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The UK Best Broadband ISPs for Homes – 2021 Editors Pick

Monday, January 11th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 2,088

The vast majority of providers mentioned on the first two pages, with the exception of Virgin Media, tend to be predominantly reliant upon Openreach’s national telecoms network in order to deliver their service. Despite this 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 to a limited number of areas dotted across the United Kingdom, which also means that they don’t generate a lot of consumer feedback and this makes them much harder to judge.

Nevertheless, we do still manage to identify exceptions that are worthy of consideration, even if they don’t always meet our usual requirements for inclusion (national coverage, unlimited usage etc.). Providers like this will often turn up in our General Commendations list below and it helps if they’ve been building for at least a couple of years.

General Commendations

Remember, providers listed below may only be available to very specific parts of the United Kingdom and due to this we don’t include ‘coverage’ as a negative mark because this is an issue for all of them.

Add G.Network, Trooli but remove Wessex Internet

Setup: £0 Type: FTTP Top Plan: 900Mbps+

Package Examples

Cheapest: 150Mbps DL (50Mbps UL) – £28 PM

Fastest: 900Mbps+ DL (900Mbps+ UL) – £57 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

The first homes went live on G.Network’s FTTP service a year and a half ago and we’ve only early positive things about them, which isn’t too surprising given the youthfulness of their service. The ISP’s FTTP network, which appears to be reasonably well funded, currently covers over 100,000 premises and their primary focus is on the London area, but this may change in the future.

Pros:
• Price
• Quality
• Support
• Speed

Cons:
• None that we can see, yet

Setup: £150 – £360 Type: FTTP Top Plan: 10,000Mbps

Package Examples

Cheapest: 900Mbps+ DL (900Mbps+ UL) – £30 PM

Fastest: 10,000Mbps DL (10,000Mbps UL) – £150 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Broadband for the Rural North, which follows the Community Benefit Society model with a full fibre network that has been both predominantly built and funded by those in the communities they serve (usually in exchange for shares), remains a consistently excellent provider. By using this approach they’ve been able to connect thousands of homes to their network across remote rural parts of Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

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. B4RN, alongside Hyperoptic, were one of the first true alternative full fibre providers and they’ve proven the doubters wrong many times over. On top of that they’ve now started supplying new customers with a much better router than they had before.

Pros:
• Price (£30 for 1Gbps!)
• Quality
• Support
• Speed

Cons:
• None that we can see, yet

Setup: £0 Type: FTTP/B Top Plan: 900Mbps+

Package Examples

Cheapest: 50Mbps DL (5Mbps UL) – £22 PM

Fastest: 900Mbps+ DL (900Mbps+ UL) – £60 PM (discounts may cut this to c.£50)

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: Yes

One of the very first alternative full fibre ISPs to enter the UK market (2011), Hyperoptic made gigabit speeds possible at a time when many people could only get around 20Mbps. Since then they’ve grown to cover well over 400,000 premises (mostly large residential apartment blocks / MDUs) and have attracted a lot of investment (here). The provider now aims to reach 2 million UK premises by the end of 2021 and then potentially 5 million by the end of 2024.

Hyperoptic has generally built a strong reputation for delivering good customer support, affordable ultrafast broadband packages and strong service quality. Previously their only real weak point was that they still had a tendency to bundle budget level routers with their service, but their new Nokia Hyperhub is a big improvement on those (here), although sadly it’s only available on their 500Mbps and 1Gbps plans.

On top of that they offer the flexibility of a 30 day (monthly) contract term, as well as their usual 12 month terms, and you can add a phone (voice) service for an extra £2 per month. In addition, this is the only alternative network ISP to support Ofcom’s new automatic compensation scheme.

Pros:
• Speed
• Support
• Price
• Service quality and automatic compensation
• Monthly contract options

Cons:
• Bundled router on slower tiers is still a bit weak

Trooli (Call Flow)
Setup: £80 Type: FTTP Top Plan: 900Mbps+

Package Examples

Cheapest: 300Mbps DL (100Mbps UL) – £50 PM

Fastest: 900Mbps+ DL (300Mbps UL) – £80 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Trooli is a new off-shoot brand from parent ISP Call Flow Solutions, which for the past couple of years has been focused upon deploying a new full fibre broadband network across the South East of England (mostly in semi-rural parts of Kent and Hampshire). The operator has already covered 26,000 premises and is aiming for 500,000 by the end of 2025.

Feedback from customers has so far been very positive, although the provider may be doing itself a disservice by making their entry-level package a £50 product and their 900Mbps tier is one of the most expensive in this particular crop of alternative providers. Otherwise customers can expect an 18 month contract term and a very capable bundle router (Technicolor DGA2231).

Pros:
• Speeds
• Support
• Quality
• Router is a good model

Cons:
• Price

Setup: £0 Type: FTTP Top Plan: 900Mbps+

Package Examples

Cheapest: 50Mbps DL (50Mbps UL) – £25 PM (discounts may cut this to c.£20)

Fastest: 920Mbps+ DL (920Mbps+ UL) – £54 PM (discounts may cut this to c.£40)

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Despite being fairly young Community Fibre, which at present tends to focus on building Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks for social housing in London, has over the past four years managed to raise £90m and their network currently reaches 100,000 premises. Going forward they’ve promised to cover 1 million premises across by the end of 2023.

The ISP is able to deliver a very high level of service quality and we’ve heard nothing but good things about their performance. On top of that they’re one of the cheapest ISPs around and installation is free, but you do have to tolerate a 24-month term for the best deals.

So far as we can tell the router they bundle is still a a TP-Link Velop Tri-Band WHW0301, which is a Mesh WiFi device that can deliver a peak wireless speed of 2.2Gbps. On the downside it only has 2 x Ethernet ports and no phone sockets for VoIP.

Pros:
• Price
• Support
• Quality
• Speed
• Choice of contract terms

Cons:
• Lack of ports on router and mesh kit often lacks more advanced router features.

Setup: £25 Type: FTTP Top Plan: 900Mbps+

Package Examples

Cheapest: 30Mbps DL (15Mbps UL) – £40 PM

Fastest: 900Mbps+ DL (50Mbps+ UL) – £79 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Until recently KCOM was the dominant network operator for Hull and East Riding in Yorkshire, which they’ve already covered with a new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network. But the operator has now invested another £100m to cover tens of thousands of additional premises across more of East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire (here).

The service has also become more affordable as they’ve expanded, although they’re still not the cheapest of FTTP providers. Customer service quality is also reasonably good for an incumbent provider, albeit not as good as others on this page and support tends to be a mixed bag. Otherwise the ISP also supplies the reasonably capable Technicolor DGA2231 and ZyXEL XMG3927-B routers to their FTTP customers.

Pros:
• Speed
• Routers are fairly good

Cons:
• Support quality could be better.
• Price

Setup: £0 (with voucher) Type: FTTP Top Plan: 900Mbps

Entry-Level Package Examples

Cheapest: 80Mbps – £29.99 PM

Fastest: 900Mbps – £69.99 PM

Supports 2019 Speed Code: No
Ofcom Automatic Compensation: No

Truespeed has focused heavily on delivering their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network across rural parts of South West England (mostly around the Chew Valley area of Somerset). The provider has also attracted £75m of investment and aims to cover 75,000 premises by 2021, before reaching possibly 200,000 by 2025 (this is a demand-led deployment where 30% of a community needs to sign-up first).

The provider is generally well rated and fairly affordable given their focus on rural areas. Most recently they’ve also launched a new range of faster packages, which go up to 900Mbps. Sadly we couldn’t find any details on their website about the bundled router but feedback from customers suggests it’s a Huawei Echolife DN8245W, which is a reasonable piece of kit but they do seem to lock this down quite a bit.

Pros:
• Performance

Cons:
• Restricted router access
• Limited top speeds

We should add that Gigaclear have been left off the altnet list again this year because complaints about their network delivery delays make it hard to get a true gauge of their service and support quality. We’ve also seen some gripes from customers who are not receiving the advertised speeds.

General Disclaimer

Generally, we aim to pick ISPs that have been listed on ISPreview.co.uk for several years and shown fairly consistent performance, as well as reliability, over the past 12 months (Page 1 is an exception because that’s focused on saving money). However here 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 21 year history of balanced coverage should speak for itself.

Nevertheless, 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.

Always remember, if you’re happy with your current ISP but the price keeps rising, then the best course of action may be to try renegotiating the price (see our Retention Tips article) before you consider leaving. Similarly if you’ve been hit by a mid-contract price hike then remember that Ofcom has a rule against this, which enables you to exit your contract penalty free and switch ISP (i.e. if the price hike is above the level of annual inflation).

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 automated banners).

NOTE 2: The pricing and recommendations of this article may not always be 100% accurate because prices change all the time and sometimes, we may miss a change. Instead we recommend getting the latest costings from our ISP Listings system.

NOTE 3: You should expect most of the biggest ISPs to raise their broadband prices by around +£1-£2 (per month) every year, which is often necessary in order to accommodate new demands from regulators, new features and rising data usage by consumers. 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.
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