What is unlimited broadband?
Unlimited broadband is an internet service that has no data usage limits to restrict how much you can use the connection.
It enables you to download, upload, stream, game, tweet, and post as much as you like, and never have to worry about extra fees at the end of the month.
It is cheap and widely available, and this guide will explain why you should always get an unlimited package.
Should I get unlimited internet?
We recommend that everyone gets an unlimited broadband deal.
Unlimited home broadband is available from a huge range of providers with a vast choice of packages, everything from cheap deals, to offers with free gifts and rewards, to the very fastest fibre-optic broadband.
It is also cheap. While a data-capped package was once a good way to save money, you can now find unlimited deals from under £20 per month. And with that, you never have to worry about extra broadband charges on your bill.
What is truly unlimited broadband?
Sometimes you may see a broadband package referred to as being “truly unlimited”. What this means is that the service not only has unlimited data but also does not have traffic management or a fair use policy.
We use this term because while most broadband is unlimited, some packages do have other restrictions.
Very often this will not matter for the majority of customers, but if you’re planning on using broadband for anything which might be affected by such limitations you’ll want to make sure you choose a truly unlimited deal.
What is traffic management?
Traffic management is where a provider controls the flow of data over its network at peak times, which can reduce the speed.
It may be implemented to ensure that popular communication tools like Skype and Facetime continue working during the busiest time of day. Or it might be used to prevent a small number of users from consuming a large amount of bandwidth by ‘throttling’ the speed and slowing down certain activities.
Traffic management is most likely to affect file sharing, though each ISP has its own policies so you’ll have to read the small print to see whether traffic management is going to impact you.
To learn more, read our dedicated guide to traffic management.
What are fair usage policies?
A Fair Usage Policy (FUP) can be a limit on how much a broadband connection is allowed to be used, even when the package is advertised as unlimited.
They are generally meant as a way for the ISP to manage users who frequently consume a very large amount of data in comparison to the rest of its customers.
FUPs are deliberately vague and do not state a specific data usage figure (otherwise the provider would not be allowed to call its service unlimited). You won’t know you’ve exceeded a FUP until the provider tells you, though as a general rule the vast majority of broadband customers will never breach the limits of a FUP.
Like traffic management, you’ll have to read the small print and decide whether a provider’s FUP terms are likely to be a problem. If so, you’ll find plenty of ISPs that do not have any fair usage restrictions.
For further help, we have a guide to fair usage policies which goes into more detail.
Do I need truly unlimited broadband?
Truly unlimited plans are less essential than unlimited plans. If the connection is going to be used for typical household activities — such as web browsing, social media, gaming, and music and video streaming — it's more than likely you will be fine with any unlimited broadband.
If you suspect your usage is likely to be heavier than this (e.g. lots of large downloads, and especially frequent use of file sharing), you might want to go truly unlimited. And there are loads of providers, so you'll be spoilt for choice!
Unlimited providers: which ISPs offer unlimited internet?
You’ll find a huge choice of unlimited deals on Broadband Genie. Here are all the providers offering unlimited internet:
Truly unlimited providers
The following providers offer broadband plans without traffic management or fair usage caps. Note that some providers may still apply restrictions to older packages or for customers outside their network, but this will not affect the majority of subscribers.
Unlimited broadband providers
The following ISPs offer unlimited broadband deals, but also have traffic management and/or fair usage policies. See our broadband provider reviews for more details.
What download speed can I get with unlimited broadband services?
Going for an unlimited deal doesn't mean you need to compromise on speed. You'll find unlimited broadband deals offering the full range of internet speeds.
- ADSL (~10Mb): Suitable for an individual streaming, or a couple of people browsing. Downloading large files (such as games) will take a long time.
- Entry-level fibre (~30Mb-50Mb): Superfast broadband with download speeds suitable for a small household streaming, or gaming. This is our recommended minimum.
- Faster fibre (~60Mb): Even faster broadband. Speeds are suitable for a large household.
- Ultrafast (100Mb+): Lightning-fast connections suitable for the most demanding of households that will be doing lots of simultaneous downloading or streaming.
See our guide to getting the right broadband connection speed for more.
Frequently Asked Questions about unlimited broadband
Can I get TV and phone with unlimited internet?
Yes! Unlimited broadband and phone bundles are available from all the providers listed above. You can get unlimited broadband and TV bundles from the following ISPs:
- Virgin Media
Can I get unlimited broadband without a phone line?
Virgin Media and BT offer unlimited broadband without a phone line. You can also get broadband without a phone using an FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) provider such as Hyperoptic or Community Fibre.
Most other providers require you to pay phone line rental in order to use their service. If you don't currently have a line, home phone line activation can cost a little more (usually up to £60) and might take an additional two weeks.
Could I use unlimited mobile broadband?
Unlimited mobile broadband is available from Three and Vodafone. You can also find smartphone contracts with unlimited data, and if your network permits it you can tether a smartphone and use it as a modem.