Keeping in touch has suddenly become even more important since the UK went into compulsory lockdown. For most people, staying in touch with family and friends will depend on internet services.
© metamorworks / Adobe Stock
It might well be a good time to look at the top broadband providers in the UK to ensure you have a reliable service that isn’t going to let you down – without having to pay the earth.
BT is a major player in the broadband game, especially since its recent additions, BT Sport Europe and BT Mobile, boosted its selection of residential offers. As the owner of the majority of the broadband cabling in the UK, it’s likely to offer at least as good a service as any other major providers.
BT offers ADSL broadband – referred to as standard broadband. Widely available, it can reach speeds of up to 17 Mbps per second. It also provides different speeds of fibre optic broadband – the Superfast Fibre has a speed of up to 76 Mbps and the Fibre Essential up to 38 Mbps. The fibre option is available to around 75% of the population at present.
With an average speed of 50 Mbps, Superfast Fibre is available on a 24-month contract. The price varies, depending on whether there’s a special offer on. Most recently, it has cost £28.99 per month in an online exclusive deal. The Fibre Essential package is also available on a 24-month contract at £24.99 per month. Get Superfast Fibre and BT Sport on the go for £38.99 a month.
BT Broadband permits customers to take out a calls package with a broadband deal, although you can get a broadband deal on its own. All BT Mobile plans have fast 4G, free unlimited access to BT Wi-fi hotspots, unlimited texts and Roam Like Home.
Sky broadband delivers its Standard ADSL and Superfast fibre broadband on BT’s Openreach network. What gives Sky the advantage over many rivals is its television offerings.
Providing the standard ADSL broadband, Sky also offers a range of fibre optic high-speed broadbands. As ADSL broadband is transmitted via copper telephone cables, the further you live from the telephone exchange, the slower the speed will be.
The range of fibre products provides speeds from 38 Mbps to 76 Mbps, while customers can choose between 25GB or unlimited data usage. Fibre is good for people who do data-intensive activities, like streaming videos on sites such as YouTube and Netflix. It’s also great for online gamers, or for occasions when several users are logged on at the same time.
Prices vary, but most recently Sky Broadband Superfast (average speed 59 Mbps) was £27 per month, Sky Broadband Superfast with Boost was £32 per month, Sky Broadband Superfast plus Anytime Calls was £35 per month and Sky Broadband Superfast plus TV was £37 per month.
Sky offers a choice of packages when it comes to telephone calls, including the basic Pay as You Talk, Sky Talk Evenings and Weekends Extra, Sky Talk International Extra and Sky Talk Anytime Extra.
Customers can choose from a range of TV packages including Original, Variety and Box Sets. There is also the option of adding extra bundles, such as Movies and Sports, and new addition, Sky Q Multiscreen.
The other provider in the big three is Virgin Media, which has its own infrastructure. Delivering a fast broadband service via its own fibre optic network, Virgin Media Broadband offers a viable alternative to BT Openreach.
The Virgin service is known as the fastest broadband in Britain. On the downside, however, it is available to only 60% of the UK at present. It doesn’t offer ADSL broadband and has only its superfast fibre optic broadband, which is ideal for people who do data-intensive activities, stream high-quality video and those who have multiple users online all at once – connect to up to ten devices via WiFi at any one time.
Virgin always has bundles on offer – for example, its M50 Fibre Broadband and Phone package costs £26 per month and users must sign up for a 12-month contract. With an average speed of 54 Mbps, there is a choice of packages with different broadband speeds.
The fastest is the top-of-the-range M350 Fibre Broadband and Phone package. This has a top speed of 362 Mbps, includes weekend calls in the bundle and costs £43 per month. People who enjoy a high-quality, top-speed broadband service don’t mind paying the higher price, as it’s worth it to avoid buffering, slow internet access and all the other issues that can come with a slower broadband.
Virgin also has mobile broadband products. As a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, it uses another company’s network to connect customers to the web. It provides 4G Mobile Broadband and has a large selection of products for mobile phones – arguably the biggest choice of all providers.
Importance of speed
The standard of broadband services on offer varies by location. For people who live in an area without BT’s fibre optic broadband, or Virgin’s alternative, the ADSL service may seem slow by today’s standards.
A survey in 2018 by ISPR revealed 54.7% of home buyers were influenced by a property’s internet speed. They would be likely to reject a house, even if it seemed “ideal” in every other way, if it didn’t have fast broadband. Around 33% of respondents said they were looking for a speed of at least 100 Mbps.
People’s expectations have increased in recent years. A similar survey by the same company in 2015 revealed 67% of respondents were looking for a broadband speed of 50 Mbps. In both surveys, respondents said they would be willing to pay more for a new house to get their desired broadband speed.
What kind of broadband service do you have? Are you in a high-speed area, or do you have ADSL broadband? What customer service experiences of broadband providers could you share with the Psydro community, on our customer reviews platform?