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Best broadband deals UK 2016: Fastest, cheapest deals

Looking to change broadband provider or simply want to know how your broadband compares to others? You’re in the right place to find out, as we bring you the best broadband deals available in the UK right now and help you decide which broadband deal is best for you to help you get the cheapest broadband possible.

NOTE: It’s important to check that the broadband provider you’re interested in can cover your area. You might be surprised to find that a provider that a friend who lives just a few miles away is with might not be able to provide broadband for your home. Most providers offer a tool on their website that’ll help you check.

Best broadband deals UK: Fastest broadband deals

Virgin is currently offering its very fast and reliable unlimited 50Mbps fibre optic broadband at just £8 per month for 6 months, after which it’ll cost you £19 per month. You’ll need to pay £17.99 per month in addition to that £8, but that’s for the Virgin Phone line rental. There’s also a £9.99 activation fee. Click here to view this deal.

It’s by no means the cheapest option, but the 50Mbps internet speed is faster than most options offered by rival providers. The 50Mbps internet speed is ideal if you live alone or as a couple, but if you share your home with a bigger family you might want to increase that to 100Mbps or 200Mbps.

For 100Mbps, the current online Virgin deal is £13 per month for 6 months and then £24 per month plus that £17.99 per month line rental. Click here to view this deal.

The 200Mb option is the top of the range and can be used by more than four people. It’ll cost £21 per month for 6 months and then £32 per month after that, in addition to the £16.99 per month line rental. Click here to view this deal.

We’d recommend Virgin if you’re looking for a fast internet. Virgin has won many awards for its broadband, including USwitch awards for Best Broadband Provider 2016 and Best Customer Rated Broadband 2016, and most recently the Broadband Genie award for Best Broadband Provider 2016, Most Reliable Broadband Provider 2016, Fastest Provider 2016, Customer Speed Satisfaction 2016.

Plus, if you’re looking for a broadband bundle that includes TV there are some more offers available on Virgin’s website here.

Best broadband deals UK: Cheapest broadband deals

If you’re not so worried about your internet’s speed but are more concerned about its price, you might be interested in some of these other broadband deals.

Right now, in partnership with DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 3, Sky is hosting a Sky Broadband Big Sale event. You can get Sky Broadband Unlimited free for 12 months, after which it’ll cost you just £10 per month plus Sky Line Rental at £17.40 per month from the start of the contract. That’s for 17Mbps download speeds and offers a £75 MS voucher too. Click here to view this deal.

If you want the faster 38Mb internet option from Sky, you can get that for £5 for 12 months but it’s only 25GB per month instead of being unlimited. Like the previous offer, it’ll be £10 per month after the 12 months is over and there’s a £17.40 per month line rental fee too. Click here to view this deal.

The unlimited 38Mbps option is available for £10 per month for 12 months and then £20 per month with the £17.40 line rental. Click here to view this deal.

If you do decide that you want to opt for Sky TV in addition to the broadband package, there are TV bundles starting from £20 per month, and you’ll get a £25 or £50 reward. Find out more about Sky’s TV bundles here.

You can get free unlimited Plusnet broadband for the first 12 months, then from £9.99 per month after that on an 18-month contract. You’ll have to pay an additional £16.99 per month line rental, though. This gets you up to 17Mbps speeds. Click here to view this deal.

Plusnet may not provide the fastest broadband available, but it too has some outstanding qualities that helped it win Broadband Genie awards for Best Value Provider 2016 and Most Recommended Provider 2016.

TalkTalk also offers cheap broadband. You can get unlimited broadband for free for 12 months, plus £17.70 per month line rental, going up to £7.50 per month when the 12 months is over. That’s for speeds of 17Mbps, or there’s a free for 12 months option for 38Mb (although that’ll increase to £17.50 after 12 months). Plus, at time of writing TalkTalk is also offering a £50 Love2shop voucher when you sign up online. Click here to view this deal.

Also offering a cheap broadband deal is EE, which currently has a deal that gets you unlimited broadband for £1 per month for 12 months, after which it’ll cost you £9.95 per month if you choose to continue. That’s in addition to £17.50 per month line rental (£15.75 if you pay up front). Click here to view this deal.

Like the others in this cheap deals section, you’ll get speeds of up to 17Mbps, but additional options include a £9.95 per month for 18 months contract for 38Mbps or a £19.95 per month for 18 months option for 76Mbps. Click here to view this deal.

Best broadband deals UK: Best broadband for sport

If you’re interested in sport, you might like in BT’s broadband packages, which include BT’s Sport Pack.

We’d strongly recommend opting for an unlimited plan if you can afford it, so one of the cheapest unlimited options that includes the BT Sport Pack is the 17Mbps deal for £5 per month for 12 months plus £17.99 per month line rental. At time of writing you’ll also get a £50 prepaid MasterCard with this offer. Click here to view this deal.

If you want faster internet, there are also BT’s Infinity fibre broadband packages available. The 38Mb unlimited package with BT Sport Pack and a £100 prepaid MasterCard is £10 per month for 12 months plus £17.99 per month line rental, but you’ll also have to pay a £49 Infinity activation fee. Click here to view this deal.

Finally, there’s a 76Mbps unlimited option with BT Sport Pack and a £100 prepaid MasterCard for £25 per month for 12 months plus £17.99 line rental. Click here to view this deal.

BT also offers some TV and broadband bundles starting at £25 per month, which you can view here.

Best worst places to live for broadband in 2016 UK has published the results of its own year-long speed tests survey in which it notes the five best and worst places to live in the UK for broadband access.

Best broadband towns UK

Best broadband towns 2016 UK

Worst broadband towns UK

Worst broadband towns 2016 UK

Best broadband ISP 2016 UK

Broadband Genie has recently announced the results of its Home Broadband Survey 2016, which takes into account the views of more than 6,000 UK broadband users as well as a panel of experts, including our very own Editorial Director Matt Egan.

Virgin Media was crowned best broadband provider 2016, followed by Plusnet in second and Sky in third. Read on to see which ISPs were victorious in other parts of the survey, and see where your broadband provider ranks.

Best Broadband Provider 2016

1. Virgin Media
2. Plusnet
3. Sky
4. EE
5. BT
6. TalkTalk

Best Customer Care 2016

1. Sky
2. Virgin Media
3. Plusnet
4. EE
5. BT
6. TalkTalk

Most Reliable Broadband Provider 2016

1. Virgin Media
2. Plusnet
3. Sky
4. BT
5. EE
6. TalkTalk

Best Technical Support 2016

1. Sky
2. Virgin Media
3. Plusnet
4. BT
5. EE
6. TalkTalk

Best Value Provider 2016

1. Plusnet
2. EE
3. Sky
4. Virgin Media
5. TalkTalk
6. BT

Most Recommended Provider 2016

1. Plusnet
2. Virgin Media
3. Sky
4. EE
5. BT
6. TalkTalk

Best Home Wi-Fi Router 2016

1. BT
2. Virgin Media
3. Sky
4. EE
5. TalkTalk
6. Plusnet

Fastest Provider 2016

1. Virgin Media
2. BT
3. Zen
4. Plusnet
5. Eclipse
6. TalkTalk

Customer Speed Satisfaction 2016

1. Virgin Media
2. Sky
3. Plusnet
4. BT
5. EE
6. TalkTalk

Best Budget Provider 2016

1. Fuel

Best Bundled Provider 2016

1. Sky

Most Innovative Provider 2016

1. Relish

Best Streaming TV Service 2016

1. Netflix

Best Catch-up Service 2016

1. BBC iPlayer

Read on to see the results of our own in-depth home broadband testing with Broadband Genie in 2014.

Which is the best broadband provider in the UK? We asked more than 10,000 UK consumers and a panel of experts to find out. Here we reveal the fastest ISP in the UK, the cheapest ISP in the UK, and the best ISP in the UK. Looking to change broadband provider, or simply want to know how good is your ISP? You’re in the right place to find out. (Visit Broadband Advisor for more.)

Broadband Britain has come a long way in the past decade. It has a long way to go still.

These days a significant chunk of the UK populace expects their houses to be hooked up to fast and reliable web connectivity, in the same way they expect gas, water and electricity to be readily available. And rightly so: we bet that plenty of you use the internet much more than you pick up your landline and place a call. Today we want to do more than ever online, everything from banking and filing a tax return to downloading movies and streaming radio.

That’s the theory at least. But whenever we write a story about faster broadband being spread to areas of our island we are guaranteed to meet with howls of protest from those living outside Broadband Britain’s faster highways. For a significant minority the idea of stable and fast broadband remains just an idea.

We wanted to find out just how the UK is doing in terms of broadband provision. To take the temperature of this nation’s broadband users, and to find out which are the best ISPs. Best for innovation, performance and value. And the best at providing customer service when things do go wrong, as they do.

As consumer tech experts we partnered with Broadband Genie, an impartial, independent, and consumer-focused commercial broadband comparison service. Together we engaged an independent survey company (OnPoll) to survey 3,000 broadband users, chosen at random, in late 2013 and early 2014. We asked those users how happy they were with their ISP. We got them to test the speed and reliability of their connections, and found out other valuable tidbits, such as how much they were paying, and for what exactly.

We also convened a panel of experts incorporating editors from PC Advisor and Broadband Genie, as well as broadband industry insiders. And finally we asked the readers of PC Advisor what they thought of UK broadband provision now and in the future, using a series of polls each of which garnered more than 3,000 respondents.

All told then more than 10,000 UK broadband users have contributed to the data we are about to share. Combined with the expertise of PC Advisor, Broadband Genie and our panel of broadband industry experts this gives us a unique snapshot of Broadband Britain in 2014.

Here we’ll examine UK consumers’ experience of broadband, and what we hope for in the future. And we’ll also reward excellence in UK broadband, crowning the best ISPs for speed, reliability, innovation, customer satisfaction and value. (See all our broadband buying advice.)

You can read Broadband Genie’s Broadband Report here.

You may also be interested in our companion pieces, How good is public Wi-Fi? We test The Cloud, BT and O2; UK’s best mobile networks tested and Best mobile platform for working on the move?.

What you think of UK broadband provision

Our survey of 3,000 broadband users gave us data on the following ISPs: BT, Virgin Media, Sky Broadband (including O2 Broadband), PlusNet, EE Broadband (formerly Orange Broadband), TalkTalk, Be Broadband, Tesco, Post Office Broadband and Primus. One or two smaller ISPs such as Karoo and Madasafish were included, but the sample sizes were so small we couldn’t include them in the collated results – a shame, as both of those mentioned performed well.

Of our 3,000 respondents the majority (68 percent) were on ADSL broadband. Interestingly, however, that leaves just shy of 20 percent on fibre broadband, and around 12 percent with cable.

Encouragingly only 12 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t recommend their broadband supplier. 20 percent were neutral on this, but 51 percent would recommend their ISP as ‘satisfactory’ and 17 percent went as far as to describe their ISP as ‘top rate’.

So, if in general we seem to be getting happier with our broadband, let’s take a look at what really matters to you when you are choosing an ISP.

Broadband SpeedWe asked PC Advisor readers, ‘What’s most important to you when choosing a home broadband ISP?‘ Of 3,740 respondents, a massive 57 percent chose ‘Speed’. The next highest answer was ‘Price’ with 28 percent of the vote. The other answers were supported only by small numbers: 5 percent chose ‘Customer service’, 3 percent each selected ‘Tech Support’, ‘Bundled Services’ and ‘Other’.

And if that is what matters now, here’s what PC Advisor readers think will be important over 2014. We asked ‘What will be the most important broadband development of 2014?’ Over one third of the 3,108 respondents (35 percent) said ‘Home broadband becomes cheaper than ever’. The next biggest answer was ‘Rural broadband upgrades’, with a quarter of the votes. Just shy of one in five (18 percent) said ‘Expansion of 4G mobile broadband coverage’ was most important, 12 percent chose ‘Wider availability of ultrafast FTTH broadband’, and 9 percent said the ‘Announcement of 5G mobile broadband’ was the most important development likely to happen in broadband this year.

So that’s what you think is important in the world of UK broadband. Now let’s take a look at the best of the current crop of ISPs.

The UK’s best broadband ISPs of 2014

Plusnet and Virgin did well across all categories. For instance, when we asked ‘would you recommend your Broadband Provider’, Plusnet tied with Virgin to achieve the best overall ranking. But the picture was positive across the board. For instance, although around a third of Tesco Broadband customers were undecided as to whether they would recommend their ISP, only in the cases of Primus and Be Broadband did a third of respondents actively say they wouldn’t recommend their provider.

Table: would you recommend your ISP?


Would you recommend ISP?


Get Virgin broadband | Get Plusnet broadband

So let’s have a look at why those ISPs attained those results. It was a similar story when it came to customer care, with only Be and Primus failing to get half of their customers to say customer service was excellent or at least satisfactory (and even then Be’s 47 percent is close enough). Indeed, we were delighted to see four providers had more than 60 percent wholly satisfied customers. And the winner? Step forward once again Plusnet.

Table: How good is your ISP’s customer care?


Broadband Customer Care


Another key factor is the price you pay to receive such service. Here Plusnet was again the winner, its customers paying an average of only £13 a month for their broadband. The overall average was a little under £18, with TalkTalk deserving of an honourable mention as the only other provider charging less than £15. Virgin Media shows that you get what you pay for, with an average cost of over £20, beaten only by Be Broadband, which looks expensive in this company.

TABLE: How much do you pay for your broadband, excluding line rental? (In pounds, per month)


Price of UK broadband


Get Plusnet broadband

As we discovered when we questioned PC Advisor readers (keep reading for more on that), reliability and speed are extremely important things when you are considering your choice of ISP. And in terms of reliability, Virgin Media is the best of the best, with a staggering 80 percent approval rate, and fewer than 10 percent of customers left unsatisfied. Plusnet again kept up its strong showing with a credible second place.

TABLE: Is your connection reliable?


Reliable Connection?


Get Virgin Media

And what then, of speed, the most important factor for UK broadband users when selecting an ISP. We measured this two ways, both in terms of customer satisfaction and the speed tests the survey respondents submitted.

In the case of the former, once again Virgin Media leads the way, with a whopping 82 percent of customers expressing their happiness with the rapid internet fired down cables to their homes. BT with its fibre networks also made a strong showing here. Another fibre operator, Plusnet, also performed well here.

TABLE: Are you happy with your broadband speed?


Broadband speed

These results were repeated when we looked at the speed tests themselves. Virgin Media took the award for fastest broadband, as befits the network that offers the fastest advertised speeds in the country. Plusnet was a close second, with BT just behind. If you want speed, you need to upgrade from ADSL (if you can).

CHART: Average speed test results per ISP (kbps)

  • Virgin: 27,266
  • Plusnet: 24,529
  • BT: 13,164
  • TalkTalk: 6,910
  • EE: 6,818
  • Demon: 6,586
  • Sky: 5,942
  • Eclipse: 5,786
  • O2: 5,642
  • Be: 5,458
  • AOL: 3,809
  • Post Office: 3,255

(The following ISPs were included but had insufficient sample sizes to be in the main list.)

  • Madasafish: 37,597*
  • Karoo: 29,892*
  • Zen: 8,211*
  • Entanet: 7,809*

*small sample sizes

A clear winner, then. Virgin Media is the fastest ISP in the land, and is recognised as such by its customers.

FASTEST ISP: Virgin Media

Get Virgin Media

Overall Broadband Awards 2014

So, having sorted the wheat from the chaff with our survey, we decided to make some overall ISP awards for 2014. They are…

Highly commended UK ISP for 2014: Virgin Media

The fastest ISP, both in terms of overall speed tests and user satisfaction, it is perhaps unfair on Virgin that we have to pick a winner. Indeed, the survey results show that Virgin Media users are just as happy as are Plusnet customers: that is, very happy indeed. As well as speed, Virgin’s cable technology provides the most reliable network, but you do get what you pay for in this regard, and Virgin Media is one of the more expensive ISPs.

Get Virgin Media

Best UK ISP of 2014: Plusnet

Plusnet is fast, and cheap, and its customer service is second to none. It was a close-run thing but we have to award Plusnet our overall best broadband ISP award. It is only marginally slower than Virgin, and a lot cheaper. Indeed, it was the cheapest broadband provider that made our shortlist, offering the best customer care and performing well in every category.

Get Plusnet

Best UK ISPs of 2014: Our expert panel awards

This section by Matt Powell, Editor, Broadband Genie

Our judging panel of industry insiders and commentators were asked for their opinions on the broadband ISPs that really stood out in 2013. The categories voted on were Most Innovative ISP, Best Bundled Provider and Best Budget Provider.

Our judging panel included Pamela Learmonth, CEO of the Broadband Stakeholder’s Group, Mike Davies, CEO of the Registered Digital Institute; Tom Fellowes, Sales Director at business ISP Spitfire; Matt Egan, Editor-in-Chief of IDG UK Tech Media, and myself – Broadband Genie editor Matt Powell.

Each was asked to nominate a provider in each category, before casting votes on the finalists. There were no guidelines or restrictions about which providers could be nominated, giving all providers big and small a chance at winning. Here’s what the judges had to say…

Best Budget Provider 2014

Winner: Plusnet

“Excellent all-round value, and crucially do not push you as much as other providers to take their phone line rental – if you do want their line rental it is (slightly) cheaper than the competition. Good all round mixture of cheap capped and unlimited use services” – Tom Fellowes.

Get Plusnet

Finalist: Tesco

“Not just offering cheap services but also challenging the 12-/18-/24-month minimum of the market, providing more flexible options for consumers” – Pamela Learmonth.

TalkTalk also made the final round for budget ISPs. “TalkTalk’s Simply Broadband package is incredible value, offering a truly unlimited service for a nominal fee” – Matt Powell.

Get Tesco broadband

Best Bundled Provider 2014

Winner: Sky

“They offer great TV, broadband and telephone packages to suit all budgets. Coupled with this is great customer service. They also offer superfast fibre package at a reasonable price” – Mike Davies.

Get Sky broadband

Finalist: BT

“Offer a good value all-round package for fast broadband, phone and TV. The TV package is not the most comprehensive, but in terms of an all-round value the TV Entertainment with unlimited BT Infinity 2 Broadband is good value” – Tom Fellowes.

TalkTalk also made the final nominations for bundled providers: “In a climate where BT and Sky are continually investing staggering amounts, it has been TalkTalk that has actually capitalised on the bundle market, cleverly targeting the market with good value bundles with YouView” – Pamela Learmonth.

Get BT broadband

Most Innovative ISP 2014

Winner: Gigaclear

“By creating their own pure fibre network Gigaclear has delivered ultrafast gigabit broadband to neglected rural communities. A stark contrast to the government’s short-sighted BDUK project” – Matt Powell.

Finalist: BT

“Because again it has continued to push the boundaries of speed and reliability, pushing out fibre to the home to increasing numbers of consumers. But also because of its bold content strategy: BT now provides the content and the means for you to enjoy that content. Offering BT Sport for free has opened up competition like never before, leading to better deals from the likes of Sky and Virgin Media” – Matt Egan.

Also nominated were Gigler (“ultrafast with competitively priced packages across the consumer and business markets” – Pamela Learmonth) and Kijoma (“offers up to 40Mb downstream and 10Mb up via a wirelesss service typically covering up to 20km in a 120 degree arc from one aerial” – Tom Fellowes).

You may also be interested in our companion pieces, How good is public Wi-Fi? We test The Cloud, BT and O2; UK’s best mobile networks tested and Best mobile platform for working on the move?.

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