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Best broadband 2022: The UK internet providers worth your money

Best broadband

Tired of slow speeds and an unreliable connection? Moving house? Switch to one of the top UK broadband providers of 2022

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 2021.

READ NEXT: Help us choose the best broadband provider of the year

Best broadband deal of the month

Virgin Media: Get 108Mbits/sec for JUST £27/mth

Virgin is currently offering a gigantic £306 off the price of its 18-month M100 Fibre Broadband contract, which gets you an average download speed of 108Mbits/sec. It was £44/mth, but you'll now pay just £27/mth. If that wasn't enough, the company is also serving up temporary savings on its 18-month 213Mbits/sec M200 plan (was £50/mth; now £33/mth), 362Mbits/sec M350 plan (was £56/mth; now £39/mth) and 516Mbits/sec M500 plan (was £62/mth; now £45/mth). Those are phenomenal savings.

Buy now from Virgin Media

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?

Most ISPs also offer phone and TV services. It’s now fairly difficult to sign up just for broadband without getting line rental thrown in, although you’ll still have to pay for calls or a weekend/evening or all-day calling package.

The major providers are still going big on bundling in TV, too, although some smaller players are retreating from the ‘triple-play’ market. Still, if you’re interested in Virgin, Sky or BT TV services, a bundle could save you money. Some providers also offer special deals on mobile data, which is worth bearing in mind if you're also in the market for a new mobile phone 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 are more basic: 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 our best wireless routers roundup to learn more.

To help bring a bit of transparency and clarity to the performance of the best broadband providers, Ofcom recently joined forces with regulators from the water, energy and banking sectors as part of the UK Regulators Network (UKRN) to release performance scorecards for their respective industries.

The scorecards are designed to help customers choose the best providers based on metrics from the Institute of Customer Services UKCSI and net promoter scores (NPS), among others. You can see how the broadband providers below scored here and we've included the latest scorecard information below each entry in this list.

The UK's best broadband providers 2022

1. Zen Internet: The undisputed customer satisfaction champion

It’s fair to say that Zen Internet swept this year’s Best Broadband Awards, with more very satisfied customers in every category than any other provider, and a higher number of total satisfied customers to boot. Over 98% of the Zen customers we surveyed were satisfied with the customer support or reliability of the service, and over 90% were pleased with their speeds. A slightly lower score for value for money – 86% – reflects the fact that Zen does premium broadband services with corresponding prices, but you definitely get what you pay for. Every single one of the Zen customers in our survey would recommend Zen to a friend.

Zen Internet offers a wide range of broadband options, from basic ADSL2+ to the latest ultrafast FTTP services, so you should be able to get the fastest speeds available in your area. As Zen isn’t one of the UK’s biggest ISPs we don’t have any data for it from Ofcom’s customer satisfaction or performance surveys, but the results in our awards survey speak for themselves. There are other providers who deliver excellent broadband for a little less, but Zen leaves most of its rivals in the dust.

Read our Zen Internet review

Get Zen Internet now

Packages comparedUnlimited BroadbandUnlimited Fibre 1Unlimited Fibre 2Ultrafast Fibre
Price per month (inc line rental)£28£33£38From £39
Upfront cost£20£30£30£30
Average speed10Mbits/sec35Mbits/sec66Mbits/sec300-900Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length12 months12 months12 months12 months

2. Plusnet: Speedy, reliable broadband at very affordable costs

Plusnet stormed into first place in last year’s Best Broadband Awards, winning in the Reliability and Value for Money categories, then going home with the Overall award. This year it’s fallen down the rankings, but it still comes away looking good, with Highly Commended for Reliability and Value plus a third Highly Commended for Overall.

Plusnet doesn’t offer some of the new Ultrafast services you’ll find through stablemates EE and BT, but it’s a great option for most users, with decent performance results in Ofcom’s most recent research and high scores for service and customer satisfaction in Ofcom’s survey too. While there seems to have been an issue with complaints and complaint handling over the past 12 months, we’re hopeful this is just a blip. After all, when over 82% of customers would recommend Plusnet to someone else, it has to be doing something right.

Read our Plusnet review

Get a FREE £60 Plusnet Reward Card when you sign up

As a thank you for signing up to its 18-month Unlimited Fibre Extra plan (66Mbits/sec for £24/mth), Plusnet is throwing in a free £60 Reward Card, which you can spend anywhere online. It's also offering a £50 Reward Card if you sign up to an 18-month Unlimited Fibre (36Mbits/sec for £22/mth) or Unlimited Broadband (10Mbits/sec for £19/mth) plan.
Packages comparedUnlimited BroadbandUnlimited FibreUnlimited Fibre ExtraUnlimited Broadband (18mths)Unlimited Fibre (18mths)Unlimited Fibre Extra (18mths)
Price per month (inc line rental)£22£25£27£19£23£24
Upfront cost£5£10£10FreeFreeFree
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec66Mbits/sec10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec66Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length12 months12 months12 months18 months18 months18 months

Ofcom Performance Scorecard

 Industry averagePlusnet
Customer satisfaction85%93%
Net Promoter Score1215
Complaints to Ofcom per 1,000 subscribers52100

3. EE Broadband: The sweet spot for price and performance

EE won three Highly Commended awards in this year’s Best Broadband Awards. Users were particularly satisfied with its high speeds and rated their connection high for value for money. After Zen Internet, it had the highest number of satisfied and very satisfied customers in the survey, and an impressive 85% of customers would recommend it to a friend. It does equally well in Ofcom’s research, with an 88% score for overall satisfaction and some of the best scores for complaints and complaint handling.

EE is one of the more expensive providers, but it offers a good range of superfast and ultrafast fibre packages and its customers seem more than happy with their connection. What’s more, EE mobile users can grab up to an extra 20GB of data for their contract if they sign up for EE’s broadband services as well. On the whole, Plusnet is cheaper and Zen Internet scored even higher in our survey, but you could see EE as the sweet spot in between the two.

Read our EE Broadband review

Get a FREE mobile data boost with every broadband package

If you sign up for EE's broadband and are also a mobile customer of the company, you'll get an extra data boost of up to 20GB. You'll also be paying 10% less per month for every plan.
Packages comparedStandard BroadbandFibre BroadbandFibre Plus BroadbandFibre Max 100Fibre Max 300Full Fibre Max 900
Price per month (inc line rental)£22.50£24£30£35£44.50£55
Upfront cost£10FreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec67Mbits/sec145Mbits/sec300Mbits/sec900Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months

Ofcom Performance Scorecard

 Industry averageEE
Customer satisfaction85%88%
Net Promoter Score1217
Complaints to Ofcom per 1,000 subscribers5222

4. Virgin Media Broadband: Great speeds make up for service shortfalls

While it didn’t pick up as many plaudits as Zen, EE and Plusnet, Virgin still had some good results in our Best Broadband Awards survey and picked up a Highly Commended in the Speed category.

This reflects the fact that, in many areas, Virgin has the fastest available services, ranging from basic 54Mbits/sec fibre broadband to connections that can deliver more than 1Gbit/sec of bandwidth. Ofcom’s latest speed research puts Virgin way ahead of other providers, with average download speeds in excess of 220Mbits/sec where rival ISPs struggle to get much above 50Mbits/sec.

Virgin didn’t fare so well on value for money, reflecting the fact that its faster plans start out quite expensive, and get even more expensive once your 18-month contract is up. However, our survey found that customer support can also be an issue, and that Virgin’s reliability isn’t always what it could be. Bear in mind, though, that Ofcom’s figures paint a rosier picture, where Virgin has a decent 85% score for customer satisfaction, despite a relatively high number of complaints. Still, there’s no doubt that Virgin leads on speeds, even if it needs to improve elsewhere.

Read our Virgin Media broadband review

Save a MASSIVE £306 on Virgin's M100 Fibre Broadband

Virgin is currently offering a gigantic £308 saving on its 18-month M100 Fibre Broadband, which promises an average download speed of 108Mbits/sec. Previously £44/mth, you're now paying just £27/mth with no setup fees.
Was £44/mth
Now £27/mth
Packages comparedM50M100M200M350M500Gig1
Price per month (inc line rental)£38£44£50£56£62£62
Upfront costFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Average speed54Mbits/sec108Mbits/sec213Mbits/sec362Mbits/sec516Mbits/sec1,140Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months

Ofcom Performance Scorecard

 Industry averageVirgin Media
Customer satisfaction85%85%
Net Promoter Score1219
Complaints to Ofcom per 1,000 subscribers5260

5. Sky Broadband: A strong, reliable all-rounder

Sky doesn’t excel when it comes to speeds or value for money, but its services aren’t as expensive as Zen Internet, Virgin or EE, and it’s earning a reputation for customer service, as shown by a Highly Commended in this category in our Best Broadband Awards. Nearly 42% of the Sky customers surveyed said that they were Very Satisfied with its customer support, while a further 32% were still satisfied. Sky also did well in the Reliability category, although its results for Speed and Value for Money were a little off the pace. Sky has now introduced free anytime calls with some of its packages, which may drive the value upwards for some users.

Ofcom’s latest research also noted higher-than-average levels of overall customer satisfaction, along with a relatively low number of customer complaints. What’s more, Sky’s performance figures are also very good, both for its ADSL2+ services and its faster fibre options. That’s worth thinking about, as Sky’s Ultrafast 145Mbits/sec service is one of the most easily affordable around. EE and Plusnet still have the edge over Sky across most areas of our survey, but it’s definitely worth checking out its latest deals – although you should watch out for the price increase once the first 18 months are over.

Read our Sky Broadband review

Get 59Mbits/sec for just £25/mth with Sky

Sky has currently reduced the monthly price of its 18-month Superfast plan to just £25/mth. It'll get you an average download speed of 59Mbits/sec and an upload rate of 16Mbits/sec, which is more than enough for streaming and gaming.
Packages comparedSky Broadband SuperfastSky Broadband UltrafastSky Broadband Ultrafast Plus
Price per month (inc line rental)£26£35£45
Upfront cost£19.95£19.95£19.95
Average speed59Mbits/sec145Mbits/sec500Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months

Ofcom Performance Scorecard

 Industry averageSky Broadband
Customer satisfaction85%86%
Net Promoter Score129
Complaints to Ofcom per 1,000 subscribers5221

6. BT Broadband: Ultrafast speeds and a reliable connection

As the biggest user of the Openreach network, it’s hardly surprising that BT takes advantage of its most cutting-edge technologies, making it a good option if you live in an area with G.Fast or Full Fibre technologies available. With speeds of between 145Mbits/sec and 900Mbits/sec, you’ve got more than enough performance for streaming games or 4K video, even if you have someone else in the household hogging bandwidth at the same time. BT has also reduced some of the prices of its straight 36Mbits/sec to 67Mbits/sec fibre connections, making them more competitive. However, it’s subsidiary, Plusnet, is cheaper still.

BT has also raised its games when it comes to reliability and customer satisfaction, resulting in a Highly Commended award for reliability in our 2020 Best Broadband awards. It’s results for customer service were still below average in our survey, though BT fared better in Ofcom’s most recent research. All in all, though, BT is heading in the right direction, and definitely worth considering if you want a faster fibre connection than some other brands can offer.

Read our BT Broadband review

Get 74Mbits/sec for £30/mth with BT

BT has slashed a healthy £3 off the monthly price of its two-year Full Fibre 2 plan, which is now just £30/mth. You'll be getting download speeds of up to 74Mbits/sec and upload speeds of 20Mbits/sec, along with free postage (usually £10).
Was £33/mth
Now £30/mth
Packages comparedBT BroadbandBT Fibre EssentialBT Fibre 1BT Fibre 2BT Ultrafast Fibre 100BT Ultrafast Fibre 300BT Full Fibre 900
Price per month (inc line rental)£25£25£28£30£40£50£60
Upfront costFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Average speed10Mbits/sec36Mbits/sec50Mbits/sec67Mbits/sec145Mbits/sec300Mbits/sec900Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months24 months

Ofcom Performance Scorecard 

Industry averageBT broadband
Customer satisfaction85%86%
Net Promoter Score1212
Complaints to Ofcom per 1000 subscribers5250