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Broadband guides & Money saving tips

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If you haven’t assessed your broadband connection in a while you’re likely paying over the odds for a slow, out of date connection. You likely initially signed up to a 12-, 18-, or 24-month contract, with an attractive promotional price. But when the contract term was up, you weren’t cut off from the internet, but rather switched to your provider’s default tariff, with higher monthly bills.

If you haven’t kept on top of your broadband bills, renewed your contract, or searched for a new tariff to meet your changing needs you could be paying over the odds for your internet. Also, the rollout of fibre optic and cable broadband could mean new, faster services are now available in your area, as prices of  superfast and ultrafast connections have tumbled.

According to a recent Ofcom study, 4 million households in the UK are stuck on out of contract, default ADSL broadband tariffs and paying too much for outdated speeds. Comparing broadband deals online through our site & switching can save you money—sometimes hundreds of pounds—and boost your internet experience.

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Types of Broadband

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Standard Broadband

Fibre Optic Broadband

Cable Broadband

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Mobile Broadband

It’s easier than ever to switch broadband provider, no MAC codes and no downtime required. Unless you’re switching to or from a cable provider, you won’t have to even contact your old provider. Your new ISP will handle that for you.

If you’re out of contract, you can switch provider at anytime, with no termination fees. You should have noted down when your contract expires but if you’re unsure, you can contact your provider.

Terminate mid-contract and you’ll be hit with charges, often including monthly fees up to 80% of your pre-cancellation bills and possibly one-off cease fee. However, if your provider raises your monthly bills within your contract period, you can exit penalty free within 30 days of being notified of the hike.

It usually takes two weeks for the service handover to be completed but if you need new wiring installed, for example, if you’re upgrading to cable broadband, a visit from an engineer will be required and the timescale can lengthen to as much as six weeks. Your new provider will be able to give you a specific date for activation or installation, which you can then coordinate with the cancellation of your old service to minimise downtime.

Today, with nearly all home broadband packages coming with unlimited downloads, the biggest price determiner for broadband is download speed: the faster a connection, the more you’ll pay for it. But not everyone needs the most swift-footed internet on the market. Casual browsers can save money by sticking with standard ADSL connections; if you’re only occasionally refreshing your email and reading the news, you’re unlikely to notice much different between 10 Mbps and 35 Mbps, except on your monthly bill.

However, if you’re regularly downloading files, streaming video content, gaming online, and making video calls, you should opt for a ‘superfast’ fibre optic or cable tariff.

Additionally, the bandwidth of a connection is shared between all devices using it, meaning the more users hopping onto your WiFi, the slower the internet will be for all of them. So families and households with many internet users should opt for faster speeds, meaning fatter bandwidths and more comfortable browsing and streaming for everyone. Even if you live alone, if you have many devices connected to your internet, such as internet-enabled appliances and smart thermostats, you’ll need enough speed for all of them.

The advertised speed of your broadband connection will be for downloads: the amount of data your connection can receive in a second. For most broadband technologies, uploading speed will be significantly slower, often just a fraction of downstream speeds, and less well advertised. This is a feature and not a glitch of broadband wiring: most people spend their time on the internet consuming content rather than creating and uploading it. Businesses will often need symmetrical downstream and upstream speeds and should look to get FTTP or to specialised B2B tariffs and providers.

Other factors can impact how fast a broadband connection feels. High latency and jitter on a connection can make browsing slow and video calling and gaming unfeasible even on connections with adequate ‘Mbps’ speeds and quick downloads.

More and more and broadband providers are allowing customers to bundle premium TV services and even mobile phone deals with their broadband and landline calling, for the convenience and possible cost savings of a single bill. Bundling can save you money and hassle but only if you need and use all the services included. You don’t want to spring for a pricey broadband and TV bundle only to remain glued to your desktop version of Netflix and never watch the 70 channels on your television set. Sometimes buying your telecoms deals à la carte can work out cheaper and give you more flexibility to find services from different providers that meet your need exactly.

But if you are an omnivorous telecoms consumer and are satisfied with your current broadband provider, why not check out the deals they can offer for TV and even your mobile phone? Existing customers of an ISP often notch savings on any services they add to their package.

There are four main types of broadband available in the UK. We compare them all but it’s helpful to know the basics of each type before launching your search. Each type will come with different speeds, costs, and download allowances so you might want to take a quick inventory of your priorities before settling on a type. In general, the faster the connection, the more expensive it will be.

It’s also important to remember that not all types of connections will be available in every area. Our postcode checker will direct you to the technologies and providers operating in your neighbourhood.

There are three types of home or fixed-line broadband, which is an internet connection delivered over in-ground wires, either entirely over the copper landline phone network, partly over it, or running parallel to it, depending on the type. The vast majority of home broadband connections today come standard with unlimited downloads.

  1. ADSL or Standard Broadband: ADSL broadband operates over the copper wires of the landline phone network but, unlike dial-up connections of yore, the services can run simultaneously. ADSL broadband is available to 99% of UK premises and delivers average speeds of between 10 and 11 Mbps (Megabits per second, the amount of data a connection can receive in a single second).
  2. Fibre Optic Broadband: Fibre optic broadband uses fibre optic cables to deliver superfast internet—that’s speeds of over 24 Mbps and sometimes much over. It’s more expensive than ADSL but is nearly requisite for households with many internet users—or devices—and especially for anyone who wants to stream video content and game online. Fibre broadband comes in two types: the slower but widely available FTTC, which uses fibre optic cables up to your street cabinet and then runs over copper wires to your home, and the FTTP, or full-fibre, which makes the entire journey in fibre and can deliver speeds in excess of 1 gigabit per second. Currently just 4% of UK households can access FTTP but the government has aimed to connect millions more in the next few years and to achieve universal coverage by 2033.
  3. Cable Broadband: Cable broadband delivers the internet over coaxial cables. The main provider in the UK is Virgin Media, which offers speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to over 300 Mbps. Currently half of UK households can access Virgin cable broadband.
  4. Mobile Broadband: In contrast to fixed-line broadband, mobile broadband operates over the mobile phone networks, via dongles, personal hotspots (also called MiFis) or data-only SIMs. You can get online with your mobile broadband device wherever you have 4G or 3G signal, although speeds will be slower and all connections limited by data allowances. This means mobile broadband generally isn’t a good substitute for home broadband, but its portability makes it a useful extra service for people who need internet on the go. It’s delivered by the UK’s mobile network providers: EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone.

You can also explore wireless home broadband—that’s broadband that operates over the mobile network but for your home, with a router and unlimited data, or through a wireless transmitter in your area—or satellite broadband, which uses orbiting satellites to deliver internet connections and is a good solution for people who live in remote areas where in-ground broadband infrastructure is limited or slowed by distance.

To beat the ISPs at their own game, it helps to know your stuff. Your fibre optic from your cable, your FTTC from your FTTP.  We’ve got you covered there too, with comprehensive guides to the broadband types and providers; internet solutions for businesses, gamers, and rural residents; and answers to your most pressing broadband questions (do you really have to pay the line rental?).

We tackle all those questions and more, in thorough and accessible guides.

  • What’s the difference between home and mobile broadband?
  • How fast is superfast broadband, and how fast does that make ultrafast?
  • Do I need a fibre optic connection and how soon will it be available in my area?
  • How much speed do I really need and how can I maximise the speeds of the broadband connection I have?
  • Could a mobile broadband tariff work for me and how much data should I spring for?
  • Can I get online without signing a contract?
  • How do I get broadband if I have bad credit?
  • What’s the cheapest internet connection on the market? The cheapest fibre connection?
  • What’s latency and jitter and how do they impact my internet experience?
  • What sort of tariff and specs should I look for if I want to game on my internet connection?
  • How does business broadband differ from domestic broadband and what services does my business need?
  • How can I get fast internet in rural areas?
  • How do I switch provider? What happens if I move during my contract term?
  • What ‘hidden’ or less well known broadband fees should I watch out for?
  • Can I get broadband without line rental and will it save me money?
  • What’s Virgin Media cable and is it available in my area?
  • What do customers think of the major broadband providers? Should I go with a big telecoms company like BT or Sky or one of the budget providers like TalkTalk or Plusnet?