Since the birth of the World Wide Web in 1989 by Tim Berners Lee, the internet has become a vital tool for information, communication, and entertainment alike.
With streaming being a popular way to watch TV and listen to music, as well as working from home becoming the norm, reliable broadband is now a necessity for the majority of households across the UK.
But how accessible is broadband in the UK and beyond? We’ve collated the latest UK broadband statistics for 2023, covering broadband cost, market share, customer satisfaction, and more.
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The average cost of broadband in the UK is £26.90 per month, as of 2023.
Wales had the cheapest average broadband of all countries in the UK (£26.87 per month), though this was only 3p less than the UK average
Those with fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections paid 12% more than those with other broadband connections, on average (£29.86 per month)
BT are the largest broadband provider in the UK, with approximately 9 million customers
England had the strongest 5G accessibility across the UK, with the service available for between 76% and 85% of UK premises
According to UK broadband market share statistics, BT Group, which includes providers BT, Plusnet and EE, have the largest number of UK customers, with 9 million subscribers using its broadband services.
Sky Broadband has a customer base of 5.7 million across the UK and Ireland, followed by Virgin Media O2, which has a broadband market share of around 5.7 million.
Glide, a specialist business to business (B2B) Wi-Fi service with a focus on students and student accommodation, has a market share of 400,000, making it the seventh most popular broadband provider in the country.
Hull-based KCOM has a market share of less than 140,000, making it the smallest broadband provider on the list, with a subscriber count nearly 70 times less than BT.
Pricing for broadband services from the UK’s independent full fibre network operators can be lower than those from established providers—an important factor when it comes to potentially switching your broadband.
Though broadband providers usually offer their services at the same prices across the UK, there are some instances where companies offer different prices depending on where you live. Additionally, the average cost of broadband can vary across the UK, depending on the availability of certain packages, and the uptake of certain providers.
According to Uswitch’s global broadband index, the UK ranks as the fifth most affordable country in the world for broadband, as a percentage of income per capita. With an average of £26.39 per month, this equates to around 1.16% of the average citizen’s monthly earnings—a statistic only bettered by Israel (0.78%), Lithuania (0.97%), France (1.14%), and Luxembourg (1.15%). A recent Uswitch study found that the average cost of UK broadband has risen 1.9% since the global broadband index from £26.39 to £26.90.
Data from Ofcom shows full fibre broadband pricing for selected independent providers, as well as BT using the Openreach full fibre network and Virgin Media (which uses DOCSIS 3.1 cable and full fibre technology) to provide ultrafast services. New operators (such as Community Fibre, Hyperoptic, and G.Network) have also entered the broadband market in 2022, resulting in more choice for UK broadband customers.
On top of the monthly price, some broadband providers charge fees for activation, set-up, or installation, which is dependent on the provider and contract length. Broadband deals with no upfront costs are available on the market, but you will need to check this before committing to a package.
Want to try and avoid installation costs? Check out our guide on how to self-install your broadband as a potential method of saving some money.
Broadband installation cost also depends on whether the broadband provider is registered to the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS). The scheme, which has been running since 2021, can provide up to £210 million worth of funding to help homes and businesses cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband.
Households eligible for this can claim vouchers worth up to £1,500 through a registered broadband provider, and businesses can claim up to £3,500.
Our latest UK broadband study found that the average cost of broadband in the UK is £26.90. Of all UK countries, Wales typically had the cheapest broadband, with its monthly average cost of £26.87 around 0.1% less than the UK average.
England was narrowly more expensive than Wales, with its monthly average cost of £26.88 making it the only other UK nation with a typical broadband cost below the collective UK mean. Scotland’s average cost of £27.12 was around 0.9% more than England, while Northern Ireland had the highest average broadband cost at £28.04 per month.
This means that Northern Ireland residents pay around 4% more for broadband on average than those in living in Wales. This may be due to the higher rate of full-fibre coverage in Northern Ireland increasing the availability of more high-speed packages.
The latest UK broadband statistics show that England dominates the list of the cheapest places for broadband in the UK. Nine of the top 10 are based in England, with the south London borough Sutton having the cheapest broadband on average.
With an average monthly cost of £24.83, residents of Sutton pay around 8% less than the UK average.
Welsh town Pontypool was the only non-English place in the top 10, with its average monthly cost of £25.16 the third lowest overall and 6% less than the UK average. Sunderland has the cheapest broadband in the North of England, with the Tyneside city’s average cost of £25.44 per month around 5% lower than the UK average.
Despite having the cheapest broadband in Scotland, Grenock’s average monthly cost of £26.34 was only the 57th lowest in the country overall, and 2% less than the UK average. Similarly, though Coleraine’s average cost of £27.93 was the lowest in Northern Ireland, this was still 4% higher than the UK average, and more expensive than around 300 other UK towns and cities.
England was responsible for nine of the 10 most expensive areas for broadband in the UK, with the Yorkshire town of Castleford having the highest costs overall. With an average broadband cost of £29.41 per month, residents of Castleford typically pay around 9% more than the rest of the UK, on average.
Castleford was followed by the northern towns of Wallasey and Leyland, which were the only other places with average costs above £29 per month. Hamilton was the most expensive place for broadband in Scotland (£28,78), with an average monthly bill 7% higher than the UK average and the fifth most expensive overall.
Barry was the most expensive Welsh town for broadband, with its average monthly cost of £28.20 around 5% higher than the UK average and the joint-13th highest overall in the UK.
The latest UK broadband statistics found that those with speeds between 0Mb and 30Mb typically pay the lowest for broadband, with average costs of just over £20 per month.
There is a rise of around 28% between those on 0-30Mb packages and those with speeds between 30Mb and 60Mb (£25.62). This is followed by a much smaller rise of 0.1% between 30-60Mb customers and those on 60-99Mb (£25.66).
Despite a rise of around 7.5% between 60-99Mb customers (£25.66) and those on 100-149Mb (£27.58), this is followed by a drop of nearly 22% as we reach speeds 150-249Mb. This means that people on 150-249Mb plans are typically paying 7% less than those on the much slower 30-60Mb plan.
The biggest single increase occurs between 150-249Mb and 249-99Mb, with prices rising 55%, from £21.60 to £33.65.
Broadband speed statistics found those with speeds in excess of 1GB typically pay the most for broadband, with the average monthly cost of £46.44. This is around 38% higher than those on 249-999Mb plans, and 132% higher than those on 0-30Mb.
Recent broadband connection statistics found those with fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections pay the most for their broadband, with an average monthly cost of £29.86 – around 12% more than any other connection. This is followed by fibre to the cable (FTTC) connections (£26.41), which are the only other connection type with average costs above £25 per month.
There is a substantial drop of almost a quarter (23%) between the cost of FTTC broadband and traditional ADSL connections, before a smaller decrease of 8% between ADSL broadband and mobile broadband. With an average monthly cost of £18.70 per month, mobile broadband is typically the cheapest connection type, and the only one with average monthly costs below £20.
Knowing when to switch your broadband is no easy answer. Average UK broadband costs vary considerably between providers and the type of broadband you purchase. Some providers will offer promotional prices, as a way of enticing new customers to join, with the list price returning to similar prices offered by competitors after a given period of time.
The average monthly broadband cost for 30Mbps and 50Mbps packages ranges between £20-£28, compared to £22-£40 for 100Mbps and 150Mbps deals.
Those opting for 300Mbps and 350Mbps advertised download speeds can expect to pay anything between £20 a month with Gigaclear, up to £56 per month for Virgin Media. Should you desire some of the fastest broadband speeds on the market (900Mbps and 1Gbps), average monthly broadband costs will set you back somewhere between £25 (Toob) and £80 (Trooli, Jurassic Fibre, and County Broadband).
It’s also worth noting that some UK broadband providers will charge installation costs, have varying lengths of contract, and may incur mid-contract price increases in 2024. Therefore, it’s advisable to fully check the terms and conditions before committing to a broadband package.
Saving money on your broadband bill is a high priority for many UK households, particularly during the current cost of living crisis. There are also cheap broadband deals for low income families in the UK, such as Community Fibre, to help ensure all households across the country have the opportunity to access a decent domestic broadband service.
These broadband cost figures are for broadband-only deals. We also have a range of broadband and home phone deals for those looking to incorporate a home phone into their internet package or for those looking to get broadband without a landline.
Social tariffs are reduced-cost broadband deals for low income families in the UK.
Recent UK broadband stats reveal that, as of February 2023, only 5.1% of UK households on Universal Credit decided to take advantage of social tariffs offered by broadband providers.
During this time, around 4.3 million UK households were receiving some form of Universal Credit, and yet only 220,000 households moved onto a social broadband tariff. This is an increase of 300% from February 2022, when the social tariff takeup figure stood at just 55,000 households.
ONS research suggests that as many as three in 10 households struggled to pay their communications bills in January 2023. Furthermore, over half (53%) of eligible customers aren’t aware that social tariffs exist.
Below is a list of current social broadband packages available in the UK in 2023, along with their associated monthly costs, average advertised speed, and eligibility criteria.
*Each company has its own list of eligible benefits, but all include Universal Credit. Other benefits may include Pension Credit, Job Seekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, and Care Leavers’ Support.
Ofcom noted that TalkTalk, Shell, EE, Plusnet, Vodafone, O2, and Three have all not committed to introducing a social tariff for home broadband.
Certain broadband providers may apply Early Termination Charges (ETCs) if the current broadband contract is ended prematurely by the customer. February 2022 data from Ofcom shows the potential value of social tariffs equates to £144 per year per customer. However, ETC’s are valued at between £10-£14 per month, so if your contract has 6 months left, then you are liable to pay between £60-£84 in order to terminate your social tariff broadband deal early.
With almost every major mobile phone manufacturer now producing 5G capable devices, UK mobile network operators are beginning to extend coverage from large cities to smaller towns and settlements.
In terms of full 5G coverage across the UK, England has the strongest connections of all four UK nations. Outside of premises, 5G signal is available across 76-85% of the nation—the only country that exceeds the minimum UK average coverage figures of 39-58%.
UK broadband stats reveal that 5G coverage in Northern Ireland is significantly behind that of England, with only 48-55% of the nation covered near premises. Similarly, Wales also lags behind the UK average, with 5G coverage only extending to somewhere between 49%-61% of the country.
5G across the UK is covered by multiple MNOs, or Mobile Network Operators. BT and EE, Three, Virgin Media and O2, and Vodafone offer some of the UK’s fastest mobile coverage on the market.
Of all MNOs, Three offers the widest 5G coverage, with 58% of UK outdoor premises covered by a 5G signal, as of September 2022. In a close second is BT and EE, working together for their 5G offering, covering over half (55%) of outdoor premises confidently—this represents just 3% less than that of Three. Virgin Media and O2’s coupling yields the least coverage across the UK, with 38% of outdoor premises having access to a consistent 5G signal.
Across all four nations in the UK, 4G coverage is far more widespread than that of its more modern counterpart, 5G. As of January 2023, the average outdoor 4G coverage for the UK stands above 99%.
4G coverage across England reflects that of the entire UK (99% and above). However, that applies to ‘outside premises’, meaning signal availability in areas such as villages, towns, and cities. 4G coverage geographically across the nation is somewhere between 92-94%, meaning that between 6-8% of the landmass is currently not covered by a consistent 4G signal. Only 2% of England has zero 4G signal, and that figure has remained stable from the 2% recorded in 2021.
In Scotland, 4G outside premises is between 97-99% coverage, almost rivalling that of the UK’s average. However, in terms of full-geographic coverage, they only have 57-75% of their landmass covered by 4G, meaning large swathes of the nation remain without consistent 4G broadband. The 4G signal figure has, however, improved somewhat since recording 57-74% 4G coverage in May 2022. 17% of the country has zero access to 4G, an improvement of 1% over data from 2021.
Corresponding UK broadband stats show that Wales offers similar 4G coverage to Scotland, in terms of 4G outside premises (96-99%). With regards to 4G coverage by geography, Wales has 74-85% of their landmass covered—almost 20% more compared to Scotland. However, 9% of Wales has zero access to 4G, 1% more than the UK’s average of 8%.
Northern Ireland’s 4G coverage is between 97-99% for outside premises, representing the second-best 4G coverage statistics in the UK. In terms of geographic coverage, the country recorded 88-92% in January 2023, a recorded figure that is higher than all other UK nations apart from England. Only 3% of NI’s landmass has zero access to 4G, markedly better than Wales and Scotland, and 5% better than the UK average.
UK broadband statistics indicate BT and EE’s 4G coverage has the widest reach amongst network operators, with 87% of the UK’s entire landmass covered by their signal. This is a small improvement of 1% since 2021.
In joint-second is Virgin Media and O2, alongside Vodafone. They each have 82% of the UK’s landmass covered by 4G signal, although in the case of VMO2, the 82% figure is a 2% increase over 2021 figures, compared to 0% increase for Vodafone.
5G’s largest provider, Three, has the smallest amount of 4G signal coverage in the UK as of 2022, with 80% of the landmass covered. This represents a small improvement of 1% compared to 4G coverage statistics for 2021.
BT and EE, Virgin Media and O2, Three, and Vodafone all claim 100% 4G coverage of UK urban areas, exactly the same as offered in 2021.
However, in rural parts of the UK, 4G coverage doesn’t exceed 84%. BT and EE claim that figure, covering the largest geographical area with signal—a 2% improvement on their 2021 figures.
Virgin Media and O2 also improved between 2021-22, raising their rural UK coverage figure to 80% (a 2% increase from 2021).
Neither Three nor Vodafone improved in 2022 on their 2021 rural coverage statistics, with Vodafone achieving 80% and Three achieving only 76%.
The latest UK broadband statistics found that Plusnet and EE had the highest average customer satisfaction ratings of all major broadband companies. Both achieved overall scores of 3.94 out of 5 based on nine metrics.
EE also scored highest when it came to customer service (3.93) and communication (3.94). At the other end of the scale, Virgin Media scores lowest when it came to customer service (3.40).
Visit our broadband awards page to find out which providers impressed with their services.
BT customers were most likely to be happy with their speeds (4.01), followed by Virgin Media (3.99) and Vodafone (3.91). Conversely, Now Broadband were the company that scored lowest when it came to speed, with an average score of 3.76.
Now Broadband performed much stronger when it came to value for money, however, with their overall score of 4.05 the highest of any company.
Want to raise an issue with your internet company, but not sure how to go about it? Check out our guide on how to complain to your broadband provider.
On average, 12 out of 100,000 customers in Q1 2023 complained to Ofcom about their broadband provider – an increase of one compared to Q3 2022. This shows relative stability within the broadband market regarding quality of service from broadband providers.
Ofcom customer complaints statistics show that Talk Talk accrued the most complaints in Q1 2023. Out of 100,000 customers, 20 people registered an issue with Ofcom regarding Talk Talk’s broadband service, with the primary issue being ‘complaints handling’ and ‘faults, service, and provisioning’.
Shell Energy was the second most complained about broadband provider, receiving 16 Ofcom complaints per 100,000 customers in Q3 2022 – a substantial decrease from the 27 complaints seen in Q3 2022.
Sky remained marginally ahead of EE as the best broadband provider for customer service based on having the fewest Ofcom complaints (five per 100,000 customers).
Meanwhile, EE had only seven complaints in Q3 2021 – up from six in Q3 2022.
Both providers remain far below the industry average of 12 complaints per 100,000 subscribers, with NOW Broadband (9) the only other company to receive less complaints than the industry average.
In the UK, the main reason for Ofcom complaints regarding broadband is ‘faults, service and provisioning’. This can be attributed to outages and speed throttling, alongside customer service itself, and represents less than four in 10 (33%) of all broadband complaints made to Ofcom.
UK broadband statistics show that just under one in three (29%) Ofcom complaints in 2022 related specifically to ‘complaints handling’ (i.e. the way companies deal with issues raised by the customer).
Finally, less than a fifth (16%) of UK broadband customers complained to Ofcom about their provider’s ‘billing, pricing and charges’. Talk Talk, the company with the largest number of complaints relating to broadband, had nearly a fifth (19%) of its customer complaints relating to this very reason.
Mobile broadband data usage has increased exponentially across the UK in recent years, with 4G now covering almost the entire country, and the superfast 5G rollout happening in towns and cities nationwide.
According to UK broadband stats from Ofcom, the average monthly data consumption on mobile broadband alone was eight gigabytes in 2022 – a 43% increase on the 2021 figure. However, with increased subscriber counts and usage comes increased scrutiny. Below are the mobile broadband complaints statistics available for Q3 2021 and Q3 2022 per 100,000 subscribers.
For mobile complaints in Q1 2023, the industry average is less than that of fixed broadband: just three complaints per 100,000 customers, as opposed to 12 complaints, respectively for the latter. This represents a small increase from Q3 2022, when there were only two complaints.
BT Mobile had the most complaints per mobile provider, with a total of seven in Q1 2023 alone. This is six more than the industry average, and three more than next-most complained about providers (O2, iD Mobile, and Virgin Mobile).
BT Mobile also had the largest increase in complaints, having received just four Ofcom complaints per 100,000 customers for Q3 2022. In the same period a year earlier, they accrued only two complaints per 100,000 customers – the industry average for that period.
Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile were the two companies who had the least complaints made about them, with both receiving just two complaints each in this time period.
‘Complaints handling’ was the most complained about issue relating to mobile broadband in Q1 2023, featuring in just over a quarter (27%) of total Ofcom complaints. This highlights just how important customer service is to UK broadband consumers.
This was followed by ‘faults, service, and provisioning’, which featured in almost a quarter (23%) of total Ofcom complaints during this period, with ‘billing, pricing, and charges’ appearing in 18% of complaints.
Around three in 10 (30%) of BT’s issues were focused on ‘changing provider’ – the highest figure recorded for this complaint across all broadband providers.
Check out our broadband provider reviews for further information on different UK internet suppliers, or check out our broadband customer survey to see which companies have performed best for customer satisfaction.
4G, or Fourth Generation, is a type of broadband typically used by mobile devices. Following on from 3G, 4G is between five and seven times faster than its predecessor, allowing for a maximum potential peak download speed of 300Mbps. Although realistically, 42Mbps is consistently achievable on standard 4G with the higher speeds usually recorded on 4G LTE (A type of 4G not readily available in the UK). These speeds are a huge improvement on 3G services, which were limited to an average speed of 6Mbps in real world tests.
Following on from 4G, 5G is the latest in high-speed internet connectivity, again typically used on mobile devices. 5G is seen as five times faster than 4G, and with a decreased latency, means data signals should stay stronger and more reliable as the networks roll out full coverage.
Broadband is the most prevalent way households connect to the internet in the UK. The name derives from ‘wide-bandwidth data transmission’, and unlike its predecessor ‘dial-up’, can remain online and connected at all times.
Fibre broadband is the backbone of high-speed internet access for the UK. Instead of using traditional copper cables to send data, fibre broadband uses optical cables, which are far more capable of sending large quantities of data reliably. Fibre broadband sends data via beams of light, meaning there’s no geographical slowdown. As a result, much higher download and upload speeds are available for broadband customers.
Fixed wireless broadband is a variant of broadband that uses radio signals to transmit data instead of using copper or fibre optic cables. Quite often this is using 4G or 5G connectivity and is traditionally achieved by installing a satellite dish to the top of the property. In turn, this will communicate with another device in its line of sight, and so on all the way to the initial server. This system aims to connect rural properties that cannot access copper or fibre cables, and offers similar broadband speeds to that of fibre, although often at a higher cost.
Put simply, gigabit-capable broadband offers download speeds of 1,000Mbps, or 1Gbps. Films in high definition (HD) are typically between two and four gigabytes in size, meaning it could potentially take mere seconds to fully download using gigabit-capable broadband. While this won’t make the server you’re downloading from any faster, it has the added-benefit of increasing bandwidth for your entire home. This means large families with various devices won’t experience any slowdown from their broadband.
Internet service provider (ISP) is the phrase used to describe companies that provide internet access to customers. Examples of such companies are BT, Virgin Media, and PlusNet. In the UK, data shows there are over 100 registered ISPs, highlighting the competitive nature of the UK broadband market.
Mbps stands for ‘megabits per second’, and is a unit of measurement in terms of data transfer and network speed. A megabit is 1/8th of a megabyte, meaning that if you have a broadband speed of 100Mbps, you can download 12.5 megabytes per second of data (MBps). When written, ‘Mb’ stands for megabit and ‘MB’ stands for megabyte.