Setting up Broadband in the UK

by | Mar 9, 2023 | Broadband & Phone, Moving Guides

In this guide, we have included some of the most common questions on broadband, the UK’s major suppliers, the UK’s broadband infrastructure and a glossary of common key terms you’ll need to know – whether you’re new to the UK or you’re curious about the connection you’ve been using.

In this guide:


Getting internet in the UK

In the UK, home internet access is usually supplied through a private contract with an internet provider. Each provider operates on a particular, physical network, whether it’s their own private installation or a network of shared infrastructure like the Openreach network.

If their network is available at your address then you can place an order with a supplier and have them activate the connection at your address, or install a new access point. You can then connect a router to that access point to create a Wi-Fi network in your home, or use an Ethernet cable for a stable wired connection.

Broadband networks & speeds

‘Broadband’ is a shorthand term for internet access delivered across a ‘broad band’ of frequencies.

Almost everyone in the UK has some form of broadband internet available in their home, but the speed of their connection can range from excruciatingly slow to lightning fast.

The speeds you’re able to reach on your home internet connection depend on a few factors, but the most important by far is the infrastructure available at your home.


About Broadband infrastructures

Which supplier has the fastest internet?

What broadband providers are there in the UK?

The most popular network in the UK is the Openreach network. This is used by BT, Sky, EE, Plusnet, Talk Talk, Now TV, Vodafone, Zen broadband and more.

The largest independent network in the UK is Virgin Media. Virgin use their own infrastructure exclusively, and are available in about 60% of the UK.

A second shared infrastructure network in the UK is the OFNL. Providers on the OFNL include See The Light broadband and Direct Save telecom. OFNL’s coverage is much smaller than either Openreach or Virgin Media.

Other providers operate their own, smaller, independent networks. These include Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, KCOM, G.Network and Gigaclear. Many of these smaller networks will focus on one area or type of building for their installations.

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Which broadband provider is the best?

It’s hard to say which broadband supplier is best overall – it really comes down to your needs and preferences. However, our Connections Experts have selected some best-in-category options below to help you make the right choice.

Best if you can get them

As a smaller independent broadband provider, Hyperoptic has limited availability across the UK, but if Hyperoptic is available in your building, they’re your best option for a fast, easy to set up and affordable internet connection. 


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Best for TV & Broadband

Sky is the best provider when it comes to range of TV channels and exclusives. They also save the best deals for bundle packages with broadband, TV and mobile, so they’re the perfect supplier if you want a one stop shop for your telecoms.


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Best for Ultrafast Broadband

Virgin Media offers ultrafast speeds across their entire network, which means all of their customers can access affordable packages at > 500 mbps. Plus, if Virgin Media has ever been used at the address before, there’s no extra installation needed.


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Which broadband provider has the fastest internet?

This is one of the most common questions we see from people searching for a new broadband package, and the frustrating answer is that it depends on the location and connections at your property.

Generally speaking, the fastest broadband in the UK is supplied by Ultrafast FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) networks.


UK broadband Ultrafast FTTP broadband suppliers
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How should I choose my broadband provider/ package?

Like with any purchase, everyone has different priorities when it comes to broadband. The first step in the process should be to decide what the minimum broadband speed you need for daily use, as well as what your preferred speed would be and any extra features you would want your package to have. This could be anything from a long contract length to keep your monthly price fixed for as long as possible to a guarantee of internet in every room or an inclusive TV package.

Once you know what your package needs to include, you can start researching which suppliers are available at your address.

Compare their packages at the speeds you’re looking for and decide if you want to opt for the cheapest supplier available, a package with additional features, the supplier with the best reviews or some combination of the above.

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How do I find the best provider available at my address?

The fastest supplier at your address may be different from what’s available to your friends, and even neighbours, so our advice would be to investigate all of the options available to you before committing to a new contract. You can get a general idea of the suppliers available using your postcode on a comparison site, but for many providers the speeds and packages available vary from property to property and not just postcode to postcode.

To get accurate information about of all the packages available, you’ll need to visit each supplier’s website and input your address.

The good news is Please Connect Me make this process easy by running a 24+ point property check on the suppliers available at your property for you. This includes the actual estimated speeds from major suppliers like Sky and Virgin Media, but also independent suppliers you may not have thought to check with like Hyperoptic and G.Network.

 Where in the UK has the best broadband?

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What do I need to sign up to broadband? 

To place an order for a new broadband contract, there are some details you will always need.

These include:

  • The address you’d like the service installed in

  • An email address

  • A UK phone number

  • Payment method

Depending on the provider this could be a credit or debit card, or they may require the sort code and account number of a UK bank account to set up direct debit payment.

Other than these essentials, you’ll usually need to provide some other personal details and set a security question. You should also have an idea of the broadband speed and package features you would like from the start as this will help you find the best deal.

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Broadband infrastructures in the UK

Here’s a breakdown of the most common internet infrastructures available in homes. Which networks are available in your area will determine not only what speeds you can get, but also which companies will be able to supply you.

Broadband FAQs

Should I bundle my broadband?

Generally speaking, if you’re looking to sign up for a TV or mobile contract at the same time as your broadband then you’re best bet is to combine the packages. This will almost always save you money, and can unlock added benefits such as the fact that Sky’s TV box work with their router to create a stronger mesh Wi-Fi network.

The exception to the rule would be if the best supplier available to you for internet does not offer the extra services you’re looking for. In that case, it might be better to take out separate contracts in order to get the internet speeds you need.

What is unlimited broadband?

When broadband was first being rolled out in the UK, many suppliers limited the total amount of data you could download each month, much like current mobile phone internet plans.

As our internet use grew, more and more suppliers switched to unlimited usage across all of their home broadband packages.

Today, the vast majority of internet packages offer unlimited data usage meaning you can browse, stream and download as much as you like.

What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband works similarly to traditional broadband, with a router in your home generating a Wi-Fi network and receiving and broadcasting data. Rather than a cable in the ground however, these transmissions are sent wirelessly via satellite. The router accesses this network with a SIM card, just like your mobile phone does.

Using wireless transmissions mean these routers can be used anywhere with mobile signal, without the need to connect to physical network. This makes them portable and much more flexible than traditional broadband, but depending on the network available can limit their capacity.

Do I need to have a home phone with my broadband?

The short answer is no.

If you’re setting up a package today, most providers will have an option for broadband without a phone line. In some cases, however, broadband with a phone line is the cheaper option, in which case we’d recommend choosing the cheaper plan.

If you don’t want to have a home phone, you can leave the line unused and still save.

Do bigger households need faster broadband?

The estimated speeds shown in your broadband contract are not per device, instead, that’s the speed of the whole connection shared across all devices and users. One user with a laptop and a phone on a 60 Mbps connection will be able to receive up to 30 mb/s of data per device.

Five users with a phone and PC each on the same network will only be able to receive up to 5 Mbps per device if they’re all online at once.

What are the peak times for broadband use?

When a provider or a plan refers to ‘peak hours’ for broadband use, they mean the period from around 7 pm to about 9 pm. This is when most people access the internet, and the highest intensity activities like gaming and streaming video are typically done.

Your provider’s advertised speeds need to be available to at least 50% of users at peak times, but you may still experience a drop in speed during this period.

Why are some websites blocked by my internet provider?

Some internet providers have ‘internet safety’ or ‘parental’ controls on websites which you can deactivate through your online account.

If these are disabled and the website you are trying to access is still blocked then the site is likely blocked throughout the UK due to a High Court order or copyright claim. If that is the case you will not be able to access the site through a UK IP address.

What is an IP address?

IP address – short for Internet Protocol address – is an identifier for a device connected to a network. Like a physical address, your IP allows other users to find and share data with your device. Most internet providers assign you a ‘dynamic’ IP address. This means it can change, although it will usually stay the same for months at a time.

If you need a static IP address to connect to secure networks, you’ll need to choose a supplier that can offer them. Currently, Plusnet, Hyperoptic and Zen broadband are among the small group of suppliers who offer static or fixed IP addresses to domestic customers.

How do I check my broadband speed?

There are hundreds of free internet speed checkers online – we’d recommend Ookla’s To get the most accurate measurement, make sure only one device is connected to the network, and connect it directly to the router via Ethernet if possible.

Close any apps or programs other than your web browser, with one tab open to the speed test, and don’t touch the mouse or keyboard while the test is running. You’ll be given a download and upload speed in Mbps.

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