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The UK Best Broadband ISPs for 2013 – ISPreview Editors Pick

Monday, January 7th, 2013 (1:27 am) - Score 136,563

General Commendations

The ISPs we list below haven’t quite made the top recommendations, often due to a lack of consumer feedback or mixed ratings, but can still be worth trying. Readers are urged to check out our ‘Top 10 Reader Reviewed ISPs’ page and the ‘Reader ISP Reviews’ section in general for further options.

In addition it’s often worth keeping an eye on the Awards Category of our news system, which lists the awards that other organisations and magazines have given to various different UK providers. This can be useful for identifying a common trend of good performance among particular providers.

* Eclipse Internet

* Aquiss

* Vispa

* O2 and BE Broadband (suffered a few routing problems in 2012 and lacks superfast broadband but still a reasonable ISP)

We always attempt to pick ISPs that have shown fairly consistent performance and reliability over the past 12 months but there is no such thing as perfection and experiences do differ, especially with broadband being a shared “best efforts” service. Often even poorly rated ISPs can deliver an excellent service; although the ratio of dissatisfied customers to satisfied ones will be higher (i.e. you stand more chance of getting burnt).

It’s important to remember that ISP service quality can vary from location to location and is affected by many different factors, such as the length of your phone line, local capacity at the telephone exchange and the type of line itself (i.e. copper, aluminium, fibre optic or coax etc). Many of these factors will be out of the ISPs ability to control.

* NOTE 1: The pricing and recommendations of this article are only valid for the date published.

* NOTE 2: Coverage of FTTC superfast broadband services is very limited (40% of the UK, rising to at least 66% by spring 2014). Virgin’s cable platform similarly only covers half of the country and is generally limited to urban areas.

Leave a Comment
22 Responses
  1. Avatar adslmax says:

    Virgin Media local congestion is fairly widespread. They wouldn’t make my list of the best ISPs. :p

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      It is really “fairly widespread”, though… until they get around to finishing off their upgrades it’s probably just as well that the 100Meg package isn’t that popular, but even that averages higher speeds than the best FTTC connections as it is now.

      Oh, the choice between inadequate segment backhaul and ancient last-mile tech 😉

  2. Avatar Mehuge says:

    PlusNet is not so good in my experience, though both experiences were in areas where there was only old style adsl (up to 8 meg) coverage. They are dishonest, emailing you telling you your getting faster speeds than you are. They also don’t always deliver when they are supposed to.

    Glad to see Sky there at the top.

    Virgin Media – their throttling means I would never touch them as an ISP. Funny how their based on better technology but can’t deliver the services as well as others.

    Virgin Media is for those that like the thought of a high performance ISP but wouldn’t know one if it smacked them in the face.

  3. Avatar A says:

    i honestly dont know how plusnet got mentioned they say your speed will be same as you are on but cheaper sounds great then when you sign up and try its not all that as you were told so basically lies . customer support and telephone service is good but broadband is a definately no as speed is no where near what i should be getting so good old BT capping the speeds thats not a shock to me they always do .

  4. Avatar hmm says:

    This must be by number of customers ISP because Sky Broadband plusenet virgin BT are main stream ISP which on the whole are crap

  5. Avatar Ben says:

    I haven’t had any issues with the VM XXL package (recently upgraded to 120mb download), then again I’m using the “superhub” in modem mode only (connected to an asus router). All the horror stories I read about VM are more to do with the supplied router than the actual connection.

    http://speedtest.net/result/2374929905.png

  6. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    I escaped from SKY last April and moved to IDnet. Have had a solid 14meg D/L 0.85 U/L since day one, no problems what so ever. It just works.

    The only way they will get me on FTTC is by doing it as a freebie when BT get round to upgrading my cab, me being the last one on ADSL2+

  7. Avatar Sgt_Bilko says:

    I’m always amazed when hearing that Xilo score highly for support. Try calling them any evening or during the weekend if you have a problem… Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 5.00pm is not much consolation when you lose your internet on Friday evening.

    1. Avatar Matt says:

      I appreciate your comments. Many of our customers are aware of this before they signup for service.

      Customers can also contact us via their account and a large majority of people have smart phones where they can do this, or even dongles where we do answer tickets 24/7. Even maybe to extremes of asking a friend to contact us and we are more than happy to call customers back, if only to explain we’ve raised a fault for them and expected response times.

      If you’ve opted for Enhanced or Premium care, we do have a 24/7 contact number as 24/7 coverage is provided as part of the add-on paid and opted for. Normal “standard” service means that although we may be able to raise at any point over the weekend, the supplier is unlikely to start investigating until the first working day.

      Matt

  8. Avatar cyclope says:

    BE/O2 wouldn’t of been in my list of good ISP’s they may at some time been worthy of that title, but over the recent past they are far from good,I have been fortunate enough to have expreienced better to know that they aren’t what some say they are, Whilst it’s true that they are an improvement on BT retail and some other mass market ISP’s, Which TBH doen’t take an awful lot to be better than

  9. Avatar arum_lily says:

    Today I was informed that Telefonica are selling BE to Sky unfortunately. BE is great so I don`t want to lose it. Any recommendations of an ISP that is similar to BE would be gratefully received. With BE I am able to download as much as I want without any restrictions, so different to other ISPs. Most of the ISPs you`ve mentioned such as Sky, Virgin, Plusnet etc are appalling. I need help. I was going to transfer my phone line to BE but not now. I was with 02, also part of Telefonica, was so bad. They phoned me to tell me to cut my usage. 02 are also being sold to the dreaded Sky.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      That’s only page 1 if you’re looking to save money. But if it’s quality you’re after then check out those listed on page 2.

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/01/the-uk-best-broadband-isps-for-2013-ispreview-co-uk-editors-pick.html/2

  10. Avatar Comit-Storm says:

    BT
    Where do I start, they not got a clue what the left hand is doing to the right, had an appointment between 1pm-6pm, went out in morning came back to a garbled message from my daughter who said they was not coming, rang to confirm this was the fact got told no engineer is definitely coming out waited in all day 17:30 rang again found order had been change to another day, totally not impressed.
    Now cancelled order this is 2nd time they have let me down in two years, now leaving them.

  11. Avatar LeTete says:

    Sky=Murdoch Lying Zionist who lies to MP’s, Hacks voicemails of celebrity’s and Millie Dowler, try’s to plant mes in Gov….Coulson and knows scum like the Rebecca and Charlie Brooks who use innocents to destroy evidence for them, add some police bribery and you wanna advertise to make this man richer.

    BT first company to start spying on their customers ‘Phorm’ and only just stopped all the traffic shaping so they say but still block access to some sites. They all suck the big heartless companies, sucking up our money for sub standard service and half the speed promised and advertised! The exploit, consume, polute and furnish the greed of the few that benefit! Remember get a VPN your being watched and whether you have anything to hide or not you deserve privacy as google collecting your every search term doesn’t benefit you only them as they don’t pay you a cut for that valuable info! Most US sites now pass info to Gov agency’s Microsoft, Hotmail, Facebook and so on in fact use any old details to register! You would be a fool to register for anything using your real details. You could have your identity stolen by hackers as none if the big sites take adequate precautions…..Sony Anybody! They can’t be trusted therefore protect your information. They make money from it, better targeting their audience that’s your info helping them where’s your cut? Precisely

    1. Avatar tinux says:

      Spot on. The trouble is who do you trust? you still some tunnels to walk through and most are full of spiders and you still pay for the privilige.

  12. Avatar Chris says:

    I was with BT until feb this year, had the total Bb option 1, was an absolutely crap service we received from them. Was constantly on the phone kicking off because wifi dropping off & speed issues + was getting charged for over usage. So now moved to sky unlimited 7.50 pm. Tell you what it’s great! Getting 12mbps d/l 1.4 u/l no wifi issues & the cloud is boss. So even if I did have a problem, I can still get online via the local pub just over the road from my house! Spot on. Thanks sky

  13. Avatar Z says:

    I’d just like to add my experiences to the mix.

    I’ve had experience with Virgin, TalkTalk and Sky as a domestic customer in London and Bristol. Below are my thoughts on all three.

    TalkTalk: The service provided used to be on the lower-quality side, relatively average speeds and poor router performance. Within the last year, however, service has improved and the newest router provided seems to be working reasonably well. Download speeds are decent over ADSL, with at least 13 Mbps down and 1 up – nothing stellar, but sufficient for the low price. Customer service is average. In London, I can say this is a good budget offering to go with.

    Virgin Media: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Yes, the company offers the fastest speeds in the land, and this is only true when it works. A lot of the time it doesn’t. The speeds are sometimes unstable, especially when it comes to video streaming. The latency is erratic – 30 ms one moment, 1000 ms the next. The Super Hub has terrible WiFi performance and range, and suffers from regular DNS issues. There was a time when the line to the local cabinet was overloaded and I saw speeds below 100 kbps, with Virgin being completely clueless about it, sticking to their scripts and generally doing nothing to fix it. In the end I was told it was the fault of planning permission by a senior network admin. Customer support takes a long time to be connected to, and through the staff are friendly, they often lack the knowledge to fix problems. Need I mention they never quoted any terms and conditions, nor did they send me that in written form as promised, and kept charging me after my contract was supposed to have ended. Please avoid unless you know your neighbours are getting good service and nobody else offers acceptable speeds.

    Sky: I am pretty happy with Sky’s Unlimited package. Speeds are very good for ADSL, with at least 17 Mbps down and 1 up, even at peak times. No traffic management whatsoever means downloads are consistently quick. The customer support has also been excellent and, despite a couple of minor glitches from the Sagemcom router, service has on the whole been pretty decent, with good latency (sub 30 ms). The only downside is that, unless you can haggle a good deal, you’ll have to pay £50 up front to upgrade your line to Sky Fibre.

  14. Avatar philip says:

    BT Infinity is also poor in my experience – I cant wait to leave.

  15. Avatar Goestoshow says:

    Some interesting comments from those who have experience of these companies. Like the website, broadbandchoices, perhaps words like affiliate, partner, vendorid that feature in the links to various companies from company names above, revealed the true reason for the results. Shame on you ispreview!

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      We don’t make a secret of the fact that affiliate links are used; it’s the same on Thinkbroadband and other sites. It’s how we’re able to fund the sites continued operation and expansion. The difference is here is that we list and cover all legal ISPs in the same way regardless of whether there is an affiliate relationship.

      You will also note that BT, Sky and others with affiliate links are treated just the same in the news and articles, where we have covered plenty of their faults at great length. I doubt many people would view ISPr as a pro-big ISP site lol. We openly tend to favour smaller providers for their quality.

      The editor’s choice is also split into a balance of “price” (cheaper) or “quality” choices. Readers are clearly warned above that the cheaper solutions we highlight may “sacrifice service quality for a lower price point, which can result in inferior support and slow speeds”.

      You will note that not one of the ISPs we recommend for Quality have any kind of affiliate or other promotional relationship with us. Affiliate links are automatically applied to only a small number of supporting ISPs.

      Anyway you don’t need me to tell you this, just ask any of our long time readers that have seen how we report and give fair coverage to all. It’s not just something I say.. history speaks for itself.. 13 years of it. Take the time to look back through our archives and you’ll see.

  16. Avatar ben says:

    Does anyone know who is the best provider in the uk for gaming.
    I enjoy playing my ps3 however i have virgin media broadband 60meg. I find this great for downloading however, i feel that when gaming i get alot of lagg. This is so bad at times that when playing games online i do not even see some peoples sprite untill they have shot me.
    For example. I can be shot by someone b4 i see them come round the corner. This is made more apparent when playing with snippers.
    If anyone elae has this issue or has solved it please message me.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Virgin Media’s cable platform does seem to suffer from higher latency than other network technologies and ISPs but performance varies based on a number of factors. As a result if one person tells you X ISP is best then you could still join and find that X ISP is actually terrible.

      However this article might help you to thin down the options a bit:

      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2012/08/a-closer-look-at-latency-and-packet-loss-on-the-biggest-broadband-isps.html

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