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The 2019 Best UK Home Broadband ISP Choices by ISPreview

Monday, January 7th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 81,911
gold stars uk best broadband isp

Most of the broadband providers mentioned on the first two pages, with the noted exception of Virgin Media, tend to be reliant on Openreach’s (BT) national telecoms network in order to deliver their service. Nevertheless there is now a rapidly growing community of Alternative Network (AltNet) ISPs that are serving consumers by building their own infrastructure.

Related providers tend to be comparatively small because they’re often only available in a limited number of areas dotted around the United Kingdom, which also means that they don’t generate a lot of feedback and this makes them much harder to judge.

Despite these challenges we do still manage to identify exceptions that are worthy of consideration, even if they don’t always meet our usual requirements (national coverage, unlimited usage etc.). Providers like this may often turn up in our General Commendations list below.

General Commendations

Remember, providers listed below may only be available to very specific parts of the United Kingdom.

* Hyperoptic

As an ISP Hyperoptic have been at the forefront of the UK’s initially slow march toward Gigabit capable fibre optic broadband connections for homes since 2011. The service itself is not only ridiculously fast but also extremely affordable and able to deliver a high quality of customer support.

The ISP was able to succeed by finding a strong niche that focused on connecting their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP and some FTTB) network to larger residential (i.e. Multi-Dwelling Units with at least 50 units) and office blocks in dense urban areas, which meant they could start deploying the service long before many others entered the market.

Today their network covers over 500,000 premises across various UK towns and cities (expected to reach 50+), including a plan to reach 2 million premises by 2021 and then an aspiration for 5 million by 2024. On top of that they’ve also tested the “fastest home broadband the country has ever seen” at 10Gbps (here), which could become a future product.

Lest we forget that until recently Hyperoptic had more 1Gbps capable FTTH/B broadband coverage than any other operator, although Openreach are now in the process of retaking that crown. Prices start at around £22 per month for an entry-level unlimited 30Mbps service, which rises to £35 for 150Mbps and £60 for the full Gigabit class 1000Mbps package.

* B4RN (inc. B4RN East Anglia, B4RN Cheshire)

The Broadband for the Rural North project is registered as a community benefit society, which means that it can never be bought by a commercial ISP and their profits can only be distributed back into to the community. By using this model B4RN has deployed a community built 1Gbps FTTH broadband network to more than 5,000 connections (homes) across rural parts of Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

The work that they do would normally be too expensive for small rural villages but the operator overcomes this by harnessing local volunteers to help build the network (usually in exchange for shares). The model also relies on local landowners (e.g. farmers) being generous and agreeing to waive their right to payment as part of a wayleave agreement, which enables the fibre to be dug through their land at a lower cost.

The network has been massively successful and subscribers typically pay just £30 per month for an unlimited 1Gbps connection, with a £150 one-off installation fee. Admittedly their coverage is small but take-up in the areas they’ve reached tends to run at an average of around 65%, which shows just how popular they’ve become.

* Wessex Internet

We’ve already covered one rural ISP above and Wessex Internet fall into a similar category, albeit by building a mix of both superfast Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and ultrafast pure fibre optic (FTTP) networks around digitally isolated parts of North Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and North of Alton in Hampshire (England).

The commercial provider has so far managed to cover around 150 villages with their network and have also earned a good reputation for service quality. Customers typically pay from £25 per month for a 30Mbps wireless service with a 60GB usage allowance (£49 if you want an unlimited 50Mbps plan), while FTTP starts at £35 for a 100Mbps service (100GB usage cap or £59 for unlimited) and goes up to 350Mbps.

* Community Fibre

A new entrant into our General Commendations list this year is Community Fibre, which in a fairly short space of time have managed to attract almost £40m of private investment and has begun building a large 1Gbps capable FTTH/P network in London (they’re mostly focused on catering for council / social housing).

What’s more they’ve already covered around 60,000 premises and this could reach 100,000 by the end of 2019, as well as 500,000 premises by the end of 2022 (some 150,000 of which have already been contracted) and possibly 1 million by 2025. In order to do this the operator has not only been successful in courting private investment but they’ve also signed key agreements with several London boroughs.

On top of that the ISP appears able to deliver a very high level of service quality and it’s hard to argue with a residential package that costs from just £20 per month for an unlimited symmetrical 40Mbps connection (rising to only £50 for 1000Mbps). Not to mention the standard installation is free.

The UK is home to a mass of Altnets, although many of them are quite niche in their coverage and thus limited feedback can make it difficult to decide which is deserving of a mention in any given year. We recommend reading our ‘UK Summary of Full Fibre Broadband Plans and Investment‘ if you’re interested in learning more about the new generation of Gigabit FTTP/H providers.

General Disclaimer

We try to pick ISPs (i.e. our ‘Quality’ PAGE 2 picks) that have both been listed on ISPreview.co.uk for several years and shown fairly consistent performance and reliability over the past 12 months, but there is no such thing as perfection and experiences do vary, especially with broadband being a shared “best efforts” style of service. We also favour fully independent providers over vISPs and resellers.

Crucially, and unlike the other big comparison sites, we do not charge ISPs a fee to be listed (ISPreview.co.uk is free) and nor do we restrict our coverage to only the largest providers. Our impartial policy is to list and cover all legal ISPs in the same way, regardless of advertising (note: we may exclude some providers that have caused harm in the market). On this point our long history of balanced coverage should hopefully speak for itself.

Finally, there are hundreds of ISPs in this market and thus it’s simply not possible for us to give a full appraisal of every provider. As such we recommend that this article should only be used as a very rough introductory guide.

NOTE 1: Like many sites ISPreview.co.uk’s continued existence as a free source of information is only possible due to the advertising that can be found displayed around our pages (e.g. banners and affiliate links), which is predominantly automatic and usually not managed directly by us (e.g. Google’s automatic banners).

NOTE 2: The pricing and recommendations of this article are only valid for the date published. Prices change all the time so we recommend getting the latest costings from our ISP Listings system.

NOTE 3: You should expect most of the big ISPs to raise their broadband prices by around +£1-£2 (per month) once every year, which is often necessary in order to accommodate new demands from regulators, new packages features and rapidly increasing data usage. Smaller providers tend to raise their prices at a much slower pace and many haven’t done so in years.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
22 Responses
  1. Avatar Marcel Thompson

    Hi Mark, I believe as of June last year virgin media changed their traffic management policy so it no longer applies to both download and upload usage on all of their main packages. 🙂


  2. Avatar Sid

    Any reason why TalkTalk has been left out under the ‘price’ category?

  3. Avatar Denis Williams

    Funny you never mention UTILITY WAREHOUSE who have been awarded numerous Which awards for all services for years now yet you never mention them. So much for being impartial.

    • We’ve had pretty much zero feedback on that service or contact from UW as an ISP, so how can we make a judgement? The Which? magazine seem to be the only ones who give them any awards and those are based on feedback from a commercial membership (we can’t see the details of their ratings etc.). Not enough to go on.

  4. Avatar Out_In_The_Sticks

    Another funny thing…. Well, I wasn’t surprised when I read this article, is the fact that none of these ISP’s are available here in the Rhondda and surrounding areas, which shows where the lady of the fibre land is at present.
    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we get G.fast in the not too distant, but as of yet, even with the cabinet in our area showing that it’s ready, absolutely no ISP has taken it up!
    Ah well, BT are the main shareholders for supplying the cables here to, until you go out towards Swansea and Cardiff that you see FTTP and cable fibre in abundance.
    Nice to see none of the big companies in the list, and being a Sky Broadband customer, would love to switch to a faster service, but it looks like we’ll be stuck for a while at the speed we have, which is capped to the UK average as Sky seem to think our line cannot take more than 36Mbps, but I’ve done the tests and neighbors down the street have 45+Mbps and our router shows we can go quicker, but the info this company uses to determine how fast easy house or area should be is so out of date, it’s crazy!
    Anyway, there ends my rant for the beginning of 2019, who knows what the rest of the year will bring?

  5. Avatar FibreBubble

    Article is just plucking stuff out of the air.

  6. Avatar Andrew

    I’m surprised Pulse8 didn’t feature this year. Any particular reason for this?

  7. Avatar dennis

    “Sky lock their routers, making it hard to use a third-party alternative”

    Im not sure what you mean by this so maybe i am misreading but you can use your own router on Sky very easily as long as it supports MER. Username and Password details are no longer required (No more needing to use tools to extract it from the Sky router). You have not needed to do that for almost 2 years.

    Also a bit confused why for Plusnet you have “UK based support” as a pro but for most other ISPs which have “UK based Support” all you have is the word “support” under them. For Plusnet it confuses things more as even though “UK Based Support” is deemed a pro when under con you have wrote “Seems to have an issue with long call waiting times (support)”. Support UK based or not, is either good or poor and personally to me long wait times is not a good thing in any regard (UK based or not).

    Im also not sure if i personally would under BT call “Mostly UK based support (aims to be 100% by 2020)” a pro, in a comparison to other ISPs. That sounds more like a con to me when others already have 100% UK Support.

  8. Avatar Kinolmontie

    Out in the sticks, doorbell rang, Openreach engineer, we will be installing FTTP within the next three months….. Can’t believe it, stunned, lost for words, BIG Smile… Need to change Mobile from 3 as about as much use here as a chocolate Teapot, thinking of moving to EE! Does anyone know if there are any EE/BT Mobile/BT Broadband 300+mps deals?
    As this will mainly be for home use, is there much of a difference (Time wise, would we notice it if we went for a slower speed, say 100Mps)?

  9. Avatar Jan

    where is hyperoptic?

  10. Avatar Poppy Jordan

    The above blog describes very well about which broadband service is to be the best choice of selection in 2019. Thanks for the information.

  11. Avatar Keith

    I’m surprised that Vodafone’s router was judged “good”. The thing has so many issues that the only thing that seems to work anywhere near properly is it’s 5GHz WiFi. Rather than good, most users on Vodafone’s forums would probably judge it as special needs!

  12. Avatar Emma Roy

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  13. Avatar Colin P

    Been told by Vodafone ( Thus/Demon) that they will no longer provide adsl basic service here in our part of the Vale of Glamorgan . There is fibre less than a mile away but BT won’t bring it into the villageof 90 houses even though there is an almost empty duct laid about 10 yrs ago – Now searching for a new ISP

  14. Avatar Danny

    i currently have virgin Meadia with there topinternet with its newest router I’m considering switching to sky to there supper fast broadband and sky q tv package….. witch is the better suppler would people say… sky or virgin?

  15. Avatar Fazal Majid

    G.Fast is *not* full fiber, and it’s not fast either, only in comparison to the UK’s dismal standards compared to our European peers. It’s copper-based technology, i.e. more flogging of Openreach’s dead-horse infrastructure they keep refusing to invest in.

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