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ISP Review’s 2018 Choice of the Best UK Home Broadband Providers

Monday, January 8th, 2018 (1:02 am) - Score 119,037
Editor\'s choice uk best broadband providers

Choosing a cheap ISP may often result in having to contend with oversubscribed networks (slower speeds due to congestion), fewer advanced service features (e.g. dynamic instead of static IP addresses) and customer support that treats you more like a number than a human.

However, not all providers are built the same and some will deliver a much higher quality of service and support, which is a particularly important consideration for home workers. The downside is that you often have to pay a higher monthly rental in order to receive such an improvement. But please remember that no service is perfect and even the best providers can suffer due to networks faults or other problems.

Best UK Home Broadband ISPs for Quality

A good quality ISP will often put more of their profits back into the network, which means they can hire UK based staff with experience of computer networks and offer advanced features, such as IPv6, shorter contracts, faster repair times, static IP addresses and website hosting etc. (we always advise readers to pick a separate provider for web and email hosting, so you can easily switch broadband ISP when needed).

It’s no coincidence that the best providers also tend to be the smallest players, which is partly because they place a higher value on each user and can thus deliver a more personal customer relationship. The following page reflects a list of ISPs that generally appear to place quality and reliability above the mass market desire for lower pricing.

NOTE: Smaller ISPs will often, but not always, expect you to buy your own third-party broadband router and consumers who want specific service guarantees should consider choosing a business package, such as one that offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and guaranteed fix times; these can be much more expensive.

* iDNET

  Setup: £0 – £120 | UK Coverage: 90%+ (2% FTTP) | Fastest Package: 330Mbps
Cheapest Standard Broadband
Cheapest Superfast Broadband
Speed: up to 17Mbps DL / 1Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: 1 Month
Extras: Static IPv6 and IPv4 Address, UK Support
Speed: up to 38Mbps DL / 1.9Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: 12 Months
Extras: Static IPv6 and IPv4 Address, UK Support
PRICE: £35.40 per month
PRICE: £41.40 per month

Generally not a lot has changed since last year, which is a good thing because iDNET enjoys an extremely strong reputation (IDNet Reviews) and that’s backed up by free UK based customer support. On top of that their broadband packages offer both a “low latency guarantee” (good for gamers) and another guarantee for “no contention on our network, no throttling, no traffic shaping & no port blocking.” In essence, they’re selling high quality business style packages to home users.

Pros:
• Speed
• Support
• Static IPv6 and IPv4 addresses
• Strong commitment to low latency and no contention

Cons:
• No included router

* Zen Internet

  Setup: £0 – £55 | UK Coverage: 90%+ (2% FTTP) | Fastest Package: 300Mbps
Cheapest Standard Broadband
Cheapest Superfast Broadband
Speed: up to 17Mbps DL / 1Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: 12 Months
Extras: Static IPv6 and IPv4 Addresses, UK Support, Included Wireless Router
Speed: up to 38Mbps DL / 9.5Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: 12 Months
Extras: Static IPv6 and IPv4 Addresses, UK Support, Included Wireless Router
PRICE: £32.99 per month
PRICE: £43.99 per month

This is one ISP that requires very little introduction. Zen has been around for longer than most broadband providers and over the decades they’ve built a strong reputation for quality, which has resulted in them attracting a lot of positive feedback (Zen’s Reviews); the consumer magazine Which? is often giving them awards (here).

At the time of writing Zen, much like iDNET above, also continues to be one of the few ISPs that can sell a reasonably affordable range of Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) based broadband services on Openreach’s national network, which is something that most of the bigger providers fail to do.

Pros:
• Speed
• Support
• Static IPv6 and IPv4 addresses
• Affordable FTTP packages

Cons:
• Nothing that stands out, other than the higher price (same for most ISPs on this page)

* Pulse8 Broadband

  Setup: £0 – £129 | UK Coverage: 90%+ | Fastest Package: 76Mbps
Cheapest Standard Broadband
Cheapest Superfast Broadband
Speed: up to 17Mbps DL / 1Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: No Fixed Term
Extras: UK Support
Speed: up to 38Mbps DL / 9.5Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: No Fixed Term
Extras: UK Support
PRICE: £25 per month
PRICE: £35.40 per month

Pulse8 are one of the cheapest providers on this page and arguably they should be on page one, except for the fact that they currently seem to deliver a better quality of support than the bigger boys. On top of that their superfast “fibre broadband” (FTTC) packages don’t attach a fixed contract term and they promise not to impose “termination charges, minimum call costs or connection fees with calls only charged to the nearest second.”

Pros:
• Price
• No fixed contract terms
• UK support

Cons:
• No included router (unsurprising given the cost)
• New line fibre installs may attract quite a big install fee

* AAISP (Andrews & Arnold)

  Setup: £0 – £? | UK Coverage: 90%+ (2% FTTP) | Fastest Package: 76Mbps
Cheapest Standard Broadband
Cheapest Superfast Broadband
Speed: up to 17Mbps DL / 1Mbps UL
Usage: 200GB (Unlimited Upload)
Voice Calls: None
Contract: 6 Months
Extras: Static IPv6 and IPv4 Block, Advanced Line Monitoring, UK Support via Phone / Email / IRC and SMS
Speed: up to 76Mbps DL / 19Mbps UL
Usage: 200GB (Unlimited Upload)
Voice Calls: None
Contract: 6 Months
Extras: Static IPv6 and IPv4 Block, Advanced Line Monitoring, UK Support via Phone / Email / IRC and SMS
PRICE: £35 per month
PRICE: £45 per month

The strength of Andrews and Arnold does not reside in either their price (they are one of the most expensive providers in this report) or service flexibility (want unlimited downloads? forget it!). Instead what you get with AAISP is a fast ISP where the support staff are all highly skilled IT/network engineers who are truly dedicated towards solving your problems.

As an internet provider they seem to be aimed squarely at technically competent consumers and businesses, where having the best speed, support and reliability is of paramount importance. This is not an ISP that will try to over simplify things or mislead you about their charges, this is an honest provider that you can trust and if there was any justice in the world then they’d be winning awards front, left, right and centre for doing so.

A quick look at AAISP’s Review history should tell you all you need to know.

Pros:
• Speed
• Support
• Static IPv4 and block of IPv6 addresses
• Short 6 month contract

Cons:
• Price (broadband)
• No free router
• Website could still be improved (cosmetically)

* Aquiss

  Setup: £0 | UK Coverage: 90%+ | Fastest Package: 76Mbps
Cheapest Standard Broadband
Cheapest Superfast Broadband
Speed: up to 17Mbps DL / 1Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: 1 Month
Extras: Static IPv6 and IPv4 Address, UK Support, Email, Internet Security
Speed: up to 38Mbps DL / 2Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: 12 Months
Extras: Static IPv6 and IPv4 Address, UK Support, Email, Internet Security
PRICE: £32 per month
PRICE: £43 per month

As an ISP Aquiss are fairly level with their competitors in the value proposition, particularly on their ‘Standard Broadband‘ package where the bundled price of £32 is similar to others on this page. On the other hand they’ve managed to maintain a good quality of service and offer strong UK support. We also like the clarity of information provided alongside their packages.

Pros:
• Speed
• Support
• Static IPv4 and block of IPv6 addresses
• Cheap line rental (£13) – if you want it standalone

Cons:
• No free router

* uno

  Setup: £13.20-£72 | UK Coverage: 90%+ | Fastest Package: 76Mbps
Cheapest Standard Broadband
Cheapest Superfast Broadband
Speed: up to 17Mbps DL / 1Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: 12 Months
Extras: Static IPv4 Address, 250MB Webspace + Email (anti-spam/virus), UK Support, Advanced Control Panel
Speed: up to 38Mbps DL / 9.5Mbps UL
Usage: Unlimited
Voice Calls: Standard Rates
Contract: 12 Months
Extras: Static IPv4 Address, 250MB Webspace + Email (anti-spam/virus), UK Support, Advanced Control Panel
PRICE: £23.99 per month
PRICE: £47.98 per month

Uno remains a highly rated ISP (uno Reviews) and that’s largely because they’ve built up a good reputation for service quality and UK based support. On top of that they also give customers access to a special control panel that enables you, where possible, to tweak lots of advanced connection settings (interleaving, IP blocks, DNS etc.).

On the flip side their online order system doesn’t seem able to handle new line installs (e.g. when moving house) because it can only accept a phone number input and it also appears to reject numbers if they aren’t on BT’s national network (e.g. unbundled Sky Broadband etc.). On top of that their availability checker is extremely slow. The prices on their website also exclude VAT but this isn’t very clear.

Pros:
• Speed
• UK Support
• Static IP address
• All the extra features

Cons:
• Price (superfast broadband)
• No free router
• Ineffective availability checker and need to simplify package presentation
• Prices exclude VAT but not made clear on website

Now let’s move on to the final page and take a look at Alternative Network (AltNet) providers, which have built their own networks.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
25 Responses
  1. Matthew

    Thought plus net now offered 40/10 to all customers?

  2. Negan's Lover

    Vodafone now offer broadband login details upon request so a third party router can be used. Unlike previously where it was almost impossible to get this from VF.

    • I’ve had mixed feedback on that, it seems to depend partly on which support agent you contact. Likewise they only allow routers that have been approved by Openreach, which is tricky since we only have BT Wholesale’s list of approved devices and many of the more recent routers don’t appear on that.

    • @ Mark Jackson

      They do but only under certain circumstances.

      Their change in stance was a direct result of a joint effort by members of the kitz forum managing to hack into their HHG2500. A lot of the credit goes to member bishbashbosh who eventually managed to obtain login info. At the same time he discovered a potential security bug so did the correct thing and advised Vodafone. VF were given time to patch any potential flaws and we had about 5 VF techs (that I know of) looking at this.
      The end result was they agreed to give out login info if the EU was using an MCT based modem. We usually suggest they use one of the several Zyxels we frequently recommend as VF are aware of those particular models being MCT approved.

      The whole thread can be seen here, but as it is only visible to logged in members, I shall quote the summary.
      http://forum.kitz.co.uk/index.php/topic,18911.375.html

      [quote]
      I’ve now re-assembled this thread and put back all the useful information provided by bishbashbosh and many others.

      It has served it’s purpose and given vodafone time to patch any flaws.
      The outcome has been good and as a result vodafone have changed their stance on providing information so that users may now use their own routers 🙂
      All-in-all, it was a long journey but the end result was good.
      [/quote]

  3. Wow, thanks Mark! 😀
    Nearly all our new business comes through recommedations, so this is very much appreciated.
    We’re all now super chuffed.

  4. occasionally factual

    A con to add to Plusnet is that in Telephone Exchange Market A they will charge you £7.50 a month more for ADSL/FTTC/FTTP (Unlike John Lewis Broadband which is, of course, a Plusnet white label so maybe cheaper for any potential Plusnet customer)

  5. eM

    I disagree that Vodafone make it hard to use a 3rd party router. Now, they give out the password no problem – when I switched, all I had to do is input my new password into my Lede.

  6. 3G Infinity (now 4G going on 5G)

    Can you do the same for business/SME offerings?

    • I’m not sure if it’s possible to produce such a report for business connectivity due to the lack of feedback (a lot of businesses won’t wish to upset their suppliers) and all sorts of other reasons with testing / verification. But I will see what I can do to rectify that, although it might be awhile before I have the time to focus on it.

  7. Nigel

    When you do reviews of adsl / ISPs it might useful to also state what the ‘back bone’ network is of the ISP.
    eg IMHO the Post Office telephone and broadband offering was very good when they used the BT network, but they changed away from BT and the quality of service IMHO reduced.

    • The problem with that is many ISPs do not reveal their suppliers and so often we can only guess or go off limited end-user feedback. On top of that providers may use several suppliers (e.g. BT Wholesale, TalkTalk Wholesale, Vodafone etc.). I’d like to mention suppliers but in practice we can’t rely on the information.

      On top of that some people make the mistake of assuming that a wholesale supplier and retail ISP (e.g. TalkTalk vs TalkTalk Wholesale) are one and the same thing, in terms of network quality / performance, which can be very wrong. I don’t want to cause more confusion for those who don’t understand the differences.

  8. George

    I do not have a bank account. I do not want a bank account. I hate that banks charge me money to use my money to make money for themselves and they share so little of it with me. This means that I can only pay for broadband services through the Post Office. That in turn means that I am trapped into using the Post Office broadband which is dire. They are currently throttling ADSL users to force them into buying their new fibre service. They publicly deny this but I was told it is true by a girl who works for them.

    Anyway, do you know of any other providers I can use and not have to have a bank account to use them?

  9. Wojciech Buda

    OriginBB

    I am a customer of Origin broadband and the service they provide is fatal. 15 minutes outages are a daily standard.

    Last week there was an outage taking 6 hours 14 minutes.

  10. Art

    Mark,
    Why is the Virgin network is closed to other ISPs whilst a network like Gigaclear is open to all? Even though Gigaclear is open to piggybacking it doesn’t seem that any ISPs do.

    If you live in a location within the Gigaclear network, you have a choice between Snailband internet (2MB in my case) with phone at around £20-30/month or full fibre Superfast 50MB (with VOIP phone) at £50/month, neither of which the majority of homes actually want, need or can afford, judging by the reported 40% take up.

  11. Chris

    People, what exactly do you smoke here? You call 38Mbps superfast? Then how’s 1000Mpbs? For 7.5 GBP. Unlimited. Without any installation cost. Available everywhere, not for a few lucky ones.
    Yeah, that’s in Romania, one of the lamest countries in Europe, where you can’t get less than 150Mbps internet and is only 2-3 GBP, where everybody has the “regular”, not superfast, 250Mbps at about 5 GBP per month.

    38Mbps was superfast in 2000, I remember I had 50Mbps in 2004 in Bucharest.

    All these companies selling net in the UK are selling technology from the year 2000. Only imagine Vodafone (yeah, the same Vodafone) in RO gives you a bonus of 1GB per day on each prepaid SIM. Yes, 30GB on your mobile for free, on top of the 5GB you get for ~4€. For prepaid, you don’t even need a subscription.

    So probably you’re smoking something that you ended up even considering 38Mbps as broadband.

    • Daniel Vincent

      Agree 100% with Chris, anything less than 100mbps is slow. Gigabyte is the way to go. Here in Dublin we get minimum 240mbps from Virgin IE for €44 month – not cheap but nearly 5 times the minimum speed offered by Virgin UK 50mbps for £35 month.

  12. Peter Collins

    Zen should be on your list. Best ISP by a mile.

    • Steve

      I agree. Just which I could afford their high prices.

      I am looking for a new provider, preferably with UK speaking customer service, which is a bit of minefield. You think you’ve found a cracker only to find either poor customers service reviews, prices hike up after the initial 12/18 months contract or you don’t get the deal as advertised.

  13. Jeremy Savill

    I have been a household customer of Zen for years. Originally attracted to them for their commitment to customer service and been a loyal customer thereafter. In the last 12 months I have seen a significant decline in this aspect of their service, communication, attitude of staff and resolution of issues. Never thought I would be saying this but seriously considering other providers and having to get my issues escalated to Ofcom to get them resolved.

    • Chris LANGDON

      I agree fully with Jeremy. As a longstanding zen customer I have found their service level is markedly deteriorating. To get a simple problem solved I have spoken to 6 staff members -only one of which was helpful. All have very little delegated authority somth3or goal,seems to be pass you as soon as poss to another adviser. Something has gone badly wrong!

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