Best broadband providers: where can you get the best internet plans in 2020

All best broadband providers in the UK compared in one in-depth guide

best broadband providers: woman using laptop
(Image credit: Getty)

Looking for the best broadband provider and feeling overwhelmed by choice? You're not alone. In recent years, a number of new broadband suppliers have popped up to join the big name brands who have been operating for years. What that now means is anyone looking for new broadband deals has a wealth of options available to them.

And while that choice is great, giving you different price points, speeds, features and incentives, it does also mean it has never been harder to work out which plan is best suited to you. 

Some providers focus on speed, allowing for seamless streaming, gaming and general internet use, others are highly reliable with 24/7 customer support and some are just really really cheap.

So which broadband supplier should you pick? Well we've carefully selected the top options based on a number of factors including reliability, price, speeds and additional features and listed them all below.

All of these options are well rated, reliable and some of the UK's most popular choices for internet. And if you're looking for a complete package, we've highlighted the plans that also supply TV bundled into your costs.

NOTE: Some installation services have been temporarily halted due to Covid-19. Where a phone line change upgrade is not required, installation should be possible by you without the aid of an engineer, but some packages (check Virgin Media and Sky in particular) will be postponed until engineers can safely visit your property.

Who is the number 1 broadband supplier?

Across a number of factors, BT takes the number 1 position in our list of broadband suppliers. While it isn't as affordable as some other brands out there, it is the UK's most popular choice for a reason.

It regularly exceeds its average speeds, it offers a host of add-ons including speed boosters and TV packages and gives you access to all of its Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. If you don't mind paying slightly more, BT will be the choice to pick.

Best broadband suppliers

(Image credit: BT)

1. BT

Best all round supplier of internet

Specifications
TV available?: Yes
Sign up fee?: Yes
Contract lengths: 24 months
Highest speed available: 300Mb
Reasons to buy
+Strong average speeds+Large choice of packages and add-ons+Powerful security+Good customer service
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than most

Features:
BT has a few features going for it. All of its plans come with smart hubs, high-end security and strong customer service. BT, like a few of the plans below, offers both regular broadband deals and upgraded broadband and TV deals.

One of the factors that really helps BT stand out is the frequency that it offers gifts. Almost every week it offers an add-on to its promotions including smart speakers, TV and Mastercards (Mastercards being the most popular of the added gifts).

Pricing:
BT is by no means the cheapest provider out there. In fact, alongside the likes of Sky and Virgin, it is one of the pricier options available. But, that is mainly because it tends to have a lot on offer, with high-tech smart hubs, super fast speeds and other such features.

It is also frequently discounted through the Mastercards mentioned above, making the costs easier to digest. BT does however include set-up fees in its costs, a feature some other cheaper plans don't have.

Speeds:
BT has a number of plans available. It's most popular options are an ADSL package and two fibre plans – Superfast Fibre 1 and Superfast Fibre 2. These two fibre plans are slightly faster than most other deals at a similar cost.

BT also has some faster Ultrafast plans if you've got the budget to spend and is planning on introducing a Gigafast plan soon (1GB average speeds internet), making it one of the most diverse providers in terms of speeds.

(Image credit: Virgin)

2. Virgin

Best provider for faster speeds

Specifications
TV available?: Yes
Sign up fee?: Yes
Contract lengths: 1–12 months
Highest speed available: 516Mb
Reasons to buy
+Lots of very fast packages+A wide variety of TV add-ons+Smart TV box and router
Reasons to avoid
-Can quickly get expensive

Features:
If you like to get as much into your package as possible, Virgin could be ideal. While you're able to just get internet alone, Virgin also offers a wide range of TV add-ons and even in some cases SIM only deals.

Virgin frequently includes free gifts like consoles, cashback, smart speakers and even on the odd occasion, glasses of wine!

Pricing:
While it is one of the better providers out there for speeds, features and additions available on its plans, Virgin does come out as one of the more expensive options on the market, matching the likes of BT and Sky.

The lowest prices available will still find you placed in the mid-£20 a month mark and if you really kit our your package, you could see it rise as high as £70/£80 a month, once TV, SIM plans and additional gifts have been added.

Speeds:
This is where Virgin excels. It offers some of the fastest broadband speeds on the market, with options going well into the 400–500Mb mark. Even with its cheapest plans, you're still getting some faster fibre speeds, in the 60–70 and even 100Mb mark.

(Image credit: Vodafone)

3. Vodafone

Best broadband provider for affordability

Specifications
TV available?: No
Sign up fee?: No
Contract lengths: 18 months
Highest speed available: 900Mb
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable+Great collection of different speeds
Reasons to avoid
-Very basic service-Only TV add on is Apple TV

Features:
Vodafone doesn't tend to offer any additional features with its plans. While you can pay an additional fee to include 4K Apple TV with your plan, Vodafone tends to keep all of its internet options limited to just speeds and the ability to make calls.

Pricing:
Vodafone is frequently one of the cheapest options around when it comes to fibre internet. Its two cheapest plans can often come in below other popular cheap providers including Plusnet, Onestream and more.

If you happen to be an existing Vodafone customer, you can also cut your bills down by a further £2 a month, no matter which plan you choose.

Speeds:
Vodafone only offers fibre plans, with two options especially standing out. These are Vodafone's 'Superfast Fibre 1' and 'Superfast Fibre 2' options. One fits in at the average 30–40Mb, the faster option lands in between 60–70Mb.

If you don't mind paying a bit more, Vodafone can offer plans that go all the way up to 900Mb average speeds.

(Image credit: Sky)

4. Sky

Best internet provider for advanced TV and broadband

Specifications
TV available?: Yes
Sign up fee?: Yes
Contract lengths: 18 months
Highest speed available: 59Mb
Reasons to buy
+Loads of available add-ons+Best for TV
Reasons to avoid
-Not much choice for speeds-One of the most expensive options

Covid-19 news: Sky has has to temporarily suspend setups requiring engineer installation. This includes all Ultrafast installations, new Sky Q and customers swapping from Virgin Media where a new phone line will be needed. An estimated 60–70% of customers should be able to self install.

Existing customers will still be able to upgrade their TV packages.

Features:
Sky is one of the most feature packed internet service providers out there. Where its customisation is most prevalent is in its TV add-ons. HD channels, sports packages, movie bundles, options for kids - you can pick and mix exactly the kind of internet package you want. And, like most other providers out there, Sky offers both ADSL and fibre internet options allowing you to choose both the speeds and prices you're paying.

Pricing:
With so many features on-board, it is no surprise that Sky can very quickly rack up the bills. If you fill a package right out, you can easily pass the £100 mark. However, if you're just interested in internet, it will fall in place somewhere in the middle, cheaper than BT and Virgin but more expensive than TalkTalk, Vodafone and other more affordable providers.

Speeds:
Like a lot of other options out there, Sky offers both ADSL and fibre. depending on what exactly you want. However, unlike most other options, Sky only has one fibre package meaning you really only have two speed choices.

(Image credit: TalkTalk)

5. TalkTalk

Affordable broadband and TV plans

Specifications
TV available?: Yes
Sign up fee?: No
Contract lengths: 18 months
Highest speed available: 67Mb
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable+TV plans not too expensive
Reasons to avoid
-No real impressive features-Router and TV box are basic

Features:
TalkTalk isn't a very flashy internet provider, it offers ADSL and fibre plans and the ability to throw TV in there as well. Even with its most decked-out TV bundle, you won't be getting anywhere near what Sky or Virgin can get you.

However, it is also far cheaper than both of those options and unlike some other providers out there, TalkTalk promises no price rises during your contract.

Pricing:
A lot like Vodafone, pricing is where TalkTalk shines the best. It often has some of the UK's cheapest prices across both its ADSL and fibre plans and often ends up discounting the costs.

Even when you start to include TV packages, call add-ons or speed boosts, TalkTalk is still one of the cheaper options out there, making it a great option for anyone needing broadband and TV deals on a budget.

Speeds:
TalkTalk offers three seperate speed options - ADSL, Faster Fibre and Superfast Fibre. These work up in small speed jumps with the first being around 10-15Mb, the second around 30–40Mb and the final jumping up to around the 60–70Mb mark.

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