There have to be better ways to spend your spare time than rooting through broadband deals, haven't there? Well that's why we're bringing you a one-stop guide to choosing the best broadband for your home – making that bewildering set of internet deal options much easier to narrow down.
You first stop is our broadband comparison chart above. Simply pop in your postcode and use the handy set of filters to narrow down the perfect deal for you – it literally takes less than a minute.
It looks like the summer sun has gone to the internet providers' collective heads, as there are some crazy good broadband deals out there at the moment. None better than the £15 per month NOW broadband basic plan and we still have a lot of love for BT broadband and its £100 pre-paid Mastercard at a reasonable rate, too. You'll see our handpicked favourite deals for fibre (if you can get it), broadband and TV packages and cheap broadband only plans that are really impressing us this month. Keep scrolling down and you'll find our advice on what else you should consider when buying broadband – from the speed you'll need, to whether getting fibre broadband is a must for your household.
And if you're undecided as to what kind of broadband deal you need, then keep reading for some handy buying advice. Do you need superfast fibre broadband? Should you go for a cheap broadband only deal for less than £20 per month, or add TV and phone plans to your internet package? There are dozens upon dozens of combinations to pick from, with providers such as Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk all fighting for your business.
- Check your internet speed with TechRadar's broadband speed test tool
Fibre broadband deals: top 3 in the UK this month (subject to availability at your postcode)
Broadband and TV deals: top 3 in the UK this month
Broadband only deals: top 2 in the UK this month
Can I order these broadband deals over the phone?
We understand that buying broadband is a big purchase that you're going to be committed to for at least a year. If you feel more comfortable ordering over the phone, we can offer a call centre service – but only for a selected few providers:
- Sky broadband: 08000-142-334
- Virgin broadband: 08000-492-102
- TalkTalk broadband: 08000-492-103
What broadband speed do I need?
Super fast fibre broadband deals may sound appetising, but they may not be necessary for your home – especially if you want to cut costs. It could be worth considering slower, cheaper ADSL internet instead.
Broadband speeds are represented in megabits per second, or Mb. Crudely speaking, the more Mbs, the faster the broadband speed. But remember that the advertised speed is the 'average' (more on which below) and doesn't necessarily represent the actual speed you'll end up getting. That varies depending where you live.
0-12Mb This entry-level broadband speed is transmitted via an ADSL connection to your nearest BT exchange. The equivalent to just over 1MB per second, It should be fast enough for small households where only one or two people are using the internet at once. Be aware that if you stream TV, you may experience the odd interruption.
25-50Mb Where Virgin led the way, the rest followed. Now every big provider offers rapid fibre broadband. This is the sweet spot between fast speeds and good value and just the ticket for a family household where four or five members are all streaming, downloading and surfing at once.
50+Mb If you stream 4K TV or have loads of people trying to use your broadband connection at once, then it may be worth shelling out for the extra speed. It may cost you more, but you're pretty much guaranteed lag-free use – plus, the providers often sweeten the deal with added extras and rewards.
What is 'average' speed for broadband?
Since May 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority changed the requirements for how internet providers promote the speed of their service. Instead of 'up to' speeds, they must now give an 'average'.
For these purposes, average means the speed in Mb received by over 50% of their users between the peak usage hours of 8pm and 10pm in the UK. You're not guaranteed that speed though, so double check with the provider exactly what their minimum speed provisions are.
Is fibre broadband available in my area?
There's one very easy way to find out…scroll to the top of this page and input your postcode. We'll tell you straight away whether you can get fast fibre broadband – alternatively head over to our best fibre broadband deals guide for all your options and some handy buying advice.
Roughly speaking, 90% of UK homes now have the option of connecting to fibre broadband. But if you have your heart on Virgin Media fibre optic broadband, it's more like around 60%.
What contract length should I go for?
Most broadband providers lock you in for at least 12 months, with one year plans being by far the most common. That said, perhaps taking their cue from mobile phone contracts, we are now seeing some providers experimenting with longer plans, with 18 month contracts rearing their heads.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, some providers now offer short term rolling contracts. Virgin Media, for example, have 30 day plans for commitment-phobes. The downside is you'll be expected to play a larger setup fee.
When your contract comes to an end, be prepared for your monthly tariff to be hiked – especially if you were lucky enough to get a great introductory offer at the outset.
Will I have to pay anything upfront for broadband?
Possibly. Sometimes known as 'setup', 'upfront' or 'activation' fees, most of the major broadband providers ask for at least some payment when you kick off your contract, even if it's just to cover the cost of delivering your new router. The amount usually depends on what level of package you go for, but it will likely be somewhere between £10 and £60.
But plenty of providers now bucks the old trend and have scrapped their activation fee completely (TalkTalk for example), while others run frequent promotions where they temporarily scrap their upfront cost.
There may be other added extras, too, however. If you take a broadband and TV package, you might be charged for the TV set-top box – that could be totally worth it if you don't already have a device to pause and record live TV.
Do I have to pay more to have a phone line?
If you still use a home landline to make and receive calls, you're in luck – many broadband plans don't just feature a landline, but they actually include it in your monthly price.
You will have to start paying more though when you have a personalised call plan. You'll see your standard monthly bill begin to escalate when you start adding unlimited evening, daytime or international calls to the mix.