How to Compare Broadband Deals

With so many UK providers offering so many options, it can be really difficult to choose the broadband package that suits your needs. Here are the main factors to consider when buying home broadband.

Average broadband download speed

Until recently, broadband providers could simply advertise their “Up to” speed. However, recent regulations now mean that they should show “average speed”.

Average speed is defined as the speed that at least 50% of customers receive during peak hours. The UK government’s regulator, Ofcom, sets peak times between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm.

Despite the change, the actual speed you get will of course depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Connection type such as cable or fiber.
  • How far is your home from a telephone exchange
  • The area in which you live
  • The time of day at which you are using the connection

Generally speaking, the higher the average speed, the more expensive the package will cost. The decision about which speed you need depends on what you are using it for.

If you just want to surf the Internet and receive strange emails, then a standard broadband connection may be sufficient. On the other hand, if you’re going to stream music and movies, play online games, or have a family that uses multiple devices at the same time, then a much faster fiber optic connection is required.

You can always upgrade your broadband connection if it turns out to be too slow, but you may incur additional costs if you do this in the middle of your contract.

Broadband packet type

Broadband providers usually offer three types of packages:

  1. Broadband only
  2. Broadband and telephone
  3. Broadband and telephone with TV

Since broadband usually requires a telephone connection, only a few offer broadband. When you compare broadband, you will find that most of the packages automatically include a Wi-Fi router, line rental, and some sort of rate package.

A number of vendors will also offer a TV bundle in addition to broadband and phone connections. This TV package can vary greatly from provider to provider, but usually includes some or all of the following:

  • Delivery of a box on which you can record several hours of TV programs.
  • Possibility for boxing to rewind and pause live broadcast
  • Ability to watch Freeview channels
  • Ability to subscribe to premium channels like Sky Sports, BT Sport or Movies
  • The ability to watch additional TV shows and programs upon request.

Broadband contract duration

After you subscribe to a broadband package, you have a deliberation period during which you can cancel it. However, if you decide that you no longer need the package or want to switch to a new provider, you may incur an early cancellation penalty.

Therefore, it is important to make sure that you are satisfied with the duration of the contract you are signing and the terms of that contract.

In general, broadband providers offer the following contract options:

  • 12 months contract
  • Contract for 18 months
  • Contract for 24 months
  • No contract

An option without a contract is just an option. You pay a monthly commission until you decide you don’t need it. However, the no-contract option usually increases the monthly cost over the longer contract period.

Broadband setup cost

This is the preliminary cost that your provider will charge you to set up your broadband connection and / or the cost of packaging and shipping the equipment to your home.

Some providers do not charge installation fees or sometimes have offers to enable installation for free.

Monthly cost

This is an ongoing monthly fee that you will be charged for your broadband connection.

Having identified all of the above factors, you should narrow your selection down to a few packages that suit your requirements. You can then compare additional features and benefits that go beyond the basic selection criteria.

Additional things to consider are the cost of phone calls, whether the package includes free weekend or evening calls, the channels available when choosing a TV package, the TV box functionality and parental controls offered with your broadband connection.

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