There are over 150 broadband providers in operation in the UK, all with many different services and speeds to offer. In this Uswitch broadband provider directory we've outlined the details, benefits and drawbacks of some of the UK's biggest and most widely-available companies and their networks.
There are a few very large broadband providers, such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, along with a high number of mid-sized suppliers and many more smaller ones. Each of them have their own pros and cons for their ability to meet your broadband needs.
Find out all you need to know about comparing different broadband providers and the services they offer.
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BT is the largest broadband provider in the UK, offering several types of fibre broadband services from superfast fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) to ultrafast and gigabit full fibre connections. It also offers extensive pay-TV packages, the major selling point of which is BT Sport, which includes live coverage of the Premier League and exclusive access to the UEFA Champions League.
Sky is the biggest satellite and digital TV provider in the UK and also offers broadband and home phone services as part of its broadband bundles. It uses the same Openreach broadband networks as BT and also offers ultrafast full fibre speeds.
TalkTalk has many broadband customers thanks to its great-value fibre deals, as well as home phone and pay-TV via the YouView set top box.
Virgin Media offers premium cable broadband and TV bundles and consistently delivers high-speed broadband and high-quality TV through its own cable network. It operates on its own network and is available to about 52% of UK properties.
Vodafone is mostly known as a mobile phone network operator, but its broadband offerings have become much more popular in recent years. The provider offers a range of excellent value broadband packages, particularly its superfast and ultrafast fibre broadband deals and 5G home broadband deals.
EE offers impressively fast 4G and 5G mobile broadband, normal fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and now also an ultrafast broadband service with speeds up to 900Mbps. EE mobile customers benefit from purchasing EE home broadband as they can potentially boost their data plans.
Plusnet is a great-value internet service provider that offers affordable fibre and copper ADSL broadband packages to customers with excellent customer support. It recently won Broadband Provider of the Year and Best Provider Customer Service at the 2021 Uswitch Broadband & Mobile Awards.
NOW Broadband, which is owned by Sky, offers low-price fibre broadband packages with easy access to TV add-ons and exclusive content through NOW.
Hyperoptic is a full fibre broadband provider that provides ultrafast and even gigabit internet speeds for new-build homes and purpose-built flats. It's also expanding its network into older properties in urban areas.
If you're looking to switch to a new provider, compare broadband deals with Uswitch to find a wide range of options for your home.
Fibre-optic broadband providers
Almost all UK providers, especially the larger ones, offer fibre broadband connections nationwide. But there is still a wide variety of fibre speeds available depending on the networks that are available to you and the type of fibre connection you choose.
Fibre-optic broadband speeds can range from what we call 'superfast' at 30Mbps, all the way to 'gigabit' at an astounding 1Gbps, some 33 times faster. So the service you get with fibre really does depend on what's available to your home.
The most widely available type of fibre is fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) through Openreach's superfast network, which hosts the majority of the above providers and is accessible by over 95% of the country. It provides speeds between 30-70Mbps, so it may be the slowest fibre broadband option, but it's often the cheapest and it's definitely the most widely-available. Plus, it's still much faster than copper-based ADSL broadband.
Virgin Media's growing cable broadband network offers much faster options, all the way from 50Mbps to 600Mbps, and even 1Gbps in a growing number of areas. However, at 52% coverage it's not available to as many UK properties than Openreach's FTTC. It's also more expensive, since Virgin needs to connect its special 'coaxial' cables from the cabinet to your home, rather than just standard copper phone lines.
Full fibre providers offer the fastest broadband speeds available in the UK right now. Also known as fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), this is simply where fibre-optic cables connect directly from the provider's broadband exchange to your home. Speeds on one of these networks can range from 100Mbps all the way to 3Gbps in some areas.
Learn more about fibre broadband on our dedicated guide.
Who are the fastest internet providers?
Providers who can deliver gigabit broadband will be the fastest options for you right now. This primarily will be full fibre providers, but Virgin Media is also one of the fastest thanks to its cable broadband technology.
Although full fibre only has 21% nationwide coverage right now, it's rapidly expanding through a number of networks:
- Openreach provides FTTP broadband connections for BT and Sky
- CityFibre hosts Vodafone's 'Gigafast' connections as well as some of its own deals
- Gigaclear offers speeds up to 900Mbps on its network
- Hyperoptic provides full fibre for new-builds and flats
- Community Fibre only services London addresses, but its connections go all the way up to 3Gbps
If you'd like more information about the fastest broadband speeds in the UK, take a look at our guide on gigabit internet.
Choosing the right broadband provider
Certain broadband providers are better known for some services over others, and each one will have at least one unique selling point that'll make their offers attractive to a customer with a particular set of needs.
Here we'll go through the main considerations you should have for a broadband package and which providers might be more suited to each.
Cost is obviously important to keep in mind when choosing a broadband provider. A certain provider could offer deals that have more than you could ever need, but if the monthly price is out of your budget then you may end up regretting it in the long run.
Plusnet and TalkTalk are popular choices for affordable broadband deals. They're both widely-available across the country with fast fibre deals, and they have good customer service too.
If you're looking for broadband at an affordable price, you can compare cheap broadband deals with Uswitch.
You'll need to make sure that the deal you choose has the right bandwidth for your internet usage.
If you're a very small household and you only really go online to check social media or browse the web, you could get away with a standard, 10Mbps broadband package from the likes of POP Telecom, Direct Save Telecom or John Lewis Broadband.
However, if you live in a household with more than two people who use the internet, or you often stream high-quality TV, download large files or play bandwidth-hungry online games, that demand will quickly increase and a faster broadband package would likely be best.
Virgin Media, Hyperoptic, Vodafone's Gigafast service or providers using Openreach's FTTP network offer speeds for homes with the highest demand. But their coverage isn't as good as fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connections.
Run a broadband speed test while connected to your Wi-Fi to see what speeds you're currently getting, and whether you could benefit from a faster connection.
As a paying customer, you'll want to be assured that the provider you choose will treat you with care, competency and, when it matters, urgency. Whether it's through complaints handling, helpful communications or fixing connection issues, good customer service makes your life a lot easier.
Get more information on which broadband provider has the best customer service.
If you have a complaint to make about your broadband service, it's best to take it up with your provider to see if they can find a solution first instead of going straight to Ofcom or the ombudsman. Here's how to complain to your broadband provider.
Which broadband providers are in my area?
At Uswitch, we try to help you to choose the right broadband provider for your needs by giving you relevant information on each provider and listing their packages in an easy-to-understand, concise way.
If you'd rather compare broadband providers available to you at a broadband package level, you can use our postcode checker. This allows you to see which deals are available to you in seconds.