What’s unlimited broadband?
Unlimited broadband is an internet service that has no data usage limits put in place to restrict you.
It means you can download, upload, carry out online gaming, or stream as much as you like. You’ll never need to worry about extra fees at the end of the month.
It’s cheap and widely available on many standard fibre optic and full fibre tariffs for new customers, regardless of whether you opt for a 12 month contract, 18 month contract or 24 month contract. In this guide, we’ll explain why you should get an unlimited package.
Should I get an unlimited broadband deal?
We recommend that everyone gets an unlimited internet package. It’s available from a huge range of providers with a vast choice of packages. In fact, every deal you find on our site will be unlimited!
Unlimited broadband is also cheap. You don’t tend to pay anything extra for this privilege. While a data-capped package was once a good way to save money, you can now find unlimited standard broadband deals with a monthly price around £20. And with that, you never have to worry about extra broadband charges on your bill or monitoring your data usage.
What you need to keep in mind is that unlimited broadband doesn’t always mean what you think it does. Let’s delve into that a little more.
What's truly unlimited broadband?
It might be confusing for some people when you see examples of some broadband being unlimited but others being “truly unlimited”.
We use this term because while most broadband is unlimited, some packages do still have other restrictions.
This won’t matter for the majority of customers. But if you’re planning on using broadband for anything which might be affected by traffic management or fair use — such as regular large downloads or file sharing — you’ll want to make sure you choose a truly unlimited deal.
It’s not always obvious whether a broadband deal is “truly unlimited” or not. When comparing deals, you have to look out for mentions of traffic management and fair usage policies.
What's traffic management?
Traffic management is where a provider controls the flow of data over its network at peak times, which can lead to reduced speeds for specific apps.
It may be put in place to make sure that popular apps like Skype and Facetime continue working during the busiest time of day. Or it might be used to prevent a few users from consuming too much bandwidth by ‘throttling’ the speed and slowing down certain activities.
Traffic management is most likely to affect file sharing, though each provider has its own policies. You’ll have to read the small print to see if it’ll affect you.
To learn more, read our dedicated guide to traffic management.
What are fair usage policies?
A fair use policy (FUP) can be a limit on how much of your broadband is allowed to be used, even when the package is advertised as unlimited.
They’re generally meant as a way for the provider to manage internet users who frequently use a lot of data in comparison to the rest of its customers.
FUPs are deliberately vague and don’t state a specific data usage figure. If they did, the provider wouldn’t be allowed (by Ofcom or the ASA) to call its service unlimited.
You won’t know you’ve exceeded a FUP until the provider tells you. Though, as a general rule, most broadband users 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 don’t have any fair usage restrictions. But it’s not something that will be triggered by web browsing, Netflix, social media, or anything else a typical household does with their internet connection.
For further help, we have a guide to fair usage policies that goes into more detail.
It’s important to emphasise that most people don’t need to worry about traffic management or fair usage policies, but knowing about them can help you make an informed choice.
Do I need truly unlimited broadband?
Generally, a truly unlimited plan isn’t necessary. An unlimited plan will be good enough for most people. If the connection is 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, you might want to go truly unlimited. And there are loads of providers, so you'll be spoilt for choice!
Which providers offer unlimited broadband plans?
You’ll find a huge choice of unlimited deals on Broadband Genie, including unlimited fibre and unlimited broadband and TV.
|Truly Unlimited Broadband ***||Unlimited Broadband **||Unlimited with fair usage policy *|
|Virgin Media||Direct Save||Fibrus|
*** Truly unlimited broadband providers
These providers offer broadband plans without a traffic management policy, fair usage caps or speed throttling. Some of these providers may still apply restrictions to older broadband packages or for customers outside their network, but this won’t affect the majority of subscribers.
** Unlimited broadband providers
These providers offer broadband plans without fair usage caps
* Unlimited broadband providers with fair usage policy
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.
To find out the availability of unlimited broadband packages in your area, enter your postcode or address into our free home broadband deals checker.
Broadband Genie deals checker
What download speed can I get with unlimited broadband services?
Just as unlimited broadband is offered by all the usual providers, you’ll be able to sign up to a range of broadband speeds that suit your needs:
- ADSL: Suitable for an individual streaming or a couple of people browsing. Downloading large files like games will take a long time.
- Entry-level fibre: Superfast fibre broadband with download speeds of around 35 Mbps. Suitable for a small household streaming or gaming.
- Faster fibre: Even faster fibre broadband. Average speed is in the region of 50-70Mb and suitable for a larger household.
- Ultrafast: Lightning-fast connections suitable for the most demanding of households that will be doing lots of simultaneous downloading or streaming. These kinds of deals can offer average download speeds in excess of 100Mb.
For more help on this topic, visit our ‘easy guide to broadband speeds’.
Frequently Asked Questions about unlimited broadband
Can I get unlimited phone calls and broadband packages?
Can I get unlimited broadband without a phone line?
It's possible to sign up for broadband without a phone line - and again almost all those deals will be unlimited. You can also get a broadband connection without line rental using provider, such as Hyperoptic or Community Fibre.
Most other providers require you to have an active phone line for you to use their service. If you don't currently have a line, home phone line activation can cost a little more. There’s usually a setup fee of £60 and might take an additional two weeks.
However, all of these providers and deals do still require a landline of some kind, even if they don’t include phone service. If you want wireless unlimited broadband, the best option would be an unlimited 4G or 5G service from Three or Vodafone.
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.
Can I get unlimited Wi-Fi?
Almost all home broadband deals include a free Wi-Fi router, including all of the unlimited providers listed above, so you can use Wi-Fi broadband at home as much as you like.
Outside the home, you can use public Wi-Fi hotspots. Some providers include free Wi-Fi access with their home broadband deals. However, these will not necessarily be unlimited like your home broadband, so check the small print to find out if they have any restrictions.
Most broadband providers do offer truly unlimited broadband, but even those that don’t are very unlikely to limit you. Some providers have fair usage policies, whilst others use traffic management. Both of these things can affect how you use the broadband, so always be aware and check the small print if you think they might impact you.
Unlimited broadband is offered by most providers, including some mobile phone companies. You can even get contracts that don’t require a phone line.
Whatever you need, unlimited broadband is a great choice for just about everybody. And it's pretty much everywhere these days too!