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Where can I get the fastest broadband?

Broadband speeds can still vary hugely these days, from the standard with average speeds around 11Mb, to superfast fibre or even next-generation Fibre to the premises (FTTP) also known as ultrafast full fibre broadband with max speeds of 1,000Mb.

The quicker the speed the more you pay, so think carefully before taking the plunge. But if you've the need for speed - let's say if you do loads of streaming or downloading, or lots of you use the web at the same time in your home - it's worth knowing which providers offer the fastest connections and how to get it cheapest. See our Fibre to the premises explained guide for more info.

What's the fastest broadband speed I can get?

Broadband speeds can still vary hugely these days. Essentially there are four main categories, with the difference being the type of connection used and the speeds each are capable of:

  • Standard speed - with max speeds of 17Mb.
  • Fast fibre-optic - top speeds of 38Mb or 52Mb.
  • Superfast fibre-optic - max speeds of 76Mb.
  • Ultra-fast fibre-optic - usually with top speeds of 1,000Mb.

The top speed you'll be able to get will depend on where you live and what connection there is to your home. See our Speed Boost guide to see what speeds you're currently getting.

To see which speeds you can get in your area and what it costs, compare broadband, phone and TV packages

Our broadband comparison will speedily find you the cheapest deals you can get where you live

Which providers offer the fastest speeds?

A handful of providers offer the next-generation ultra-fast speeds with max speeds of 1GB - that's a whopping 1,000Mb. There’s also very small providers that only operate in certain areas, so availability is extremely limited. We don’t list these in our tool, but we do include bigger providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Shell Energy and small provider Hyperoptic.

Virgin Media offers the fastest more widely available ultra-fast fibre-optic - its fastest package runs at top speeds of 1,000Mb but the majority of homes still cannot get this. See our Fibre to the premises explained guide for more info.

Will I actually get these speeds?

It's important to understand that these advertised speeds are based on the average speed received by at least 50% of a provider's current customer base between 8pm and 10pm - when most people are online.

However, you should still only use it as an indication of the speeds you may get. If you want to know the speed you're most likely to get to your home, the best way is to check before committing to a contract. See our Broadband Speed Test guide to see what speeds you’re currently getting.

The closer you live to your local exchange - the hub through which broadband is delivered to homes in that area - the better your speed is likely to be, though you may need to look up where your exchange is as it may not be that obvious.

Most major providers adhere to Ofcom's voluntary code of practice, which means you will be shown a personalised speed estimate and a minimum guaranteed speed before you sign up - based on the speeds of other customers with a similar connection.

So since 1 March 2019, if your speeds drop below this minimum for three consecutive days, you can ask your provider to check for a fault – and get it fixed

If it remains unresolved for 30 days, you should be able to exit your contract penalty-free.

Do you REALLY need faster speeds?

While a lightning-quick package may sound tempting, it'll come at a premium, so make sure you really need the extra speed.

If you're a heavy user - so if you do lots of streaming, online gaming or downloading, or have multiple users in your home - you may find it's well worth it, as doing lots at the same time slows you down.

Yet fibre-optic is very much a luxury for most, so weigh up if you really need it. If you just use the web for basic tasks such as emails and the odd bit of browsing, then standard broadband with average speeds of around 11Mb should be fine.

How can I check my speed?

The easiest way to check is to do a broadband speed test - see our Broadband Speed Test guide for the full info and how to do it.

To see which speeds you can get in your area and what it costs, compare broadband, phone and TV packages

Our broadband comparison will speedily compare the market for deals you can get

Our top need-to-knows

1

Who we do and don't compare

This tool looks at 17 of the biggest providers, including the giants of BT, Sky and Virgin. Plus special deals we've found or blagged that we think are top picks. Yet there are also many small providers we can't list - which occasionally have cheap deals - so it's always worth checking direct with any local provider you know of. Let us know if you find a top deal we've missed and see which providers this tool covers.

2

Switching can save you £100s

Many get a cheap promo deal for broadband, line rent and/or TV, and stick with it when it ends, usually paying £100s/year more than they started with. Don't let it be you - compare now and see if you could save

3

Fast advertised speeds don't mean faster broadband

Providers only have to advertise the average speed received by at least 50% of customers between 8pm and 10pm. Your actual speed can depend on a host of factors - see the full checklist of tips in Broadband Speed Boosting.

4

Consider your need for speed

If it's just you and the dog, you're likely to be fine with standard speeds averaging around 11Mb. If you share a house, or you use the web for movie downloads, streaming or gaming, you may want to opt for faster speeds in excess of 30Mb.

5

Beware of mid-contract switching costs

Usually you'll pay for the rest of the contract plus termination fees. If your provider increases prices mid-contract and didn't warn you before you signed up, you can switch penalty-free within 30 days of notification of the price hike.

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