How to compare ADSL broadband and get the best deal for you
Not all broadband is the same. There are three different types of broadband – ADSL, fibre optic and cable and each is capable of different speeds. In truth, ADSL is generally the slowest of the three but it is the most widely accessible in the UK (fibre optic and cable aren’t yet available everywhere, especially remote areas). And ADSL is still considerably faster than an ordinary dial-up or many mobile connections so it’s definitely worth considering. Also, like fibre optic and cable, ADSL can be bundled with other services such as phone and digital TV and could come with unlimited data. It’s just a matter of choosing the right package for you. Here’s our guide to all things ADSL.
Let's compare ADSL broadband
When looking for broadband deals, the first thing to you’ll need to understand are the different kinds of broadband available. So we thought we’d take a look at each one.
Our guide to ADSL broadband explains what it is, how it’s different from the other types, as well as its advantages and disadvantages.
What is ADSL broadband?
ADSL is the basic and most common type of broadband connection and ‘simply’ stands for ‘asymmetric digital subscriber line’. It’s one of the three types of home broadband connection generally available in the UK (not including mobile broadband, which you get via your smartphone, and is available to you in and out of the house). There are two types of ADSL technology, helpfully called ADSL1 and ADSL2, ADSL2 is the slightly faster of the two.
With ADSL broadband, internet data is delivered directly to your home down the standard copper wires that carry your telephone line.
What other types of home broadband are there?
You’ll remember we said there are three types of home broadband, of which ADSL is one. The other two are cable and fibre.
All three terms refer to the way broadband is delivered to your home. As we’ve explained, ADSL uses your home phone line. Cable broadband is delivered by fibre optic and coaxial cables, while fibre optic broadband – often referred to simply as ‘fibre’ – relies on clusters of fibre optic cables.
Just to make matters just a little more complicated, there are two types of fibre broadband, known as FTTP and FTTC.
FTTP stands for ‘fibre-to-the-premises’ – it’s basically fibre broadband delivered straight to your home. FTTC means ‘fibre-to-the-cabinet’. That’s because it’s routed via one of those cabinets you see on most street corners, which contain the connections to each home. With FTTC, the final leg of your broadband connection is delivered over copper wire, which can have a negative effect on its speed.
What’s the difference between the three types of broadband?
For users of broadband, the main differences between the three technologies come down to speed and availability. ADSL is the slowest option, but the most widely accessible. Cable and fibre are faster than ADSL, but are not yet in place everywhere in the UK.
There’s not much you can do about availability, but you can choose between speeds. If you just want to browse the web on your computer, then a slower connection might do. But let’s suppose you have lots of devices, streaming media or are into online gaming, or need to upload and download large files in a hurry. In that case, you’ll probably want as many megabits per second as you can afford.
So how fast is each type? Here are some figures from Ofcom.
According to their data the average broadband speed across the UK is now 22.8Mbit/s. ADSL1 gets up to around 8Mbit/s, while ADSL2 reaches a faster 24Mbit/s. The fastest cable broadband offers up to 152Mbit/s. Meanwhile, FTTC services tend to offer up to 38Mbit/s or 76Mbit/s. Fastest of all is FTTP, which can boast speeds of 1Gbit/s – that’s 1,000Mbit/s.
How do I check broadband speeds?
Before you do anything, find out what’s available in your area. While ADSL broadband is available to 99% of UK homes and businesses, cable and fibre are still being introduced in some areas. So even if you want a faster connection, you may not be able to get one.
To find out what you can get, use an online broadband speed checker. Use this to compare speeds from people in your area and which providers they’re using to get those speeds.
If you choose to opt for ADSL, the broadband speed checker will give you a good benchmark for the speeds you should be able to get in your area. Then use our comparison service to help you compare ADSL broadband providers based on your postcode.
What else should I think about when getting ADSL broadband?
Speed is an important consideration. But there are a few more things to check when you compare broadband deals.
Firstly, of course, there’s price. But you should look carefully at what you actually get for your money. Some packages have data limits, which means you’ll pay more on top of your monthly subscription if you download too much. Some have traffic management, which means you’ll get slower speeds at peak times. And what about freebies? Some providers throw in other offers, like free security software, shopping vouchers or streaming dongles.
The next thing to think about is the type of package you want. Should you bundle your phone and broadband, and possibly your TV, into one package? Or would you prefer one of the many broadband only deals that are out there?
Finally, don’t forget to check how long you’ll be tied in with the package. Broadband providers continually bring out new deals to attract new customers, so a longer contract could prevent you from switching (without an exit fee) or saving money.
This may all sound like a lot to take in, but don’t worry. You can use comparethemarket.com to compare ADSL broadband services in your area. Enter your postcode, and we’ll spell everything out for you in one place, including broadband only deals, phone and broadband deals, plus broadband, phone and digital TV packages.
Thinking of switching your broadband provider? Find out if you could get a better deal with comparethemarket.com today.