Broadband is still a bit of a postcode lottery. The packages available in one part of the country aren’t always available elsewhere.
This is because different kinds of cables from different providers don’t quite reach everywhere. As a result, some areas can get fibre optic broadband, and others can’t; some areas can get Virgin Media deals, and others can’t; some areas can get superfast speeds, and… you get the idea.
What’s available in my area?
The Openreach network is maintained by BT (www.bt.com), and designed to reach as many homes in the UK as possible. So there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to get a broadband connection with a provider that uses it - that includes BT itself, Sky (www.sky.com), Plusnet (www.plus.net), TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk), Fuel (www.fuelbroadband.co.uk), and Post Office. The only locations that might struggle to get a connection are extreme rural areas, such as in the middle of the Lake District, which are quite far from an exchange.
Other providers have their own, separate networks across the country - including Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com) and Hyperoptic. This lets them offer some impressively superfast speeds, but they don’t cover nearly as much of the country as BT’s network does. You’ll mostly find them concentrated in bigger towns and cities.
As well as all those, there are also some local providers that only operate in particular cities or counties. Some use BT Openreach, and some run their own network. Often they’re there to cover a ‘not-spot’ where other broadband providers aren’t reaching (or aren’t reaching at fast enough speeds). Examples of local providers include KC in Hull and Wightfibre on the Isle of Wight.
So, the providers you can get your broadband from may change pretty drastically depending on where you are in the country. But it gets even more complex. Even if a provider operates in your town or city, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can get the kind of package you want from it. That’ll vary depending on which part of the town or city you’re in, which exchanges are nearby, and what’s in your local cabinet on the street. So it’s always good to use a postcode checker to see exactly what packages are available for your address.
If you’ve got your heart set on fibre optic broadband, you’ll have better luck if you’re in a big city or metropolitan area, though there are fibre exchanges scattered all over the country. Conversely, in most of central London and Cornwall there are only fibre optic exchanges… so if you’re a light internet user you might have trouble sourcing a good value ADSL package.
What if I can’t get the package I want?
Well, the first step is to enter your postcode into our postcode checker above and see which packages are available to you. There’s bound to be something that at least comes close to your dream broadband connection.
If you’re not even covered by BT - which is possible if your property is brand new, or if you’re in the middle of nowhere - the only thing to do is to get a line installed. You can do this by contacting BT directly.
Or if you’d like to get connected to another provider’s network, such as Virgin Media, you can register your interest through its website. This won’t guarantee a connection with it, but it does help increase the likelihood of it installing an exchange in your town - and if that happens, you’ll be the first to know.
Until then, enter your postcode above to see what's available in your area, or find out about: