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3rd September 2020

How to choose broadband

Max Beckett
Max Beckett

Broadband expert

How to choose the best broadband provider 

Finding the best broadband deal that meets your needs can be tricky, and can present you with many questions. What type of broadband should I have? What internet speed do I need? How much should I be paying? What is available in my area? Our guide will help you find the answers, along with the best broadband provider to suit you for a better internet experience. 

Getting started 

Before you begin searching for the best broadband provider, you need to first understand what type of internet user you are. It’s no good buying the cheapest broadband deal you find if the package doesn’t allow you to get the best out of your broadband. Speed, cost, contract length and data usage are all factors you need to consider.

Which type of broadband should you choose?

One of the first things you need to think about is what type of connection you will need. From basic broadband to superfast, ultrafast and even ‘hyperfast’, different areas and properties often mean a different internet speed that is available to you. 

ADSL broadband

One of the cheapest types of broadband available, ADSL provides an internet connection through the copper wires of your phone line offering maximum download speeds of around 24Mbps. The biggest disadvantage is that speeds can vary depending on your location. For those on a low budget, who typically use the internet for basic tasks such as browsing the web and checking social media, this might be an ideal choice. 

Fibre-optic broadband

If internet speed is a big factor in choosing your broadband provider, fibre broadband may be what you’re looking for. Fibre-optic cables are used either partially or wholly in your connection to provide high-speed internet access and — it’s capable of speeds ranging from 30Mbps all the way to 1000Mbps (1Gbps), so a lot faster than ADSL.

Cable broadband

Cable broadband is less common in the UK but can provide very fast internet speeds of up to 600Mbps by using Virgin Media’s coaxial cables to provide a connection. This may not be accessible in your area just yet, but you can use the Uswitch broadband postcode checker to find out what is available to you. 

Broadband speed  

How you use the internet and how many people are connecting to it will affect what broadband speed your household will need. If you’re just using the internet for basic tasks such as emails and browsing the web, it’s unlikely you will need a very fast connection.

However, if you have a large household, or if you are heavily into your online gaming and streaming movies, an ultrafast speed might be best. Find out more about what broadband speed would be best for you here

How much data do I need?

The majority of broadband deals now come with unlimited downloads, which means you can use your internet as much as you want, however you want. But, there are still some packages available that cap your internet usage – and they’re usually a lot cheaper. When choosing the best broadband package for you, it helps to know how much data you will need to get the best out of your broadband. Below is a rough guide. 

New users

If you’re a broadband rookie, you may not be sure how often you will be using your internet, so it may be wise to choose a capped package. If you are not going to be using your internet regularly and will be mainly checking emails and browsing the web, this may be a cheaper and more suitable option for you. 

Bigger households

Internet data can be used quite quickly if you have several devices connected at a time. In households with four or more people, your internet will likely be in use most of the time – especially if you’re connecting smart home devices too. If that’s the case, an unlimited data package would get you the most from your broadband.

Film fans

When it comes to streaming movies or playing online games on your console, a lot of data is used - watching an hour-long show in HD on Netflix would use 3GB of data per hour.

If you choose a capped deal that comes with 15GB of data each month, you would only have enough internet for five hours of binge-watching. If that’s the case, an unlimited data deal would make sure you can stream as much as you want, so you can avoid paying extra for more data. 

Do I need TV and phone services? 

Many providers offer broadband packages that include line rental and TV services – which is usually cheaper than paying for them separately and means you will have one bill to look at instead of three. But you should also consider whether you need these additional services.

If you don’t use your home phone often and don’t need extra TV channels, a broadband-only deal might be better for you – and they can be cheaper! You can search for your best broadband bundle using the Uswitch comparison site.

Broadband in my area 

Different broadband providers cover different areas across the UK, so the type of broadband deals you can get will depend on where you live. You will have a bigger range of providers offering standard and fibre broadband if you live in a town or city.

But, if you live somewhere more remote, or near the countryside, you may be limited to the number of providers that cover your area and internet speed you can get. For example, in 2019, the average 24-hour broadband speed in urban areas was 36% higher (38Mbps) than in rural places (8.1 Mbps). 

Broadband contract length

Broadband contracts range between monthly rolling to 12 to 24 months, and it’s important to note, if you wish to change providers during this time, you will likely have to pay cancellation fees. So, when choosing your broadband package, keep in mind how long you wish to sign up for to avoid paying out.

You can browse a range of broadband packages based on how long you would like your contract to be using the Uswitch comparison site – just select the contract length you would like and start comparing broadband deals. 

Broadband provider customer service 

Sometimes, the quality of a provider’s customer service is forgotten about when it comes to searching for a broadband deal – but it’s actually important that you consider the type of service you are likely to receive if things go wrong.

If you have a connection fault, a query about a bill or any other issues, it could give you peace of mind knowing that your problems will be resolved as quickly as possible. 

Broadband budget

Price is an important factor to consider when choosing the right broadband package. You may be tempted to go for the cheapest deal you can find, but this could leave you with an internet connection that is unable to meet your needs.

It can be frustrating dealing with insufficient speeds when it comes to streaming your favourite movies, playing games or even working from home, so it’s equally important to make sure that you compare the packages that best meet your internet needs. That way you can find the most suitable deal at the best price.