There are four main types of broadband connection in the UK. There are three fixed line or ‘home’ broadband technologies, which operate over in-ground wires (ADSL, fibre optic, and cable). The fourth, mobile broadband, works using mobile networks.
Standard or ADSL broadband:
broadband that operates over the copper wires of the landline phone network. ADSL delivers average download speeds of 10 to 11 Mbps. It’s available to 99% of UK households.
Fibre optic broadband:
Fibre optic broadband delivers internet over fibre optic cables. This allows for a faster connection than you'd get with copper wires. Most forms of fibre broadband available in the UK are FTTC, or fibre to the cabinet. This means the last mile between your local street cabinet and home uses standard copper telephone lines. FTTC connections are available to 95% of UK premises, often for just a few pounds a month more than ADSL packages.
FTTP (fibre to the premises) or full-fibre is much faster, but less readily available. FTTC connections work with fibre cables going all the way to your property. However, FTTP is only available at 4% of UK addresses.
Cable broadband bypasses the copper phone network entirely and delivers the internet over coaxial cables. The main cable provider in the UK is Virgin Media, which offers broadband with speeds starting at 54 Mbps all the way up to 362 Mbps.
Virgin cable connections are available to just half of UK addresses, however. It's also important to keep in mind that switching to or from a cable provider will mean you'll probably require a viist from an engineer to get set up. Your new provider will handle this but it might add an extra couple of weeks to the switching time.