UK Broadband Providers (ISPs)

To connect to the Internet you need  an ISP ( Internet Service provider).

There are 4 main Broadband providers in the UK:





Note: If you haven’t got an ISP then choosing an ISP takes you through what to look for.

Although there are many broadband providers in the UK there are only a small number of infrastructure providers.

All other providers must use the infrastructure provided by these infrastructure providers. They are in fact virtual broadband providers.

BT BroadBand

ADSL Broadband

BT provide the familiar telephone connection to most UK homes, and these same telephone wires are used to provide broadband using ADSL technology.

BT provide their own broadband services using these telephone lines, and must also provide access to these lines to third party providers.

Other providers that utilise these BT lines are:

  • SKY broadband
  • Talk Talk broadband
  • Virgin National Broadband

BT Infinity

This is the fibre optic cable version of BT broadband, and is in the process of being rolled out across the UK.

There will be two versions available, they are fibre to the premise (FTTP -the fastest) and fibre to the cabinet (FTTC).

According to BT most homes connect to the BT exchange via a street cabinet and very few connect directly to the exchange.

There are approximately 5,600 exchanges and 90,000 street cabinets in the UK.

With FTTP  the fibre connection is from exchange to home, but with FTTC the exchange to cabinet uses fibre, but the cabinet to home connection (last mile) uses traditional copper phone lines.

Other providers will utilise BT fibre network in the same ways as they use the current BT copper phone lines.

Virgin Media

Virgin Media took control of the old cable TV operators (Telewest and NTL) and so have their own physical cable infrastructure which is capable of providing higher speeds than ADSL over telephone Lines. However access to the cable network is limited.

In order to provide national broadband coverage Virgin media uses the BT telephone  lines and ADSL in those areas that aren’t served by their own cable network.

EE and Other Mobile Phone Operators (Vodafone,T-Mobile,O2,Orange,3)

Although there are many mobile phone service providers there are only 5 that own and operate their own network.

All of the other mobile operators (virtual operators) must use the infrastructure provided by the mobile network providers (Vodafone,T-Mobile,O2,Orange,3).

Note: Orange and T-mobile are now both owned by EE (Everything Everywhere). (since 2010). EE is now part of BT (2016)

Mobile phone operators offer mobile broadband using 3G, and the newer 4G networks.

Although dubbed mobile broadband and sold by the major operators for mobile use it can be used to provide Broadband in the home by using a Mobile router or hub.

Because of the high speeds that will become available with 4G networks, I expect this to start to become popular as a home connection solution, and not just as a mobile solution.

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