Delivering Innovation

With so many UK providers offering multiple options, it can be really difficult to choose a broadband package that suits your needs. These are the main factors to consider when shopping for 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 rush hour. UK government communications regulator Ofcom defines peak time as between 8pm and 10pm

Despite the change, the actual speed you will 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 in which you live

  • The time of day that 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 are using it for.

If you just want to surf the Internet and receive the odd email, a standard broadband connection may suffice. 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 so while you’re in the middle of your contract period.

Broadband Package Type

Broadband providers generally offer three types of packages:

  1. broadband only

  2. broadband and telephone

  3. Broadband and telephone with TV

Since you generally require a dial-up connection to have broadband, only a few will offer broadband only. When you shop around for broadband, you’ll find that most packages will automatically include a Wi-Fi router, line rental, and some sort of calling rate package.

Several providers will also offer a TV package in addition to the telephone and broadband connection. This TV package can vary greatly between providers, but typically includes some or all of the following:

  • Providing a box that can record multiple hours of TV

  • The box’s ability to rewind and pause live TV.

  • 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 shows

Broadband contract duration

Once you sign up for a broadband package, you will 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 fees.

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 installments 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 postage to have the equipment shipped to your home.

Some providers don’t charge any setup fee at all, or sometimes have offers to include setup for free.

Monthly cost

This is the ongoing monthly fee you will pay for your broadband connection.

After deciding all of the above factors, you should narrow your selection down 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 TV box functionality, and any parental controls offered with your broadband connection.

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