With so many UK providers offering multiple options, it can be really hard to choose a broadband package that suits your needs. These are the main factors to consider when buying a home broadband solution.
Average broadband download speed
Until recently, broadband providers could only advertise their ‘Up to’ speed. However, recent regulation now means they have to display ‘Average Speed’.
Average speed is defined as the speed reached by at least 50% of customers during peak hours. The UK government’s communications regulator Ofcom defines the peak hour as between 8pm and 10pm
Despite the change, the actual speed you’ll get will of course depend on a number of factors, including:
- The type of connection, for example, cable or fiber.
- How far is your house from the telephone exchange
- The area you live in
- The time of day you are using the connection.
Generally speaking, the higher the average speed, the more expensive the package will cost. Deciding what speed you need is determined by what you’re using it for.
If you just want to surf the Internet and get an occasional email, a standard broadband connection may be enough. On the other hand, if you are going to stream music and movies, play online games, or have a family that uses multiple devices at the same time, a much faster fiber connection is required.
You can always upgrade your broadband connection if you think it’s too slow, but you may incur additional costs if you do this while you’re in the middle of your contract period.
Broadband Package Type
Broadband providers generally offer three types of packages:
- broadband only
- broadband and phone
- Broadband and telephone with TV
As it generally requires a phone connection to have broadband, only a few will offer broadband only. When you compare broadband, you’ll find that most packages will automatically include a Wi-Fi router, line rental, and some sort of bundled calling rates.
Several providers will also offer a TV package in addition to the telephone and broadband connection. This TV package can vary widely between providers, but generally includes some or all of the following:
- Supplying a box that can record multiple hours of TV
- The ability of the box to rewind and pause live television.
- The ability to watch Freeview channels
- The option to subscribe to premium channels such as Sky Sports, BT Sport or movies
- The ability to watch catch-up TV and On-Demand programs
Broadband contract duration
Once you sign up for a broadband package, you’ll have a cooling-off period during which you can cancel. However, if you decide you no longer want the package or want to switch to a new carrier, then you may incur early cancellation penalty charges.
Therefore, it is important to make sure that you are happy with the length of the contract you sign and the terms of that contract.
In general terms, broadband providers offer the following contracting options:
- 12 month contract
- 18 month contract
- 24 month contract
- Without contract
A no-contract option is just that. You pay your dues month by month until you decide you don’t want it. However, a no-contract option typically has increased monthly cost compared to a longer contract period.
Broadband installation cost
This is the initial cost the provider charges you to set up the broadband connection and/or the cost of the package and post to have the equipment shipped to your home.
Some providers don’t charge any setup fees, or sometimes have offers to include setup for free.
This is the ongoing monthly fee that you will pay for your broadband connection.
After deciding all the above factors, you need to narrow down your selection to a few packages that meet your requirements. You can then compare additional features and benefits beyond the main selection criteria.
Additional things to consider are the cost of phone calls, whether the package includes free weekend or evening calls, the channels available if you opt for a TV package, the functionality of the TV box, and what parental controls you have. are offered with your broadband connection.