The big four
The internet has become a utility much like electricity or water. And like these markets, it is dominated by a small number of big players. Nine out of ten homes with broadband internet connection in the UK are supplied by one of four companies, Virgin, BT, Sky and TalkTalk.
Furthermore, most of the other well-known broadband packages are actually supplied by these same four companies.
EE and Plusnet (which also provides John Lewis broadband) are part of BT, and NOW is part of Sky.
These big four have all been marked down for excessive remuneration of directors, being members of lobby groups (except for TalkTalk), and for Habitats & resources and Human Rights impacts, as they did not have strong enough policies around the use of conflict minerals (see our ethical shopping guide to batteries).
As well as traditional home broadband, our table also includes a few providers of mobile broadband, none of which score highly. O2, Vodafone, EE and Three all offer options either for homes that are not well-served by physical networks, or for better access to broadband while travelling. These devices, be they mobile routers, dongles, 12volt devices or SIM cards, may be preloaded with data bundles, or pay-as-you-go.
Several companies on the table received our worst rating for likely tax avoidance: BT (BT, EE, Plusnet, John Lewis broadband), Virgin, Comcast (Sky/NOW), CK Hutchison (Three).