Broadband has become essential in today's digital age, as it enables individuals, businesses, and organisations to communicate, work, learn, and stay connected.
This page provides an overview of the main UK broadband providers, summarises recent industry news, and gives useful advice, as well as sources for further support.
Contents of this page
There are two main networks delivering broadband infrastructure in the UK – Openreach (the BT network) and Virgin Media. There is also a range of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) providers who lay their own cables for high-speed broadband. Hyperoptic and Community Fibre are two examples, although these providers currently have limited regional availability and may not always appear on price comparison sites.
You can easily switch between providers on the Openreach network (BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, and Vodafone) but switching between Openreach and Virgin Media, or another FTTP provider, usually requires a visit from an engineer.
There are around 150 broadband companies in the UK, we have listed the largest here.
<aside> ☎️ Ofcom, the sector regulator, publishes an annual report on customer service levels
Many large broadband providers increase their prices mid-contract by the rate of inflation plus an extra amount on top (usually around 4 percentage points), as set out in their terms and conditions.
When inflation was running at around 3%, the practice of mid-contract price rises wasn’t a huge issue for customers. But as inflation reached new highs, some customers found their bills increasing by more than 17% mid-contract.
At the start of 2023, industry regulator Ofcom announced it would investigate the practice of mid-contract price hikes – amid concerns telecoms providers weren't being clear enough about what customers would pay over the course of their contracts.
Virgin Media has announced its 2024 mid-contract price rises, informing customers their contract costs will increase by the RPI rate of inflation in January, plus an additional 3.9%
|Broadband Providers||% increase (April 2021)||% increase (April 2022)||% increase (April 2023)|
|Shell Energy Broadband||-||6.1||13.5|
|Broadband Providers||No price hikes announced|
|Now Broadband||Now’s terms do allow it to hike prices for customers mid-contract, but it did not do this last year. It's yet to confirm the approach it will take this year.|
|Hyperoptic||Campaign against mid-contract price hikes|
|Cuckoo||Campaign against mid-contract price hikes|
|Utility Warehouse||Don’t have mid-contract price rises|
As well as prices rising during your contract, it’s also common for your broadband bill to increase once your contract has ended.
Broadband providers will often roll out-of-contract customers on to often pricier tariffs. If you’re out of contract, you can leave at any time, penalty-free. Given that broadband deals are often better for new customers there’s a high chance you’ll be able to save by switching to a new deal.
If you’re out of contract but don’t want to switch to a new provider, you could try haggling with your existing provider to see if they’ll offer you a better deal.
<aside> 🛠️ For the most up-to-date practical advice, read our guide to Saving money on broadband.
Broadband providers often win new customers with a low introductory rate which include mid-contract increases tied to inflation, plus a further discretionary amount on top. When contracts end, prices may increase even further, and out-of-contract rates certainly won’t be as low as the same provider’s available introductory offers.