Shell Energy Broadband vs TalkTalk: which is better?

Last updated: 28 February 2022   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Shell Energy Broadband and TalkTalk are both no-frills broadband providers offering a range of copper, superfast and ultrafast broadband deals.

Overall winner Shell Energy Broadband
Packages Shell Energy Broadband
Call plans Shell Energy Broadband
Price Shell Energy Broadband
Speed Shell Energy Broadband
Router TalkTalk
TV TalkTalk
Customer service Tie

Shell Energy Broadband focus on being one of the cheapest providers around, offering competitive ultrafast deals and cheaper superfast broadband plans than TalkTalk.

Meanwhile, TalkTalk offer well-priced broadband plans with a superior home router and the option to add TV for extra entertainment.

Overall, the winner this time is Shell Energy Broadband thanks to their aggressive pricing that usually puts them ahead of their rival.

In this guide:

At a glance

Shell Energy Broadband TalkTalk
Price From £17.99 From £23.50
Basic broadband 11Mb 11Mb
Superfast broadband 35Mb, 63Mb 38Mb, 67Mb
Ultrafast broadband 100Mb, 200Mb, 300Mb, 500Mb, 900Mb 145Mb, 147Mb, 290Mb, 500Mb, 900Mb
Home phone On some plans (not full fibre) On some plans (not full fibre)
Inclusive calls None None
Anytime UK calls £13.79 £14
TV No Yes (extra cost)
Minimum term 18 months 18 months

Broadband deals

Winner: Shell Energy Broadband have cheaper superfast deals - although the two are finely matched on many elements.

Shell Energy Broadband and TalkTalk offer superfast broadband with similar average speeds: 35Mb and 63Mb for Shell and 38Mb and 67Mb for TalkTalk.

Here are their superfast packages side-by-side:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Superfast Fibre 38Mb average £21.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months
Superfast Fibre Plus 67Mb average £23.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months
Fibre 35 38Mb average £30 £15 18 months
offer Offer: Money off for 18 months
Fibre 65 67Mb average £31 £15 18 months
offer Offer: Money off for 18 months

As we can see, it's cheaper to get the 63Mb superfast broadband plan with Shell than it is to get the 38Mb broadband plan with TalkTalk.

While pricing can change regularly (and especially when broadband special offers come around), Shell strive to be one of the cheapest broadband providers around, so their packages reflect that.

Shell also promises no set-up fees on their broadband plans, while TalkTalk do charge postage and packing for their routers as standard (although this is frequently waived in offers). It's only a small amount anyway, but some customers on a tight budget may prefer to avoid it altogether.

Plus, it's worth pointing out that both companies use 18-month contracts. These are becoming rarer but no-frills providers like Shell and TalkTalk are more likely to offer them.

The two companies offer basic copper broadband as well, although Shell's deal is much cheaper:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fast Broadband 11Mb average £17.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months
Fast Broadband 11Mb average £27.95 £15 18 months

As TalkTalk made a deliberate decision to make their copper broadband more expensive than their entry-level fibre plans, it's much cheaper for customers to take 11Mb broadband from Shell than TalkTalk.

Ultrafast broadband

Shell and TalkTalk both offer two types of ultrafast broadband: full fibre and

Full fibre, also known as fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband, delivers full fibre cables straight into a customer's home. The technology is gradually being expanded across the UK, and both Shell and TalkTalk use the Openreach FTTP network.

This network covers around 6.44 million households so far, with the intention to expand to 25 million over the coming years.

However, TalkTalk also offer services on parts of the CityFibre network, so more customers will be able to access their full fibre broadband.

Somewhat confusingly, TalkTalk's full fibre deals are sometimes called Future Fibre plans to differentiate them from the other ultrafast deals we discuss below.

Here's how Shell and TalkTalk compare on full fibre pricing:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 100 109Mb average £26.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Save over £280 for 12 months
Full Fibre 150 152Mb average £29.95 £4.95 18 months
offer Offer: £50 Reward Card + Free P&P
Full Fibre 200 207Mb average £29.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months
Full Fibre 300 311Mb average £40.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months
Full Fibre 500 525Mb average £39 £4.95 18 months
offer Offer: £75 Reward Card + Free P&P
Full Fibre 500 525Mb average £43.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months
Full Fibre 900 944Mb average £49 £4.95 18 months
offer Offer: £75 Reward Card + Free P&P
Full Fibre 900 944Mb average £45.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months

As we can see, there's little difference between the two providers on price alone.

The main thing to note here is that Shell offer intermediate 200Mb and 300Mb broadband plans while TalkTalk jumps straight from Fibre 150 to Fibre 500.

These intermediate plans may encourage customers to take a faster speed package from Shell, but customers looking at the top tier 900Mb deals will pay roughly the same with either provider.

Meanwhile, the network covers around 2.9 million households at the time of writing.

This network speeds up the existing connections on fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband, enabling customers to get speeds of up to 290Mb.

Here are the Shell and TalkTalk deals:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fibre 150 145Mb average £35 £15 18 months
Fibre 250 290Mb average £39 £15 18 months
Ultrafast Fibre 145Mb average £41.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months
Ultrafast Fibre Plus 290Mb average £46.99 Free 12 months
offer Offer: Money off for 12 months

The general pricing structure of compared to the full fibre deals discussed above is more expensive, but TalkTalk have cheaper options than Shell.

One thing to note here is that TalkTalk commit customers to a 24-month deal on their plans rather than the 18 months offered by Shell. This may be a good trade-off for the difference in monthly price, however.

Call plans

Winner: Shell has more home phone plan options.

Customers taking Shell and TalkTalk copper and superfast plans will receive a landline as standard with no inclusive calls. This also applies to customers taking ultrafast broadband.

Shell has three call plans and an International Call Package that can be added to Evening & Weekend Plus or Anytime call plans:

Call package Features Monthly charge
Evening & Weekend Inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines £6.37
Anytime Inclusive anytime calls to UK landlines £10.61
Anytime Plus Inclusive anytime calls to UK landlines and standard UK mobiles £13.79
International Call Package* 600 inclusive anytime minutes to landlines in 40 destinations and 75% discounts to mobiles in those countries plus 50% on other international landline and mobile calls £7.43

Meanwhile, TalkTalk just have two call plan options known as call boosts:

Call boost Features Monthly charge
Unlimited UK Inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines £14
International Max Up to 1,500 minutes of calls to landlines and mobiles in 55 inclusive countries £14

There are more options for home phone plans with Shell, then, even if the pricing works out similar with both providers.

It's important to note that Shell and TalkTalk's full fibre ultrafast plans do not come with a landline option.

The technology means a landline doesn't have to be provided alongside broadband, and both providers have made the choice to remove the landline for full fibre customers.


Winner: Shell has the edge on most broadband deals.

Shell Energy Broadband is cheaper than TalkTalk for superfast broadband, mainly because Shell is working to be one of the cheapest broadband providers around. They also offer substantially cheaper copper broadband thanks to TalkTalk's pricing decision.

At an ultrafast level, it depends which technology is available where a customer lives. If the Openreach full fibre network has expanded to an area, the deals offered by both providers are very similar, so the final decision may come down to other factors like routers and personal preference.

However, if technology is the fastest option in an area, TalkTalk become much cheaper, and it's difficult to see why customers would choose Shell in this situation if their main consideration is price.


Winner: Shell offers a few more speed options.

Shell and TalkTalk deliver most of their services through the same Openreach networks, meaning the differences between them are not going to be as stark as, for example, the difference between Now and Virgin.

We don't have official information about how Shell's superfast deals perform, but we do have Ofcom data showing the real-world performance of TalkTalk's plans:

Ofcom average speeds, published March 2023
Advertised average speed Over 24hrs Peak time
(8-10pm weekdays)
TalkTalk 38Mb 35.68Mb 34.73Mb
TalkTalk 67Mb 61.70Mb 60.85Mb
TalkTalk 77Mb 79.96Mb 79.96Mb
TalkTalk 152Mb 159.90Mb 159.91Mb
TalkTalk 525Mb 451.64Mb 451.34Mb

TalkTalk are in the middle of the pack for performance, although their speeds don't meet the advertised peaks. In fairness, that is true of many providers using the part-fibre (FTTC) broadband network.

Since broadband providers are required to advertise the speeds that can be achieved by at least 50% of their customers at peak times, most customers will be able to attain the speeds listed in Shell and TalkTalk's broadband plans. However, there will be variations, so bear that in mind.

As for ultrafast deals, Ofcom hasn't included Shell and TalkTalk packages in their home testing to date, but we can make some general observations:

  • Full fibre broadband is more reliable than part fibre thanks to the technology used, so advertised speeds are more likely to be attainable
  • plans have the same limitations as superfast packages because the last leg of the cable is made from copper rather than fibre

Overall, customers choosing full fibre broadband from Shell and TalkTalk will receive faster, more reliable speeds in general. Again, though, households variations will apply.


Winner: TalkTalk's routers are superior to Shell's.

Shell Energy Broadband supplies fibre customers with the Technicolor DWA0120 router.

This router meets the WiFi 5 standard and offers the following features:

  • Dual band technology (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz)
  • Smart channel selection
  • 2 x USB ports
  • 4 x Gigabit Ethernet ports and 1 x WAN port

It's a basic router that will suit customers on Shell's slower fibre plans, but there is no indication that customers on their ultrafast fibre plans receive a better router. So, customers on faster fibre deals may struggle to get the speeds and performance promised by the package.

TalkTalk offer their WiFi Hub Black to customers on standard fibre deals and the Amazon eero 6 to customers on full fibre data only plans.

The WiFi Hub Black has similar specifications to the Technicolor hub discussed above, but it has two more internal antennae than Shell's router, meaning coverage around the home should be better.

As for the Amazon eero 6 offered to full fibre customers, this mesh router meets the latest WiFi 6 standard and supports maximum speeds of 1800Mbps (double those currently on offer from TalkTalk's fastest package).

Thanks to its use of the latest WiFi Standard and security protocols, the Amazon eero 6 is the best router available from either of these providers.

Note: Shell supply a more basic router to customers on their copper broadband plan while TalkTalk will provide their TalkTalk WiFi Hub (not the black edition) to some customers where the eero 6 is not available.


Winner: TalkTalk offer a TV service while Shell do not.

TalkTalk TV is a Freeview TV box with the option to add Now TV memberships at discount prices.

Customers can also use the box as a hub for other apps such as BBC iPlayer, UKTV Play and paid subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

It isn't the same type of comprehensive TV service we see with Sky TV or Virgin TV, but it's a good option for TalkTalk customers looking to improve their home entertainment.

While the standard TV box is a YouView set-top box, TalkTalk customers on Future Fibre will receive a TalkTalk TV 4K Box as part of a new agreement with Netgem.

Since Shell don't have a TV option, TalkTalk win this one by default.

Customer service

Winner: Draw - Shell and TalkTalk are level on complaints.

Shell Energy Broadband entered Ofcom's quarterly complaint figures after their acquisition of Post Office Broadband's customer base in early 2021.

They registered 13 complaints per 100,000 customers in their first quarter's figures, just above the industry average. However, this rose to 17 per 100,000 in Q3 2021, situating them as one of the most complained about broadband providers.

The provider they tied with for that unwanted crown in Q3 2021 was TalkTalk.

It's true that TalkTalk has brought their complaint levels down in recent quarters, reaching a high of 25 per 100,000 in Q1 2021 and reducing that by 8 by Q3 2021. Even so, it still places them as one of the poorest for complaints.

We have more historical information about TalkTalk's customer service record as they have been included in Ofcom's detailed research over the last few years.

This doesn't necessarily improve the picture for TalkTalk since they performed poorly in the 2021 Comparing Service Quality report from Ofcom that looked at the customer experience in 2020.

TalkTalk had the lowest overall satisfaction rates of all major providers (77%) and significantly fewer TalkTalk customers were satisfied with the speed of service (71% compared to average of 79%).

There were positives, with slightly fewer customers with a reason to complain (24% compared to an average of 26%) and lower call waiting times, but the general picture for TalkTalk customers wasn't great.

However, since those figures are a little out of date now, we're basing our judgement mainly on the more recent complaint figures, and these two are finely matched.

We've got a full guide to broadband customer service (including the best providers) for more information.

Verdict: should you choose Shell or TalkTalk?

Overall winner: Shell have more competitive pricing for broadband and home phone.

Shell Energy Broadband style themselves as a no-frills broadband provider, and we can see that in their budget deals and packages.

Meanwhile, TalkTalk still offer cheap broadband deals, but they can't currently compete with the packages Shell has on offer, especially at copper and superfast level.

If customers want to bundle a TV service into their broadband plan, TalkTalk is the only option for that, plus their deals are cheaper than Shell's (where these are available).

However, Shell has the edge in several areas, although it's important to note their router options aren't brilliant and their customer service record still has a question mark over it thanks to recent complaints.

Overall, while either of these broadband providers would be a good option for customers searching for no-frills cheap broadband, Shell triumphs on this occasion.


Hurry! Offer ends 11 December 2023.

Green tick

Up to £100 Amazon Gift Card

Green tick

From £14.99/mth for 24 months

Green tick

Free setup + eero 6+ router

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. Prices from £14.99/mth for 24 months, then £39.99/mth.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

independent comparison

We are independent of all of the products and services we compare.

fair comparison

We order our comparison tables by price or feature and never by referral revenue.

charity donations and climate positive

We donate at least 5% of our profits to charity, and we have a climate positive workforce.

Get insider tips and the latest offers in our newsletter