In the UK, the main types of broadband connection are ADSL, 4G and cable, also known as fibre-optic broadband.
All offer varying speeds and data rates, use different technology to deliver broadband to your home, and have different prices and different levels of availability, depending on your location.
On the whole, most ADSL broadband providers are capable of delivering roughly the same speeds. Nearly all providers can handle at least 17Mbps, with some being up to 52Mbps on ADSL and ADSL 2+.
Cable broadband providers have a wider range in speeds. Typically, speeds range from 38Mbps to 200Mbps, depending upon your package and provider. In certain areas, however, providers may give you speeds of up to 300Mbps. To see what's available in your area, you can input your postcode and check out high-speed broadband packages on our fibre-optic packages comparison page.
Mobile broadband or 4G broadband also has a wide range of speeds, based upon which provider or package you choose. On the lowest end, users can expect speeds of up to 7.2Mbps, although, similar to your mobile phone signal, this is highly dependent upon your area and signal coverage. Top-tier speed for mobile broadband maxes out at 60Mbps.
Types of broadband
If you live in a built-up or major area, you probably have all options available to you. But if you live in a more remote or rural area, the chances are you’ll be limited to ADSL or 4G. You can check which packages are available in your area using our broadband postcode checker.
ADSL broadband runs through telephone cables, so the strength of the signal depends on the distance it has to travel and the quality of the cable. In a city these won’t be issues, but if you live in rural Scotland, rural Wales or rural England, you could find yourself miles away from an exchange and using older cables. In these kind of extreme cases, the signal is very weak.
Check out our best ADSL broadband deals at uSwitch now.
The other option for residents in rural areas, 4G, connects to existing mobile networks. Mobile broadband provides steady speeds, averaging at around 21Mbps, but it only works where there's mobile reception. Even with mobile providers sharing their networks, there will still be parts of the country that are blackspots. If you're interested in an on-the-go connection, you can compare our best mobile broadband deals here.
Although cable broadband coverage is expanding, it isn't available everywhere just yet. For those users who have access to it, fibre-optic broadband typically provides the fastest speeds and generous data allowances, but it's understandably more expensive than ADSL fixed line connections. If it's available in your area, you can compare our best cable broadband deals at uSwitch now.