ADSL broadband: Compare deals and providers

Discover how ADSL broadband works and compare the best ADSL plans for you today.

Broadband companies talk about their “standard” broadband (as well as fibre-optic broadband). Some also talk about “ADSL” Internet plans. But what does that mean? We explain the lingo and how to find the right deal for you.

What is ADSL broadband?

ADSL broadband (or asymmetric digital subscriber line, in the jargon) is the most basic broadband connection available in the UK. Digital subscriber lines are a type of technology that allows data to be transmitted digitally over phone lines.

An ADSL connection is brought to a customer’s home using copper wires which connect to a wall socket at the premises.

Since this is the most basic type of connection available, ADSL broadband speeds are typically the lowest available. ADSL connections offer download speeds of up to 11Mbps.

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What other types of broadband are there?

Aside from ADSL, you can get connected to the Internet via several types of fibre optic connection, 4G/5G Internet and satellite.

Fibre broadband

Fibre broadband uses clusters of incredibly thin fibre optic cables which transmit a connection from a local exchange to your home. Fibre offers faster speeds than ADSL connections, which use copper telephone wires to carry an Internet connection from an area’s telephone exchange to a home.

There are a couple of different types of fibre connection available, depending on where you live.

Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) is the most common form of fibre broadband available in the UK. This type of connection involves fibre optic cables that are run from a local telephone exchange to roadside cabinets. From there, standard copper telephone cables carry the connection the rest of the way to the customer’s home.

FTTC packages are typically sold as offering speeds of up to 36Mbps or 76Mbps (for a higher price).

Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) or “full fibre” broadban uses fibre optic cables that run directly from a local exchange to the home, cutting out the cabinet entirely. Full fibre offers greater speeds than FTTC, with connections as fast as 1Gbps, or 1,000Mbps.

Mobile broadband

Mobile broadband uses existing 4G and 5G data to power your Internet connection. Mobile home broadband can be a great solution for households looking for fast Internet speeds but who don’t live in areas served by a fibre connection.

Households can get mobile broadband via a rechargeable dongle or router that houses a SIM card which gets you online. As mobile broadband uses the same technology as your smartphone to get a connection, you don’t need any cables to get you surfing the web.

While the earliest mobile broadband plans were relatively expensive and limited your data usage, there are now a range of plans available that are very competitive when compared to fibre broadband and offer unlimited usage.

Satellite broadband

In some more rural areas that are not served well by either ADSL, fibre or mobile broadband, another option to get connected is via satellite broadband. As its name suggests, this type of connection uses a wireless signal via a satellite dish to get you online.

Satellite Internet services are typically more suited to those with few other options to get connected and they tend to cost more.

How to find the right ADSL broadband deal

  • Find out if you can get ADSL broadband where you live. The quickest way to find out what kind of broadband connection you can get is to use industry watchdog Ofcom’s broadband checker.
  • Compare suppliers offering ADSL plans. The easiest way to do this is by using a comparison site. By typing in your postcode and address details you can quickly find which basic broadband services are available in your area.
  • Compare services as well as price. You may find bundles that offer ADSL broadband alongside other services like pay TV and mobile contracts. If you’re looking for other services alongside your broadband, some of these packaged deals can offer decent value.
  • Check for service quality. When deciding which provider or package to choose, it’s worth doing some research into how customers of each provider rate the service they receive. Our broadband reviews offer expert ratings on each supplier, using a range of customer reviews and industry data to help you decide.

Bottom line: ADSL may be best for light Internet users

As ADSL broadband is the most basic type of connection available, it could be a good option for light Internet users.

While ADSL can just about provide decent speeds for basic online streaming, you’re likely to struggle if you’re looking for a connection for bandwidth-heavy activities like online gaming or uploading high-definition video.

But if you want to keep it simple, an ADSL plan could work for you.

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