Broadband speeds: what you need to know


Get a guaranteed speed today when you shop around for a new broadband deal.

If your broadband speed is slowing you down, it’s never been simpler to switch to someone else who will guarantee your internet speed. You might even save money too.

Ofcom’s Broadband Speeds Code of Practice means you should get clear information about speeds when you buy a broadband service.

If your service doesn’t deliver the speeds you were promised by your provider, get in touch with them. If the problem is on their network and they can’t fix it within 30 days, they must let you leave your contract without having to pay an early exit fee.

Please note, the following protections apply to these broadband companies: BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Utility Warehouse, Virgin Media and Zen Internet.

Accurate speeds when you buy a broadband service

When you buy a broadband service, you should receive some important information without having to ask for it. This includes accurate information on how fast your broadband will be.

You should get the estimated speed you are likely to experience at busy times of the day, when average speeds are often lower. These times are 8-10pm for home services, and 12-2pm for business services.

A personalised minimum speed guarantee

Your provider should always give you a minimum guaranteed speed for your broadband service. For superfast broadband products, this information is now based on the capability of the line going into your home or office, which means it will be even more accurate.

You can check what speed you’re getting by using an Ofcom-accredited price comparison site such as Broadband Comparedbroadbanddeals.co.uk and broadband.co.uk. If you want to run the most accurate possible speed test, use a computer or tablet that can be connected to your router with an ‘ethernet’ cable, as wifi can slow down the signal.

To find out what speed you should be getting, check your contract or ask your provider.

If you think your broadband is slower than it should be, contact your provider to diagnose the problem. If the problem lies within their network, and they can’t fix it within 30 days, they must offer you the right to exit your contract without being penalised.

This right to exit also applies to ‘bundled’ products, such as landline services on the same line, or pay-TV services purchased at the same time as the broadband service.

Also, if you are on a rolling monthly contract, this process doesn’t apply to you – but you can give notice (usually a month) to leave your contract anyway.

After you buy a broadband service

After you've bought your broadband service, your new provider will send you some information – usually by letter, email, or on the ‘your account’ area on their website.

This will include speed estimates, details of any policies that might affect your broadband speeds, and what you should do if the speed you receive is less than what you were guaranteed. Keep this information safe so that you can refer to it if you have a problem.

If your service doesn’t start on the agreed date, or if your engineer appointment is missed, your provider will compensate you under our automatic compensation scheme.

More information

Lots of things could affect the broadband speeds you’re getting. Take a look at our practical tips on how to improve your speeds.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) sets rules about how companies advertise broadband speeds. They must show the average speed that at least 50% of their customers receive at the network’s busiest time (8-10pm). If you have a concern about a broadband ad, visit the ASA website to find out more and to make a complaint.

There are some other factors besides speed that you might want to consider before signing a contract. See our tips for getting the best deals.

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