Getting up to speed: Are UK households paying for more broadband than they need?

Broadband bills are set to go up this month for many households, as companies like Sky, BT, Talktalk, Vodafone and Virgin begin introducing inflation-linked price rises. Some providers are hiking prices by nearly 10%, meaning those on the faster, more expensive packages will be hardest hit. 

If you signed up in 2020/21 at a competitive new-customer price on the promise of fast internet, you could find yourself facing multiple price increases – through the latest round of inflationary linked price rises and also the price hike at the end of your contract. 

In the context of rising costs for essential household spending, the increase in monthly payments for broadband means households should question whether they really need to pay for that premium speed. 

The speed and reliability of your broadband, depends on the technology available to your address


The pandemic accelerated the take up of Superfast Fibre broadband

There was a surge in sales of Superfast Fibre (30Mb to 60Mb) during the 2020 lockdown as the sudden move to working from home and homeschooling meant many of us needed better, faster broadband. 

For most households this speed range is still adequate, unless you have a serious gamer in the house or multiple people streaming HD video at the same time. In which case, investment in an ultrafast broadband might be necessary and worth it. 

The UK’s broadband infrastructure is undergoing a high-speed upgrade, making ultrafast broadband available to more households

Increased investment into broadband infrastructure means around 60% of the UK now has access to a huge 1GB speed connection, making us ready for a future with more connected devices and increased data consumption. 

But this means some providers are now positioning the Superfast Broadband product as an entry-level product, encouraging households to update their broadband to a faster connection. 

If you’re currently on an Ultrafast (100MB+) package, you might find it hard to imagine downgrading your speed to the standard Superfast (30MB-60MB) for fears that a rubbish internet connection will make working from home difficult. In reality, your household might not need such fast internet, so picking a package that reflects your internet activity is an easy way to save money. 

How do I know what broadband speed I need?

This is a very individual question and depends on the size of your household and how you’ll use the internet, but it’s worth knowing that advertised speeds on broadband packages refer to the average download speed 50% of users can get at peak times which are 8-10pm.

This table is a guide to the speed you need for different types of activity:

Source: Ofcom 

What speed can I get where I live?

The Ofcom availability checker shows the maximum speed available at your address and the broadband companies available to you:

The actual speed you get, depends on the type of router you have, where it is positioned, the time of day, and how many devices are connected to the internet. 

Do I need more speed to make the connection more reliable?

Dropped connections, buffer face on Zoom calls and slow downloads create a stressful homelife for everyone, but before you switch to a higher speed package it’s worth checking your wifi is set up in the most optimal way. 

How do I make my broadband more reliable? 

  • Check the position of your router: Placing it high up, away from the window and thick walls helps. Keep it away from things that can disrupt the signal, like the microwave which uses the same radio frequency. 
  • Do a speed test on your line: Speed tests check your current IP address so you need to do it at home and as close to the Wifi router as possible, or even better plug your computer into the router. Try
  • Getting significantly less speed than you’re paying for? Contact your provider, who will help run diagnostics on your line. 
  • For home working: Sit closer to the router if you can. Plugging into the router will also help keep a strong connection.

How can I save on my broadband? 

Speaking to your existing provider’s retention department and telling them you’re planning to leave could get you a discount on your existing deal. Most of the large providers are used to negotiating the price of contracts, and for those that find this daunting, many now allow you to do this via live chat or social media. 

If you’re out of contract its also worth checking services available in your area, as there could be new providers or technology available since the last time you switched. Some of the newer broadband providers (Cuckoo, Community Fibre, Gigaclear and Hyperoptic) offer reasonably priced gigabit-speed packages and don’t hike their prices mid-term, so shop around. 

Want to find out how price hikes will impact your household? We’re building a free service to help households navigate rising prices – sign up at or head to our social media channels to find out more.

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