Check Broadband Availability in your area
Broadband Availability data for the whole of the UK
Anyone who has ever bought a broadband package before knows that the advertised speeds and actual speeds rarely match up. Internet suppliers love to shout about how speedy their services are, but the fact is that where you live has the biggest bearing on how fast your internet will be.
Broadbandcheck.co.uk is here to help. We cut through all the hype to give you just the facts.
We'll show you exactly what speed of broadband is available to you where you live, and we'll also tell you which providers will be able to give you those speeds. Just type your postcode into the box above to begin your search for your best broadband deal.
Who are the main broadband providers?
We can find you deals from the UK's eight largest broadband suppliers.
- Virgin Media
- NOW Broadband
Many of these providers use the Openreach network, so have similar levels of coverage and speed. Virgin Media uses its own network, so can offer much faster speeds, but aren't available across the whole country.
What are the different types of broadband?
There are loads of different types of broadband, including niche services like satellite broadband for rural areas. But unless you're looking for something more obscure, the main ones you'll be shopping for are standard - or ADSL - broadband and fibre broadband.
Standard broadband. This runs over the old telephone network of copper cables. These copper lines are slow, and the further a broadband signal has to travel along them, the slower it gets. The upshot is that your ADSL broadband speed is directly related to how far your house is from the nearest telephone exchange. If it's quite near you could get speeds up to 16Mb; if you're out in the sticks you could be plodding along at less than 2Mb. The average is around 10-11Mb.
Fibre broadband. This runs on a super fast fibre optic cable network, which is much quicker and much more efficient than copper cables. But there's a catch. Most fibre deals are what we call 'fibre to the cabinet' services, where the fibre cables only run to your nearest street cabinet - that green box down the end of your road. The connection from the cabinet to your home is completed over the old copper lines. Which means - yes - the further your house is from the cabinet the slower your connection will be. In truth, it shouldn't be much of a problem in towns and cities, but could be in more remote areas. Fibre is usually capped at 36Mb for an entry level package, or gets an average speed of around 63-67Mb for the high end offering.
Virgin Media broadband. Where most broadband suppliers use the Openreach network, formerly owned and run by BT, Virgin Media uses its own network to provide broadband. Because they aren't using the manky old copper cables they can deliver much faster speeds, averaging between 54Mb for the entry level deal up to 362Mb for the top package. The downside is that Virgin doesn't have anything like the same coverage as Openreach - around 70% of the UK compared to closer to 95%.
There's more. There's 'fibre to the home' from providers like Gigaclear, which the remove the copper cables from the last stretch of the connection and are much faster as a result - an average speed of 900Mb! And there's also an upgrade to the copper network taking place that can bring speeds of up to 330Mb, using the G.fast technology. But both are very limited in coverage. The target for the G.fast rollout is that it will cover 5.7 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020.
Do I need a phone line?
Yes, in most cases you do need a phone line, because that's how the broadband connection comes into your home - even on fibre. You don't need to plug in a phone if you don't want one, and you don't need to remember your phone number or pay for any sort of calls package either. But you still need a line.
Broadband providers now combine the price of the phone line and broadband into a single monthly fee, so it's something you don't need to think about too much. A few providers will sell you broadband on its own, but you still need the phone line. You'd just have to get it from somewhere else.
And if you've just moved into a house that doesn't have a BT line you'll have to get one installed or it will severely limit your broadband options.
Again, the biggest exception to all this is Virgin Media, who use their own cable network and will happily sell you a broadband connection without a landline. There's also a few 'fibre to the home' providers whose networks don't use the standard copper phone lines, but these are still quite uncommon.
Do I need fibre broadband?
What do you use your broadband for? If it's just for browsing, a little shopping, paying your bills and wasting some time on Facebook then you don't need anything fast at all. A standard broadband deal will do.
You can watch Netflix or iPlayer on standard broadband as well. But if you've got kids who have also got YouTube permanently on the go on their iPads, then you will need fibre. The same applies for online gaming, if you want to download movies or boxsets on Sky or Virgin, or if you work from home, too.
So what speed of fibre do you need? The 36Mb option is going to be fine for most homes. It should easily allow at least four streamers or gamers to be online at the same time. The faster option is for even heavier use, like if you want 4K TV or download loads of large files.
Will I get the speed that's advertised?
Maybe; maybe not. The advertised speed is an average across a provider's entire user base. It means that roughly half those customers will get something faster, and the half will get something slower.
While these numbers are only a guide, you will be given a personalised speed estimate when you sign up so you know exactly what you're paying for.
What affects broadband speed?
The reason why it's so hard to be sure what broadband speed you can get is because so many things can affect it. Some of the things to look out for include:
How far you are from the telephone exchange or street cabinet. On most broadband deals the further you are the slower your connection will be. You can't really do anything about it.
The position of your router. A router's signal gets weaker the further it travels, and can be blocked by physical barriers. Try and position your router centrally, and away from walls or doors.
Your computer speed. Your internet might not always be the cause of slow speeds. Your computer might be old or slow, or affected by a virus that is hitting its performance.
Too many users. An unexpected slowdown could be caused by having too many devices using your connection at once. Remember, it isn't just about users - computers, games consoles and even TVs will download large updates in the background without you knowing.
How can I find what broadband services are available to me?
Type your postcode into the box above to find out what speed of broadband is available where you are. We also list the providers you can get in your area along with the download and upload speeds you can expect from each one. Just click through to find your best broadband deal.
What these results mean
The table above shows what types of broadband are available in your postcode area, and gives estimated download and upload speeds for each type.
If you have a green tick for a type of broadband then it should be available to all properties in your area, an orange circle means that some of the properties in can get this service. A red cross means this type of broadband is not available in your area (though you can sign up to be notified when your area is enabled for faster broadband by filling in the form above).
Offering download speeds of up to 24Mbps, standard broadband is considered the slow by today’s standards. This type of broadband is usually delivered over a standard BT copper telephone line. The actual speed of this broadband in a postcode area is determined by how far it is from the nearest telephone exchange. The further away, the slower the maximum download speed. Upload speeds for standard broadband max out at 1Mbps, very slow indeed. The most common types of standard broadband are ADSL, ADSLMax and ADSL2+.
The term Superfast Broadband covers a few different technologies, but what they have in common is that it covers max speeds over 24Mbps and up to 200Mbps.
The most common superfast broadband is Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) broadband which your local street cabinet that your BT copper phone line connects to is connected to a fibre optic cable which gets over the distance problems of ADSL.
Other types include some Fibre To The Property (FTTP) connections with speeds up to 200Mbps and Virgin Media’s Fibre Optic services with speeds up to 200Mbps.
The very fastest broadband available is ultrafast broadband, this covers any service that is 200Mbps or faster. The very fastest services over 1Gbps speeds for both downloads and uploads (that’s over 40 times faster than the very fastest standard broadband download speeds).
Almost all Ultrafast services rely on Fibre Optic technology. Most over Fibre To The Property (FTTP). Also included are Virgin Media’s Fibre Optic services with speeds over 200Mbps
As mobile technology has advanced you can now in many areas use mobile broadband as an alternative to fixed-line broadband. The very fastest 5G connections in theory could provide speeds of 1000Mbps. However, in practice at the moment we are seeing speeds of around 100 to 150Mbps from 5G mobile broadband connections.
Most mobile broadband suppliers will supply you with a special wi-fi router that acts just like the routers you get with fixed-line suppliers but which connects via the mobile network rather than a wired connection. This means that setup is very simple and quick, no need for engineers or cables to be installed. The additional bonus is that the router will be easy to move around your property should you need to, as well as be able to go with you if you move house or go on holiday (as long as coverage is good at your new location).
When you sign up with a broadband provider for a new connection they will provide you with an estimated download speed that you should expect from them.