For most people, a reliable Internet connection in their home is an essential service and requirement. But councils must make continued efforts to ensure that speed requirements are met in their respective areas. Broadband experts at found out if having more options for broadband providers in the region means faster internet speeds for households.

The number of broadband providers available varies widely by region. Most people will be aware of the big names such as BT, Sky, Virgin Media and Plusnet for example, but there are many smaller firms that many may not be aware of.

Greater London has the biggest choice for broadband with 72 internet providers,[1] while there are only five in the Western Isles[2]. Greater London has significantly more ISPs than the next most populous ISP region, which is Hampshire with 40[3]followed by Surrey with 38[4].

Although Greater London is almost twice the size of Surrey, Surrey beats Greater London in terms of average internet speed achieved, with typical speeds ranging from 46 to 206 Mbps[5].

All the regions with the highest number of suppliers are in England[6]. This is in stark contrast to the regions with the fewest providers, where only two of the last 10 are in England[7]. Unfortunately, Scotland has six regions in the bottom 10[8]and Wales has two[9].

Regions with the most broadband providers and their average internet speeds:

Regions with the fewest broadband providers and their average internet speeds:

On average, regions with the highest number of providers have a higher average internet speed of 55.17 Mbps[10]compared to regions with the fewest providers at 38.65 Mbps[11].

However, this is not the case for all regions. Kingston upon Hull crowned fastest average internet speed out of 183 regions[12]. Its average speed of 93.49 Mbps cannot be attributed to the provider’s range, as there are only ten in the region[13]. A similar result can be found for East Dunbartonshire and North East Lincolnshire, which came second and third fastest, but only have 11 providers each.[14].

The difference with Kingston upon Hull is that it remains independent of BT, with provider KCOM holding a monopoly. KCOM is a broadband and shared telephony provider available only in and around Hull. It also offers some of the fastest broadband in the UK, a relief for residents who can’t access networks such as Openreach or Virgin Media.

However, having more providers correlates with regions achieving higher maximum download speeds. Essex, with its 36 ISPs, achieved the highest download speeds of any region, with a whopping 6,329.36Mbps from Virgin Media.[15]. Greater London follows with 5794.21Mbps from one of 72 providers.[16]. 10 regions with the most providers rank in the top quarter for maximum download speeds achieved[17].

A particular anomaly is Luton, which has only 8 providers and the slowest typical broadband speed, but has the 9th fastest download speed.[18].

The population of a region also depends on the number of service providers available in the area. Of the ten most populous regions, six are in the top ten in terms of the number of providers[19]. For regions with a million inhabitants or more, they get an average of 54.2 Mbps, compared to 38.2 Mbps for regions with a population of 100,000 or less[20].

Max Beckett, broadband expert at Uswitch.comsays: “Broadband is recognized as an essential service, so it can be frustrating if there are very few options in the area where you live.

“Some hard-to-reach areas have to rely on a limited number of broadband providers, putting more pressure on the provider to offer good speeds and reliable performance – which is essential to meet the current needs of most households.

“The latest Ofcom figures show that more than a third of households can now get a full fiber connection, offering speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, so if you’re struggling with sluggish broadband, check to see if there are faster packages you can upgrade to go over

“If you’re in an area with little or no choice for broadband, make sure you’re getting what you pay for. If you think your router isn’t working as it should, run a speed test and check with your provider about the service you’re getting.

“If you regularly fall below the minimum guaranteed speed, you may be entitled to compensation and your provider should try to resolve your slow connection.”

Max Beckett, broadband expert at Uswitch.comoffers tips on how to improve broadband performance.

  • Reboot the router — the classic “unplug it, leave it for 30 seconds and plug it back in.”
  • Place, place, place — if your router is further away than it needs to be, try moving it to the room where you are most active or to the center of your home.
  • Turn off unnecessary devices — turn off Wi-Fi on gadgets you don’t use, even if they’re in a drawer. They may be using bandwidth in the background.
  • Run a speed test is to determine if your router is operating at the speed you signed up for.
  • Purchase a Wi-Fi extender or booster — that optimizes your broadband access for faster, stronger connections.

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Uswitch reveals the best connected regions for choice of broadband provider and internet speeds