to a long-term deal.
You can access ADSL and fibre options for your broadband, with speeds varying depending on your location. The maximum speeds you can get is up to 63Mbps, depending on your location, which is less than many other providers.
When you do sign up, you can get access to three months for the price of one, making it a potentially good budget option.
Now Broadband Price
It’s possible to get Now’s fastest service for just £20 monthly and a £5 upfront cost. This gives you a speed of around 63Mbps, which is perfect for families and those that don’t have massive download requirements.
It’s possible to get broadband from Now for £18 a month. However, this is for a much lower 11Mbsp speed that may not be worth it if you can access much faster speeds for just £2 more a month.
Now Broadband Reviews
Now has a rating of 1.4 out of 5 on Trustpilot. This is low for an average business and puts it around the same as low-performing broadband providers.
When looking at reviews, the issues are mixed, with some complaining about the time it took to get the broadband set up and others saying there have been issues with specific services they pay for being unavailable.
Now Broadband Pros and cons
- Well priced with decent speeds
- Can access the best of Sky at lower prices
- Shorter contracts than most providers
- Unlikely to get any free gifts or vouchers
- Not the fastest broadband available
Plusnet is a simple broadband provider that doesn’t offer any TV or add-ons, making them perfect if all you want is broadband.
Plusnet Broadband Key features
Plusnet is a budget-friendly internet option for those needing basic packages; however, they also offer fast speeds up to 76Mbps.
All Plusnet customers get access to unlimited downloads, and you can get a wireless router if you have a contract that’s longer than 12 months.
Plusnet is currently uSwitch’s Broadband Provider of the Year.
Plusnet Broadband Price
Their fastest package costs around £24.99 for an 18-month contract. This speed averages around 66Mbps, which is great for a family of internet users.
Their lowest price is £18.99 for a 12-month contract, but you’ll only get an average speed of 10Mbps.
Plusnet Broadband Reviews
Plusnet has a score on Trustpilot of 1.9 out of 5 stars. Although a low score for many businesses, this is higher than many other options, and it’s also worth pointing out that Plusnet has an award-winning customer service team.
Among the reviews, one common issue is that their internet can drop out, especially if you’re at a lower speed.
Plusnet Broadband Pros and cons
- One of the cheapest providers around
- Can add BT Sport for a good price
- Highly rated customer service
- Good speeds
- Available across the whole UK
- Get free security software
- Do not offer money-saving broadband and TV packages
- Not the fastest broadband available
Virgin Media is one of the UK’s leading broadband providers and is a great option if you want to upgrade from your existing provider.
Virgin offers a premium broadband service, making it a quality, albeit pricey option.
Virgin Media Broadband Key features
When getting Virgin Media Broadband, you’ll typically do it as part of a bundle with TV, telephone, and mobile services included. With that said, you can also get just broadband deals.
Virgin Media is by far the fastest internet provider, with speeds starting at 54Mbps as standard, which outperforms some brands’ fastest speeds.
On the top packages, you can get up to 362Mbps, which is an excellent option if you’re downloading massive files.
Virgin Media Broadband Price
Virgin Media’s most expensive broadband plan costs around £44 a month for an 18-month contract.
If you’re looking to get their slowest speed of 54Mbps, which is perfectly adequate to handle a house full of broadband users, you’ll have to pay £23 per month.
Virgin Media Broadband Reviews
Virgin Media has a Trustpilot score of 2 out of 5 stars. Although this is poor for an average business, this score actually ranks fairly high among the leading UK broadband providers.
When looking at the reviews, many past customers state that despite offering a good service, the leaving process can be made difficult, with a lot of time and money going into cancelling a contract.
Virgin Media Broadband Pros and cons
- It’s super fast, with its cheapest plan being able to handle a big household
- Great bundling options
- Uses good technology and hardware
- Can get 30-day rolling contracts
- It’s very expensive
- Bundles are not that flexible
- Not widely available in the UK
Broadband Packages FAQs
These are the most asked questions about choosing a broadband package.
What broadband speed do I need?
The speed of broadband you need will depend on what you’re using it for. For example, if you’re a light user and only need the internet to check the news, shop online, or send emails, then a minimum of 10Mbps will be okay.
However, if you’re a family and have multiple people using broadband to stream content and play video games online, you’ll likely need between 30-60Mbps.
If you’re in a larger household where a lot of people are likely to be streaming content at once, then you may need a package that offers 60-100Mbps. These are usually the best speeds to go for, as they ensure you won’t be left frustrated with constant buffering and slowdowns.
For serious gamers or people streaming 4K content, you may want to consider speeds over 100Mbps. This speed can also be useful for those working from home who need to download large files or take conference calls.
Are Broadband and Wi-Fi the same?
Wi-Fi and broadband are related concepts, but they are not the same thing. Broadband is a type of internet connection given to you by your service provider.
Wi-Fi is a technology that can connect you to this broadband to access the internet.
So, in short, Broadband is what gives your household internet access, and Wi-Fi is one of the ways that you access this connection. In addition to Wi-Fi, you can also use a LAN cable to connect to broadband directly.
How much shall I pay for broadband?
The amount that you pay for broadband should stay within your personal budget, and you should only spend what you can afford.
However, with that said, there are standard prices that your broadband should be between depending on the speed you’re getting.
UK customers paid around £45 monthly for basic broadband options in 2021.
This is an average price, and it’s possible to find a fair deal that’s cheaper than these figures. Despite that, these average prices are a good indicator, and you should avoid a provider that charges more.
Does it matter which broadband provider I choose?
The broadband provider you choose is a massive decision and can impact your service quality. Not only do broadband providers offer different prices, meaning that you can save money if you choose the right one, but each will have different speeds and a varied approach to customer services.
The experience that you have with one provider will be drastically different from another, which is why you should take the time to compare each before switching your broadband.
What’s the best broadband for my area?
A single provider cannot supply good broadband service to every location in the UK. This means there will be some areas where speeds may be slower than average when using a particular provider.
This means you need to check the coverage of all the providers you’re interested in to find one that guarantees good speeds in your area. For example, Virgin Media may offer the fastest speeds on average in the UK, although they may not be able to offer this in your area. This may mean that a competitor may instead be the best option for you.
What can affect your broadband speed?
Although your broadband speed should remain steady throughout your contract, a few things can affect it and cause it to slow down.
The most important factor in broadband speed is the connection you have. An ADSL connection is the slowest, offering up to 11Mbps of speed, while cable broadband can max out at 900Mbps.
Fibre connections vary depending on your package, but their average speed is 76Mbps.
Another major factor is your home’s distance from the street cabinet that connects your broadband. Regardless of your connection at home, parts of your broadband will run on a traditional copper phone line. The length of these lines affects your speed. The longer the line, the slower your broadband will be unless you’re on an FTTP connection.
The distance you are from your router can also affect your speeds. That’s why it’s a good idea to put your router in the room where you usually use the internet the most. It’s also important not to block the signal by putting it in a cabinet or behind furniture. The fewer obstacles in the way, the better.
Finally, the number of devices using broadband can affect the speeds. If many people in a household are trying to game or download a lot of stuff, then there will be a drop-off in speed unless you have broadband that can handle this demand.
What broadband packages are available?
When getting broadband from any provider, you’ll likely be offered the choice of multiple different packages. These packages usually include additional services, and if you were going to get these services, then a package could make the product cheaper. Plus, having all these services under one contract can make things more convenient to manage as you can pay for everything in one bill.
Common packages include:
- Broadband packages – This is a package where all you get is broadband. It’s the cheapest bundle and is great if you don’t need any extra features. You can choose between a broadband package with ADSL, fibre, or cable.
- Broadband and phone packages – This package is where you’ll also receive a landline phone alongside your broadband. Most broadband providers need you to have a landline anyway, so combining these services into one package can be cheaper than paying for them separately. With your home phone, you’ll be able to use your broadband to call others, but be sure to check the charges for this.
- Broadband, phone, and TV packages – This is usually the most comprehensive package you can get and groups together your broadband, phone, and digital TV contracts. With this package, you’ll be able to access popular digital TV channels, and you’re also likely to receive either a free TV set or a Smartbox.