Worst broadband speeds in the UK revealed in new study: Where does your provider rank on this list?

an openreach engineer is pictured making adjustments inside an exchange cabinet on the streets with a BT and openreach branded van parked beside him

Openreach, which is owned by BT, operates the largest network of broadband cables across the UK. These full-fibre and copper cables are used by some of the biggest brands, including Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet, and more

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 08/12/2023

- 11:44

Updated: 08/12/2023

- 11:46

A new study ranks the performance of the biggest broadband providers UK-wide and in biggest UK cities

  • Full-fibre brands like Virgin Media, Hyperoptic, and Community Fibre top the list
  • Plusnet offers the worst average download speeds (35.4Mbps)
  • Three is last place when it comes to ranking on overall quality of connection

Does your broadband connection feel like the worst in Britain? Well, now you can find out definitively.

Benchmarking company Opensignal has published its latest study of household broadband across the United Kingdom, which ranks Internet Service Providers (ISPs) based on the quality of their service and average download speeds. For those who work from home, regularly stream TV shows and films, or make and receive video calls, a decent internet connection is vital.

And if it's speed you're looking for, Opensignal ranks London-based Community Fibre in the Gold medal position. It offers an average download speed of 159.6Mbps — that's over twice the average broadband speed in the UK, which was measured at 69.4Mbps by Ofcom earlier this year.

In second place is Virgin Media (129.5Mbps), followed by Hyperoptic (119.1Mbps) and Gigaclear (108.9Mbps). These were the only four broadband providers with scores of more than 100Mbps.

Business-centric brand KCOM is at the front of the pack of the sub-100Mbps brands, with customers enjoying an average download speed of 61.2Mbps.

charts showing the average download speed and peak download speed from broadband suppliers available nationwide

Opensignal has ranked the biggest broadband brands based on the average download speeds, peak downloads, and upload speeds to find the fastest provider in the UK


Then, we find household brands like Vodafone (49.7Mbps), BT Broadband (49.2Mbps), Three (47.3Mbps), Zen Broadband (42.6Mbps), Sky (41.9Mbps), TalkTalk (39.5Mbps), EE (35.9Mbps), and finally, Plusnet (35.4Mbps). EE and Plusnet are both owned by BT, but since they all sell different broadband bundles, the team behind the Opensignal study decided to treat them separately.

It's worth noting that almost all of the brands in the bottom half of the study — Sky, EE, BT Broadband, Vodafone, TalkTalk, and Plusnet — rely on Openreach cables to deliver internet to their customers. Openreach, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT, is in the process of upgrading 25 million premises to full-fibre connections by December 2026.

Openreach confirmed this week that it's now halfway to that target, with 12.5 million homes and offices across the UK now enjoying full-fibre broadband. Fibre-optic broadband offers a more reliable connection, with less chance of disruption due to bad weather, better upload and download speeds, topping out at 900-1,000Mbps.

However, the switch away from ageing copper cables is also bringing about the death of the traditional landline, with customers being switched to new handsets that use the broadband connection to make and receive calls.

Want to know more? We've rounded up everything you need to know about the BT landline switch-off taking place nationwide.

Virgin Media, Community Fibre, and Hyperoptic all rely on bespoke infrastructure. Virgin Media is the biggest fibre provider in the UK, with over 15 million homes connected to its network, which offers download speeds of up to 1,130Mbps.

Community Fibre and Hyperoptic are much smaller, with the former concentrating on homes across the capital city, while the latter has partnered with some of the biggest home builders nationwide to bring next-generation broadband to new builds in 64 towns and cities and counting.

Of course, raw download speed isn't the only way to measure the success of a broadband provider.

charts showing the average quality of broadband as ranked by those in the Opensignal study

Checking the overall quality of the service, including the chance of dropped packets during data transfers, allowed Opensignal to come up with another crucial ranking for UK providers


Opensignal has also looked into what it calls Broadband Consistent Quality, which measures how often customers’ experience on a network was "sufficient to support common demanding applications’ requirements". In other words, if you were able to continue enjoying your favourite streaming services, online video games, social media, or video calls during peak times without a stutter.

Once again, Community Fibre finds itself at the top of the table, although this time it shares the Gold medal with rural-focused fibre provider Gigaclear, both scoring a respectable 90.

Following in second position is Virgin Media with a score 89, then Vodafone (score 87.5), Hyperoptic (score 86.1), and BT (score 84.8). At the bottom of the table is Three, which scores just 69.7.

Summarising its findings, Opensignal says: "As might be expected, fibre-only players perform strongly when analyzing our users’ experience nationally. London-based Community Fibre has the outright highest score across all three of Opensignal’s speed metrics.

"However, cable/FTTP provider Virgin Media also performs strongly nationally, being the runner-up for Broadband Download Speed, Broadband Consistent Quality, Broadband Video Experience and sharing that distinction with Hyperoptic for Broadband Peak Download Speed," it adds.

opensignal has conducted separate studies for some of the UK's biggest cities, including Cardiff, which is shown here via four separate charts

Some of the full-fibre brands that rank so highly in the UK-wide league table aren't available in Wales, so that throws up some interesting results in the Cardiff chart


opensignal has conducted separate studies for some of the UK's biggest cities, including Edinburgh, which is shown here via four separate charts

Vodafone tops the chart in Edinburgh, showing the importance of drilling into the separate regional data from the Opensignal study


opensignal has conducted separate studies for some of the UK's biggest cities, including Manchester, which is shown here via four separate charts

Virgin Media has an expansive network of 15 million homes, which can all access some of the fastest download speeds in the UK (1,130Mbps) so it's unsurprisingly to see the brand rank so highly in the UK's biggest cities


opensignal has conducted separate studies for some of the UK's biggest cities, including Belfast, which is shown here via four separate charts

Despite falling behind on the national charts, Vodafone punches well above its weight when it comes to Belfast, Opensignal data shows


Addressing the fact that it has included some regional brands in its overall UK ranking, the researchers at Opensignal note: "Because there are no truly national fixed broadband providers in the U.K. we have included regional players such as KCOM (Hull, East & North Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire) and Community Fibre (London) — along with rural-focused Gigaclear — in the national results to better reflect the reality of the U.K.’s broadband market.

"While no consumer will be in a position to choose between all of these providers, making comparisons at the national level makes it easy for consumers to see on which providers our users have the best experience and then see if that provider is available in their area."

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