Why use a postcode broadband checker?

If you’re on the hunt for a new broadband deal then you’ll soon become familiar with postcode checkers – but what do they actually do and why should you use them?

Share this guide
Man using postcode broadband checker on laptop

What is a postcode broadband checker?

A broadband checker tells you about broadband availability in your area. Providers tend to offer checkers on their own sites, but you can also find independent broadband postcode checkers online. Using your postcode you’ll be able to find:

  • The best priced deals for your area

  • The types of broadband available in your area

  • The speeds your area can expect

  • Which internet suppliers you will be able to sign up to

Do I need to use a broadband checker?

Yes, you will need to input your postcode to generate the best broadband deals for your area, this is an essential step for almost all providers as prices and services vary from area to area. 

Does my postcode make that much difference to broadband availability?

Yes, you’ll be surprised at how your postcode can make a difference, especially if your supplier is already operating within a limited area. Take the below example postcodes and their broadband availability, according to the Uswitch postcode checker:

Postcode: AB11 5RG

Area: Central Aberdeen

Fibre optic: Yes

Available suppliers:

  • BT

  • EE

  • Plusnet

  • Sky

  • TalkTalk

  • Vodafone

  • Direct Save telecom

  • John Lewis Broadband

  • NOW Broadband

  • Pop Telecom

  • Post Office

  • Shell Energy Broadband

  • SSE

Postcode: AB45 3XA

Area: Linhead (an hour from central Aberdeen)

Fibre optic: No

Available suppliers:

  • BT

  • Direct Save Telecom

  • John Lewis Broadband

  • NOW Broadband

  • Pop Telecom

  • Shell Energy

Is broadband in my area more expensive?

It might be, depending on where you live, although the disconnect between location and pricing is more noticeable in performance. For example, if you go for a cheap standard broadband deal in central London at 11Mbps, you’ll probably get these speeds. However, if you choose the same deal in rural England, you may struggle to get near the highest speed advertised. This is because the location of your home in relation to the street cabinet directly affects speeds – the further you are away, the slower the speed. So, while the overall cost may be similar, the value for money can vary greatly.

What internet providers use my postcode?

All of them, essentially. Your precise broadband plan and/or price will be decided using this information. Broadband availability in the UK is extensive – 95% of households can receive broadband in some form, although if you were hoping to take advantage of the best widely available speeds, you may not be able to in your area. 

Openreach providers

Openreach owns the nationwide network of cables that offer broadband and phone lines. Most UK internet providers all use the same network, renting lines from Openreach, so you are very likely to be able to receive some sort of broadband, even if that is basic ADSL. While all Openreach providers can use this network, don’t assume just because one is willing to provide broadband to your home, they all are. Being with an Openreach provider doesn’t guarantee fibre optic or superfast broadband either. Again, the only way to be sure of what you can get is to pick a provider and search using your postcode. 

Virgin Media

While, to a degree, you can assume Openreach providers will be able to offer you something by way of broadband, the same cannot be said for Virgin Media. While its coverage is far from lacking, it doesn’t match the extensiveness of Openreach so you should always check on Virgin Media’s postcode checker for current availability. 

Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and specialist providers

Smaller providers like Gigaclear, who specialise in rural broadband, and Hyperoptic who offer 1G broadband to urban areas and new developments will need your postcode to tell you if services cover your address. If you aren’t currently covered, you can register your interest by giving your postcode, if enough interest in your area is registered, these providers may soon start operating there. 

What if there isn’t any available broadband in my area?

If, after checking online postcode checkers, you discover that no provider covers your area, you can still opt for mobile broadband. 

What is mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband is a type of internet that originates from a SIM card. This SIM card can either be your regular mobile plan with some additional data to support your browsing, like a deal that combines a set amount of data with limitless calls and texts, or an unlimited data-only SIM that isn’t intended to be used in a smartphone. 

A data-only SIM will need to be used with a dongle or a mobile router. A router, and some models of dongle, will convert your connection into a type of WiFi known as MiFi so other devices can also connect. Fully flexible, mobile networks generally offer more extensive coverage than home broadband and can be used wherever you can access your network, no wires needed.

Is mobile broadband expensive?

Comparative to fixed broadband deals, mobile broadband can be more expensive, but it also isn’t dependent on your location and your broadband cancellation can be done without penalty so long as you give 30 days’ notice. There is also the added flexibility of being able to increase or decrease your data limit (if you aren’t opting for unlimited broadband) so you can change your plan to fit your budget. For some, this may be much more suitable than signing up for a 12-month broadband deal.

What if I can’t get mobile broadband?

Then we’re left with satellite broadband. This type of broadband is unlikely to be the envy of any of your neighbours – the technology isn’t at its most developed, performance is relatively unimpressive, and installation can also be troublesome. However, if you are left with absolutely no other option, then this is your last resort.

What is satellite broadband? 

Satellite broadband is usually only used by very rural locations that cannot access the internet any other way. You should explore mobile broadband and ADSL options to be certain this is your only other choice, because it’s not the most ideal.

On the plus side, so long as you can get a view of the sky, you can get satellite broadband and it’s very widely available. You also don’t need any pre-laid cables to be able to access it and, even if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, you’ll probably still manage to get online.

On the downside, speed is not a strong trait of satellite broadband – you’ll probably just about match the speeds of ADSL. Because your signal is coming from space, any interference on the way down, including weather and other satellites will impact your connection.  

Satellite broadband installation and costs

As the name suggests, you’ll need to have a satellite dish installed to access this broadband. The prices associated with it are also high, especially when compared to ADSL. Download limits are common and usually restrictive, and while unlimited deals do exist, the freedom this brings is often reflected in a much higher price. As well as this, general set-up usually has added extras you don’t need for regular broadband so you may face several additional costs before your connection is up and running such as:

  • Modem costs

  • Dish activation fee

  • Satellite dish installation fee

Who supplies satellite broadband?

It can be tricky to find satellite broadband providers but the following brands currently offer the service in the UK:

  • Bigblu

  • Freedomsat

Last updated: 14 December 2020