Find out what unlimited broadband is, why it isn't necessarily what it says on the tin, and why 'truly unlimited' broadband may be what you’re really after.


Key points

  • Unlimited broadband has no cap on the amount of data you can use
  • Plan providers can still adjust your download and upload speeds through a traffic management system
  • Truly unlimited broadband packages won't prioritise traffic


Unlimited broadband means being able to use the internet as much as you like with no restrictions or added charges - at least, that's what you'd be forgiven for assuming.

But unlimited internet packages aren't necessarily what they seem - deal providers now offer both unlimited and truly unlimited broadband, and there are important differences between the two.


What is unlimited broadband?

Unlimited broadband is a broadband package that won't cap your internet usage. It used to be quite common to find a fair usage policy or usage cap hidden among the terms and conditions, but this doesn’t happen as often now.

Unlimited broadband providers are likely to enforce a traffic management policy. These policies limit the amount you can download at certain times of the day, or decrease your download speed during peak hours.

These restrictions are designed to provide everyone with a smoother service. Sharing a broadband connection through a telephone exchange means that your connection is affected by other users - this is why your connection is slower in the evening, when more people are online.

Providers who use traffic management policies will prioritise certain types of online traffic, so your usage might suffer because of your neighbours' internet habits.

But these policies often deliver a good experience to all rather than just to those who use the internet heavily.

This situation may be fine for the average internet user, but you might want to consider truly unlimited broadband if you’re frequently downloading and streaming, playing online games, or working from home.


Truly unlimited broadband

Truly unlimited broadband are packages with no usage caps, no fair usage policy and no network-wide traffic management.

That means that no matter what your internet habits are and at what time of day you are using the internet, your provider will try and do everything they can to give you the speed you are paying for. Reduced speed can still occur during peak times though, due to the sheer volume of users, but your speed will never be purposefully reduced by your provider.



Do I need truly unlimited broadband?

Before you start looking for broadband deals, you should consider what sort of internet user you are. If you're constantly online, or are part of a household who are likely to use the internet a significant amount, then a truly unlimited package could be the answer.

Think about your broadband usage and your current broadband speed – truly unlimited broadband won't mean that you'll be exempt from the effects of peak-time usage, but you won't be slowed down by your provider.

If you need a fast broadband connection as well as an unlimited download allowance, you may want to look into fibre optic broadband

Fibre optic offers the fastest broadband connection available, but you'll need to check that it's available in your area – when you compare unlimited broadband deals simply enter your postcode and you’ll be able to see what's available in your area.