With many of us now working from home, having a fast (and reliable) internet connection has never been more important. If you find that you are the one on the Zoom call that is still buffering, it might be time to update your broadband plan.
But it can be difficult to find the best broadband provider for your needs, especially when their sites are full of jargon – talking about “download speed”, “upload speed” and “Mbps”. To help you figure this out, we’ve included a comprehensive guide below on all the terminology you need to know when purchasing a new broadband plan, as well as the average bandwidth you need, depending on the size of the phone. your home. Let’s start from the beginning.
How to find the best broadband provider for you
In order to compare broadband offers, you need to understand the jargon:
Download speed (Mbps). This is the most important part of information, as it tells you how much data can be transferred each second (measured in Mbps – megabits per second). If you have a slow download speed, your laptop freezes while loading pages or streaming videos. So as a general rule of thumb the higher the Mbps the better your connection (although this can vary by location and you may need a WiFi repeater to boost your signal).
Download speed (Mbps). This measures the speed at which your internet connection can transfer data to the server. This is important for tasks like sending emails or calling someone on Zoom. The UK average download speed is 6.2 Mbps.
What download speed do you need? Choosing the broadband plan with the highest download speed (Mbps) is not necessary if you live in a household of one or two people, or if you only use the Internet to send e-mails and watch shows on iPlayer and Netflix. That being said, you might benefit from a faster connection if there are a lot of people in the house using the internet simultaneously.
Average home speed in the UK is now 64 Mbps, according to Ofcom’s annual home broadband report. Almost three-quarters of UK households have ‘super-fast’ broadband plans of 30 Mbps or more.
With that in mind, the following guide from Cable.co.uk is a useful tool in estimating the bandwidth you need:
If you live alone or with another person and the fastest activities you do online are streaming TV shows or movies: 10-11Mbps.
If you live in a 3-4 person household and stream TV shows separately (but not to a 4K TV): 35-108 Mbps
If there are 5 or more people in the house and you are often on the Internet at the same time: 65-516Mbps
Standard broadband. This is old fashioned broadband, which is still commonly used today. It works by using ADSL technology to transmit your data over a network of copper telephone lines. This broadband coverage covers most of the UK, but it tends to have a lower download speed (it can reach up to 20 Mbps, but the average download speed is only 10-11 Mbps) .
“Ultra-fast broadband”. It is a hybrid of fiber and cable technology, available in 96% of the UK. It gives a download speed of at least 24 Mbps, often more.
Fiber optic / “super-fast broadband”. This broadband is faster than standard broadband because it uses light to travel along the fiber optic tubes. It can give you super-fast broadband of 100 Mbps or more, but is only available in 55% of UK homes, according to Ofcom.
Now that you know the terminology, it’s time to move on to the broadband comparison itself. Taking into account Black Friday speed, price and discounts, here are, in order of ranking (starting with best value for money), the best broadband deals for 2020.
Best broadband offers
1. Virgin Media
We believe Virgin Media is the best broadband provider because of its impressive speeds and competitive prices. It’s the only major broadband provider to use fiber optic cables to ensure a fast connection, but its prices aren’t that far off some of the standard broadband plans.
We were particularly impressed with Virgin Black Friday’s broadband offers. We think the best deal is the M100 Fiber Broadband which has an average download speed of 108 Mbps and a upload speed of 10 Mbps and costs just £ 24.99 per month (18 month contract; then £ 44 per month). month).
However, there are other great Virgin deals, all on 18 month contracts:
- M200 fiber broadband, with an average speed of 213 Mbps (£ 30.99 per month)
- the M350 Fiber Broadband, ideal for UHD streaming, with its average download speed of 362 Mbps (£ 36.99 per month)
- the M500 Fiber Broadband, useful for die-hard gamers, with its average download speed of 516 Mbps (£ 42.99 per month)
2. Speak Speak
We were particularly impressed with the range of offerings offered by Talk Talk, as well as its promise to never increase the price of your mid-range broadband contract. For Black Friday, Talk Talk is offering three months of free broadband with one of its three plans: Fiber 35, 65 and 150.
The Fiber 35 has an average download speed of 38 Mbps, which makes it ideal for browsing and streaming. It costs just £ 23.50 per month (on a 24 month contract) and you get three months free, saving you £ 70.50. The Fiber 65 has an average speed of 67Mbps, making it ideal for super-fast streaming and gaming, and costs £ 26 per month. This is, again, a 24 month contract with the first three months free so you save £ 78. Finally, the Fiber 150 gives you 145 Mbps for £ 32 per month on a 24 month contract and you save £ 96.
It was a close call between Vodafone and Talk Talk for second place. For the price of £ 23.50 per month you could get 63 Mbps faster internet speed from Vodafone (on the Superfast 2 plan), compared to just 38 Mbps for the same price at Talk Talk (the Fiber 35 offer) .
However, it is more cost effective to go with Talk Talk’s Fiber 65 (67 Mbps) offer at £ 26, with three months free (bringing the total to £ 546). Compare that to Vodafone’s (63 Mbps) Superfast 2 package which costs just £ 23.50 but doesn’t have the Talk Talk three-month free benefit, for a total of £ 564 – a bit more money for a slightly slower download speed.
But don’t let that put you off. Overall, Vodafone has some great Black Friday broadband deals. Superfast 1 (35 Mbps) costs just £ 22 per month on a 24-month contract. Additionally, Vodafone offers two Black Friday packages – the Superfast 1 or 2 deal with a one-year Apple TV + subscription for £ 28 or £ 31.50 per month, respectively.
Additionally, it is one of the first vendors to offer a GigaCube router – a portable wireless router that covers Vodafone’s 5G and 4G networks over Wi-Fi. This is especially useful if you have a slow internet connection at home. home or if you live in an area not covered by high-speed broadband. It costs from £ 30 per month (for 100 Mbps), although you can get unlimited data for £ 50 per month with an 18-month contract.
Sky Superfast Broadband (59 Mbps) plan costs £ 25 per month on an 18 month contract; it’s not terribly expensive, but when you consider that you can get double the internet speed (108 Mbps) from Virgin for the same price (a dime cheaper, in fact) it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. good deal.
But that’s when the Sky deals arrive. For example, you can get Sky TV + Superfast Broadband + Free anytime calls for £ 39 per month for 18 months (instead of £ 67). Or the Superfast Broadband, Sky TV and Sky Sports package for £ 54 per month for 18 months (down from £ 92). You can even create your own TV and broadband package, with discounts of up to 50% on TV packages.
As part of Black Friday Plusnet is literally giving away cash with its reward cards. These cards, worth £ 50 or £ 60, depending on the broadband offer you choose, come pre-loaded with cash you can spend online or at most retailers that accept Mastercard.
To claim a card, of course, you must first set up your broadband plan. If you’re looking for a standard broadband plan, the Unlimited Broadband deal at Plusnet costs just £ 17.99 per month for a 10Mbps download speed – ideal if you don’t need a lot of the web.
However, Plusnet’s other two offerings offer better value – particularly the Unlimited Fiber Extra offer, offering 66 Mbps for £ 24.99 per month, on an 18 month contract and a £ 60 reward card. . If you only need 36 Mbps, Plusnet’s Unlimited Fiber offer (£ 21.99 per month) might be for you.
No list of the best broadband deals could be complete without broadband giant BT. Granted, it ranks pretty low on our list – but that’s because it’s quite expensive for the average download speeds it offers.
The Fiber Essential offer (33-36 Mbps) costs £ 26.99 per month on a 24 month contract; when you compare that to, say, Plusnet’s 66Mbps Unlimited Fiber Extra package for £ 24.99, that doesn’t seem like a good deal.
However, to celebrate Black Friday, BT is offering three months of free broadband, and it’s worth noting that it offers 24-month contracts – so you’re stuck at a lower price for longer (compared to 18-month contracts. months of Virgin, Sky and Plusnet), which is a definite advantage in terms of cost reduction.
Plus, we like the choice of three download speeds: the aforementioned Fiber Essential, as well as Fiber 1 (50Mbps for £ 27.99 per month) and Fiber 2 (67Mbps for £ 31.99 per month).
This new kid on the block is a breath of fresh air in the broadband market. First, it works with fiber optic cables – but, unlike Virgin, it brings the fiber network right into your home – allowing for a faster and more secure connection. There’s a price match guarantee, and Hyperoptic will even let you try them out with your current provider before you decide to switch.
They are also nearly undefeated in terms of price and value. The Superfast plan (150 Mbps) is £ 29 per month for a minimum 12 month commitment (then £ 35 per month). The Ultrafast plan (an incredible 500 Mbps) costs £ 35 per month on a 12 month contract (then £ 50 per month). And, finally, Hyperfast costs £ 40 per month for an incredible 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps) on a 12 month contract (then £ 60 per month).
The only reason we couldn’t rank Hyperoptic higher in our list is because it’s only available in certain regions; go to their website to see if you are eligible.