Do I need fast broadband?
Fast broadband is useful for many reasons, including...
Shared connections: Where ADSL broadband can struggle to support more than a couple of people at once, fast broadband is far more capable of handling multiple simultaneous users, so it’s essential for families and shared homes.
Video streaming: As we cut the cord on traditional TV broadcasts in favour of Netflix and other streaming video services, fast broadband helps us enjoy HD video streams without interruption.
Gaming: Steam and other digital storefronts are making boxed videogame releases a thing of the past. Without fast broadband the huge size of modern titles means you could be waiting a long time for the download before you can play.
Large file transfers: The faster your broadband the less time it will take to download or upload large amounts of data.
How can I get faster broadband?
Every home and business should have a few options for getting faster broadband, including inexpensive (or free) methods to improve your current service.
Fix poor Wi-Fi signal: It might be possible to improve broadband speed by ensuring you’re getting the most out of your Wi-Fi router. Optimise the placement and configuration for the best performance. Consider purchasing a signal booster or more advanced router to remedy weak signals.
Use wired networking: Switching to a wired network can provide a quicker and more stable connection than Wi-Fi broadband. This doesn’t mean you need to install cables around your home: powerline network adapters allow anyone to create a wired network with minimal hassle.
Complain to the ISP: When joining a broadband provider you should have been given an accurate estimate speed. If the actual performance falls far below this speak to the provider, as it may be a technical fault which can be repaired.
Upgrade to fibre: If fibre broadband is available in your area switching to a fibre optic service is the most effective route to faster broadband.
What is the average broadband speed in the UK?
The latest Akamai State of the Internet study reports the average UK download speed is 16.9Mb.
Which broadband provider is fastest?
The fastest broadband provider will be an ultrafast gigabit fibre ISP such as Hyperoptic, Gigler or TalkTalk’s UFO. However, these services are only available to a very small number of premises.
Is cable or fibre fastest?
As we mentioned above, Virgin Media broadband (aka cable broadband) is the fastest mass-market ISP, with a top speed of over 300Mb on some 'ultrafast' broadband packages. Fibre using an Openreach (BT) network telephone line offers average speeds around 63-68Mb.
FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) is available from multiple ISPs using the Openreach telephone network, and is usually what we’re referring to when talking about fibre broadband here on Broadband Genie as it’s the most common type.
FTTH (Fibre To The Home) is the fastest broadband going, but as it’s only available to a tiny percentage of homes it’s sadly not an option worth considering for most of us.
What should I look for when comparing these packages?
Availability: Broadband coverage varies and not every home has access to the same choice of packages. Enter a postcode into the postcode search on our comparison tables to display deals available in a particular area.
Speed: Our broadband comparison filters make it quick and easy to narrow down the options and find the ideal package. Use the filters to select a minimum broadband speed, then order results from fastest to slowest by clicking the speed column in the table.
What does Mb mean in the comparison table?
Mb means megabits, and it’s how we measure broadband speed. The higher the number, the faster it goes!
The full term is megabits per second (Mbps), however on Broadband Genie we use Mb, as that’s how many ISPs display speed.
For more technical details about bits and bytes and what it all means, refer to our glossary.
Will I get the speed advertised in the comparison table?
The broadband speeds quoted by providers and displayed in our comparison table are the average speed for that type of connection, based on the performance of 50% of the provider's customers. The actual speed you get will vary - see “Will my location and postcode impact my speed?” above.
The ISP should provide a speed estimate upon signing up, and this is typically very accurate. If your connection falls far below the estimate it may be due to a technical fault.
Will my location and postcode impact my speed?
Not all postcodes are equal when it comes to broadband speed. For starters, not everyone has access to the best broadband services; BT Openreach network fibre is available to slightly more than 80% of premises, while Virgin Media currently extends to over 60%.
Your distance from the telephone exchange, quality of the line and the number of broadband users in the area can also have a negative impact upon broadband speed.
When signing up to a provider you should always be given a speed estimate based on your location but you won’t know how it actually performs until it’s up and running.
When will my area get high speed broadband?
For more information about broadband upgrades in your area, see the Openreach fibre page.
Virgin Media does not offer a similar page, but you can register your interest and be notified if they come to your area.
How can I get fast broadband which is also cheap?
Fast broadband does not have to be expensive. There are several ways to save money with a fast broadband deal.
Discounts: Many fast broadband deals offer a discounted price for a set period of time, sometimes for the entire contract period. Just make sure it’s affordable for you after the offer ends.
Free gifts: Shopping vouchers, gadgets and other free gifts are often included with broadband deals as a sweetener. Some of the best deals we’ve seen provide over £100 on a pre-paid credit card you can spend in any store.
Switch often: The best offers may be reserved for new customers, so make a note of the date your contract ends, and when that approaches shop around for a new deal.
Broadband only: These deals come without TV and phone services included, as such internet only deals could work out cheaper.
Do I need unlimited data with high speed internet?
Unlimited broadband is recommended for any home broadband service, and that goes double for fast broadband, where it’s a lot easier to download and upload lots of data.
Packages with data limits are slightly cheaper but they come with the risk of restrictions or extra fees, and even if you stay under the cap the price difference can be minimal.
Can my ISP throttle my broadband speed?
Some broadband ISPs use traffic management (aka throttling), restricting the speed of particular activities in order to maintain consistent performance for the majority of customers.
However, this is becoming rarer. Numerous providers no longer use traffic management and instead offer a truly unlimited service.
When searching for the best internet deals on our comparison table look for “restrictions apply” in the data limit column - this indicates the ISP may be using traffic management. This should not necessarily put you off choosing a particular package as it typically impacts only a small minority; check the small print or read our broadband provider reviews for more information.
What impact will my Wi-Fi have on my connection speed?
Weak Wi-Fi signal can have a very significant impact on broadband speed. But it can be solved by installing signal boosters or purchasing a better quality router.
For the best performance situate the router in a central location, away from walls and sources of interference such as cordless phones, microwaves and fridges.
But even with a strong signal, Wi-Fi can still limit broadband speed. If your broadband Wi-Fi router is using an older type of Wi-Fi which has a data transfer rate slower than the broadband, the difference in speed can be noticeable. For the best performance use a router which supports the 802.11ac specification, and ensure that all connected devices also meet the same standard.
How fast will installation and activation be?
Broadband setup usually takes 14 days. A common cause of delays is the wait time for engineers, but not every broadband installation requires an engineer visit.