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Sky vs Virgin Media vs BT: which fibre broadband provider is best?

broadband speed

We take a look at some of the most popular providers to see which comes out top for superfast fibre (30Mbps or above) and ultrafast fibre (300Mbps or above). And we’ll see which one’s best value for money, too.

Which provider is best for superfast fibre?

Superfast fibre is widely available and is easily fast enough for all but the busiest households.

But which provider to choose? Read on as we take a look at how three of the biggest names in broadband compare. 

BT superfast broadband

Opt for superfast broadband from BT and your choices include Fibre Essential (average speeds of 36Mbps), Fibre 1 (50Mbps) and Fibre 2 (67Mbps).

All of which offer fairly standard fibre speeds at fairly standard prices, on 24-month contracts.

BT’s superfast runs on the Openreach network. Covering around 32 million premises, it connects nearly all UK households and businesses to the national broadband network. BT actually owns and operates the Openreach network, and many other providers (including Sky) use this network to deliver their own internet services.

So, there’s an excellent chance you’ll be able to get BT’s packages at your address.

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*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time(8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

Sky superfast broadband

Sky’s has two superfast packages: Superfast 35 and Superfast. They’ll get you average download speeds of 36Mbps and 61Mbps respectively.

Both of which are ample for busy households and work out broadly comparable to BT when it comes to price. With Sky, you'll be tied to an 18-month contract.

Like BT, Sky uses Openreach network. Which means Sky superfast broadband packages are very widely available and you can get them in the same locations.

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*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time(8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

Virgin Media superfast broadband

Virgin Media’s entry-level superfast packages are M125 (average speeds of 132Mbps) and M250 (average speeds of 264Mbps). They're available on 18-month contracts.

In terms of price, Virgin Media generally gets you faster speeds for the same sort of outlay as BT and Sky. At the time of writing, its M250 plan can be had for a promotional price of £15 a month for the first six months (rising to £33 afterwards).

Unlike most providers that use the Openreach network, Virgin Media operates its own cable network, using a hybrid copper/fibre-optic coaxial cabling system to deliver zippy speeds.

The catch is, though, that Virgin Media isn't as widely available. Compared to Openreach, it's only on offer to 15 million homes across the UK – mostly in towns and cities.

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New customers only

*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50% of customers at peak time(8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

Verdict

Virgin Media is our top pick here, with speedy superfast broadband that comes in at keen prices.

But with the caveat that it’s significantly less widely available than a superfast service from BT or Sky.

Which provider is best for ultrafast fibre?

Ultrafast fibre isn't available everywhere but gets you among the very best speeds (300Mbps to over 1Gbps).

Here, we run the rule over full fibre ultrafast packages from BT, Sky and Virgin Media to help you make an informed decision...

BT ultrafast broadband

BT's Full Fibre 100, 300, 500 and 900 packages boast average download speeds ranging between 150-910Mbps.

At the time of writing, prices range between £30-£60 a month, though that price can go up if you sign up to additional services like BT TV.

BT ultrafast is supplied via Openreach's full fibre network. Although it's continuing to expand its reach – Ofcom's 2023 Connected Nations report states that over half of UK homes now have access to full fibre services – it's not quite as widely available as superfast broadband.

You'll have most luck getting it if you live in a large, urban area.

Sky ultrafast broadband

At the time of writing, Sky offers three full fibre plans:

  • Ultrafast: 145Mbps
  • Ultrafast+: 500Mbps
  • Gigafast: 900Mbps

Prices range between £38-£58 a month, though Sky often runs promotions that help bring this monthly outlay down.

Virgin Media ultrafast broadband

Virgin Media’s ultrafast broadband packages include M350 (average speeds of 362Mbps), M500 (average speeds of 516Mbps) and the top-of-the-range Gig1 service with lightning quick average speeds of 1,130Mbps.

Prices can vary quite drastically depending on any additional services you're taking out (such as TV). At the time of writing, its fastest Gig1 Fibre Broadband plan (with no extra bells or whistles) comes in at £30 a month, rising to £50 after the first six months.

The good thing about Virgin Media ultrafast packages is that they’re actually more widely available than ultrafast services from BT and Sky, which require a full fibre connection.

So, as long as you’re in an area where Virgin Media operates, you’ll be able to get ultrafast Virgin Media broadband.

Verdict

Virgin Media wins out here, with speedier ultrafast packages than BT and Sky at prices that undercuts its rivals. And they’re more widely available, too.

Which fibre broadband is cheapest?

If you’re looking to get the most for your money, Virgin Media is our pick.

Despite the perception that it’s a high-end provider, its packages typically offer faster speeds for comparable monthly price as BT and other fibre providers.

Can I get superfast and ultrafast broadband in my area?

The best way to see what broadband packages and speeds are on offer at your address is to use our availability checker.

Just tell us your postcode and we’ll do the rest.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between ultrafast and superfast fibre?

Officially, superfast fibre is defined as a broadband that gets you a speed of above 30Mbps. For most providers, this means packages that offer speeds of around 31-68Mbps.

Ultrafast fibre is classified as a service with a speed of 300Mbps or higher. But many providers classify packages of above 100Mbps as 'ultrafast', too – likely because these require full fibre as well.

Which type of fibre broadband do I need?

For almost all households, particularly smaller family homes, a superfast fibre package will easily be fast enough.

However, if you want the best service around, or you live in a very busy multiple occupancy home, ultrafast is well worth a look. Especially so, given that you’ll be able to spread the cost of the high-end service with your housemates.

Our guide to broadband speed goes into more detail about the speed and type of broadband you need.

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