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Broadband connections

Make sure you know what you're looking for in a broadband connection before you sign up to anything.

In the UK there are three main types of broadband connection, and where you live will be a major factor on the type available as well as the speed you can get, and how reliable your service is.

Find out which connection types and packages are available in your area using our broadband postcode checker.

ADSL broadband connection

Around 80 per cent of internet users in the UK connect through an ADSL or ADSL2+ connection. ADSL broadband uses BT telephone lines to transmit data, and so is the most widely available and easiest to set-up.

ADSL broadband connections work by splitting your phone line into two separate channels, one for data (internet) and one for voice (telephone), so you can be connected to the internet and use the telephone at the same time.

Although you do not need an additional phone line for an ADSL broadband connection, you do need a modem. If you have more than one device connecting to the internet, you’ll need to get a combined modem and router. These are cheap (some providers offer them free) and very easy to set up.

Getting an ADSL broadband connection through your BT phone line does not mean you need to choose BT as your Internet Service Provider (ISP). You can choose from a range of ISPs and still keep your BT phone line, although you will still need to pay a monthly line rental to BT.

Maximum speeds on ADSL products are about 24Mbps. Factors that affect speed include the distance you are from your telephone exchange, the contention ratio of your line, the time of day you use it, and the quality of telephone cabling.

Compare the best-selling ADSL broadband deals at uSwitch now.


Cable broadband connections use fibre-optic cables to transmit data, so until the new cabling infrastructure is in place it will only be available in certain areas and from certain providers, such as Virgin Media, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet.

Cable internet connections require a special modem, which can be connected with a TV receiver box and telephone line. ADSL modems and routers won’t work on cable connections.

Cable speeds in the UK reach a maximum of 120Mbps. Factors that affect speed will depend on the type of fibre connection you have, but fibre is still the fastest and most reliable connection available.

Compare the best-selling cable broadband deals at uSwitch now.

Broadband connection


With more and more internet-enabled portable devices in circulation among consumers, mobile internet has become increasingly popular. 3G provides a broadband speed connection wherever there is a mobile phone signal.

Mobile broadband connections are accessed via the 3G mobile phone networks offered by Three, Vodafone and O2 using either a mobile broadband dongle, a MiFi unit or a tethered mobile device.

O2 and Vodafone offer top mobile broadband connection speeds of up to 7.2Mbps, while Three's top speed is 21Mbps.

Speeds can vary quite a lot with 3G, and depend on the type of dongle/MiFi/handset you use, the time of day you are using it and your location.


Like 3G, 4G is delivered over a mobile phone network. However, 4G is the newer mobile broadband technology and enables you to connect at much faster speeds.

Compare the best-selling mobile broadband deals at uSwitch now.