A Guide to Smaller Broadband Providers

You’re probably familiar with the big broadband providers, but what about the smaller ones? Several smaller providers exist, among them Hyperoptic, Relish, XLN, and Zen. But what can they offer, and what makes them worth considering? Christian Cawley, a writer at Broadband Genie, takes you through what they’re all about.


Offering speeds of up to 1Gb, Hyperoptic was founded in 2011 and has received several awards since then, including the Most Innovative Provider 2013 by Broadband Genie.

Residents in 75,000 homes in the United Kingdom’s key cities enjoy Hyperoptic’s ultra-high-speed gigabit internet service.

Hyperoptic offers superior internet speeds by eschewing copper wires in favour of a fully fibre optic cable network.

They even provide a useful speed comparison test to demonstrate how much faster their service is than the one you’re currently using. Crucially, Hyperoptic’s upload speed on its fast and fastest packages is equal to the download speed, which is ideal for streamers and uploaders.

Unfortunately, that excellent speed is not available across the whole UK and is limited at this stage to around half of the cities.


Available in central London and Swindon, Relish offers quick installation, unlimited data, and no compulsory landline. Launched in 2014, Relish is owned by UK Broadband, a subsidiary of Three. It uses 4G connections to push ultrafast, wireless broadband to customers, who enjoy limitless internet without monthly line rentals, or a handset contract.

While it offers a maximum speed of 30Mbps, this isn’t impacted by limits or slow periods (such as in the evening when everyone watches streaming services). Although a router must be purchased, it comes free with a 12-month contract.

Relish is aiming its service at professionals, renters, and anyone wanting flexibility from their broadband provider.


Founded in 2002, XLN provides telecoms for small businesses, including business broadband, free Wi-Fi for businesses to offer to customers, and a mobile network. With 500 employees across its bases in London and Sheffield, XLN provides affordable broadband, hundreds of pounds cheaper than BT.

In addition, XLN offers speeds of up to 76Mbps on its fibre line, which the majority of its 400,000 business customers rely on.

The downside to this is that you must be a business customer to benefit from XLN’s service. Sole traders might get lucky.


Offering fast and superfast broadband packages, Zen was formed in 1995 by Richard Tang, and operates one of the largest data networks in the UK, currently covering 500,000 postcodes. Depending on where you are in the UK, Zen offers ultra-fast speeds of up to 330Mbps, via Openreach’s Gfast network.

For the rest of us, standard fibre broadband speeds (up to 60Mbps) are available, along with a subscription without the need for a landline. Zen also offers web hosting and complementary services such as Office 365.

Despite an impressive set of features, Zen’s comparatively small size might put you off.

Broadband Services with a Difference

If you’ve been looking for broadband that offers something beyond the mainstream options, one of these smaller providers might just be what you’re looking for.



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