Fast broadband means uninterrupted, super smooth video streaming. Lightning fast downloads. And an even better online gaming experience. But whether you can secure a really fast service depends on where you live. Here we’ll look at what you can get in your area and how to get it.
What's the fastest broadband in my area?
You can find the fastest broadband providers available at your address by entering your full postcode in the postcode checker below.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll then need to ‘sort by speed’ to see the fastest packages available at your address. Hopefully you’ll be able to get something truly rapid.
Which broadband provider is fastest?
The UK's fastest widely available broadband service is from Virgin Media, with an average download speed of 516Mbps.
However, an increasing number of providers now offer speeds of over 900Mbps, although such services are only available in select towns and cities.
Virgin Media’s lightning fast Gig1 broadband, with average speeds of 1.13Gb, is now available in 10 million homes across the UK. Hyperoptic also offers similarly speedy services, at 900Mb, with coverage in more than 400,000 homes.
Meanwhile, BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Vodafone all offer 900Mbps services, way beyond the standard 35-63Mbps services we’ve come to expect in recent years, although coverage isn’t as widespread as Virgin Media.
Virgin’s fibre infrastructure is much more extensive and runs straight into the home – so if you want fast broadband and a comprehensive package, it’s probably the best bet.
The boom in extra fast broadband is all thanks to the growth in fibre to the premises (FTTP) tech, which allows fibre cables to come right into your home.
What's the fastest non-fibre broadband service?
The fastest standard broadband packages get you average speeds of around 10Mbps. These are available from a wide range of providers, such as Plusnet, John Lewis and TalkTalk.
Will I get the advertised broadband speed?
There’s a good chance of getting fast broadband speeds as advertised. But it's not guaranteed.
Regulations stipulate that advertised broadband speeds must be available to at least 50% of people at peak time.
The variance between advertised speed and actual speeds is because the real-world speed you get depends on things like your precise location and property type, as well as your distance from the local phone cabinet and exchange.
Those offering 900Mbps broadband make it clear that to get such speeds you’ll need to be using a wired connection. Great if you’re connected to a console or set top box, not so handy on a phone or tablet.
Keen to find out more? Read our one-stop guide to broadband speeds.
What broadband speed do I need?
Deciding how fast your broadband needs to be comes down to one key factor: how many people live in your home. The greater the number, the faster the broadband service you’ll require.
As well as that golden rule, you’ll also need to take into account how you use the internet.
Here's a guide to the sort of speeds we think you'll need, as determined by the number of occupants in your home.
- 3Mpbs-10Mbps - Enough for homes with 1 or 2 occupants, or a couple with very young children who aren't yet internet users.
- 11Mbps-35Mbps - Perfect for student homes or for family homes with between 3-4 occupants, each of whom have smartphones, tablets, computers, and/or TVs for watching streaming services
- 75Mbps or above - These faster speeds suit homes with 5 or more occupants, all of whom are internet users and own consoles or stream TV regularly.
Need a bit more help choosing a package? Use our speed checker to find out your current speed and see deals that are available in your area.
What’s the difference between standard and fibre broadband?
Fibre optic broadband is much faster than standard broadband.
It’s so much quicker because its journey into your home is partly, or sometimes entirely, via fibre optic cables. These are capable of transmitting data much more efficiently than the ageing copper wire telephone network that’s used to deliver standard broadband.
The catch is that fibre broadband is generally a bit more expensive and less widely available. If you live in a city or large town, you’ve got a very good chance of being able to get fibre.
But if you’re in a more remote, rural location, your options may be limited to standard broadband. That’s something the
Sold on fibre broadband? Take a look at our best fibre broadband deals.
What affects broadband speed?
There are multiple factors which can affect your broadband speed. And often, it’s not simply the fault of your provider. Here’s what to look out for:
- Distance from the local telephone exchange. If you live a long way from the nearest exchange and cannot get FTTP broadband, then your speeds are likely to be slower. That last stretch to your house is often where speeds can slow right down.
- Your router and where you put it. Most providers now offer faster, AC standard WiFi routers. However, if you place the router close to your landline connection downstairs and then try to stream content in a distant bedroom or office, then the connection is likely to be slower. If you have thick walls, this can also be a problem.
- The simple fact is that more people using the network means it will likely slow down. Providers tend not to slow down speeds artificially any more, but if everyone in your area is trying to access the internet at the same time using the same provider, then you can expect slower speeds.
- Other devices. Remember that placing your router close to other electrical devices can cause interference, slowing down the speed available.
Don't need fibre? Find our handpicked selection of standard broadband packages.
Are there any cons to choosing the fastest broadband available?
The only real downside to choosing fast broadband is cost. At the time of writing, broadband with speeds over 900Mbps can come in at over £50 a month across a 24 month contract.
However, as competition grows, prices are falling rapidly. And the savings you make by opting for standard broadband will be offset by the fact that the speeds will only be able to handle the most basic of internet-based activities. That means limited streaming and gaming, for starters.
Can I boost my broadband speed?
Yes. You can do so by investing in special boosters which connect to your main router and act as separate hubs. Some providers, like Vodafone, offer these with their more comprehensive packages.
Remember that wired connections are faster too, so try connecting speed intensive devices like consoles and set top boxes to your router using an Ethernet cable.