Everything you Need to Know About Choosing the Best Broadband Provider
The world of broadband can be complex and with so many different deals being advertised it can be hard to know which one is the best. However, if you use our handy guide you will learn everything you need to know to make an informed choice as to which broadband choice is best for you.
Not only that, but you will also understand what broadband is and give you valuable information when it comes to choosing broadband options in the future and also negotiating with your current provider so you can get the best deal.
Firstly, we need to know what is broadband and what is a broadband provider.
What is Broadband and a Broadband Provider?
Broadband is a relatively recent invention and was built to allow us to access the internet quicker and more often. It replaced the older narrowband dial up system that was much slower and was not designed for modern internet usage. Broadband can come in many different forms like ADSL broadband, cable broadband and even 3G and 4G mobile broadband. Regardless of what type of broadband you have, it can be accessed any time and will not be turned off by your provider.
Unlike dial up, broadband can be used a multitude of devices like your phone or computer at the same time. This is because the frequencies that broadband use can be split into channels so you can still call someone on your phone and access the internet. This is unlikely, but if you find that you cannot use the phone and the internet at the same time without one cutting out, then it could mean that you still have the old dial up connection. If this is the case, you should definitely consider upgrading to broadband.
A broadband provider is simply a company that provides the broadband service to you for a price. Although many broadband services will vary from region to region and the same provider will offer different packages at different prices depending what is included in those packages.
To help you get a picture of the type of providers you will encounter in your hunt for a good broadband deal, here is a list and brief description of some common providers.
The main companies are Sky, Virgin Media and BT. However, there are also other providers like EE, Plusnet and Vodafone. When it comes to descriptions, it should be noted that most of these providers will provide a service at most price points with many options covered by the same provider. However, with that said, Plusnet are known for their value for money, Sky for their consistency and BT for their added extras.
With that said, each provider will offer a different type of broadband and at a different speed. Read below for the guide on types of broadband and the different speeds.
What are the Different Types of Broadband and What are the Different Speeds?
There are three main types of broadband in use in the UK. The first of which is ASDL.
ASDL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and is the most common type of broadband available. Within the ASDL technology there are two distinctions: ASDL 1 and ASDL 2. ASDL 1 is the slower of the two with a maximum speed of 8Mbit/s and ASDL 2 is the faster with a maximum speed of 24Mbit/s. This type of broadband is passed through the same copper wiring that your home phone is connected to. Because BT own and maintain the vast majority of UK landline infrastructure, most of the ASDL broadband network will be run by BT.
Another type of broadband is cable. Cable is a much newer invention and uses fibre optic and coaxial cables to deliver faster internet speeds as well as TV and phone service. However, because of the patchy coverage of cable broadband, only certain providers will have it available to you and thus, because of the monopolisation of the market, prices will be higher than that of ASDL coverage.
The final type of broadband is fibre broadband. Fibre broadband is transmitted via clusters of fibre optic cables and can reach speeds that are much faster than ASDL. But, similarly fibre broadband has two main types with each type having different maximum connection speeds. Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) is broadband of which the fibre optic cables connect to a cabinet in your street, these then pass to your home. FTTC broadband is usually sold at offering speeds of 38 or 76Mbit/s The other type is known as fibre to the premises (FTTP). These run cables directly to your house and so are much quicker with offering speeds of up to 1,000Mbit/s.
However, it is not as clear cut as that. Internet speeds can depend on a number of factors, and just because you have purchased a plan that mentions a specific average speed does not always mean you will receive it.
For example, cable broadband is only really offered by one provider- Virgin Media. But even if you are willing to pay prices set out by Virgin Media does not mean you are able to receive such coverage. Only certain areas of the country actually have the cables required to provide cale broadband so you will need to check whether your area is able to provide you with the desired broadband.
Also, the distance your house is from the telephone exchange will matter in determining your internet speeds. So the average rate that your provider will advertise you, chances are, will not be correct- you may be above or below that average.
How and Why You Should Consider Changing Broadband
To make sense of this section we should answer the second part first. Why should you consider changing broadband providers?
In the world of broadband advertising, they use a number of sneaky tricks to entice customers in and keep them there for far longer than even the customers planned themselves. One such method is the use of new customer deals.
New customer deals are almost always the ones that you see advertised. They often have cheaper prices, higher maximum speeds and even additional options. However, at the end of the contract, usually they last for around 12 months, those low prices, higher speeds and added extras go away and instead you are left with a more expensive package with far less value. Often times the provider that gave you the sumptuous offer in the first place will be rather quiet in changing your broadband plan at the end of those initial 12 months. If you think you may come under this bracket, then I would check to see if your current broadband plan is different to the one your purchased initially. If it is then you should probably think about making a change.
Another reason for changing your current broadband deal is because you do not actually use some of the services that come with the price or the services you have are not sufficient. Essentially you pay for what you get when it comes to broadband, so if you have a plan which comes with slower connection but you rely on fast internet to run your business then you may want to consider changing. The opposite is true if you do not use the internet regularly and yet you are paying for a faster service.
If you do want to change then the best way to do so is to go onto a site like USwitch or BroadbandChoices who will run you through the best broadband deals depending on what you are looking to have in a broadband provider.
How to Choose the Correct Broadband Provider and Service for You
To choose the correct broadband provider and service you need to know what you actually want from a provider. Some services will provide more or less than others so it is important to take a look at what you use broadband for, whether you are going to want other added extras that can be a part of some deals. Here is a brief explanation of what to think about when making a switch or choosing your first broadband plan.
Do you own a business? And if so, do you run it from home? If you do not, then you will probably be ok with a slower internet speed, and you could take a look at TV and phone packages as well- possibly BT or Sky who have good TV packages. However, if you do own a business and work from home and so you will need faster internet, then you could take a look at cable and fibre optic broadband from Virgin Media. These will cost more because of the faster connection speeds, but it may well be necessary for you to run the business properly.
If you are just a home owner then you will want to look at a phone, TV and broadband deal in one. This will make paying for it as simple as possible. There are also a large number of options available to you if you are looking for an option for your household. For example, when it comes to TV you may like the appeal of Sky TV or maybe you are after BT sport to watch live fixtures. These are added extras that may only come from a few providers, so it is worth shopping around and finding who offers what at what prices.
Another thing to watch for is where you live. As mentioned previously, regardless of the promises made by your provider, the internet speed you actually receive will be different to what the provider advertises to you. This is due to the distance you will be from telephone exchange. If you live close, then you may not need the faster option as you will receive above the average for your current plan. The opposite is true as well.
The best way to choose the best deal for you is to really understand what you are getting out of your broadband. Below are some examples of good deals and the sort of customer who should look into them.
What are the Best Deals?
Here are some of the best deals around at the moment, I have attached a little description to each one so you know what you are looking at and which deal is the best for who.
Plusnet- Broadband and line rental for £12.99 a month.
This is the best value for money, the cheapest and is the best barebones option for those who only want broadband and line rental. However, it should be noted that this comes with no added extras, will not include TV and the internet speeds will not be very high (average 10Mb). Not ideal for households who would prefer a TV package to be included, but, this could be a good option for businesses or those who already have a TV package.
Shell Energy- Fibre broadband and line rental for £15.99 a month.
This is a slight upgrade from the previous option with the fibre broadband achieving an average of 35Mb. Again, this does not include a TV package so might not be suitable for all families. However, the faster internet is ideal for businesses and if you already have a TV package from another provider then this can be another great option.
Sky- TV and superfast broadband for £52 a month.
This is by far the most expensive plan on this list, however, you do get sky TV which includes box sets and the average broadband speed is 59Mb. This is a good option for a household as you get a TV and broadband package in one. However, it does lack a line rental so you will need to look at another provider to find that making it not so suitable for businesses.
There are a multitude of other options out there so make sure you check all the other choices as well. Any questions then please contact me as I would love to help.
All prices and information is accurate as of date of writing.