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Best and worst broadband providers 2021

Best and worst broadband providers 2021

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Last updated: 22 November 2021

Thousands of customers complain about their broadband provider every year, with issues ranging from connection problems to unexpected price hikes. However, some providers perform better than others in terms of the volume of complaints they receive, and knowing which companies are the worst culprits can help you make an informed decision about your next provider.
 
Ofcom’s annual customer service report looks at how the major broadband providers in the UK perform each year on factors such as customer satisfaction and complaints handling. The market regulator gives an independent report into what levels of customer service phone and broadband customers can expect. 
 
Read on to find out who are the country’s best and worst broadband providers in 2021.

How are broadband providers ranked?

Every year, industry regulator Ofcom collects a survey of overall broadband customer satisfaction, including satisfaction with customer service, satisfaction with complaints handling, and average call waiting times.

Remember that the ranking only provides a snapshot into the happiness of customers for each provider. It does not necessarily relate directly to how good their broadband service is, but it can indicate when a provider is having more issues than normal.

You must also remember that the complaints per 100,000 customers only shows you the number of customers who were so unhappy that they escalated their complaint to the regulator (direct complaints to the provider are not included). In reality, there may actually be far more unhappy customers than this data suggests.

These rankings do not mean you should necessarily switch broadband provider either. You may find that you have had no problems with your broadband service, but your provider is ranked unfavourably by Ofcom. As long as you’re happy then there is probably no need to switch!

Who are the best broadband providers in 2021?

Here we will look at all the providers included in Ofcom’s annual customer service report released in 2021 and how they were ranked:

1: EE

In terms of overall customer satisfaction with the service, EE was voted the best broadband provider for 2021 with a score of 82%. One of the reasons for this high level of customer satisfaction could be the fact that it had the least number of Ofcom complaints per 100,000 subscribers at just 20, while it also had the shortest average call waiting times at just 1 minute 15 seconds.

EE is definitely not one of the cheapest broadband providers around, but it offers a decent range of packages at varying speeds, and the vast majority of customers have been left satisfied with their connection and its performance.

As well as their highly-rated customer service, EE often rewards customers for their loyalty, offering discounts on broadband and up to 20GB of free data to EE Mobile customers.

Here are some of EE’s best broadband packages right now:

EE Broadband

Fibre

24 month contract Fibre + Phone

36Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£24.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

EE Broadband

Fibre Plus

24 month contract Fibre + Phone

67Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£27.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

EE Broadband

Fibre Max 100

24 month contract Fibre + Phone

145Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£31.00 / month

£25 upfront fees

2: Plusnet

Plusnet came in at a close second in Ofcom’s latest rankings, with 81% of their customers overall satisfied with their service. Just 24% of Plusnet customers felt they had a reason to complain about the provider, one of the lowest proportions in the survey.

Plusnet prides itself on offering simple, affordable broadband. While this means that you won’t get any packages offering 100Mbps or more, if you’re happy with settling for up to 67Mbps with a fibre connection, you’ll struggle to find it for a fairer price than with Plusnet.

What makes Plusnet’s deals even better value for money is the fact that they all come with a Plusnet Reward card which can be spent online and in most high street stores, while they also don’t charge any set-up fees.

Here are some of Plusnet’s best broadband packages right now:

Plusnet Broadband

Unlimited Broadband

18 month contract + Phone

£50 Plusnet Reward Card

10Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£18.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

Plusnet Broadband

Unlimited Fibre

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

£60 Plusnet Reward Card

36Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£22.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

Plusnet Broadband

Unlimited Fibre Extra

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

£65 Plusnet Reward Card

66Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£24.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

3: Virgin Media

Virgin Media is one of the most recognised broadband providers in the UK, but the majority of its customers are satisfied with their service with an overall satisfaction rate of 80%. The thing customers were most satisfied with was the speed of service - 82% were satisfied with their speeds, more than any other provider.

In fact, Virgin Media is the most widely available provider of ultrafast speeds in the UK, although you should expect to pay a premium for their services. The company also uses their own lines to deliver fibre optic connections to your home, meaning there’s no need to pay for line rental as is usually the norm.

They also offer a good selection of TV bundles for you to pick and choose from, while the router you’ll receive as standard with most packages is one of the most up-to-date on the market.

Here are some of Virgin Media’s best broadband packages right now:

Virgin Media Broadband

M100 Fibre Broadband Only

18 month contract Fibre

108Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£44.00 / month

£35 upfront fees

Virgin Media Broadband

Big Bundle

18 month contract Fibre + TV + Phone

54Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£33.00 / month

£35 upfront fees

Virgin Media Broadband

M500 Fibre Broadband Only

18 month contract Fibre

516Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£62.00 / month

£35 upfront fees

4: BT

Another household name in the UK, BT also received an overall customer satisfaction score of 80% for its broadband services. The same proportion of customers were also satisfied with the speeds they receive from BT, just above the UK average of 79%. It also had the lowest number of customers with a reason to complain, at just 23%.

BT offers a wide range of broadband packages to suit all kinds of households, and they offer a reliable service too, but their deals are usually more expensive than its rivals. They do, however, offer one of the best ranges of TV packages that you can pick and choose from, including exclusive offers on BT Sport.

It is also one of the most widely-available broadband providers in the country, with their full fibre packages currently available to 91% of UK postcodes.

Here are some of BT’s best broadband packages right now:

BT Broadband

Fibre 2

24 month contract Fibre

£90 BT Virtual Reward Card

67Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£32.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

BT Broadband

Big Sport + Fibre 2

24 month contract Fibre + TV

£90 BT Virtual Reward Card

67Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£72.99 / month

£20 upfront fees

BT Broadband

Full Fibre 500

24 month contract Fibre

300Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£44.99 / month

£9.99 upfront fees

5: Sky 

Sky also fared relatively well in Ofcom’s latest report, hitting the UK-wide average of 80% overall customer satisfaction. A higher-than-average proportion of its customers were also satisfied with the speeds they offer, while 59% of customers that complained were satisfied with how it was handled - more than any other provider. Finally, Sky also had the second lowest number of Ofcom complaints at just 23 per 100,000 subscribers.

As well as their favourable customer reviews, Sky has long been known to offer some of the best selections of TV bundles on the market. The Sky Q router and set-top box is also hard to be beaten in terms of ISP-provided equipment, and they also now throw in a Netflix subscription on a number of their packages.

Here are some of Sky’s best broadband packages right now:

Sky Broadband

Superfast Broadband

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

59Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£25.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

Sky Broadband

Ultrafast Broadband

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

145Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£35.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

Sky Broadband

Ultrafast Broadband Plus + Sky TV + Netflix

18 month contract Fibre + TV

500Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£50.00 / month

£68.95 upfront fees

6: TalkTalk

With an overall customer satisfaction score of just 77%, TalkTalk was rated the worst broadband provider in Ofcom’s 2021 annual report. However, with just a 5% difference between TalkTalk and the highest rated ISP, EE, the difference between the best and worst is somewhat marginal. You should also remember that Ofcom’s survey only includes the biggest broadband providers with significant market share - so many smaller, independent and local providers aren’t included in this list.

While customers weren’t particularly satisfied with the speeds that TalkTalk offer (they’ve only just recently began offering speeds higher thatn 67Mbps), just 23 out of 100,000 subscribers made a complaint to Ofcom - the joint-second lowest in the survey and below half the UK average of 50. Customers also had better than average call waiting times at just 1 minute and 46 seconds.

So, while TalkTalk had the lowest rating for overall customer satisfaction, these other measurements of their service paint a different picture. TalkTalk offers simple, no-frills broadband at low costs, and they also rarely charge any set-up fees or hike price mid-contract.

Here are some of TalkTalk’s best broadband packages right now:

TalkTalk Broadband

Fast Broadband

18 month contract + Phone

11Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£24.95 / month

£9.95 upfront fees

TalkTalk Broadband

Fibre 35

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

38Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£21.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

TalkTalk Broadband

Fibre 65 with TV

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

67Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£25.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

Who are the worst broadband providers in 2021?

Overall, it’s hard to categorically say which broadband provider can be considered the worst, as there are so many different factors at play, and customers will have different priorities depending on their needs. While TalkTalk had the lowest overall customer satisfaction score, the difference between the top-ranking provider was almost negligible. In fact, what may the best broadband provider for one customer may be the worst for another, depending on their specific needs and budget.

For a more in-depth analysis of Ofcom’s latest customer satisfaction survey, you can read their report here.

Broadband customer service table

Category BT Broadband EE Broadband Plusnet Broadband TalkTalk Broadband Virgin Media Broadband UK Average
Satisfaction with overall service 80% 82% 81% 77% 80% 80%
Satisfaction with speed of service 80% 78% 75% 71% 82% 79%
Customers with a reason to complain 23% 30% 24% 24% 29% 26%
Overall satisfaction with complaint handling 55% 47% 47% 47% 48% 52%
Ofcom complaints per 100,000 subscribers 50 20 69 81 69 50
Average call waiting time (mm:ss) 3:28 1:15 4:52 1:46 7:40 4:09
Danny Lord

Author: Danny Lord

Danny is our Editor-in-Chief, and has been writing news and guides for comparison sites for the last five years.