With the summer holidays upon us, you may be wondering whether your home broadband is going to be able to cope with the demands of home working when the network is being shared by other family members streaming television, using social media and playing games. Most households will find that an internet speed of 30mbps will usually be sufficient  on a totally unlimited plan but may begin to experience buffering or interruptions to their service if their broadband package allows the provider to implement traffic management during peak times. Equally, if you don’t have an unlimited plan, you may find that you will have to pay if you go above your data cap, and this is far more likely to happen during times when more of the family is at home at the same time.
The fastest broadband in the UK is determined by the top speed achieved by at least half a supplier’s customers at peak time  and speed tests across the networks regularly put Virgin Media at the top of the list. This is because Virgin Media have their own cabling network, supplying full fibre broadband to all of their customers, with a top speed of 1130Mbps available to everyone on its network.
When comparing broadband deals, however, it is important to consider how much you actually use the internet, the level of customer service support you are likely to require, and the price that you are willing to pay. There are always trade-offs to be had and it is important to consider the full offering from each supplier before deciding to switch.
Not everybody will need 1130Mbps broadband speed as this package really is aimed at busy households where everybody will be streaming, downloading or playing live video games at the same time, at peak time, and with no degradation in quality for any user and this is reflected in the price.
When searching ‘the fastest broadband in my area’, you will note that several other broadband providers are delivering incredible speeds which are comparable with some of the cheaper Virgin Media deals, so if speed is really critical for you, there is a good base for comparison with BT, Vodafone, TalkTalk, EE, Sky, Gigaclear, Hyperoptic and Lit also offering deals in many locations with a broadband speed of about 900Mbps.
It is important to note that these super fast deals are not available to all customers – so before you start switching, first check whether your postcode area is eligible for these speeds. Using Free Price Compare for broadband comparisons will show you all of the deals that you are eligible for once you enter your postcode, so if none of the super-fast deals shown above feature, it is unlikely that they are available in your postcode area.
Each supplier also has a postcode checker feature on their website so if you are really keen on a particular supplier or broadband deal, then it is possible to double-check your eligibility for it based on where in the country you live.
The speeds detailed above are download speeds – the speeds that you will receive when accessing data from the internet, for example, opening web pages, downloading email attachments or streaming video services. These speeds are typically the ones that consumers check when seeking a new broadband deal, and this is because they are the applications that most people care about in terms of speed.
However, for those that work from home, especially if you need to save or upload multiple large files to a remote server on a daily basis, or conduct many video calls from your computer, the upload speed that your broadband package offers is just as important as the download speed.
This is because a low upload speed is what creates frozen screens or defective audio on Teams, Skype or Zoom calls, affecting how others see and hear you. If you do partake in a lot of video calls, especially group calls, then you should consider your upload speed requirements when comparing new broadband deals. Skype recommends that a minimum upload speed of 100Kbps for calling and 512Kbps for group video chats is required in order to run efficiently, whilst Zoom requires a minimum of 600Kbps for one-to-one video calls and at least 3.8Mbps for group video calls in high definition.
Disappointingly, although Virgin Media’s Gig1 fibre broadband package offers an incredible 1130Mbps download speed, its upload speed is only 52Mbps which, whilst still very high compared to a standard ADSL broadband package which offers about 1.5Mbps, is dwarfed by the 900Mbps offerings, which tend to offer upload speeds of around 110Mbps. Hyperoptic currently offers the UK’s fastest upload speed which matches its download speed of 900Mbps.
By understanding the minimum upload speed that you will need, you will be able to narrow down the broadband offerings which will help you to determine which deal is going to best suit your needs.
If you are approaching the end of your current broadband deal or your deal has expired and you have moved onto a rolling monthly tariff, now is the time to run a broadband compare exercise and check what new deals you are eligible for. Not only could you improve your broadband speeds, but you are also likely to save money as the rolling monthly deals that you are given at the end of your contract are usually more expensive than those offered to new customers.
If, however, you’re still within your contract term and wish to switch, it is important to remember that you are likely to have to pay an early exit charge. This charge varies depending on which supplier you are with, so if there isn’t long left on your current deal, it may be cheaper to wait till the end of the current deal before switching. There is a chance, however, that you could find an alternative broadband offer which is so much cheaper than your current deal that it is worth paying the early exit charge to secure it, so if you are looking to save money whilst achieving better speeds, it is always worth running a broadband comparison check to see what offers are available.
If your reason for wanting to switch relates to an issue with your current provider, for example, if you are not getting the speeds that you were promised at sign-up, then you may be entitled to leave the contract without incurring any penalties. This will only apply, though, if you have contacted your provider already regarding the issue and given them the opportunity to rectify the situation.
If your broadband is delivering everything you were promised but it simply isn’t fast enough for you, your current supplier may be able to offer you an upgrade which may be cheaper or comparable to switching to another supplier but without the early exit charge.
If you wish to switch because you have found a cheaper deal elsewhere, it is worth contacting your provider first to see if they will match the deal in order to keep you as a customer. If you need to save money but also need the level of broadband service that you currently have and there are no cheaper deals available or the early exit fee that you would be charged makes switching unappealing, then the Money Advice Service  may be able to offer you advice on budgeting and financial planning in order that you are able to prioritise your expenditure and be sure of making switches with the lowest financial implications.
Whilst your priority may be searching ‘the fastest broadband for my area’, you would be wise to remember to check a provider’s customer service ratings before you switch, especially if you are likely to need support in getting set up, or you live in a rural area where broadband issues are fairly common. If you rely on your home broadband to work or keep in touch with friends and family, choosing a broadband deal from a provider who is known for delivering a quality service will likely be more important to you than if you only use your home broadband occasionally or for services which you can access by other means.
The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, publishes a quarterly list of the broadband suppliers who have received the most and the least customer complaints  that quarter and this is a good place to start to compare customer service ratings. The latest data shows that whilst Virgin Media offer the fastest broadband in the UK at the moment, their customer service is lacking, whereas accepting a minor compromise on speed could get you considerably better customer service with EE, Sky or BT.
Ultimately, it is your decision as to whether speed or customer service are your priority when choosing a new broadband deal, but it is sensible to consider both aspects, as well as the monthly price when considering switching services to maximise the likelihood of being happy with your new service and supplier.
As we detailed above, many of the super-fast broadband packages are not widely available, with many only serving customers who live in large towns and cities.
Unfortunately, the rural offerings are less attractive but with more infrastructure being rolled out daily across the UK in order to achieve the government’s target of delivering gigabit-capable broadband to the whole of the UK by 2025, it is sensible to regularly check what broadband offerings are available to your postcode area, especially if your current broadband contract is coming to an end in the near future.
The Free Price Compare comparison tool is designed to help you to identify what broadband deals are available to you and to compare them based on cost, contract length and internet speed.
For those on low incomes who require a broadband connection, many broadband providers offer social tariff broadband deals which are available for customers who are in receipt of Universal Credit or other types of government-funded financial assistance, however, they tend not to offer the fast download speeds achieved by standard tariffs, and in some cases are also comparable on price. Therefore, if you are eligible for these tariffs, it is always worth comparing them to standard deals to ensure that you get the best value for money.
If you are in debt and struggling to pay for the broadband that you need to either find or keep a job but are not eligible for social tariff broadband packages, the Citizens Advice Bureau  can help. They provide advice and guidance on debt and money management and can help to guide you with support on managing the cost of living increases and access to benefits that you may be eligible for.
If price is no object and you want to have the UK’s fastest broadband, then Virgin Media’s Gig1 Fibre Broadband package may be the one you need. If a balance of cost, customer service and speed is more important, there are many other options to consider and comparing broadband deals that are available to your postcode area will help you to find the best deal to suit your individual circumstances and preferences.
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