1. Home
  2. Broadband
  3. Broadband Guides
  4. What is gigabit internet?

What is gigabit internet?

We're working in partnership with Uswitch to bring you the best broadband experience. This means if you click or tap a link in this guide we might take you to a Uswitch page.

Gigabit internet is the fastest consumer broadband you can buy, and it’s currently being rolled out across the UK.


woman video editing at home


Broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps). 1 gigabit is 1,000Mbps. These speeds refer to how quickly data can be uploaded or downloaded from the internet.


Gigabit internet speeds allow large amounts of data to be transferred extremely quickly to your devices. For example, a high-definition film can be downloaded in under a minute. Download speeds this fast are available in areas that have full fibre broadband, also known as fibre to the premises (FTTP). The main alternative is a connection via the Virgin Media cable network and its Gig1 gigabit service.   


Some providers offer average broadband speeds of around 900-950Mbps. This is close enough to 1Gbps to be regarded as gigabit-speed by the industry.


The broadband speed you see advertised is the estimated speed you’re likely to receive at the busiest time of day. That’s 8-10pm for consumer services.  


The government aims to deliver gigabit internet to a minimum of 85% of UK premises by 2025 and at least 99% by 2030. In January 2024, it confirmed that 80% of UK premises now have access to gigabit internet and figures are continuing to rise.  


The number of providers offering gigabit internet is also growing.  


You can find out if gigabit internet is available in your area by comparing broadband deals.


An infrastructure upgrade may still be needed to connect your home to the network, unless you’re moving into a new build home in England. Government legislation now requires all new homes to be gigabit ready.


It depends what you do online. Gigabit broadband could be a must-have if you want high-quality broadband and use or download a lot of large files and data-hungry applications. This is often the case if you’re working from home.  


Gigabit internet is great for: 

  • Streaming live 4K or ultra-HD content without buffering or long waits for videos to load. 

  • Online gaming – including the speedy downloading of new titles and hi-res graphics. 

  • Multi-gadget households  Gigabit broadband can support 190 devices at once. 

  • Immersive extended reality (XR) experiences – including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). 

  • Using cloud-based storage services – such as Google Drive or Dropbox. This is particularly useful for uploading music and video files and photographs.  

  • Digital phone lines and crystal-clear video calls. 

For many people however, superfast broadband (30-80Mbps) is good enough. For now. But internet usage is likely to increase and with smart devices and VR becoming more commonplace, data usage will be increasing too.  


Depending on the cost and availability in your area, it may make sense to future-proof your home and upgrade your broadband to enjoy all the advantages of gigabit internet.  


Gigabit broadband gives you: 

  • a stable and highly reliable internet connection 

  • high resolutions and frame rates, which is ideal for streaming or gaming 

  • reduced latency – the time it takes to send data and receive a response. In gaming, it’s the delay between pressing a button and seeing the resulting action on screen 

  • impressive download and upload speeds  

But even a gigabit internet connection can let you down if you’re using old technology or have a slow home network. It may make sense to upgrade your gadgets and devices before upgrading your broadband. You also need a modern Wi-Fi router capable of handling the higher speeds. 


Remember, the highest speeds will always be through a wired rather than wireless connection, even with a gigabit internet connection.  


Expect to pay around £40-£70 for gigabit internet. It’s typically the most expensive way to get online, although it may not cost much more than some superfast or ultrafast broadband services. It’s always worth comparing broadband deals.  


You may get a better price by signing up to a longer contract and some providers also offer upgrade incentives. For example, EE offers money off mobile upgrades with its gigabit internet service and G.Network will buy you out of your existing contract.  


Look out for other extras too, including phone bundles, price commitments and customer perks.  


Providers using the Openreach network (including BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Giganet and Plusnet) will typically offer similar speeds, although prices vary.   


Always read the small print before committing to any gigabit broadband deal. These should include details of any mid-contract price increases. 


Search for gigabit broadband deals and you may find a list of the providers operating in your area. This depends on the availability of gigabit services to your home, of course.


Virgin Media O2 recently overtook BT Openreach as the largest gigabit internet provider. Its Gig1 service currently covers Bradford, Glasgow, Leeds and the surrounding areas.  


Other big names offering gigabit internet services include EE, Plusnet, Shell Energy Broadband, Sky and Vodafone.  


Some smaller full fibre providers offer more niche coverage. For example: 

  • Gigaclear focuses on hard-to-reach rural locations 

  • Hyperoptic focuses on large apartment buildings and new build housing estates 

  • Community Fibre and G.Network are both London specific 

  • KCOM caters for the northeast of England 

  • Truespeed offers services in the Southwest 


In 2021, the government launched the £5 billion Project Gigabit to provide gigabit internet to over a million hard-to-reach homes and businesses. Its aim is to connect areas that may be missed by the big companies’ gigabit internet rollout.  


Plans included the relaunch of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to give people in rural areas financial help to access gigabit speeds. Under the scheme, homes and businesses can apply for up to £4,500 to cover the costs of a gigabit-capable connection. 


Find out if you’re eligible for a gigabit broadband voucher on the gov.uk website.


Over £1.1 billion has already been signed in Project Gigabit contracts to connect more than 700,000 premises in England – from Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria to Cornwall, Norfolk and Suffolk. 


Find out if gigabit internet is available in your area.

Share this article