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TV & Broadband choices - what's the best broadband provider?
When it comes to broadband providers, we’re faced with a lot of different choices in the UK. There are at least 57 broadband providers on the market at the moment. These providers feed the 26 million fixed internet connections that currently exist in the United Kingdom, and often offer other services such as TV or mobile deals. Lots of consumers ask: Who is the best broadband provider? Where can I get the best connection? And which company offers the best broadband deals in my area? Let’s break down all the UK hot deals on the market as we take a look at who is the best broadband provider.
UK Broadband Providers: Broadband Deals
In spite of the dozens of competitors on the market, only a handful are truly well-known as TV and broadband providers. Many have drawn comparisons between the energy sector’s ‘Big Six’ and the six “major” broadband providers, who do in fact have an 87% share of the broadband market. Here are the providers in question:
It is also true, however, that of this 87% the vast majority of customers are snapped up by just three of these providers - BT, Sky, and Virgin Media. The ‘Big Three’, as you might call them, help themselves to a whopping 70% of the broadband market. Why? Are they just that good? Well, reviews might suggest otherwise.
As in many sectors, broadband providers with the most customers also have the most complaints and the poorest ratings on review sites. Most people, it seems, go to these big-name providers simply because they don’t know the alternatives well enough. Surely among the 50 or so other providers on the Broadbandmarket there's one or two who won't rip you off. And you may find that an unsuspecting small provider can also cater to your needs. So what are the alternatives? And are they any better?
Which Broadband Provider is the Most Popular?
There are lots of UK broadband providers out there, but who is the most popular provider? Well, most UK residents who have a broadband connection actually opt for one of only a few higher popularity providers. The top ranking broadband providers in terms of popularity are as follows:
- BT (PlusNet, EE)
- Sky Broadband
- Virgin Media
- Vodafone UK
Alternative Broadband Providers: Can They Offer you the Best Connection?
While about 70% of consumers are opting for one of these three big providers, you might do well to consider one of the 50+ others out there competing for your custom. We’re here to help you answer that key question - is it worth making the switch?
To answer that, we’ll first have to answer another question: what is it you’re looking for? Is it faster speeds, cheap pricing or reliability? Do you demand all three? Or will you settle for just two out of three? Regardless of your broadband needs, we’ve got you covered. But first, here’s a list of those alternative providers that we feel stand out from the crowd:
Most settle for convenience as pretty much the only factor in deciding on a broadband provider - often being inconvenienced as a result. If you're a slave to convenience, you might be surprised (perhaps a bit annoyed) to learn that the fastest and cheapest broadband deals in the UK lie elsewhere.
If the fastest deal is what you’re after, then it’s definitely worth looking beyond just the broadband providers you know. Most providers, large or small, will have three packages - Basic (around 11Mbps), Fibre (around 35Mbps) and Superfast Fibre (usually over 60Mbps). Among the larger providers, Virgin are the biggest exception to this rule, with faster cable packages across the board, in fact their fastest package reaches speeds of 362Mbps. The fastest speeds on the market, however, come from niche provider Hyperoptic, whose fastest deal is almost three times as fast as Virgin's.
But What is a Good Broadband Speed?
Well, what you need depends on your household and what you’re using your broadband for. If there’s only a few of you, and you only use the internet to browse and shop online, a standard 11Mbps package should be plenty for you. If you’re a family that likes to stream films and do a bit of online gaming, you will probably need a fibre package of 35Mpbs or more.
If you're relying on your broadband provider for work, or gaming and streaming purposes and you always need lightning speeds, you’d best go for one of the faster packages - which tops out with Hyperoptic’s almost frightening 1Gbps speeds. This way you'll never have any of the issues with latency that come when speeds drop.
Who is the Cheapest Broadband Provider?
If speed is no big thing and you just need the cheapest deal, then you’ll be interested to know you could find significant savings by looking outside of the ‘big three’. BT’s slowest package will currently set you back roughly £25 a month - and watch out, because as with many of the bigger providers this deal jumps to £33 a month once your contract ends.
Many of the big providers also feel free to hike up your bill as they like, because of inflation and other external factors, and you could end up locked in to a deal that you’re less and less happy with.
Some smaller providers, such as POP Telecom, Origin Broadband and NOW TV, offer fixed-price contracts or the option to pay the contract in full all at once. Some of these one-payment deals work out at as little as £15 a month for standard broadband. If this doesn’t tempt you and a standard pay monthly package is what you’re after, you can still find a deal for less than £20 a month from one of the smaller providers.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the cheapest deals out there and how they compare with the big three’s ‘budget’ packages:
|BT Broadband||Sky Broadband||Virgin Broadband||POP Telecom Broadband||Origin Broadband||NOW TV Broadband|
|10Mbps average speed for £24.99 per month||11Mbps average speed for £20 per month||54Mbps average speed for £37 per month||11Mbps average speed for £15.50 per month||11Mbps average speed £17.99 per month||11Mbps average speed £18 per month|
Of course, we recognise that most of you won’t simply be after the cheapest or most basic package out there, or you won't actually need the fastest imaginable network speeds. Most of you will be after good speeds at a great price - that perfect marriage of value and service.
And in your case a look beyond the big providers is equally important. If you’re looking for a 35Mbps fibre broadband package with an anytime calls package added on, your bill could stretch to £40 a month with BT. A smaller provider could save you at least a tenner a month on this - often more - which we’d say is very much worth the time it takes to switch.
Here’s a breakdown of what you would pay for similar packages across many of the bigger and smaller providers:
|59Mbps + Anytime Calls £35.00 per month||38Mbps + Anytime Calls £37 per month||108Mbps + Phone £33 per month||11Mbps + Anytime Calls £16.95 per month||35Mbps + Anytime Calls £37.49 per month|
But perhaps you don’t really use your landline any more and a calls based package isn’t much use to you. In this case you might also opt for BT, Sky or Virgin for the sake of convenience and because they’re the most reputable TV providers.
But you don’t need to be with BT Broadband to get BT TV, nor do you need to be with Sky Broadband to add a Sky TV package. Many of the smaller providers offer TV add-ons from the bigger providers, and it could work out cheaper this way. Sports fans will be interested to know that while adding BT Sport to a Sky or TalkTalk deal, for example, would cost around £25 per month.
If you’re all about films and series then you could take advantage of one of Sky's Entertainment or Movie packages. Instead of paying through the nose for a Sky package, why not opt for a much cheaper deal and get their Sky Entertainment Pass through NOW TV for £8.99 a month? You can also get the Sky Movies pass for just £11.99 a month.
Of course, lots of us now simply watch our TV on demand by streaming through Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, etc. You can just as easily add these to your package with a smaller provider as you could with a major one.
In short, if you feel that mixing and matching your broadband, phone and TV packages is the best way to go, and you could certainly save money by doing this. Many providers also offer adding mobile deals, so with some you could get pretty much everything in one package, but that’s an option we’ll leave for the mobile experts to go into.
Which Broadband Provider Is The Best One?
In short, we would argue that the best options in home broadband for most people will be POP Telecom and Origin. That being said, your individual broadband, TV and mobile needs may mean that the best deal comes from a different source. POP Telecom and Origin broadband deals start at around £20 per month, and both offer fixed prices for the duration of your contract. You can add call packages, with POP Telecom starting at just £2 and Origin's at £3.49, and line rental is included.
Not only this, but both providers score well with reviewers online. POP are lauded on review site Feefo, getting 4.2 out of 5, while over half of Origin reviewers on Trustpilot scored them either excellent or great. Their respective customer service teams are viewed in a positive light by several reviewers, so you can trust them to make your life easy on the cheap - something we’ve learnt to stop expecting when it comes to broadband.
UK Broadband Providers
Here is a list of the home broadband providers in the UK for your convenience:
Business Broadband: Hot UK Deals
Business broadband is more or less the same story as home broadband. Consumer instinct is still to go with known and trusted (if apparently unpopular) brands, while smaller and newer providers offering great deals go under the radar. These known and trusted faces take more than their fair share of business broadband customers despite offering little more in the way of value. Specialist business broadband provider XLN, for example, quotes on its website up to £500 annual savings compared to BT.
If you ask us, though, the most interesting business broadband deals right now are to be found with bOnline. They’re currently offering the cheapest deal on the market as far as we can see at around £16/month for basic broadband, including line rental and a free website for your business worth £395.
But we also know that an eyecatching deal is not the be all and end all. We don’t just recommend them on the basis of a single one-off deal. We recommend them because it’s clear their customers are happy. If bOnline appeals to you, you'll be interested to learn that they are proud to boast a 5 star rating on review site Trustpilot, with a host of reviewers singing their praises.
Business Broadband Providers
It seems that everyone in the UK loves a hot deal. Those that cater exclusively to the business broadband market are fewer. Here's a list of providers working in this sector for you to choose from:
- XLN Telecom