What Is An Internet Provider?
For anyone using the internet in any of the many ways possible, an internet provider, is the organisation or company which one subscribes to get the internet service. The organisation is referred to as an Internet service provider (ISP) and allow users to get internet. An ISP provides the service for using, accessing, or participating in the internet.
For every device that can connect to the internet, be it a computer or a mobile device, one needs an ISP, where you subscribe to get the internet service.
An internet provider provides internet services that generally include internet access, internet transit, web hosting, domain name registration, colocation and Usenet service.
Types Of Internet Providers
There have been dial-up services that have been providing internet services since the 1990s. Since 2013, these have been becoming rare with other better alternatives being available in the market. Now there is high-speed internet (broadband) provided by cable companies and Digital Line Subscribers (DSL), offered by phone companies. In the UK cable broadband also offers optical fibre which is a hundred times faster than other types.
10 Best Internet Providers In The UK
Here are the top 10 UK internet providers:
1. Virgin Media
If you are seeking a breakneck speed internet provider, that enables you to download files in a flash, then this broadband will suit you. Virgin Media offers some amazing fibre-optic broadband packages
You can choose from 4 packages depending on your budget and needs.
Virgin Media Packages:
- M50 with an average download speed of 54Mbps at £26.00 per month
- M100 provides average download speeds of 108Mbps at £27.00 per month
- M200 offering an average download speed of 213Mbps at £32.00 per month
- M350 allows average download speeds of 362Mbps at £37.00 per month
The setup charges for each of the above packages except the M50 is £35.00 and are offered as a one-year contract.
Every package allows you to stream HD video, play games, do all sorts of things online and download big files thanks to the unlimited downloads option.
Virgin Media broadband also offers the Super Hub router, which as its name suggest, provides a super-strong wireless signal ideal for stable, speedy connection even with loads of devices connected at the same time. There’s more, the router keeps hackers away, thanks to its wireless encryption technology.
Virgin Media is genuinely exceptional with Web Safe options that helps you to protect your children from inappropriate content as well as block viruses, phishing, scams and such stuff from malicious sites. You can actually protect all your devices connected to Virgin Media Wi-Fi.
- Virgin Media Mail is a free email address with 7.4GB of mailbox storage
- Wi-Fi on the London Underground allows you to log onto hotspots at over 100 tube stations using your Virgin Media account.
- One hundred free Snapfish photo prints every month.
Virgin Media Pros:
- Breakneck speeds, ideal for streaming movie and TV at BBC, Netflix, iPlayer and such with minimal interruptions
- Perfect for Gamers with minimal lags
- Unlimited downloads
- Packages can come with one of the most comprehensive TV choices in the UK, Virgin Media TV
- Offer a high level of safety with WebSafe
- Can easily self-install without the need of an engineer
- Many free extras
- Nine-month contracts available for students
Cons of Virgin Media:
- Not truly unlimited as it manages web traffic at peak times which can slow a connection
- Not available everywhere in the UK
- A little expensive
- Costly installation charges
- Limited public Wi-Fi when compared to other ISPs
Known for its excellent high speed and wide-reaching 4G, EE is another leading internet provider in the UK. EE can also deliver quick broadband into your home if you prefer. This ISP is considered to be among the most affordable ones, but of course, that is determined by the package you’ll be receiving
EE packages are as follows:
- Unlimited Broadband with an average speed of 10Mbps at £20.00 per month (with £5 more, you can get the same package together with anytime calls)
- Unlimited Fibre Broadband providing an average speed of 36Mbps at £24.00 per month
- Unlimited Fibre Plus offering an average of 67Mbps at £28 per month
Every EE package comes with unlimited downloads allowing you to go online and stream as much as you want without worrying about reaching the usage cap. EE offers internet via EE Bright Box and ADSL. You can also choose the more powerful EE Smart Hub that provides fibre packages.
EE offers a wide range of mobile service via SIM-only deals, data-only SIMs for tablets and pay as you go plans. The EE 4G plan is reputed to be very useful considering its speed and ability to cover a wide range.
Benefits of EE:
- Affordable prices
- Superfast fibre optic option ideal for heavy usage in places like shared households
- Extra 5GB monthly mobile data for getting EE broadband
- Unlimited downloads on all Broadband packages
- Internet security offered through a 12-month Norton trial
- Limited availability for the fibre-optic broadband
- Limited choice with only Broadband-with-landline available instead of Landline-only or Broadband-only.
- Not as fast as other ISPs
- Connections may slow due to web traffic management by EE
This internet provider is widely recognised for being available almost everywhere and offering a lot of services from standard broadband to Superfast fibre and TV as well as live sports. Regarded as the biggest broadband provider in the UK, BT is an internet provider you can consider.
BT is also known to among the most flexible internet providers in the UK with many available packages. BT packages range from light packages of a usage limit of 25GB, an ideal choice for those with minimal browsing and email to totally unlimited packages that allow consumers to download as much as they want and stream a lot of movies and TV. BT offers free online storage and public Wi-Fi hotspots to its customers.
BT packages are provided through:
BT Superfast fibre-optic broadband
Unlike standard broadband, fibre offers faster speeds and increased reliability. Such an option suits families as well as shared houses with internet needs such as web browsing, social media, downloading music, watching TV and movies, video calls and online games.
Formerly known as BT Infinity, BT Superfast fibre-optic broadband comes with packages offering average speeds of 36Mbps, 50Mbps and 67Mbps. All these allow unlimited downloads.
BT Ultrafast broadband
For those looking for more speed, BT has two packages under Ultrafast broadband with a 100Mbps speed guarantee. These are BT Ultrafast Fibre 1 that offers average speeds of 145Mbps and BT Ultrafast Fibre 2 that gives average speeds of 300Mbps.
Ultrafast packages also offer a user unlimited downloads, and if the speed falls below 100Mbps, BT gives the customer £20.
Through EE which it acquired in 2015, BT uses the network to offer its customers SIM-only and pay monthly contract plans. You can choose from 4 SIM-only plans, of 500MB, 2GB, 6GB, or 20GB a month. All these plans are a 4G network which is up to five times faster than 3G plans. You’ll get a 5% discount on your mobile plan monthly bill if you already have a BT broadband plan.
Suited for small and medium-sized businesses with internet needs ranging from 10GB usage limits is the BT Business. The option can provide options for sole traders, Superfast unlimited options and solutions ideal for an office that including internet, statics IP addresses and more.
BT Latest Deals:
- Broadband giving average speeds of 10Mbps at £24.99 a month (The same offer with BT Sport is £34.99 per month)
- Superfast Fibre offering speeds of 50Mbps on average at £28.99 per month
- Superfast Fibre 2 providing average speeds of 67Mbps at £29.99 per month
Benefits of BT
- Considered highly reliable, high-quality internet provider by customers
- Wide coverage
- Offer a wide range of internet packages
- Truly unlimited packages with no traffic management or usage policies
- More economical than Virgin Media or Sky
- Most extensive 4G network coverage in the United Kingdom
- A lot of extras, flexible packages and discounts
Disadvantages of BT
- Faster Fibre Optic option not available everywhere
- BT fibre is not the fastest in the UK despite it being quite nippy
- Considered more expensive than most internet providers
- BT 4G network is the widest but does not cover everywhere in the UK
- Some consumers of BT are not satisfied with the speed of its broadband
As of 2020, Vodafone offers reliable home fibre broadband as well as one of the best routers in the market. With a focus on fibre rather than the standard broadband offered by most providers, Vodafone is able to offer good internet speeds averaging at 35Mbps and 63Mbps.
You can choose either Vodafone Superfast 1 or Vodafone Superfast 2 depending on your speed preferences.
Vodafone Superfast 1 comes with an average download speed of 35Mbps and 10Mbps upload equivalent to what most ISPs offer, particularly those in the Openreach network. Superfast is ideal for 3 to 4 people using the internet. You can use the internet, stream Netflix on various devices, play games, access social media and such. While this is decent internet speed, you’ll experience some difficulties if one starts to download video games or stream in 4K.
- Vodafone Superfast 1 Fibre Broadband £21.95
- Vodafone Superfast 1 Extra plus Apple TV 4K £29.95
Vodafone Superfast 2 offers an average download speed of 63Mbps (20Mbps upload), a speed ideal for homes with a lot of people accessing the internet. If you don’t like encountering speed limits anytime, this package suits you, and you can even watch content on various screens at the same time.
- Vodafone Superfast 2 Fibre Broadband £23.95
- Vodafone Superfast 2 Extra plus Apple TV 4K £31.95
Vodafone 802. 11ac router works on both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz and can send the highest possible speeds over WiFi but is prone to slow speeds if it gets very crowded in places where there are routers nearby. Nevertheless, the 5Ghz comes in handy to offer you decent speeds.
Benefits of Vodafone
- Great value for money
- Speeds ideal for most homes
- Truly unlimited downloads
- No upfront charges
- Ultimate Broadband Guarantee plan
- Smart router with an app that easies control for home network
- Slower than Virgin Media
- little customer service information
- Fewer extras including zero TV bundles
- No discounts for mobile customers
While Sky is well known for providing satellite TV, it is among the leading internet providers in the UK. In fact, its broadband option is still regarded as the second most popular broadband provider in the United Kingdom.
Here are the different ways Sky offers internet:
The popular broadband comes in two choices, the Sky Broadband Essential, which offers unlimited broadband and Sky Broadband Connect that allows users in areas outside the Sky network area to access the internet.
Broadband Essential at an average speed of 11Mbps offered at £20 per month with an 18-month contract
Here is a faster alternative to Sky Broadband that offers a Sky Broadband Superfast package that provides average speeds of 59Mbps and truly unlimited downloads.
Sky Broadband Superfast is offered at £27.00 per month at an 18-month contract.
With an additional £2.50, you can get Sky Broadband Boost that comes with Premium Service Broadband Buddy, Proactive Service as well as Mobile Date for internet outages.
Why should I choose Sky as an internet provider?
- Widely available broadband in the UK
- Broadband Buddy offers great parents controls
- Unlimited internet for broadband as well as truly unlimited downloads with Sky Fibre Broadband Superfast
What is bad about Sky
- Installation costs and you’ll need an engineer
- History of issues for Sky Broadband with overcapacity
- Sky Fibre is not as widely available as its competitors
Plusnet has gained a reputation as cost-effective straightforward broadband that offers various packages. Even though it is owned by BT, it operates differently from the parent company since it is run independently.
Plusnet offers internet via broadband and fast fibre-optic broadband. You can get either the basic ADSL broadband that provides average download speeds of 10Mbps or the faster fibre option. Both options allow fully unlimited downloads and you are gifted a free router. For the ADSL broadband, you get a Plusnet Hub Zero router.
Plusnet provides fibre-optic broadband which is super speedy. Two packages are available for those looking for this option. One package offers average download speeds of 36Mbps and the other 66Mbps with both coming with totally unlimited downloads, a Plusnet Hub One router as well as internet security by Plusnet Safeguard.
Current Prices for Plusnet packages:
- For unlimited broadband with 10Mbps average speeds, you pay £18.99 per month with an 18-month contract
- The unlimited Plusnet unlimited fibre offering average speeds of 36Mbps is £22.99 a month with an 18-month contract
- Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra with average download speeds of 66Mbps is offered at £26.99
Advantages of Plusnet
- Focuses on providing affordable broadband
- Totally unlimited broadband with no download limits
- Has one of the best customer services in the UK
- Free routers for every package
- Allows an option of the internet with or without home phone, mobile deals, or TV
- Plusnet Fibre Optic is not available everywhere
- Not reliable or fast enough for heavy users as compared to the likes of Virgin Media
TalkTalk takes away the complicatedness of many internet providers but still provides high-quality internet. On top of that, this service has some affordable packages that offer reliable high-speed internet.
This ISP offers the following:
You get internet at average speeds of 11Mbps which allows moderate usage at home, and you get totally unlike downloads. The package comes with a TalkTalk router as well as network security at the HomeSafe level. Your computer and devices are protected from viruses, and your children cannot access inappropriate content when using TalkTalk. With TalkTalk SuperSafe internet security, you have an option to expand the number of protected devices from the standard one up to 8 devices at an additional cost.
TalkTalk Fibre Optic broadband
TalkTalk also offers a faster internet option for a little bit increased speed. The choice also comes with truly unlimited downloads as well as internet security plus a Wi-Fi hub and others like line rental and TV. The TalkTalk broadband goes for an economical price of £17.95
Fibre optic packages by TalkTalk currently are;
- Faster Fibre offered at £21.95 a month and provides 38Mbps average speed
- Superfast Fibre at £24.45 per month and provides average internet speeds of 67Mbps
All TalkTalk packages are offered on an 18-month contract.
- Specialises in cost-effective broadband internet, and TV packages
- Ideal for those who want undisturbed internet thanks to unlimited broadband
- Superfast packages suit heavy internet usage, downloading, streaming and gaming
- Fixed prices
- Full internet security for one device for all packages
- Has business broadband packages
- Unavailability in some places
- Not as fast as other ISPs
- Poor customer service according to reviews
While it is among the smaller internet providers in the UK, Zen offers decent internet and has gained a liking from its clientele and even bagged a couple of awards. The company has also updated its technology recently, providing its customers with reliable internet. Zen has a number of broadband packages, which use the Openreach network, which is quite available nationally.
Some popular zen packages are as follows:
- Zen unlimited broadband with a one month contract at £32.99 providing average speeds
- Zen Unlimited Fibre 1 at £29.99 a month providing average download speed of 35Mbps
- Zen Unlimited Fibre 2 at £34.99 per month giving average speeds of 66Mbps
- Zen Ultrafast Fibre at £49.99 per month offering speeds of 300Mbps
These packages come with line rental.
With Zen Ultrafast broadband, you get lots of benefits, from truly unlimited usage to fast download and upload speeds ideal for heavy internet usage. On average, these speeds are 30 times faster than the standard Zen broadband.
Zen broadband customers with a contract going for 12 months or more get the FRITZ! Box 7530 router free of charge. The router is managed through a web browser and allows one to control what content their children can get online and limit those you don’t want to access the internet at home.
- Reliable internet
- One of UK’s fastest internet offered via Zen Ultrafast
- Unlimited broadband usage and truly unlimited downloads for Fibre packages
- No traffic management so no slowing down
- Zen prioritises quality and reliability for their service instead of customer-friendly prices
- Low peak time speeds as compared to other providers
10. John Lewis Broadband
Here is another ISP that offers reliable, straightforward Broadband internet at ideal prices in many areas all over the UK. The broadband options by John Lewis are:
- Unlimited internet by standard ADSL broadband with average Speeds of 10Mbps at £20.00 or £26.00 depending on the choice of call package it comes with.
- Fibre optic broadband with Superfast average speeds of 36Mbps at £27.50 per month
- Fibre Extra offering faster fibre-optic broadband with average speeds of 66Mbps at £32.50 per month
All these packages are offered at a one year contract and come with unlimited downloads allowing you the joy of never worrying about hitting the usage cap. The packages also offer a choice of calls preferences.
Why choose John Lewis Broadband?
- No confusion thanks to the straightforward packages
- Standard location price that never increases with super rural areas
- Wide availability
- Standard unlimited downloads for all packages
What is bad about John Lewis Broadband
- Limited options
- Speeds may slow during peak times due to traffic management
- Not as cheap as the likes of Plusnet or TalkTalk
- Unlike others doesn’t offer Wi-Fi hotspot access.
Post Office Broadband
Another simple, straightforward internet provider with satisfactory internet makes to this list. The Post Office offers broadband internet at 11Mbps and unlimited downloads. This package is decent enough for many people to connect simultaneously, but heavy usage like streaming HD content and gaming may cause some issues on speeds. You can get Post Office unlimited broadband at £15.90 or £22.90 if want anytime calls.
Other Post Office deals are:
- Unlimited Fibre at £20.90 per month offering average speeds of 38Mbps
- Fibre Broadband Plus with average Speeds of 67Mbps at £26.90 per month.
Post Office Broadband advantages:
- Quite economical, one of the cheapest in the UK
- Simple non-confusing packages
- Provides SafeGuard that protects your devices from malware
- Considerable wide availability
- No broadband-only packages must include rental line
- Almost zero extras like its competitors
Conclusion On Choosing An Internet Provider
It is quite daunting to pick the right internet provider for you, but at least you have a list you can choose from. Included in this guide are 10 of the leading ISPs in the UK. People may argue which is the best internet provider by using criteria such as internet speed, quality and reliability, affordability, coverage and customer service. Many reviews have ranked Virgin Media as the best for speed and BT the best for coverage. EE Broadband is considered the best broadband overall while Sky Broadband, Post Office, Plusnet and TalkTalk are regarded best for affordability.