Contact us Customer service: 0800 1388 388
0800 840 4949

What is an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) supplies you with access to the web, usually via home, mobile or satellite broadband connection. If you're searching for the best ISP supplying broadband in your area, we can help you compare thousands of deals and find the right provider for your home.

By on May 10, 2013 at 15:00 PM
What is an Internet Service Provider (ISP)?

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer you access to the web in exchange for a monthly fee, although many will now also offer you extra services including a home phone line and a digital TV package. Depending on the service you signed up for, your internet could be delivered via copper or fibre optic cables under the ground, through the air via satellite or through a 3G/4G network.

For all the latest deals from the UK's biggest ISPs, head to our provider page, where you'll find more information about every supplier.

All UK home broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

Here are the UK's main Internet Service Providers:

  • BT - the UK's biggest & most established home phone and broadband provider
  • Virgin Media - the UK's cable broadband & TV provider
  • Sky - the only UK ISP to offer satellite TV & broadband bundles
  • Plusnet - one of the most popular and well-loved ISPs, with cheap broadband & home phone services
  • TalkTalk - the 3rd largest UK broadband ISP, with amazing money-saving deals on triple play broadband, phone & TV bundles
  • Fuel Broadband (previously Primus Saver) - a value broadband and home phone provider using BT lines & exchanges

Click on the drop down menu to see a list of UK ISPs.

Types of Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  • ADSL broadband ISP - gives you broadband access via a standard copper landline,
  • Fibre optic broadband ISP - gives you access to superfast broadband via special fibre optic cables
  • Satellite broadband ISP - allows customers in rural areas to get online via satellite internet connections that don't require proximity to an exchange
  • Mobile broadband ISP - uses a mobile signal from masts all over the UK to allow you to access the internet while away from your home broadband connection

ISPs like Three (3), o2 and EE offer competitive mobile broadband deals that allow you to get online while away from your home broadband signal.

Click on the dropdown menu to see types of Internet Service Provider.

What services do ISPs provide?

As well as internet access, ISPs will also offer:

  • Network-level security to protect you online
  • Free, secure email access
  • Home phone and sometimes even digital TV access
  • Web browsers
  • Hosting for websites

What is the difference between a local ISP and a national ISP?

Local ISPs provide internet services in one or two localised areas, and usually specialise in internet access for hard-to-reach, or rural areas. Far from being a second best option, many of these providers can now provide a service just as good if not better than the widely available National ISPs.

National ISPs offer a broadband service to customers up and down the county at some incredibly competitive prices. While these services can be hard to get hold of in the most rural areas, there are still some options for anyone looking for a reliable rural broadband service.

How do I know what my current Internet Service Provider is?

If you're not sure which ISP currently supplies your home broadband service, here are some handy tips to help you find out:

In some rare cases your ISP and your home phone supplier may be different. For instance, you may have a BT phone line and a broadband only deal with Plusnet. In this instance, Plusnet would be your ISP, and BT would not manage your internet connection.

  • Perform a broadband speed test and the name of your ISP should appear along with your results
  • If you rent your property, ask your landlord or letting agent which ISP the previous tenants used, as that service may still be active or dormant
  • Call BT and ask them if an active landline is registered for your property, or whether a dormant line can be reactivated
  • Have a hunt around and see if you can find your master socket or any signs of pre-existing satellite/cable services

I don't know which ISP to opt for

Simply call our Switching Service on 0800 542 4704 and one of our friendly advisers will guide you through the whole process. We'll compare over 11,000 deals to find the one that suits you best, based on your location, budget and what you really need from your new connection.

Call for free advice and to switch providers

0800 840 4949

Calls are free from a landline

On a mobile? Call 0203 092 5174 for standard rates

Our call centre is now closed, we'll reopen tomorrow at 8am

You can: