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The UK Best Broadband ISPs for Homes – 2021 Editors Pick

Monday, January 11th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 31,008

As we always say, the trouble with choosing a cheap ISP (Page 1) is that you may have to tolerate congested networks (slower speeds), fewer advanced service features (e.g. dynamic instead of static IP addresses) and customer support teams who treat you more like a number than a person.

Nevertheless, not all providers are built the same and some can deliver a much higher quality of service. The downside is that you often have to pay a higher price in order to receive such an improvement (i.e. a good ISP will put more of its profits back into their network, support and services). However, please remember, no service is perfect and even the best providers can suffer problems.

The last point above is particularly relevant for the many providers on Openreach’s network, where switching to another ISP on the same platform may not necessarily get any underlying infrastructure problems fixed at a faster rate (doing this may even be counter-productive to the fault resolution process).

Best UK Home Broadband ISPs for Quality

It’s perhaps 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.

On these providers you may pay a bit more but you’re also far more likely to come across better trained UK support teams, advanced features (Static IP addresses etc.), shorter contracts, less filtering of your internet connection, faster fault resolution times and so forth. However, some smaller ISPs will expect you to use your own third-party router.

All packages offer unlimited usage, unless otherwise stated.

NOTE: Most of these won’t support Ofcom’s various voluntary schemes (broadband speed code, automatic compensation etc.) due to the high cost of implementation, but on the flip side you may be less likely to need those.
Setup: £19.99 – £29.99 Network Type: OR ADSL, FTTC/P, G.fast + Cityfibre FTTP

Package Examples

Cheapest: 35Mbps DL (6Mbps UL) – £29.99 PM

Fastest: 900Mbps+ DL (100Mbps UL) – £40 CF to £62.99 OR PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: Yes
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: Yes

Zen remains one of the best rated ISPs in the UK (Zen’s Reviews) and they’re often seen hoovering up awards on other sites too, which is impressive given that they’re also one of the market’s oldest providers. The bad news is that 2020/21 has seen a rise in complaints, mostly against the quality of their support, but hopefully this is just a temporary blotch on their otherwise largely unblemished record

The provider generally has a good balance of reasonably priced and good quality packages, as well as technically competent UK customer support. On top of that their packages come with a ‘Lifetime Price Guarantee‘, which they say guarantees no price rises on your current package for as long as you stay with them.

Zen also has a good selection of G.fast and FTTP based ultrafast broadband packages for home users (from Openreach), and they’ve launched even cheaper and faster services via CityFibre’s network too. All of their services include a Static IP address and, just for good measure, they even bundle in a very capable FRITZ!Box 7530 router from AVM, which tends to be popular with more advanced users due to its many features.

Pros:
• One of the only smaller ISPs to support Ofcom’s auto compensation
• Prices (lifetime price guarantee)
• Support
• Good router
• Static IPv4 and IPv6 addresses

Cons:
• No Pay TV or Mobile plans
• Doesn’t support Ofcom’s speed code

Setup: £0 – £60 Network Type: OR ADSL, FTTC/P, G.fast

Package Examples

Cheapest: 35Mbps DL (6Mbps UL) – £30 PM

Fastest: 900Mbps+ DL (115Mbps UL) – £66 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Much like Zen above, iDNET also have a long history of providing good quality services and UK support, as well as being fairly affordable. Over the years they’ve built up an extremely strong reputation (IDNet Reviews) and pledge to “guarantee no contention on our network, no throttling, no traffic shaping & no port blocking,” as well as a “Low Latency Guarantee” that makes them attractive for online gamers.

On top of all that you get a Static IP address and their FTTC (VDSL2) packages can often be taken alongside a 1-month contract term. The provider also offers get a good selection of G.fast and FTTP based ultrafast broadband packages. However, they don’t provide the option of a “free” (bundled) broadband router with their packages.

Pros:
• Speed
• Support
• Static IP addresses (IPv6 support)
• Commitment to low latency and no contention
• 1 Month contracts on ADSL and FTTC

Cons:
• No bundled router
• Doesn’t support Ofcom’s speed code or auto compensation
• No Pay TV or Mobile plans

AAISP (Andrews & Arnold)
Setup: £0 – £100 Network Type: OR ADSL, FTTC/P, G.fast

Package Examples

Cheapest: 66Mbps DL (18Mbps UL) – £45 PM (300GB usage)

Fastest: 145Mbps DL (29Mbps UL) – £50 PM (300GB usage or £60 for 2TB)

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Andrews and Arnold remain an extraordinarily brilliant ISP that is home to some of the most knowledgeable UK tech support in the business (they’ll often go out of their way to help resolve a problem). But their decision to shun “unlimited” usage allowances in favour of monthly data caps (they offer allowances up to 2 TeraBytes) also makes them one of the more expensive, and thus least attractive, options for ordinary home users.

Nevertheless, a glance at the recent AAISP Reviews from our readers should tell you all you need to know and, generally speaking, this provider will aim to give you the best possible service quality for your connection type. One negative though is that their fastest FTTP tier on Openreach’s network is still just 160Mbps (145Mbps average), while others have long since adopted faster plans. We should add that they do also offer mobile SIMs, but these are more aimed at businesses.

Pros:
• Support
• Quality / Speed
• Choice of 12 month or and shorter terms on FTTC and ADSL (free router on 12 months)
• Static IPv4 and block of IPv6 addresses

Cons:
• Price
• No unlimited usage plans
• FTTP packages limited to top 160Mbps tier
• No Pay TV plans

CiX (formerly ICUK)
Setup: £0 – £116.40 Network Type: OR ADSL, FTTC/P, G.fast

Package Examples

Cheapest: 36Mbps DL (9Mbps UL) – £37.99 PM

Fastest: 300Mbps+ DL (49Mbps UL) – £57.60 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

CiX has a very long and well-established history of providing good quality web hosting services, as well as broadband and phone packages (CiX’s Reviews), albeit mostly established under their former brand of ICUK. In recent years they’ve also added an array of “ultrafast broadband” packages using G.fast and FTTP technology on Openreach’s network.

Pros:
• Support
• Reasonable pricing
• Service quality

Cons:
• No static IP addresses like others on this page
• No bundled router
• No pay TV or mobile plans

Freeola (GetDotted)
Setup: £0 – £48 Network Type: OR ADSL, FTTC/P, G.fast

Package Examples

Cheapest: 36Mbps DL (9Mbps UL) – £31.98 PM

Fastest: 900Mbps+ DL (100Mbps UL) – £69.98 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Web host and internet provider Freeola is arguably one of those little hidden gems that doesn’t get enough recognition, which is despite them receiving plenty of generally positive feedback from their small base of broadband customers (Freeola Reviews) and being quite reasonably priced.

Other highlights that customers can expect to receive are UK based support, DDoS protection, website hosting, email, a static IP address (IPv4) and a 1 or 12 month contract term. On top of that they’re also one of the few who can offer so-called “silent line rental” (i.e. no paid outgoing voice calls), which effectively means you get a standalone internet connection without the phone service on ADSL and FTTC (slightly cheaper).

Pros:
• Support
• Good set of extras
• Service quality
• Silent line rental (will be replaced by SOGEA in the future)

Cons:
• No bundled router (only discounts)
• No pay TV or mobile plans

Setup: £0 Network Type: OR ADSL, FTTC/P

Package Examples

Cheapest: 36Mbps DL (7.5Mbps UL) – £32 PM

Fastest: 150Mbps+ DL (26Mbps UL) – £48 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Aquiss has a long history of being a broadly well rated provider on ISPreview (Aquiss Reviews), which is due to strong UK based customer support, reasonable prices and a good general level of service reliability. Subscribers will also receive a static IP address and you can get phone line rental from £15 per month.

On top of that they also sell FTTP services across both “superfast” and “ultrafast” speeds, albeit only up to a top package of 150Mbps. We note that their data-only FTTP packages are also much better value than their hybrid fibre FTTC options.

Pros:
• Speed
• Support
• Static IPv4 and IPv6 address

Cons:
• Price
• No bundled router
• No pay TV or mobile plans

Before moving on to the final page we would like to add that there were several other providers which caught our eye for the quality section this year – Pulse8, Trunk Networks (Leetline) and uno – but we didn’t have enough feedback from different sources to include them. Sadly, this is one of the challenges with gauging smaller providers.

Please continue on Page 3 to view some of the best Alternative Network (AltNet) providers, which have built their own networks..

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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.
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