Want to upgrade your broadband speeds or cut the cost of your monthly bills? The latest batch of broadband deals from BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Hyperoptic, Sky and dozens of other companies could be the answer. According to research from Ofcom, around 40 percent of all broadband customers are out of contract. That’s more than 8.5 million people who could unlock a better deal by renegotiating a new contract with the same provider or switching to a different company.
If you want to reduce your monthly costs, switching to a new internet provider can be a great way to secure lower bills for the next 18- or 24-months. According to the estimates from Which? out-of-contract customers could save as much as £140 a year by switching to a different brand. Virgin Media customers stand to save the most by switching (£143.64 per year, on average), while Sky customers could save as much as £131.76 a year, £119.52 a year for BT customers, while the average TalkTalk user could keep an extra £31.86 a year by changing contracts.
If you’re more concerned about faster speeds – ideal if you’re working from home permanently and can’t handle the frustration of constant buffering – there are a number of great deals for full-fibre connections too. BT, Sky, Virgin Media, and a host of new start-ups, including the likes of Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, Zzoomm, Giganet, and more, are rolling out gigabit-capable broadband connections across the UK right now. While these next-generation connections typically cost a little more, they’re perfect for busy households with multiple people streaming shows in 4K, making video calls, downloading video games, backing up photos at the same time each night.
With a gigabit broadband connection, you’ll be able to download 25 songs in one second and a feature-length film in HD in around 36 seconds.
Express.co.uk has scoured the biggest broadband providers to find the best prices – and the ultimate speeds. We’ve rounded up the best selection of cost and download speeds below. If you’re currently out-of-contract, you should be able to find a brilliant new deal below…
What Is Full-Fibre Broadband?
Fibre broadband is the future of the internet, and telecoms firms like Virgin Media and BT’s Openreach have been hard at work upgrading their networks to deliver these super-fast download speeds. While existing broadband connections rely on copper cables to deliver internet from those green communication boxes littered throughout UK streets, full-fibre broadband – as the name suggests – uses more powerful (and reliable) fibre-optic cables to your front door instead.
The fastest fibre broadband speeds currently available in the UK is offered with Virgin Media’s Gig1 package, which boasts average download speeds of 1,130Mbps. That’s light years ahead of the average broadband download speed in Blighty, which stands at around 70Mbps as measured earlier in 2021.
As an example of the benefits of fibre connections, Gigabit broadband will let you download a feature-length movie in High Definition in just 36 seconds, or a crisp Ultra HD 4K film in under three minutes. These speeds mean busy households will be able to back up their photos, download software updates, make video calls, binge boxsets in 4K, and play video games online all at the same time at peak times without a hint of buffering. It also future-proofs homes for the next wave of technology, including 8K video quality, virtual reality, and more.
By the end of 2021, Virgin Media upgraded its entire network of 15.5million homes to gigabit-capable broadband (although it will take longer until all of those customers are using full-fibre connections). So if you’re covered by Virgin Media you can sign up right away. While BT’s Openreach will finish its full-fibre network upgrade (some 25 million homes) by December 2026. So far, the super-fast downloads are available to more than five million properties covered by Openreach, which supplies infrastructure for BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Plusnet, EE, Vodafone, and many more.
Smaller companies, like Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and Community Fibre, have sprung up to bring full-fibre broadband to areas not currently served by either Virgin Media or Openreach. These include projects specifically targeted at rural villages or commuter towns. If you can’t wait for next-generation broadband, these are a great option – and can be cheaper than better-known brands too.
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Which Broadband Is The Fastest?
In a nutshell, the fastest broadband speeds available in the UK come from Community Fibre, which offers a mind-bogglingly speedy 3Gbps. With download speeds of 3,000Mbps, you’ll be able to download movies, stream boxsets from Netflix, join video calls, back-up photos and data from your devices, and play online multiplayer around 43x faster than the average home broadband connection in the UK, which was measured at 70Mbps last year. At £89 a month, Community Fibre’s 3Gbps full-fibre broadband plan doesn’t come cheap. But the biggest hurdle is the availability.
Community Fibre is currently only available in London …and even if you do live in the capital, the 3Gbps package isn’t available anywhere. It’s worth checking to see whether the full-fibre in your street has been upgraded to support the speeds, but don’t hold your breath.
Virgin Media offers speeds up to 1Gbps, or 1,000Mbps – some 14x faster than the standard British homeowners’ internet connection, to more than 15.5million premises. For context, Netflix recommends at least 25Mbps to watch its boxsets and movies in the best picture quality available, 4K Ultra HD. That should give you some idea about the dizzying amount of bandwidth available with a 1Gbps connection for most users. Signing up to one of these full-fibre bundles will suit even the busiest households – with multiple people streaming music, making videocalls, collaborating on documents online, downloading video, backing up devices, and more, at the same time.
BT-owned Openreach, which is responsible for the broadband infrastructure used by BT, Sky, Plusnet, EE, and dozens more companies, is slowly upgrading its network to gigabit speeds. It has set a goal of reaching 25 million premises by December 2026, with 6 million already upgraded to the next-generation connection. Because the same infrastructure is used by all of these companies, if you can get 900Mbps speeds from BT, you’ll be able to get them from other providers, like TalkTalk.
If your street isn’t covered by Openreach or Virgin Media’s full-fibre plans, there are a number of other smaller providers springing up across the country to meet demand. Most of these are specialising in bringing full-fibre speeds to cities with lots of competition, or rural areas that might otherwise have to wait years to get a speed boost from Openreach. Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, Zzoomm, Giganet, and GoFibre are just a few of these new kids on the block that might be worth checking out.