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The UK Top 8 Fastest Major Home Broadband ISPs for May 2014

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 (1:04 am) - Score 1,413

The average fixed line home broadband download speed for the largest eight ISPs in the United Kingdom held stable at 21.7Mbps (up from 21.32Mbps in April 2014) and Internet uploads were similarly unchanged at 5.04Mbps. As usual Virgin Media and BT remain the fastest national providers. A new chart that tracks the monthly changes has also been added.

The following summary is based on data gathered using Ookla’s universal Speedtest.net service and we then calculate the overall average speeds from only the major national UK ISPs listed below rather than Ookla’s overall total (i.e. Ookla’s overall figures would be too skewed by business ISPs, niche providers and mobile operators).

Generally speaking May has been a fairly quiet month with no major changes to report; although Zen Internet has snuck into the top 3 after just about managing to unseat PlusNet. Otherwise Virgin continues to be the fastest national broadband ISP for download speeds on 49.36Mbps, with BT coming a distant second at 25.52Mbps (largely due to the high number of slower ADSL2+ users).

Top 8 Big UK ISPs – Average Download Speed (Megabits per second)
1. Virgin Media – 49.26Mbps
2. BT – 25.52Mbps
3. Zen Internet – 22.58Mbps
4. PlusNet – 21.30Mbps
5. Eclipse Internet – 14.99Mbps
6. Sky Broadband – 13.46Mbps
7. TalkTalk – 13.44Mbps
8. EE – 13.05Mbps

Top 8 Big UK ISPs – Average Upload Speed
1. BT – 7.58Mbps
2. Zen Internet – 6.80Mbps
3. PlusNet – 6.50Mbps
4. Virgin Media – 5.56Mbps
5. Eclipse Internet – 4.30Mbps
6. Sky Broadband – 3.97Mbps
7. EE (Orange) – 3.19Mbps
8. TalkTalk – 2.44Mbps

Some readers have also requested that ISPreview.co.uk keep track of individual ISP performance and in response we’ve included a semi-interactive chart at the bottom that will be used to keep tabs on the listed ISPs, albeit only in terms of downstream performance (uploads change at a far slower rate).

At this stage we’ve only been doing it since March 2014 and so you won’t notice much movement, although the start of Virgin Media’s latest double speed upgrade is clearly evident. Take note that the chart will only display if your web browser has enabled JavaScript (most do this by default) and mobile browsers may also need to use ‘Desktop’ mode to see it.

As usual it’s important to take average speeds like these with a big pinch of salt. Every home is different and performance can be affected by all sorts of issues, many of which are beyond the ISPs ability to control (e.g. slow wifi or poor home wiring), thus we do not consider the above data to be a reliable barometer for individual users but it can help to highlight general changes in the market.

On top of that it’s known that Ookla’s data attempts to reflect the fastest sustainable throughput performance by dropping a sizeable chunk of the slowest tests and a smaller slice of the fastest results for each ISP, which has its merits but also skews the results a bit. Similarly speedtesting services are rarely perfect, although this is usually more of an issue for ultrafast connections of 100Mbps+ (uncommon).

Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. Avatar BT Investor says:

    BT really is the only option if you want the best performance from a normal home line. Obviously Virgin’s cable service averages out faster for the reason Mark outlined, but BT continues to march ahead of everyone else by a wide distance. Good to see.

    1. Avatar GNewton says:

      You don’t know BT, otherwise you wouldn’t post such nonsense.

      For example, in our town of 10 000 there are no normal BT business services available, nor is there fibre broadband, nor VDSL. In fact, almost the whole of the UK is without fibre broadband. BT is not a commercially oriented company, we see more and more smaller towns, and especially businesses, bypassing BT altogether. I have many friends who don’t land lines at all!

    2. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      What on earth are you talking about?

      BT score higher in this because they were charging more for ADSL than many and upgraded a number of people to FTTC free of charge.

      They have a higher percentage of their user base on FTTC hence score more highly in this metric. This is exactly the same explanation you use to excuse Virgin Media coming out on top by a country mile.

      That you take any pride at all in being half as fast as the cable company, with them considerably extending their lead via a barely started uplift programme, shows just how low the bar has to be set to consider it a success.

      Even if each and every ADSL customer were removed from the BT stats, leaving all those on legacy non-uplifted Virgin Media products to disrupt their average, Virgin would still come out on top.

      Even if you took purely those taking the top 76Mb Infinity 2 tier from BT and compared them against Virgin Media’s entire broadband customer base from those still on 10Mb to those on their newest tier Virgin would win.

      You can certainly be proud of how little money BT spent on their NGA deployment and how wide the coverage is but most certainly not its performance.

    3. Ignitionnet – Don’t feed the troll.

    4. Avatar No Clue says:

      “Obviously Virgin’s cable service averages out faster for the reason Mark outlined, but BT continues to march ahead of everyone else by a wide distance. Good to see.”

      I do not think you can see…

      2. BT – 25.52Mbps
      3. Zen Internet – 22.58Mbps
      4. PlusNet – 21.30Mbps

    5. Avatar BT Investor says:

      Plus.net is also a BT company so eliminate that. It’s only Zen Internet who comes close and they are still 12.2% slower and the cost is considerably more than the faster BT connection. The next nearest challenger is 51.98% slower than a BT Broadband connection.

    6. Avatar No Clue says:

      “Plus.net is also a BT company so eliminate that. It’s only Zen Internet who comes close and they are still 12.2% slower and the cost is considerably more than the faster BT connection.”

      Aside from your maths being wrong (as is very typical and usual from you). Its actually nearer 11.5% That statement is also ridiculous. 2.94Mb faster is not “Marching ahead” of anyone. You can lose more than that on a simple re-sync. Oh and if BT are so good then why is Plusnet in fourth place and beaten by Zen.

      The dross and faulty maths you produce daily never fails to disappoint.

    7. Avatar BT Investor says:

      My math is spot on. And Plus.net of course is a lower cost service and therefore doesn’t benefit from the full BT Broadband experience. Plus.net users are not provided with best of breed Home Hub hardware for example which is known to ensure the most stable and reliable internet connection from a BT line. That said, it’s still astonishing they are ahead of everyone else bar Zen in terms of speeds.

    8. Avatar GNewton says:

      @BT Investor: All good if you were lucky in the BT postcode lottery, or on the receiving end of taxpayer’s money (aka wasteful BDUK). Please explain why a town of 10 000 can’t be served by normal office telecom services by BT, or why BT can’t offer fibre broadband in most of the UK.

      BT has wasted a lot of money in yesterday’s technology, no future-proofed. If I was you, I’d get rid of BT shares now, before the big downfall. It is only a question of time until some other telecom company comes with a new disruptive technology and makes BT look like a dinosaur, I see that already happening in our area.

    9. Avatar No Clue says:

      “My math is spot on.”

      LMAO oh no not again…… PAY ATTENTION.

      BT speed = 25.52Mbps
      Zen speed = 22.58Mbps

      25.52Mbps – 22.58Mbps = 2.94Mbps (thats the difference in raw speed between the two products)

      Oh but how oh hows shall we calculate that as a percent for the stupid.


      10% OF 10% 25.52Mbps = 2.552Mbps
      1% OF 25.52Mbps = 0.2552Mbps
      0.5% OF 25.52Mbps = 0.1276Mbps (are you still following cos now its getting complicated for you)

      2.552Mbps (10%) + 0.2552Mbps (1%) + 0.1276Mbps (0.5%) = 2.9348Mbps which i think you will find is a grand total of 11.5% and only 0.0052Mbps off from the 2.94Mb difference between the 2 packages.

      Your frankly hopeless 12.2% guesstimate which you claim is the difference though is nowhere near close.

      Once again…
      10% OF 25.52Mbps = 2.552Mbps
      2% OF 25.52Mbps = 0.5105Mbps

      Ill be kind for now and even forget the extra 0.2% in you so called “fine maths”

      2.552Mbps (10%) + 0.5105Mbps (2%) = 3.0625Mbps

      SO lets go over that again shall we he who can not count

      25.52Mbps (BT speed) – 22.58Mbps (ZEN speed) = 2.94Mbps (thats the difference in raw speed between the two).

      Now what is closer to that 2.94Mb my claimed 11.5% or your claimed 12+%.

      Go on think about it. Maybe take your time, buy an abacus, phone a friend, and then for a change give up rather than guess like a fool you are right.

      PS i also do de-brainwashing seminars if you want help with that BT fixation.

    10. Avatar Raindrops says:

      “25.52Mbps (BT speed) – 22.58Mbps (ZEN speed) = 2.94Mbps (thats the difference in raw speed between the two).

      Now what is closer to that 2.94Mb my claimed 11.5% or your claimed 12+%.”

      LOL hold on i will check for him………

      The boy genius never fails to amuse.

    11. Avatar GNewton says:

      As a followup on my statement of new technologies which have the potential to seriously disrupt the BT market, see this ISPReview arcticle:


    12. Avatar No Clue says:


      That was short, sweet, but ultimately even more humiliating to them than my post. The guy really does have issues with any type of figures.

  2. Avatar Bob2002 says:

    Does Eclipse qualify as a “big” ISP?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Last info. we had showed them as a little bigger than Zen as part of the KC Group, so I’d say the top 6 are “big” but the next 2 after that are perhaps more “big/medium” sized depending upon perspective. Sadly most other ISPs don’t like to share their subscriber size data or they’re not independent enough (we don’t include vISPs).

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