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UK Broadband Information and Advice

Details on UK Broadband Internet, and a look at what the UK Broadband providers have to offer

 

What is Broadband?

A broadband connection (ADSL) provides high-speed Internet access over a standard phone line. The advantage of a broadband connection over the older dialup service, is that Broadband is considerably faster, and is 'always-on', meaning that once you're logged on, your PC is online until the PC is turned off again.

Broadband offers high-speed Internet access and allows telephone calls and a permanent Internet connection to share a single phone line simultaneously.

 

What do I need?

  • Broadband coverage in your area. Each broadband provider allows you to enter your phone number or postcode to check availability. A basic test is done on your line, and when you sign up, a more comprehensive test is carried out.
  • A Broadband (ADSL) modem or router. These cost from around £50 (PC World) - although many Internet providers, including BT Broadband, provide you with a free router when you first sign up to their service. If it's offered, try to get a free wireless router with your Broadband package.
  • Microfilters. When Broadband is enabled, the broadband signal is available via any extension socket in your home as well as the main point. You'll need to use a filter to cut out the Broadband "crackle". You need a filter on every phone socket that has something plugged into it - this includes phone handsets, fax machines and your Sky box.

Check your likely download speed:

To get a feel, try a check with BT first... enter your phone number and postcode at the speedchecker: bt.com/btbroadband - then, check some of the other providers to find the best deal.

 

UK Broadband Internet Providers compared

Below is a comparison of the major Broadband suppliers in the UK:


Package

Available nationally

Download speed (up to)

Monthly payment 1

Phone support call rates

Download Limit 2
BT Total Broadband
Option 1
yes
16Mb
£13
Free
10Gb
Option 2
yes
16Mb
£18
Free
20Gb
Option 3
yes
16Mb
£26
Free
Fair usage policy 3
Orange Broadband
Starter
yes
14Mb
£10
5p a minute
6Gb
Ultra
no
14Mb
£13.50
5p a minute
Fair usage policy 3
PlusNet
Value
yes
16Mb
£6.49
Local
10Gb
Extra
yes
16Mb
£11.49
Local
60Gb
Sky Broadband
Everyday
no
14Mb
£5 (Sky customer)
National
2Gb
Unlimited
no
14Mb
£10 (Sky customer)
National
Fair usage policy 3
TalkTalk
Essentials
yes
14Mb
£6.99
Free on TalkTalk Phone
40Gb
Plus
yes
14Mb
£14.99
Free on TalkTalk Phone
Fair usage policy 3
Virgin Media
L
no
30Mb
£14.50
Local
Fair usage policy 3
XL
no
50Mb
£18.50
Local
Fair usage policy 3
XXL
no
100Mb
£25.50
Local
Fair usage policy 3

Notes: 1. Standard subscription price per month, excludes line rental. 3. This is the total amount of data you can download through your broadband connection each month. 3. A Fair Usage Policy applies to prevent over use of the service.

BT Broadband Deal

BT Total Broadband - BT offer three packages with speeds of up to 76 Meg. BT has the largest Broadband infrastructure in the UK.

Special offers: BT are offering a range of extras to encourage people to make the switch to Broadband. Currently they're offering:

  • Free wireless modem - Get a BT Home Hub for wi-fi access in your home.
  • YouView from BT - Hard-disk recorder and access to on-demand movies and TV shows on your telly

    BT Vision set-top box

  • Free wi-fi - Inclusive Wi-fi minutes from BT Wi-fi and BT Fon wifi hotspots
  • Free storage - Back up your important files to a secure website with Digital Vault
  • Free security - McAfee PC antivirus & firewall software on most packages
  • Free Technical Support - 24/7 0800 support number

Infinity High-speed Broadband: Fibre-optic connection - Speeds of up to 76Mbps. More on our BT Infinity page or at bt.com/infinity

BT offers the following Broadband options, all with speeds up to 16 Meg:

  • BT Home Hub with DECT phoneBroadband with weekend/evening calls - £14 a month - FREE for the first 3 months. 10 Gig monthly transfer allowance. Optional digital TV with BT Vision.
  • Unlimited calls and broadband - £28 a month - FREE for the first 3 months. Unlimited monthly transfer allowance. Unlimited UK calls. McAfee security, a free wi-fi BT Home Hub, plus BT Vision.
  • BT Broadband Anywhere HandsetAnywhere - £24.51 for the first three months. Unlimited monthly transfer allowance. The top-of-the-range package. Everything included, plus a BT Broadband Anywhere handset - a choice of powerful smartphones that uses Wi-fi or the mobile phone network for surfing, emailing and PDA functionality. More on BT Broadband Anywhere.

More info More details at www.bt.com/btbroadband

Sky Broadband

Sky Digital

FREE: Inclusive broadband and phone calls for customers of satellite TV firm Sky Digital

Sky Broadband has two packages:

  • Broadband Everyday Light: Inclusive Broadband for Sky customers, with a download cap of 2 Gig a month.
  • Unlimited: £10 a month - with no download retrictions or fair use policy!

All packages come with a free wireless router

To get Internet at these prices, you need to get your digital TV from Sky, and to be signed up to Sky Talk, the home phone service. Sky Talk inclusive free UK evening and weekend calls, and you can keep your existing line and number. Sky line rental of £14.50 a month applies.

For full details of Sky's Broadband service, see our Sky Broadband Info page, or go to sky.com/shop/broadband-talk


Cheap Broadband from Plusnet

TOP DEAL: Tired of paying a fortune for your Broadband? Switch to Plusnet and pay £6.49 for their basic broadband service. You don't get all the bells and whistles such as a digital TV service, but if you just need a low-priced broadband service, then this is for you. Plusnet also are known for their excellent customer service, and their Yorkshire Tech Support team. See our Plusnet Information page for more.

10 Gig a month allowance, speeds of up to 16 Meg, from £6.49 a month with free setup.

80% of the UK can get low-priced broadband from Plusnet - Can you? Check at www.plus.net.


Virgin Media
FASTEST: Virgin Media is the UK's cable Internet provider, taking over from Telewest and NTL cable. As well as offering a cable Internet service, they also offer Internet to customers outside their cable coverage area. Here's a summary of what Virgin offers:
  • Up to 30 Mb: Up to 30 Meg download speed, with no download limit - £14.50 a month
  • Up to 60 Mb: Up to 60 Meg download speed, with no download limit - £18.50 a month
  • Up to 100Mb: Up to 100 Meg download speed, with no download limit - then £25.50 a month

Virgin Media's Broadband services include:

  • Free Broadband modem
  • Free Internet security
  • No download limits (Acceptable Usage Policy applies)
  • 15 Virgin email addresses
  • Virgin Media also offers digital TV, home phone and mobile phone - signing up for a package can bring great savings

Virgin Line rental of £13.90 applies

For more details, go to www.virginmedia.com.

TalkTalk Broadband

TalkTalk offers home broadband and phone service. They acquired one of their competitors, Tiscali, in 2009.

Their basic connection, TalkTalk Essentials, costs £6.50 a month (plus £9 line rental) for speeds of up to 14 Meg with a generous 40GB download limit, free evening and weekend calls and a free wireless router.

Full details at www.talktalk.co.uk


Be Broadband

Be Broadband is not the most well known name, but they have a great selling point - Speeds of up to 19 Meg on the BE Unlimited package. The number of exchanges supporting Be Broadband is growing (slowly). Prices to join the Broadband revolution start from £7.50 for their basic service or under £18 a month for their fastest service.

Check if Be is available in your area at www.bethere.co.uk.

 

 

Installing Broadband

If you're looking to get Broadband, you'll need to be in an area of broadband coverage, have signed up with a company to give you Broadband, and have a Broadband modem.

Once you have signed up for your account, there's normally around a five day wait, while your provider makes the appropriate changes to your phone service at your local phone exchange. After that, you'll be switched on to Broadband. Here's a summary of what happens next:

BT Home HubIf you don't have a Broadband modem, you'll hopefully have requested one - if you've gone with BT Broadband, you'll probably be sent a BT Home Hub (pictured). The modem will probably be posted or couriered to you.

Once you have your modem and it's your activation day, here's what you'll need to do to connected:

  1. Start up the PC, and install the supplied software - it's the modem drivers for the Broadband modem
  2. Plug the microfilter into the phone socket (you also need microfilters for other handsets/equipment in your house, as above)
  3. Plug the modem's phone lead into the ADSL port of the filter
  4. Plug the modem's USB lead into a spare USB port on the PC
  5. From the Start menu, start up the supplied software, and enter the account details supplied by your broadband provider. You should just have a username and password - unlike a dialup account, there's no phone number
Broadband setup
Summary of setup

 

Listen to the FrequencyCast UK online radio show
FrequencyCast Podcast IconPODCAST FEATURE: We looked closely at Broadband in Show 58 of our online tech radio show.
Listen to the show online, or download it to your MP3 player.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question on Broadband in the UK? Check our Broadband FAQ

 

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