Research commissioned at the start of the year showed that 97% of UK residents are now online, and since the pandemic has driven us online for work, socialising and shopping, the importance of having a reliable broadband service is more important than ever. The “big four” broadband suppliers (BT, Sky, Virgin, and Talk Talk) account for almost all of the UK’s provision, with only 1% of customers signed up to other companies.
BT takes the lion’s share of the broadband customer base, with 37% of UK users opting for their service. That’s 9.3 million people already relying on them for their internet, and BT is working with the government to make their service even better, investing in ultrafast broadband speeds and building infrastructure that enables more of us to access the fastest broadband.
Their service comes at a premium, however, and given that other internet service providers (ISP) use the BT infrastructure, you might not want to pay this higher rate. However, BT’s broadband does come with great extras, including free cloud storage, access to wi-fi hotspots, and even the option to bundle your broadband with other services such as BT TV. You also get a telephone landline included and the widest choice of tech. Independent testing has shown that BT outperforms rival ISPs when it comes to the fastest broadband categories, superfast and ultrafast.
Sky is the next biggest player, taking 25% of the UK market. They offer three packages with unlimited broadband, with options for light through to heavy internet usage. Like BT, Sky has introduced an ultrafast option, and, as Sky utilises BT’s Openreach network, expect similar broadband speeds. Whilst a cheaper option, Sky doesn’t offer the same add-ons as BT, although a landline service is included, and you can bundle your broadband with Sky TV. There are often deals running, so check before you subscribe.
Next up is Virgin, which currently has 21% of the market share. Whilst BT’s service covers more of the UK, including more remote areas, Virgin can offer impressive broadband speeds if you’re able to access their network. If you live in Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton, Reading or Coventry, your Virgin broadband speeds can even hit 1Gb. Again, you’ll have the option to bundle broadband with other Virgin services such as mobile telephone and TV, which can work out as good value.
The last of our “big four”, Talk Talk, accounts for 17% of the market and is growing fast. A “no frills” ISP, Talk Talk offers competitive speeds at a low price. It’s worth noting that their price-freezing promise applies only to broadband and not any add-ons such as TV.
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