Learn about the different types of home broadband in the UK and compare different broadband internet service providers (ISPs).

In the UK, there are multiple different technologies used for home broadband including ADSL, fibre, cable, 4G and 5G. There are also numerous different ISPs you can choose from, with a range of different home broadband plans using different underlying technologies.

In this section, we’ll explain the different types of home broadband in the UK, the pros & cons of each broadband technology and where you’re currently able to get it. We’ll also compare different broadband ISPs across each type of home broadband technology.

Which ISPs provide home broadband in the UK?
The following internet service providers currently offer home broadband in the UK:
What are the different types of home broadband?
There are seven different types of home broadband technology currently used in the UK:
  • ADSL: Uses a copper phone line connection between your home and the telephone exchange. Average speeds of 11Mbit/s.
  • FTTC: Uses a fibre optic connection to your street cabinet, with a copper phone line from the cabinet to your home. Average speeds of 60Mbit/s.
  • G.fast: A hybrid technology with fibre optic cables running to the telephone pole or pavement chamber. A copper connection runs the rest of the way to your home. Average speeds of 280Mbit/s.
  • DOCSIS Cable: Uses a fibre optic connection to your cabinet and a co-axial cable from the cable in to your home. Offered by Virgin Media. Average speeds of 362Mbit/s or 1Gbit/s (dependent on your plan and area).
  • Full Fibre: Uses a fibre optic connection all the way into your home. Average speeds of 1Gbit/s (plan dependent).
  • 4G Wireless: Uses a 4G wireless connection from the mobile mast to your home broadband router. Average speeds of 15-30Mbit/s.
  • 5G Wireless: Uses a 5G wireless connection from the mobile mast to your home broadband router. Average speeds of 150-250Mbit/s.
Which broadband technology delivers the best speed and reliability?
The gold standard for broadband speed and reliability is provided by full fibre technology (also known as fibre-to-the-home). Today’s full fibre technology offers 1Gbit/s download and upload speed, with the possibility of faster speeds in the future with hardware improvements. It is less susceptible to interference and slowdowns compared to other broadband technology.
How widely available are the different types of home broadband?
The availability of different home broadband technologies in the UK are as follows:
  • ADSL: Available in almost all UK homes, but with variable speeds especially in more rural areas.
  • FTTC: Available in around 90% of UK homes.
  • G.fast: Available in around 4% of UK homes (1 million households).
  • DOCSIS Cable: Available in around 60% of UK homes (17 million households).
  • Full Fibre: Available in around 10% of UK homes (3 million households).
  • 4G Wireless: Available in 99% of UK homes, but with variable speeds especially in busy congested areas.
  • 5G Wireless: Available in more than 70 UK towns and cities.
How does fixed-line broadband compare to wireless broadband?
Traditionally, most home broadband services in the UK have used fixed-line technology where either a phone line or cable runs to your home. This works well for many people though it’s often slow to set up and not that flexible as you’re tied in to a contract. In certain locations, fixed-line broadband can also be slow (e.g. in rural areas or households without access to fibre broadband).

As an alternative to fixed-line broadband, 4G or 5G wireless broadband can be a good option. It’s normally more flexible than fixed-line broadband and may give you better performance in some areas (e.g. in rural areas without slow fixed-line broadband).

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