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Which provider has the fastest broadband?

Which provider has the fastest broadband?

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Last updated: 15 December 2021

Thanks to countless technological innovations over the last 20 years, it’s now easier than ever to have high-speed internet in your home or business. 

If it’s blisteringly fast internet you’re after, look for broadband packages offering at least 300Mbps. Anything higher than this is classified as ‘ultrafast’. But you can go even higher – much higher – with many providers now offering gigabit-capable broadband with download speeds of up to 1Gbps. 
 
However, not all broadband providers offer these lightning-quick speeds just yet. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the providers that do, which ultrafast packages they offer, and how their actual speeds compare to what they advertise. You should then have a good idea of which broadband provider is the fastest. 

Virgin Media

Virgin Media has long been known as one of the UK’s leading broadband providers, and has typically been a step ahead of the game when it comes to offering high-speed internet. This is partly due to the fact that it doesn’t rely on the Openreach network – it uses its own network of fibre optic cables, and is in fact the UK’s most widely available provider of high-speed, ultrafast internet.

Virgin Media’s fastest package currently on offer is the Gig1 Fibre Broadband connection. This is currently the only connection in the UK with download speeds above 1Gbps – with download speeds averaging an incredible 1,130Mbps. It also supports average upload speeds of 52Mbps.

This lightning-quick connection is also available as part of a broadband, home phone, TV, and mobile bundle, called the Ultimate Volt Bundle – one of the most comprehensive bundles around.

Virgin Media Broadband

Gig1 fibre broadband + home phone & O2 SIM

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

1130Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£64.00 / month

£35 upfront fees

How fast is Virgin Media in reality?

According to Ofcom’s latest broadband performance report, the real download speeds that Virgin Media customers on this package were receiving, based on the average over a 24-hour period, was just 831Mbps.

Real upload speeds were also revealed to be lower than advertised, but not by as much – 46.7Mbps compared to the promised average of 52Mbps.

However, these findings are based on a very small pool of customers – according to the same report, just 5% of the country had at least an ultrafast connection in 2020, and even less had gigabit-capable broadband. Therefore, you should take these results with a pinch of salt.

BT

BT is arguably the most well-known ISP in the UK, and it certainly has one of the widest reaches in terms of coverage. It’s only until recently, however, that BT has begun to offer gigabit-capable broadband speeds that can compete with the likes of Virgin Media.

The premium package on BT’s full-fibre (FTTP) range, the Full Fibre 900 connection, offers average download speeds of 910Mbps. While these aren’t as fast as those offered by Virgin Media’s flagship deal, its upload speeds are in fact faster, with an advertised average speed of 110Mbps.

BT Broadband

Full Fibre 900

24 month contract Fibre

£50 BT Virtual Reward Card

910Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£55.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

How fast is BT in reality?

According to Ofcom’s report, real download speeds experienced by BT customers on this package averaged just 884.7Mbps, so not quite the 910Mbps that was advertised. However, this is a lot more accurate and closer to the advertised speeds compared to Virgin Media’s equivalent connection.

In terms of upload speeds, BT users in reality got even more than they were promised – with average speeds hitting 116.6Mbps compared to the advertised speed of 110Mbps.

So, while Virgin Media offers faster speeds than BT in theory, in reality they are quite similar – and BT may even just beat it!

Vodafone

Vodafone is another relative newcomer to the gigabit broadband market. Both the Pro Gigafast 900 and Pro Gigafast 900 Xtra packages offer average download speeds of 910Mbps – the same as BT’s top-tier connection.

However, what really sets these two deals apart are its upload speeds, which at an average of 900Mbps, almost match that of its download speeds. In fact, these packages have some of the fastest upload speeds that we have ever seen – perfect for online gamers and home office workers.

Vodafone Broadband

Pro Gigafast 900 with Alexa

24 month contract Fibre + Phone

910Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£53.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

Vodafone Broadband

Pro Gigafast 900 Xtra with Alexa

24 month contract Fibre + Phone

910Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£61.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

How fast is Vodafone in reality?

According to Ofcom, the average download speed over a 24-hour period with this connection was 853.9Mbps, so not quite the 900Mbps that is advertised. Don’t let this put you off though; this is still one of the fastest home internet connections out there.

Its upload speeds, however, were even better in reality than what was advertised, hitting an impressive average of 931.2Mbps. It should be remembered, however, that Ofcom’s results are based on a very small number of customers.

Hyperoptic

Local ISP Hyperoptic is an independent provider operating in certain pockets of cities across the UK. It specialises in offering high-speed internet solutions to its rapidly-growing base of loyal customers.

Currently, Hyperoptic’s premium package is its Fast 1Gbps Broadband package, available on either a 24-month, 12-month, or rolling monthly contract. It promises to provide average download speeds of 900Mbps, and upload speeds to match.

While Hyperoptic has the speeds to match some of the UK’s leading providers, it doesn’t yet have the widespread coverage to be considered a household name. To see if you live in one of the lucky few areas with access to Hyperoptic’s rapid speeds, enter your postcode now.

Hyperoptic Broadband

Fast 1Gbps Broadband only

24 month contract Fibre

First 3 months free!

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£0 / month for 3 months

Then £40.00 / month

Hyperoptic Broadband

Fast 1Gbps Broadband only

12 month contract Fibre

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£0 / month for 3 months

Then £40.00 / month

Hyperoptic Broadband

Fast 1Gbps Broadband only (Rolling contract)

1 month contract Fibre

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£52.00 / month

£29 upfront fees

How fast is Hyperoptic in reality?

In reality, Hyperoptic’s average download speeds don’t really match up to what it advertises. Based on Ofcom’s survey, Hyperoptic customers on its gigabit-capable connection received average download speeds of just 653.1Mbps – quite significantly lower than 900Mbps. While this still isn’t slow by any stretch of the imagination, it can be quite jarring when the product doesn’t match up to its description.

Hyperoptic’s upload speeds fared much better in reality, however, averaging 817Mbps over a 24-hour period. Again, it’s important to remember that these findings are based on a handful of customers, and each customer’s experience will be unique.

Which other providers claim to be one of the fastest?

There are a number of other broadband providers that offer high-end packages with speeds close to those seen above. However, these ISPs weren’t included in Ofcom’s latest broadband performance report, either due to the fact that their customer base is so low or they’ve only recently begun offering such speedy deals.

Therefore, it’s hard to see how each provider’s claim matches up to their actual speeds. But let’s take a look at their offers anyway:

EE

EE’s Fibre Max 900 deal promises average download speeds of 900Mbps, and upload speeds of 110Mbps. It also comes with some added perks for mobile customers.

EE Broadband

Fibre Max 900

24 month contract Fibre + Phone

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£50.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

Shell Energy Broadband

Shell Energy Broadband has recently begun offering gigabit-capable speeds, with its Full Fibre 900 package providing average download speeds of 900Mbps and upload speeds of 115Mbps.

Shell Energy Broadband

Full Fibre 900

18 month contract Fibre

£50 bill credit

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£43.99 / month

£0 upfront fees

Gigaclear

Gigaclear is a local broadband provider, offering high-speed internet to rural communities that might not otherwise have access to it. Its fastest package is Hyperfast 900, offering average download and upload speeds of 900Mbps.

Gigaclear Broadband

Hyperfast 900 with Smart WiFi

18 month contract Fibre

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£49.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

KCOM

Based in Hull, KCOM has a near monopoly on broadband in the city and surrounding areas. Luckily, this doesn’t mean residents are left behind, with KCOM’s fastest Full Fibre 900 package providing average download speeds of 900Mbps, and upload speeds of 180Mbps.

KCOM Broadband

Full Fibre 900

18 month contract Fibre + Phone

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£0 / month for 3 months

Then £49.99 / month

Community Fibre

Another local ISP, this time based in London, Community Fibre offers a Gigafast package with average download speeds of 920Mbps and upload speeds to match. It’s available on either a 12 or 24-month contract.

Airband

Airband specialises in delivering high-speed internet to rural areas across the South West of England and parts of Wales. Its Fibre 900 deal offers average download speeds of 900Mbps and upload speeds of 200Mbps.

Airband Broadband

Fibre 900

18 month contract Fibre

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£75.00 / month

£0 upfront fees

Trooli

A relatively new provider based in Kent, Trooli’s fastest connection is the Full Fibre 900 Home package, offering average download speeds of 900Mbps and upload speeds of 300Mbps.

Trooli Broadband

Full Fibre 900 Home

18 month contract Fibre

First month free!

900Mb / second

Average speed

Unlimited

Usage

£0 / month for 1 months

Then £68.00 / month

So, which broadband provider is the fastest?

While Virgin Media currently has the fastest advertised download speeds (1,130Mbps), Ofcom’s broadband performance report has revealed that in reality, other providers may in fact be faster.

Let’s take a look at the top-tier packages from the four providers included in Ofcom’s report, and see how their advertised speeds, as well as their actual speeds, compare:

Provider Advertised download speed Actual download speed Advertised upload speed Actual upload speed
Virgin Media 1,130Mbps 831Mbps 52Mbps 46Mbps
BT 910Mbps 885Mbps 110Mbps 117Mbps
Vodafone 910Mbps 854Mbps 900Mbps 931Mbps
Hyperoptic 900Mbps 653Mbps 900Mbps 817Mbps

Of course, not all of these providers will be available where you live, based on coverage and accessibility issues. To see which of these high-speed broadband providers are in your area, simply head over to our broadband comparison page and enter your postcode.

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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.

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