How to choose a broadband provider for your home
- By: Ashley Saunders
- April 2019
Choosing the best broadband and phone package can be confusing. With plenty of options, it’s hard to find the choose a broadband provider that ideal for you situation.
Most broadband providers offer a number of packages, which can make comparing deals from one company tricky. Not to mention if you’re trying to compare two providers.
You can easily find yourself trying to compare seemingly similar products, only to realise half way through that you’re comparing apples with oranges and not apples with apples.
Let’s have a look at what you might need, how to compare deals and what to be aware of before signing up. Here’s how to choose a broadband provider and ensure you get the best deal for you.
Your current provider
Before you can choose a new broadband provider, it’s best to start with what you already have and figure out why it’s not working for you.
- Are the kids always online, hogging bandwidth?
- Is the connectivity bad between your router and PC unless your side by side?
- Do you feel you’re paying over the odds?
- Are you an empty nester in need of a smaller package?
- Does your package include free evening calls?
By answering all of these questions and jotting down a list of what you like about your current package, you can make a more informed decision when it comes to picking the best broadband provider.
Number of users
Wi-Fi networks are a little like shopping. If the shop’s empty, you can easily get to the tills. However, if there’s only one till open and a long line, it’s going to take some time for you to purchase your items.
The same is true for Wi-Fi.
As a result, the first element you should consider when looking for the best broadband for you is how many users will you using the Wi-Fi at any one time.
Next, consider the amount each person uses. Having a limited package may work for a couple who don’t use the internet that much. However, add a child to the mix and the data limit gets easily blown. You’ll end up paying dearly for blowing the limit.
Don’t worry we’ve all be there. That’s why considering how much screen time each person needs is important to keep your overall bill down.
I feel the need, the for speed!
With users and data limits considered, it’s time to think about speed. As we all want fast internet, speed is still an important factor, especially when it comes to your monthly bill.
Yet very few of us know our current speed or even the potential speed we could receive. You might want to run the Uswitch free broadband speed test to determine your current speed.
With a better understanding of your current Wi-Fi speed, you can better compare packages.
There are two types of broadband available and each works for a different set of situations. These are fibre and ADSL.
With speeds up to over 100Mbps, super fast fibre optic broadband is the right option if you:
- Want the most reliable connection
- Like streaming TV and video in HD or 4K quality
- Regularly download large files
- Play and download a lot of video games
- Live in a house with lots of gadgets always connected
Whereas standard ADSL broadband, which offers an average speed of 10Mbps is the right choice if you:
- Use the internet to email, check social media or browse websites
- Stream video in HD quality
- Want the lowest cost package
- Can’t get fibre optic broadband in your area
If you’re still unsure, use the WHICH? quiz to determine what speed you need. The good news is that 95% of the UK offer Fibre broadband coverage. So unless you live in a remote area, you should be able to access a high speed internet connection.
Phone and internet combo
As most providers bundle phone calls as into the package, it’s worth considering if you need this feature.
There are three typical options: Pay as you go, evening and weekend calls, and inclusive anytime calls. Some providers also have options for low-cost international calls and mobile.
Let’s compare what you might need to know when trying to choose a broadband provider for you.
Prefer using your mobile?
If you already have a generous mobile plan then it’s unlikely you’ll use a landline. So choose a package with pay as you go. This way you can keep the cost to a minimum.
Have friends in Europe or the USA?
If you’re friends and family are spread out then you’ll want a package with international calls. Usually, this option is sold as an add on. However, each provider offers different packages, so make sure you’re covered before you sign up.
Can you wait until 7 pm?
If you make the majority of your call at evenings and weekend, then it’s worth selecting a package with inclusive evening and weekend calls.
Need your landline a lot?
If you work from home or make lots of calls during the day, opt for a package with inclusive anytime calls. This should cut your costs and allow you to use the phone as you wish.
Want TV as well?
Most providers now bundle TV, Wi-Fi and Calls into one neat package. This allows you to make a single payment each month and deal with one support team rather than having to worry about dealing with multiple companies.
All the usual suspects offer TV as part of their packages, including:
- Virgin Media
- TalkTalk TV
- BT TV
- Now TV (Now Broadband)
As with phone call package, each provider offers something a little different. This can make your decision even trickier. Thankfully, we have some tips to help you choose a broadband provider that also offers calls.
If that sounds like too many options, then BT TV and TalkTalk TV might be more suitable. Both are based around YouView, which give you access to over 70 channels, 7 days catch up (for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and more), and a library of on-demand television programmes, films and radio.
Both BT TV and TalkTalk TV services also have recording functionality. Plus you have the option to add more channels, such as sports if you want.
Still not the right option for you?
Maybe Now TV is more for you. Whether you want to watch live TV, sport or select from a range of on-demand titles, Now TV offers this and more.
You also have the option to purchase extras for entertainment, movies and sports. As there’s no contact, you can purchase a day pass, weekly or monthly packages.
As Sky owns Now TV, you have access to what is essentially a lite version of a sky package. The add-ons are a fantastic way of purchasing what you’d like to watch, albeit affordably.
What’s available in your area
You may find you don’t have access to the company you consider to be the best broadband provider as your options may be limited by your location. For example, BT and Sky are widely available across the UK, whereas Virgin Media offers coverage in a smaller area.
It’s worth checking that the provider offers their services in your area. Also, you might find that packages vary by area. So, check that you can buy the package you want.
Also, it’s worth considering overall customer satisfaction. Ofcom carried out it’s largest survey into broadband in 2017 with Plusnet being rated the best broadband provider. Sky and Virgin Media were joint second. TalkTalk was at the bottom of the list.
Does the cost matter?
As you probably don’t have unlimited funds, the price will matter. When you choose a broadband provider, the one that ideal for you, might not be the cheapest. So use your list of what you’re looking for to compare different packages.
When you’ve narrowed the list of packages down, then consider if each package offers value for money. Your final shortlist should only include those who do.
If you choose a limited package, then it’s worth asking if you can upgrade and what are the conditions. It’s worth choosing a provider who allows you to easily upgrade/downgrade within your contact.
How to choose a broadband provider
As household bills can easily pile up, ensuring you have taken time to choose a broadband provider and a deal that works for you and enables you to reduce your monthly outgoings.
It’s worth starting with a list of wants and needs. Use this to compare what’s available. However, don’t shop on price alone. Instead, consider the package as a whole.
Our top tip is to ignore opening offers. You might be in for a shock after the first 6 months when the price triples. Instead, add up the monthly cost and divide by the contract length. That’s your average monthly cost.
If it seems affordable, then go for it. Seems a little pricey? Keep looking.
When looking at how to choose a broadband provider, thankfully, there’s plenty of options for you to consider. So don’t get caught into a package that doesn’t work for you.