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Compare broadband deals UK 2023

Contributions by Connor Campbell

Explore the best broadband deals

The best broadband deals can be hard to find, as there are many factors to consider when picking a new provider. On average, the cost of broadband in the UK in 2023 is £26.90 per month. Switching broadband providers can be the best way to secure a more affordable contract, and thanks to the gradual expansion of fibre optic across the UK, it’s the best way to upgrade your package to faster speeds and better reliability.

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to finding the best broadband deal for you, in this broadband comparison guide, The Independent’s technology experts will run through the most commonly asked questions and queries. We consider factors like contract length, average speeds and availability to see what’s actually on offer – so you can move ahead with a broadband deal that makes sense for you.

Looking at comparison websites is the best way to compare price, speed, availability and security, among other factors. We have a selection of some of the best broadband providers below.

BT, Sky and Virgin Media are the major players to consider, with 20 million subscribers between them – and all offer a wide variety of speeds and payment plans.

Slower broadband is cheaper, though providers often offer a temporary discount for the initial length of your contract, meaning you can get more data for less. We have a good overview of the best cheap broadband deals below.

How to compare broadband deals

The best broadband deal for your home is one that suits your individual needs. There’s no shortage of broadband providers in the UK, which is why it’s important to compare deals. By comparing different broadband deals you’re more likely to find the best ones to suit your budget and speed requirements.  

The best way to compare broadband deals is to use a comparison website, as it is the easiest way to compare price, speeds and any added extras. While there are a range of broadband providers available, you should research which providers offer the best service in your area.

It’s a good idea to know what you’d like to use your broadband for. For example, if you’ll mostly be web browsing, your internet speed will not need to be as fast as it needs to be for gaming. Both gaming and streaming require fast download and upload speeds, and you should factor this into your decision when comparing broadband deals. 

Here’s our step-by-step guide to comparing broadband deals to make sure you get the best one for you.


Work out the right broadband speed

Before you sign any contracts, you need to know what your speed requirements actually are. There’s no point paying for 500Mbps if you’d be equally content with a fraction of that number. Check out the table further down this page, which gives a detailed overview of what speeds will work for what households – including the number of users, and the kind of internet usage you’re usually doing.


Compare different providers

It’s an obvious point, but if you just buy the first broadband package you see, or take whatever your existing provider is offering you, there’s a chance you’ll be missing out on a better deal elsewhere. Be sure to check deals from a few different broadband providers – Virgin Media, Plusnet, BT, TalkTalk, and so on – to get the lay of the land.


Check your home is covered

Not every provider can deliver an internet service, or a high-speed one, to every home, because they each use different aspects of the UK’s network. Urban residents usually have a good spread to choose from, but it’s worth using the postcode checkers on each provider’s website before making a final decision, as this will give you a solid answer about the best broadband in your area.

What to consider when you compare broadband deals

There are a range of factors to consider when comparing broadband deals – and it doesn’t just come down to the price.

Availability in your area: It’s important to check which broadband providers offer good connection speeds in your area. Broadband speed will decrease the further it needs to travel, so anyone living in a rural area may find their speeds are lower than quoted. Those living in urban areas, on the other hand, are likely to experience faster speeds. Using a broadband speed checker website is a reliable way to find out how fast your broadband speeds are at your current location.

Cost per month: Once you know a provider operates in your area, you can take a look at how much the broadband costs per month. This will usually be informed by the speed of your internet, what else is packaged into the deal, and how long you take out the contract for. The cheapest isn’t always best – you should take everything into consideration, not just price, before making a decision.

Set-up costs: Alongside monthly costs, you should check to make sure if there are any other additional set-up costs to be aware of.

Contact length: In tandem with cost is contract length. You may be able to get a cheaper deal if you opt for a longer contract. Standard contract lengths tend to be 12, 18 or 24 months long. 

Internet speed: The faster your internet speed, the better your loading times, and the more easily you will be able to browse the web. Faster fibre broadband is increasingly becoming available up and down the country, so it is worth checking if it is available in your area.

Download limits: You won’t automatically be able to browse the internet for an unlimited amount of time. Your broadband deal will have a data allowance that will essentially determine how much browsing you can do per month, before you start to incur extra costs. The higher the data allowance, the more browsing you can do. Unlimited data packages are common, but will be more expensive than those with a limit. So, if you are regularly streaming films and albums online, or want to download big games, you’ll need to get a broadband deal with a pretty high data allowance.

Customer service: Hopefully you won’t ever have an issue with your internet connection. But if you do, you will want the customer service on the other end to be good – which isn’t always a given with broadband companies. Using independent review sites like Ofgem can help you gauge real-life customer experience of a broadband provider’s customer service and what they think about the assistance they received.

Telephone and TV packages: While you can buy broadband as a standalone product, it can often come packaged with landline telephone and TV services. Obviously, this can make the overall cost of the deal much more expensive, so consider whether you need everything combined, or if you are just after broadband. 

Added perks and benefits: Often you can get a voucher or cashback when taking out a new broadband deal, whether that’s through a price comparison website or via the provider directly. Although you shouldn’t necessarily decide on a broadband provider solely because of the voucher you’ll receive at the start of the contract, it can be a tiebreaker between two similarly priced and speedy deals.

What broadband speed do I need?

In general, 10Mbps per person is a minimum benchmark to aim for. However, 20-30Mbps is better for streaming, 50Mbps is ideal for gaming and 100Mbps is more luxurious and should provide the best experience when engaging in intensive activities online. 

Internet needs vary hugely, and it’s important to figure out the speed requirements of your home before committing to a package. You don’t want to experience constant buffering during video calls, but you also should try not to overpay for a service you won’t make the most out of.

Here’s a general guideline to help determine the right speed for you:

  • Basic use (email, web browsing, social media): If your usage is limited to browsing the web, checking emails, and using social media, speeds up to 10Mbps might be sufficient
  • Moderate use (streaming, gaming, video calls): For streaming video in HD, participating in video calls, and online gaming, you’ll want speeds between 30Mbps to 50Mbps, especially if only a few devices are connected
  • High use (multiple devices, 4K streaming, large downloads): Households with multiple users and devices connected at once, streaming ultra HD 4K content, downloading large files, or engaging in high-resolution gaming should consider speeds of 100Mbps or higher
  • Heavy use (smart homes, frequent large uploads/downloads): For smart homes equipped with various connected devices, frequent large file uploads and downloads, and professional-level gaming or broadcasting, you might need speeds of 200Mbps or more
  • Work from home: If you work from home, especially if your work involves large file transfers, HD video conferencing, or using cloud-based services, a reliable and faster connection, typically above 50Mbps, can help prevent disruptions

It’s always a good idea to overestimate your needs slightly to ensure your broadband connection can handle peak usage and any additional devices you may acquire in the future. Also, check the actual speeds delivered in your area, as advertised speeds might not always reflect the real-world usage experience.

According to Ofcom, the average broadband speed of a home in the UK was 69.4Mbps in March 2023. In general, 10Mbps per person is a minimum benchmark, 20-30Mbps is better, 50Mbps is best, and 100Mbps or more is luxurious.

SpeedGeneral internet use*HD streaming4K streamingOnline gamingWorking from homeFor how many users
Up to 10Mbps1
1GBps +10+
* Web browsing, email, standard definition video streaming, etc

Who offers the best broadband deals in the UK?

The best broadband provider for you may not be the best provider for someone else. You will need to consider multiple factors, such as cost, speeds, customer service, and download speeds, to find the provider that best suits your needs.

sky broadband logo

Sky Broadband

Ofcom overall satisfaction score: 82 per cent

According to Ofcom, Sky Broadband customers are some of the least likely to complain, and only need to wait on the phone for around two minutes to reach an operator – it even won ‘Gold’ in Choose Broadband’s 2022 customer service awards.

Sky’s not the cheapest provider around, but it does offer a wide range of speeds and prices, and some brilliant entertainment packages for those buying a broadband and TV bundle. Its ‘Wall to Wall Wi-Fi Guarantee’ also means you’re certain to get coverage of your entire home (or, failing that, some credit paid back into your account).

virgin media logo

Virgin Media

Ofcom overall satisfaction score: 81 per cent

Virgin Media offers some of the fastest download speeds among the major UK providers, thanks to an extensive fibre optic network, making it a great choice for those after higher-than-average broadband speeds – reaching 1.1Gbps and above, compared to the 900-950Mbps that most providers cap out at. Virgin’s slowest plan starts at 50Mbps, and its step-up 132Mbps costs the same amount Sky would charge for only 61Mbps – though Ofcom states that Virgin also gets four times the number of complaints from subscribers each year.

talktalk logo


Ofcom overall satisfaction score: 78 per cent

TalkTalk is a budget broadband provider, meaning it’s strong on pricing and can be a good choice for those after a basic broadband deal or broadband and TV bundle. It also offers a wide range of speeds in theory, but faster plans aren’t widely available for a lot of areas in practice. Customer complaints are on a par with Virgin Media, but it’s comparatively quick to get a TalkTalk agent on the line (around one minute on average).

plusnet logo


Ofcom overall satisfaction score: 89 per cent

You may have heard that Plusnet’s mobile operations were closing down, but its broadband business is very much still running. While technically owned by BT, Plusnet functions as a separate provider, with very affordable tariffs and the highest level of customer satisfaction in Ofcom’s latest stats, making it a solid alternative to some of the better-known names on this list. Plusnet has been offering full fibre broadband since 2022, and can reach up to 944Mbps for heavy internet users, though it also offers speeds as low as 10Mbps for those looking for a more affordable option. 

BT logo

BT Broadband

Ofcom overall satisfaction score: 83 per cent

BT is technically the largest provider of UK broadband, since its estimated 9 million subscriber count includes Plusnet and EE too, though it also runs the Openreach broadband network, through which many other providers service their customers. It’s not the cheapest, mind, and will also charge you for delivery of your new router; those after wall-to-wall coverage in their home may need to pay an additional £10 per month, too, for a service that Sky throws in as guaranteed. If you’re happy to splurge another £7 per month, though, BT’s Hybrid Connect router will automatically connect to the EE network if your BT connection drops out, which could be a big perk.

vodafone logo


Ofcom overall satisfaction score: 83 per cent

Vodafone is a mid-sized broadband provider, with over one million subscribers in the UK. While it’s customer service satisfaction is distinctly average for the major broadband providers, it does offer a broad sweep of broadband speeds, from its popular Fibre 1 and Fibre 2 plans (38-67Mbps) to the high-end Full Fibre options (up to 910Mbps). All Vodafone broadband contracts are now 24 months long, making it hard to exit or switch in the short term, though anyone also on a Vodafone phone contract will get a small discount for their monthly broadband bill.

ee logo

EE Broadband

Ofcom overall satisfaction score: 85 per cent

At a maximum 1,600Mbps, EE offers the fastest advertised download speeds of any UK provider, beating even Virgin Media, so is the one to check out if you have some heavy-duty internet needs. As a provider owned by BT, EE generally has good coverage across the country, and if you sign up for its Fibre 67 package, you can even upgrade for free to full fibre speeds if it becomes available in your area at a later date. You can often find an EE broadband deal with three months’ free usage, too, while average wait times on the EE helpline are pretty low on average (just one minute).

now broadband

Now Broadband

Ofcom overall satisfaction score: N/A

Now is a straightforward broadband provider, with three set plans – ‘Fab Fibre’, ‘Super Fibre’ and ‘Brilliant Broadband’ – that average 63Mbps, 36Mbps and 11Mbps, respectively. So there’s no high-speed option here, compared to the likes of Virgin or EE, but it’s pretty good value if you can get the 63Mbps option in your area. There’s even an option to opt out of contract restrictions for an up-front £60 fee, making it easy to flexibly cancel at any time – and Ofcom’s stats suggest it’s very fast to get a Now call centre agent on the phone, with an average of just 51 seconds.

shell energy

Shell Energy

Ofcom overall satisfaction score: N/A

Ofcom cites Shell Energy as the worst offender for long wait times on the phone – over eight minutes on average, with twice the number of complaints per subscriber of most other providers. However, Shell does offer 12-month contracts for those who don’t want to be locked in for a full two years, and caters to smaller data plans (as little as 11Mbps) for those with limited internet needs.

UK broadband providers compared

ProviderBest download speedMinimum download speedAverage upload speedMin contract lengthSet up costOfcom score
Virgin Media1,130Mbps66Mbps40Mbps18 months£082%
BT900Mbps18Mbps8Mbps24 months£0-£11.9983%
TalkTalk944Mbps35Mbps41Mbps18 months£076%
Sky900Mbps25Mbps36Mbps18 months£582%
Vodafone910Mbps18.2Mbps39Mbps24 months£083
Plusnet900Mbps0.4Mbps41Mbps24 months£089%
EE1,600Mbps18Mbps37Mbps24 months£085%
Now63Mbps11Mbps10Mbps12 months£10N/A
Shell Energy944Mbps11Mbps32Mbps12 months£0N/A
Information correct as of 14/11/23

Switching broadband deals is a relatively simple task. You can switch broadband deals by following these three steps. 


Check you’re out of contract

You can switch broadband providers at any time in your contract. However, if you’re still in contract with your current provider, you’ll most likely face a pricey cancellation fee. You should first make sure you’re no longer within the minimum terms of your current contract with your broadband provider. You can find out this information by either contracting the provider’s customer service or by checking your original confirmation email. 


Use a comparison website

Use a comparison website to find a broadband deal. Enter your postcode into a comparison tool and you’ll gain instant access to the best deals available in your location.


Choose a broadband deal 

Choose your broadband deal and pick a date for your service to go live. You might be required to arrange for an engineer to visit. Most providers will take care of the whole switch, as well as serve notice to your current provider and send you a brand new router via post. Your old provider will most likely send you instructions for returning your old router.

What is broadband and what are the best broadband connections for me?

Broadband is a high-speed Internet connection that is always on and offers significantly faster speeds than the older dial-up connection, mainly because it uses a wider band of frequencies to transmit information. This allows more data to be carried more quickly. Broadband has become a critical part of daily life, facilitating everything from simple web browsing to streaming high-definition videos, to gaming, and even working from home.

The most common types of broadband connections available are:

  • ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line): This type of broadband uses existing telephone lines to provide internet access, making it widely available. This variety is often the most economical choice available, but it typically offers the least rapid speeds, with performance hovering around 10-11Mbps
  • Fibre optic broadband: Known for its high speeds, fibre optic broadband transmits data using light over special cables. It’s typically faster than ADSL and can handle higher volumes of traffic. Fibre optic broadband connections come in two main varieties:
    • Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) involves a fibre optic cable running to a local telephone cabinet and then traditional copper telephone wires connecting from the cabinet to your home. This type of connection is the more common variant of fibre optic broadband, accessible to over 90 per cent of homes in the UK, offering speeds from 36-68Mbps.
    • Fibre to the premises (FTTP) often referred to as full fibre broadband, extends a fibre optic cable directly from the service provider to your home. This direct connection provides substantially faster speeds, ranging from 100Mbps to in excess of 1Gbps. However, this full fibre option isn’t as widely available and tends to come at a higher cost.
  • Mobile broadband: This is provided by cellular networks using 3G, 4G, or the latest 5G technologies. Mobile broadband allows for internet connectivity on the go and is accessed through mobile dongles, smartphones, or dedicated mobile hotspots
  • Satellite broadband: This form of broadband is especially useful in remote areas where ground-based infrastructure is not present. A satellite dish is used to send and receive signals from a satellite in Earth’s orbit. It tends to be slower, more expensive and have limited data
  • Cable broadband: Delivered through coaxial cables, the same as used for cable television, this type of broadband offers high-speed Internet access and is often bundled with other services like TV and landline phone service.

Each type of broadband connection has its particular advantages and may be better suited to different users depending on their location, budget, and speed requirements.

How fast is my broadband?

Using a broadband speed test website is the best way to check how fast your broadband speeds are. It can check the download and upload speeds and the ‘ping’ – how long it takes for data to be transferred back and forth. Your current broadband provider may have its own speed checker on its website, otherwise, check out

Do I need fibre broadband?

Your need for fibre broadband will depend on your internet usage – a busy household with multiple people engaging in intensive tasks like gaming, streaming, or video calls will be more likely to require fibre broadband than someone living alone.

Fibre broadband – or, more accurately, fibre optic broadband – uses thin cables made of glass or plastic to send rays of light across large distances. This is much more efficient than traditional broadband cables, which transmit electrical signals through an insulated copper core. 

Major broadband providers these days will offer fibre optic, due to its faster connections, increased reliability, and signal quality over large distances compared to traditional cable. So, get if you can: the fastest broadband deals use so-called ‘full fibre’ connections, whereas slower ‘fibre’ plans will use a mix of fibre optic and copper-wire cables.


Fibre optic broadband does not yet have the same scope as traditional broadband across the UK, meaning that not all homes will have access to it. If you want to check if you can use fibre optic broadband in your home, check through the Openreach website, or via your broadband provider’s portal when signing up.


Currently, 52 per cent of UK homes can make use of fibre optic broadband, according to 2023 estimates from Ofcom.

What’s 4G and 5G home broadband?

4G and 5G home broadband provides broadband speeds without the need for a landline or fibre optic/copper cables connecting to your home; it works in the same way as the cellular data that connects smartphones to the internet on the go. 

Since 2019, 5G  (5th Generation) has been the leading standard for mobile data connections, thanks to faster upload/download speeds, increased efficiency, and lower latency compared to previous iterations. It’s still common to find yourself with a 4G connection sometimes, though, as 5G coverage isn’t quite as widespread outside of urban areas.

How can I choose the best broadband for me?

Every person’s broadband needs are different, depending on who’s using that broadband, and for what. Here’s a list of things to keep in mind when weighing up which internet provider to use.

  • How many people are using it at once? Your broadband speed is calculated per second, meaning that 30Mbps can be perfectly sufficient or nowhere near enough, depending on how many people are using the internet at one time – streaming a TV show on the iPad can impact the call quality on your laptop, and vice versa. Consider how much overlap you and other users in your home are going to have, and go from there.
  • What are you using it for? Not all online activity is created equal. Video streaming, whether it be Netflix or Zoom calls with your team, uses a lot more data per second than answering emails or editing text documents in Google Drive. You can afford to be more conservative with your internet estimates if you’re mainly doing the latter, but anyone who’s in meetings all day won’t want to suffer from poor video and audio quality because they opted for a cheaper plan.
  • Do you work from home? Internet usage is a very different question if your home is also your office, as it means you’re likely using your broadband throughout the day, instead of just brief spikes in the morning and evening. 
  • What’s your budget? If money is no object, there’s little harm in shooting for the moon with a 1Gbps plan that could see a dozen users happily streaming together with no issue. But most of us need to be a little smarter, and it’s worth considering whether a £20, £50, or £100 monthly plan feels feasible for your current financial circumstances.
  • Is it a discounted plan? Providers may get you in on an introductory offer for the first year or two, and hope you’ll stick with it even as the price increases on a renewal. Make sure you’re aware of what the true price of the plan is, and whether you’d want to pay or cancel when that time comes. A word of advice, though: you can sometimes haggle with a provider to keep you on a reduced rate instead of losing your custom entirely.
  • Can you afford a price increase? Your monthly broadband bill can increase even during the course of your contract, with annual price rises tied to the rate of inflation, so make sure you can afford a few percentage points increase on the cost of your broadband plan before committing. In 2023, some providers hiked prices by up to 14.4 per cent in response to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation.

What’s the best contract length to go for?

The best contract length for your broadband will depend on how long you plan to stay at your current home and how long you want to stay with one company. 

Like a smartphone plan, you will usually pay a monthly fee for broadband, with most contracts lasting between 18 and 24 months before renewing, although the exact length and options depend on the provider.

It’s worth noting that early cancellation usually means you have to pay the remainder of the contract in full, or at least a cancellation charge that covers the next few months. So we advise completing your contracts where possible, so as not to be hit by a sudden expense.

When a broadband contract ends, it will usually renew automatically using the payment details you gave when signing up. If you don’t wish to renew, or your payment details are out of date, you’ll likely need to log in to your account and set those preferences. Often, a provider will offer a discounted rate for the duration of the contract, but up the price as you renew, so it can be a good time to swap providers, or ask your provider about alternative plans you can switch to.

If you’re not sold on the idea of a long-term commitment or need broadband for less than 12 months, you can also sign up for monthly rolling contracts, sometimes called no-contract broadband deals. However, these plans usually come with a higher monthly price and more expensive set-up fees at the start, so it’s important to consider if a longer contract would be better for your wallet.

Do I need to pay for a phone line or landline to get broadband?

No. Gone are the days when a landline and broadband always went in tandem, as many homes these days ditch a tethered phone line and just make use of their smartphone (which can use the broadband for online calls too).

However, depending on where you live and what kind of connection is available in your area, you might still need to pay for line rental – this is usually the case if you can only get your internet through the old copper cables, which are also part of the phone line.

Some providers, like Virgin Media, still offer bundles that combine broadband and phone or broadband and TV – all for a single monthly price – and might even throw in a phone line for free as part of other ongoing offers. But it’s very possible to only buy one of the three, or a specific combination that doesn’t include all of them.

Frequently asked questions about comparing the best broadband deals

Henry St Leger

Tech Writer

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former news and features Editor at TechRadar, where he specialised in consumer technology, software, and home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, soundbars, and smart speakers.

He has been writing about technology and related topics for over six years. His work for the Independent Advisor focuses on cyber security and internet-connected software including VPNs.

Henry has written for a wide number of prominent websites including NBC News, Healthline, The Times, Edge, T3, iMore, and GamesRadar.

Rachel Sadler

Staff Writer

Rachel Sadler is an experienced journalist and content writer who has been writing content for print and online media for five years.

Rachel is the Independent Advisor’s resident VPN expert, with a remit to find the best VPNs out there through thorough testing and research. She spends most of her time vigorously testing VPN services for performance and security features to provide accurate and trustworthy buying guides and reviews. On a weekly basis, she updates guides, and reviews where necessary ensuring prices and information are correct and up to date, as well as keeping her ear to the ground for all the latest news and advancements in VPNs and cyber security.

She also writes content around renewable energy and how UK homes can become energy-efficient by installing solar panels. Rachel researches which solar panels are best for your home with a focus on how homeowners can save money with solar panels and generate enough electricity to power their homes.

With a focus on home insulation, Rachel spends time researching how windows can improve energy efficiency, the style of your home and reduce bills. She focuses research on which materials are best suited for durability, maintenance and price to create well-informed guides and features.

Rachel holds a BA in English language and creative writing and started her career writing for some of Hong Kong’s leading lifestyle publishers, Sassy Hong Kong, Localiiz and Bay Media, where she reported on island-wide news. When she’s not writing; she’s intrigued by all things film, food, and art.

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