Best broadband 2022: The top UK internet providers for service, speed, reliability and value

Best broadband

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Picking the best broadband provider isn't easy – especially when there are so many packages available from so many different providers. What kind of speeds do you need, and what kind of connection can you get for your home? What length of contract should you look out for, and how do you know whether a provider is reliable or not? Sign up and you could land the perfect broadband package, but it’s all too easy to get tied into an expensive mistake.

We’re here to clear up the confusion. Every year, we carry out a comprehensive review of internet packages offered by all the major UK ISPs. We'll help you ensure you don't get locked into a lengthy broadband contract you aren’t happy with, or don't pay over the odds for a slow service.

What’s more, every year we conduct extensive research to find out what users think of the biggest ISPs. As with last year, we're looking at customer satisfaction, speed, customer service, reliability and value for money – and handing out awards to the providers with the top scores in each category.

Below you’ll find our helpful how-to guide for choosing the best broadband provider for you. And, below that, our top picks of the best UK broadband providers in 2022.

READ NEXT: The best broadband deals this month

Best broadband deal of the month

BT: Get six months half price PLUS a £110 Reward Card

Not only do you get up to 73Mbits/sec with this brilliant BT deal, which is enough to stream or game on multiple devices, but you'll also get the first six months for half price (£17/mth, then £34/mth after month six) with no upfront cost - saving you £102 over a 24-month contract. What's more, you'll get a £110 Reward Card that you can spend anywhere that accepts Mastercard.

Buy now from BT

Best broadband: At a glance

  • Best all-round broadband provider: Plusnet
  • Most reliable broadband provider: BT
  • Fastest broadband provider: Virgin Media
  • Best broadband provider for cheap deals: Vodafone

Best broadband deals in your area

How to choose the best broadband provider for you

Check your coverage

When it comes to getting the best broadband, location makes a big difference. The speed and reliability of both fibre and ADSL connections will depend on the quality of the line between you and the nearest streetside cabinet and the distance between your home and the local exchange. Faster fibre connections may or may not be available, depending on whether the necessary cabling has been installed in your area. This makes checking your coverage essential.

All major ISPs have a page on their website where you can enter your postcode and check which services and speeds you can expect to receive. Do this before you start shopping in earnest or you may be disappointed.

Be aware of contract length

Some broadband contracts still last 12 months, but ISPs are increasingly trying to push new customers towards 18-month or even two-year deals. That might be fine if you’re happy with the service, but if you want to jump ship to a faster or cheaper provider, you could be looking at a long wait.

However, Ofcom regulations mean you can now back out of your contract if your provider fails to deliver a promised minimum speed and most providers will allow you to back out of your contract within the first month if you’re not getting what you pay for.

Work out the total cost of signing up

All ISPs will bill you on a monthly basis, but if you’re comparing different packages it’s smart to tally up how much you’ll pay in total over the course of the contract, including any upfront setup fee.

If you're shopping around for a new ISP, review prices right up until the minute where you sign up. The market is incredibly competitive and deals frequently come along that can dramatically reduce the cost of certain contracts or see you get a higher speed for the same price as a lower-cost service.

Keep an eye on what happens after your initial contract term ends, too. Some ISPs hike the price up after the first year or 18 months, sometimes massively inflating the monthly charge. This is often negotiable, though, if you phone them up and say you're planning to move to a different provider. If they won’t budge on the price, find a more amenable alternative.

Speeds are crucial, but don’t be fooled

ISPs are nowadays obliged to advertise average download speeds for their internet packages. These give you a good idea of which packages are faster than others but it doesn't tell you much about how consistent or reliable the service is.

To get a clearer view, we combine the results of our reader-voted Best Broadband Awards survey with Ofcom's annual broadband customer-satisfaction report, which brings together customer surveys and user-recorded data such as average download and upload speeds and connection reliability.

This allows us to see how the different providers stack up across the board. Just remember that the speed data from the Ofcom survey refers to the connection speed between the ISP and your router – if your laptop or smartphone is connected over Wi-Fi, that could slow things down.

One bit of good news is that monthly data caps and traffic shaping are now more or less extinct, so you don't have to worry about burning through a monthly usage allowance or having your connection slowed down at peak times.

What else do I need to look out for?

Generally speaking, ISPs offer phone services as a standard part of your broadband contract, although usually on an expensive pay-as-you-go basis, which often makes it cheaper to use your mobile phone. Signing up for weekend/evening or all-day calling packages usually makes this cheaper, and some providers offer free calls to other numbers on the same network.

Some of the largest providers bundle in TV as well and if you’re interested in Virgin, Sky, Vodafone or BT TV services, buying a single, all-in bundle could save you money. There are also savings to be had from using the same provider for your mobile connection, too – worth bearing in mind if you’re in the market for a new 4G or 5G contract.

A final point of differentiation between ISPs is the quality of the router that's provided with your service. Some, such as BT and TalkTalk, offer good-quality, high-speed hardware. Others provide more basic models; they'll do the job but you can expect better Wi-Fi speeds and more features if you use your own third-party router instead.

READ NEXT: Best wireless routers

The UK's best broadband providers 2022

1. Plusnet: The best all-round broadband provider

Plusnet pulled off a triple triumph in the 2022 Best Broadband Awards. Overall, it has more customers who are likely to recommend it than any other broadband provider, with 73% in total and 15% highly likely. It also records high levels of customer satisfaction across every category, coming away with our award for Best Customer Service against stiff competition from EE, BT and Sky. Some 33% of users surveyed said they were very satisfied with Plusnet’s customer service and a further 40% were quite satisfied.

To top it all, Plusnet leads the table on satisfaction with value for money. 71% of users were either very satisfied or quite satisfied here, with only 8% dissatisfied. That’s a third award going home with Plusnet.

Plusnet isn’t the top option when it comes to the highest speed fibre services, with nothing beyond the 66Mbits/sec average speed Unlimited Fibre Extra packages but, if you’re in the market for a 36Mbits/sec to 66Mbits/sec package, then it’s one of the best on value. Plusnet is also now offering its own version of BT’s excellent Smart Hub 2 router with its faster Fibre services, making it an even better deal.

Our only concern is that Ofcom’s figures show that, while Plusnet still scores high for overall satisfaction, the number of complaints is rising, while call waiting times are above the industry average. If Plusnet wants to hold onto its impressive lead, it needs to get this sorted out.

Read our Plusnet Broadband review

Buy now from Plusnet

Unlimited BroadbandUnlimited FibreUnlimited Fibre ExtraUnlimited Broadband (18 months)Unlimited Fibre (18 months)Unlimited Fibre Extra (18 months)
Price per month (inc line rental)£23£26£28£21£24£26
Upfront cost£5£10£10£5£10£10
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec66Mbits/sec10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec66Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length12 months12 months12 months18 months18 months18 months

Plusnet: Save on broadband plans AND get a Plusnet reward card

There are some fantastic deals to be had from our favourite provider, Plusnet, with Full Fibre plans from £24/mth and reward cards up to £75. For instance, Plusnet's Unlimited Fibre Extra plan (with speeds of up to 72Mbits/sec) will cost you £24/mth across an 18-month contract - alongside a £50 reward card. Bear in mind that the offers available will depend in part on where you're located. Plusnet Buy Now

2. BT: The most reliable broadband provider

If you’re looking for reliable broadband, BT is a good place to start. A full third of customers questioned about it in our survey were very satisfied with the reliability of their broadband, while a further 43% were quite satisfied. It’s also one of the most highly rated when it comes to speed, and gained a highly commended award in that category as well. The results for customer service and value for money weren’t quite so glowing but 61% of BT customers still said they would be likely to recommend it to a friend.

BT’s services run the gamut from basic ADSL through to 900Mbits/sec full fibre, and it was one of the first providers to offer a complete Wi-Fi package, offering a mesh network option to cover your whole home for an extra £10 a month. BT’s Smart Hub 2 router is one of the better options out there, with 4x4 MIMO Wi-Fi 5 connectivity for a stronger connection and increased performance.

Ofcom’s most recent figures rate BT at average or above average for customer satisfaction and support, while call wait times are forty seconds below the average mark. Other services do even better on customer service or overall value but it’s hard to go wrong with BT.

Read our BT Broadband review

Buy now from BT

BT Fibre EssentialBT Fibre 1BT Fibre 2BT Fibre 100BT Ultrafast Fibre 300BT Fibre 900
Price per month (inc line rental)£29£30£34£36£46£56
Upfront cost£20FreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Average speed36Mbits/sec50Mbits/sec67Mbits/sec145Mbits/sec500Mbits/sec900Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months

Get six months half price and a gift card with BT

As we explained at the top of the page, BT's current broadband deals have a lot to offer: not only can you get the first six months of the provider's 24-month Fibre 2 plan for half price with no upfront cost, but you'll also get a huge £110 gift card to sweeten the deal. Just get in there quickly because it won't last forever. BT Buy Now

3. Virgin Media: The best broadband provider for speed

As the first major ISP to deliver services above an average 1Gbit/sec, Virgin Media has a real advantage when it comes to speed and its customers seem to be reaping the benefits. Some 37% told us that they were very satisfied with the speed of their connection, while a further 41% are quite satisfied.

If you’re after a speedy connection, it’s clear Virgin Media is the front runner, with services starting at an average 54Mbits/sec and climbing through 362Mbits/sec and 516Mbits/sec to the heady heights of 1.13Gbits/sec.

The scores aren’t so hot for customer service, where only 37% would describe themselves as satisfied, or value for money, at just 34%. Only 55% of Virgin Media customers would recommend the ISP to a friend.

And while Ofcom’s figures for customer satisfaction are average to above average, Virgin Media falls down for complaint handling, complaints per 100,000 users and average call waiting times. Virgin wins our Best Speed award once again but it still needs to try harder to keep its customers happy.

Read our Virgin Media review

Buy now from Virgin Media

M50 Broadband & Talk WeekendsM100 Broadband & Talk WeekendsM200 BroadbandM350 BroadbandM500 BroadbandGig1
Price per month (inc line rental)£20£26£34£40£46£62
Upfront cost£35£35£35£35£35£35
Average speed54Mbits/sec108Mbits/sec213Mbits/sec362Mbits/sec516Mbits/sec1,130Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months

Save BIG on speedy Virgin Media's broadband

Virgin Media is currently offering speedy broadband packages at great prices. The provider's M250 plan, with speeds of 264Mbits/sec, alongside an O2 SIM with 10GB of monthly data, is currently £33/mth (£594 over an 18-month contract). Plus. you'll pay nothing upfront. Virgin Media Buy Now

4. Vodafone: The best broadband provider for value deals

With superfast fibre services for under £20 per month and even faster 500Mbits/sec services for around £30, it’s not easy to beat Vodafone on price. Perhaps that explains why it gained a highly commended award in the Best Value category of our Best Broadband Awards 2022, just losing out to Plusnet with 64% of users either very satisfied or quite satisfied with their deal on a bang for buck basis. 68% of users were likely to recommend Vodafone to a friend.

Vodafone is another ISP pushing ultrafast services, with its top-of-the-line 900Mbits/sec option and a great value 500Mbits/sec package on top of the regular superfast options. It’s also followed the lead of BT and Sky in offering a premium set of “Pro” packages with whole home Wi-Fi and extra levels of support.

This is arguably for the best. Vodafone’s scores for customer service are one of the lowest of any major ISP in our survey, while Ofcom’s most recent figures note that the ISP has twice as many Ofcom complaints per 100,000 users as the industry average. It’s a great value option but don’t expect the best service or support.

Read our Vodafone Broadband review

Buy now from Vodafone

Superfast 1Superfast 2Superfast 100Pro Ultrafast 200Pro Ultrafast 500Pro Gigafast 900
Price per month (inc line rental£22£25£25£35£48£58
Upfront cost£0£0£0£0£0£0
Average speed38Mbits/sec67Mbits/sec100Mbits/sec200Mbits/sec500Mbits/sec910Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months

5. EE: Excellent speeds and customer service

EE was highly commended in the Customer Service category of our 2022 Best Broadband Awards and, while it didn’t come away with any other wins, it performed consistently well throughout. Some 64% of customers were either satisfied or very satisfied with the service and support they received, while 63% said the same about their speeds. Rivals pull ahead on reliability or value for money, but EE is never too far behind. What’s more, EE does better than most ISPs in Ofcom’s most recent report, with low call waiting times, a higher overall satisfaction score and fewer complaints per 100,000 subscribers.

EE has a bit of catching up to do on value and reliability, however, and it’s disappointing that only 54% of users say they would be likely to recommend it to a friend. The prices aren’t particularly low, but the premium services go all the way up to 900Mbits/sec full fibre and you generally get what you pay for. EE’s stablemate, BT, seems to have the edge on reliability and speed, but EE is a good alternative if you want strong performance backed up by great support.

Read our EE broadband review

Buy now from EE

Standard BroadbandFibreFibre Plus BroadbandFull Fibre Max 100Full Fibre Max 500Full Fibre Max 900
Price per month (inc line rental)£21£25£27£31£40£49
Upfront costFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec67Mbits/sec100Mbits/sec500Mbits/sec900Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months

6. Sky: Solid, reliable broadband

Sky didn’t win any categories in this year's Best Broadband Awards, but it was highly commended in the Overall and Most Reliable categories and posted some very respectable scores for speed and customer support. Some 63% of users would be likely or very likely to recommend it to a friend.

Sky offers a good range of speeds as well, even if it doesn’t have the headline 900Mbits/sec or higher services provided by Vodafone, BT, EE and Virgin Media. Of course, rivals are a little cheaper on 500Mbits/sec and 100Mbits/sec to 200Mbits/sec packages and most now don’t charge for the initial setup, where Sky is asking for £20. This might explain why Sky’s scores on value for money are only middling rather than great.

However, Ofcom’s figures for customer service and satisfaction put Sky on or above the average level, and it’s getting fewer Ofcom complaints per 100,000 users than nearly every other big ISP, with EE the only exception. While it isn’t a big winner this time around, Sky is heading in the right direction.

Read our Sky Broadband review

Buy now from Sky

Essential PlusSuperfast 35SuperfastUltrafastUltrafast PlusGigafast
Price per month (inc line rental)£30£25£30.50£32£42£55
Upfront cost£19.95£19.95£19.95£19.95£19.95£19.95
Average speed11Mbits/sec35Mbits/sec59Mbits/sec145Mbits/sec500Mbits/sec900Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months

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