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Getting Broadband in the UK

Moving to the United Kingdom and planning to get online? You’ll need to sort out high speed broadband as quickly as possible, but what are your options, how much will it cost, and does your prospective landlord have broadband in the property?

Christian Cawley, a Contributor at Broadband Genie looks at everything you need to know about getting broadband internet in the UK.

Home Broadband Options in the UK

The majority of UK residents have access to four main types of broadband internet.


Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is currently the most common type of internet in UK homes. This is a cheap-and-cheerful form of broadband, which uses the network managed by Openreach, a division of UK communications giant BT. In most cases, ADSL is available in an enhanced form called ADSL2+, with speeds of at least 10Mbps.

To use ADSL2+ you will need a suitable router and a microfilter to split voice and data signals. This connects to the telephone port on the wall. Both devices should be shipped to you when you sign up with a UK Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Most ISPs offer ADSL lines, and installation is quick and easy. It uses copper telephone lines rather than fibre optics, so little work is required to connect a property to the local loop. If the property has a BT telephone socket (and most will), it’s almost certainly ready for ADSL. This type of low speed broadband is far more affordable than the faster packages.

While all options are available across the UK, ADSL is the one you’re most likely to find in rural areas. Keep in mind, however, that particularly remote areas may not even have ADSL.

A typical ADSL package will cost around £15-£20 per month for a 12 month contract.

Fibre Optic

Openreach also provides the infrastructure for faster broadband using fibre optics. Two types are available: Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP).

FTTC is slower than FTTP. This is due to it relying on copper cabling from the cabinet to the property to carry the data. The result is a broadband package delivering speeds around 50Mbps, although this depends on your proximity to the local exchange. With FTTP, the data (up to 1Gbps) is carried via fibre optics from the local exchange all the way to your router. Copper handles less data than fibre, and slower, too, which accounts for the difference in speed.

FTTC is more widespread than FTTP, which is more common in modernised metropolitan areas. Like ADSL, FTTC connections require a microfilter and compatible router.

Fibre optic internet costs from £20 for the lowest speeds (around 30Mbps) to £40-£45 for faster packages up to 67Mbps. These are typically available as 12- or 18-month packages. For more information, read Broadband Genie’s guide to fibre broadband.

Virgin Media Fibre

Some areas of the UK have cable internet, which means in some cases you have a choice between a high-speed BT line, and one from Virgin Media (a network and ISP). Their fibre broadband is rated five times faster and better value than the most widely available speeds on an Openreach line, making it an attractive choice.

Speeds on Virgin Media range from 54Mbps (£27 per month) to 362Mbps (£43 per month), with optional phone lines.


Most of the UK enjoys access to 4G mobile broadband internet. You can either use a 4G equipped smartphone or Wi-Fi dongle as a mobile hotspot for other activities or sign up to a 4G home broadband service.

Network operator Three has a home 4G service which offers average speeds of around 20Mbps in London, Swindon, and Reading at around £22 per month. Broadband over 4G is also ideal for properties that don’t receive fibre broadband or ADSL.

Renting in the UK? Here’s How to Get Broadband

Getting broadband in rented accommodation can be tricky. While many landlords will happily let you choose a broadband provider, some may be reluctant to upgrade to the latest internet speeds.

Most properties will have at least an ADSL connection via the BT telephone socket. However, if your flat or house is without any telephony cabling, you’ll need to arrange for line installation.

This cannot be done without permission from your landlord, who must grant access to Virgin Media or Openreach to the property. In some cases, a fee will be required for connection, although this will depend on the specific circumstances.

Planning a short residence? Consider a short-term contract with the ISP. This is useful for tenancies of under 12 months. If you can’t find the right deal, this is another reason to consider 4G broadband, and take the connection with you when you move.

If you’re moving to the UK, Santa Fe Relocation are here with 120 years of local knowledge, to help make every aspect of your relocation easy and stress free.

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