The world of broadband speeds becomes ever more confusing by the week. Not content with 100Mbps, a lot of providers are now offering even faster options to many of their customers.
However, it can get very confusing if you don’t know keep up to date with the latest lingo. Superfast and Gigafast for example, do you know the difference? Probably not.
It is important to ask yourself if you really need the additional speeds too – faster is better, but it’s also more expensive. And we know that household budgets in the UK are already being stretched.
Read on to find out more about how I weigh up the ‘fastest broadband deals from the Big Three – BT, Sky and Virgin Media.
After all, most Britons will be using one of these providers already, so it makes sense to focus on them only, rather than smaller localised providers.
1. Vodafone’s Full Fibre – How Fast Is It?
Vodafone has been a big player in the telecom’s world for a long time. It made the UK’s first mobile call in 1985 and is currently one of the biggest companies in the country. It owns networks in 22 countries and offers mobile phone contracts and broadband to more than 19.5 million customers in the UK and elsewhere.
The two biggest names in the UK broadband industry, BT and Vodafone, offer broadband packages that are both affordable and highly functional.
Vodafone’s Fibre One broadband deals start from £22 a month, for an 18-month contract. However, introductory offers and discounts are available on several price comparison websites. For example, I found you can easily shave £7 a month off this price if you go via the Broadband.Deals website.
The BT Complete package, however, offers a complete Wi-Fi network that can be used throughout your home. It also comes with a £100 money-back guarantee. There is also an Apple TV option, which provides a cloud-based television service for use with an Apple TV set top box.
Both companies provide competitive fibre broadband deals, which can be used for anything from online gaming to Netflix streaming.
Note that that if you’re an existing Vodafone mobile customer, for example if you have a Vodafone SIM only plan, then you can save up to £380 a year when you combine your family’s broadband and mobile plans into one account. Bonus!
The Vodafone “Fibre 1” plan provides a decent connection for most users, though you won’t be able to handle 4K content, and the average upload and download speeds aren’t that great.
2. Don’t Overlook BT Fibre
While it might not be the fastest fibre broadband available, the BT Fibre 1 offers a lot for your money. It includes useful extras, such as a free router. It also has no traffic management, meaning that you can get a fast broadband connection without the hassle of a fair-use policy.
However, you won’t be able to download as much as you could on the cheaper BT Superfast 2 package.
While the BT Complete package might be the most expensive, it’s still a good value. In addition to the Wi-Fi discs, you’ll receive a £100 money-back guarantee, along with up to fifteen licences. You’ll also get a comprehensive Wi-Fi Xperts support system, which helps to troubleshoot any issues that may arise with your Wi-Fi.
The BT Fibre 2 plan isn’t as fast as the Vodafone Superfast 2, but it’s much cheaper. You can also opt to sign up for the BT Complete deal, which includes a £100 money-back guarantee, a free router, and a full set of Wi-Fi discs. You’ll also have access to a range of other useful extras.
3. Virgin Media – Don’t Overlook
If you’re looking for a broadband and TV deal, then you might want to consider Virgin Media. Although it’s not as widespread as other providers, you can get great deals with this provider.
Of course, Virgin Media’s broadband speeds vary by location. However, the average speed is 54Mbps. This is much faster than most other broadband providers. Using the postcode checker on their site, you can check whether you’ll get the advertised speed. You can also contact Virgin Media’s customer service if you’re not happy with your Virgin Media broadband.
If you’re a student, you might be interested in Virgin Media’s broadband and TV discount codes. Using one, you can save a packet. In fact, this bundle is ideal for students with short-term tenancy agreements as it includes super-fast fibre broadband, premium channel packs, Talk Weekends and unlimited downloads. You can watch Netflix, Sky Sports, BT Sport and other popular channels. You can also choose to add Amazon Music to your plan. What more could a student want?!
What does Superfast mean and how do I get it?
Generally, Superfast means any connection with at least 30 Mbps. There doesn’t appear to be an official definition of ‘superfast’, so that one is good enough for me.
There are many superfast broadband deals available to home users in the UK. However, some providers offer better speeds at lower costs than others. Vodafone is one of these, and they’ve recently launched a few new packages. The company has been around since the early 1980s and is now one of the UK’s leading telecoms companies, with a network covering 22 countries and 444 million customers.
Vodafone’s Superfast fibre is delivered through the BT Openreach network. The company has a deal with CityFibre, a company that provides ultrafast broadband to a large area of the UK. It’s also got a partnership with Virgin Media, and the two companies combine their broadband networks to create Hyperoptic. This fibre-to-the-premises technology delivers full-fibre Internet directly to your property, making it faster than standard cable and ADSL services.
It’s not the fastest in the country, but it is faster than the other major FTTP providers, including rival Virgin Media.
Going Gigafast – Do you need even more speed?
Vodafone is one of the UK’s largest telecoms providers, with over 19.5 million customers. The company provides a range of home broadband services. Its fibre optic Gigafast broadband deal is now available in parts of the UK – but not all, so check your postcode.
Gigafast offers super-fast download speeds of a frankly ridiculous 900Mbps. It uses a separate network from BT’s Openreach phone line – delivered over a fibre-to-the-cabinet connection and is available to 96% of the country’s homes. However, a fibre-optic connection requires laying several fibre-optic cables, and this can increase set-up costs and times.
As well as fibre-optic broadband, Vodafone also offers a mobile Wi-Fi solution.
This is a good choice for those who do not have a fixed line. The company’s GigaCube service boosts the Wi-Fi in your home when the connection is slow. The system is particularly useful in locations with poor ADSL reception. A free six-month trial is included. The GigaCube also includes rewards and exclusive deals, so you can upgrade your plan when you want.
When signing up to a new broadband deal, you’ll be given an installation date. This can take up to ten days, and some engineering tasks may mean that it will take longer.
During this time, you’ll be asked when you’d like your broadband and other home services to be connected. If you can’t connect your services at the time you’re told, you can claim a refund.
The high-end Gigafast package from Vodafone has average download speeds of up to 900Mbits/sec. It’s a service that’s in line with rival services from BT and EE. It comes with extra features, such as Amazon Alexa. It’s also a great choice for gamers. You’ll be able to stream HD video content, and you’ll also get access to Vodafone’s 4G network.
It is important to note that the Gigafast broadband connection is not for everyone. Most people will be better off with a 100Mb or less, and those who do a lot of downloading or streaming will likely be better off with a faster broadband connection. The Pro Gigafast broadband package is the fastest option from Vodafone. It comes with 500Mbits/sec of download speed, as well as a range of Pro extras.
While most of Vodafone’s broadband packages are fibre-to-the-cabinet, some of its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) options can be very affordable. In fact, they are a far more affordable option than BT’s fibre broadband deals. This is especially true if you’re interested in competitive gaming.
How can I reduce my broadband costs?
With the cost-of-living crisis rumbling on, broadband costs are also putting additional strain on household budgets. The best way to save money is to either use a cashback website (and get up to £150 credited back), or use a discount code website such as this one for Virgin Media. If you’re an NHS worker, you could save even more at services such as Blue Light Card, so make sure to shop around before signing up for a broadband contract.