Choosing the right broadband package

When picking a broadband package and provider, it’s vital to choose the right combination of connection speed, cost and contract length. We take a look at what you need to think about.

When picking a broadband package and provider, it’s vital to choose the right combination of connection speed, cost and contract length. We take a look at what you need to think about.

Holly Cox
Digital expert
6
minute read
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Posted 14 MAY 2020 Last Updated 31 MARCH 2022

What to think about when choosing a broadband package

To find the right broadband package, consider how you’ll use your broadband, and how often. If you’re not online a lot, there’s no need to pay more for faster speeds. But if you’re a heavy broadband user, you’ll probably want to opt for a faster fibre rather than ADSL connection. 

To work out what you need, consider: 

How many people use your broadband connection

If you have a big family or live in a shared house with lots of people using the same connection, you’ll need a faster package that can accommodate all those devices. Otherwise your connection speeds will be frustratingly slow and you’ll end up with buffering. 

What kind of speed you’re after

If you live alone or only use the internet for email and shopping, it may be that you don’t want particularly fast speeds. So it might not be worth paying a premium for bells-and-whistles broadband you don’t really need. 

Whether you need a phone or TV package included

You can also get your broadband as a package, or ‘bundle’. That means your landline, TV – or even both – in the same broadband deal. Broadband packages can be cheaper and more convenient but you’ll need to check exactly what they offer to make sure it suits you. 

Whether you’re regularly streaming, video calling or gaming

If you’re using your broadband for conference calls, you’ll enjoy a smoother experience, with less freezing if you upgrade your broadband package. The same goes for streaming and gaming – both place heavy demands on your internet connection, so you’ll want to make sure you have enough bandwidth to cover it. 
Whether you work from home

If you work from home occasionally, a home broadband package should be fine, but if you run a business from home, you’ll probably need a business broadband package.

If you’re a student

Some providers now offer specialist student packages. The big advantage here is that contracts fit around term times, rather than a fixed 12 or 18-month period.

Which packages are available where you live

Before you check anything else, you should see which packages are available where you live. It may be that Virgin Media doesn’t operate in your postcode, for example, and you’re limited to what BT has to offer. Not all areas will be able to access the fastest speeds. 

How much you want to pay

Clearly, budget is a vital factor when picking the right broadband package. But don’t make the mistake of simply opting for the cheapest available option. If you’re using your broadband every day, you could quickly find this is a false economy.

What broadband can I get in my area? 

Want to see what broadband options are available where you live?

What broadband speed do I need? 

Superfast broadband is useful if you have several people using the same broadband connection at the same time. It’s also good for downloading films and gaming. But it shouldn’t be necessary for browsing, emailing, uploading occasional photos and watching catch-up TV and online streaming services like Netflix – unless you’ve got several devices using the internet at once.

What counts as a fast broadband speed? 

If you’re only using the internet to check emails, browse the web, or shop online, a regular ADSL broadband connection of up to 11Mbps should be enough.

But if you’re streaming content (particularly in HD or 4K), making video calls, online gaming, or simply have a lot of internet users at home, you’ll likely need a super-fast fibre broadband package with a speed of about 55Mbps.

Want to know whether your current broadband speed is fast enough? Use our broadband speed checker to find out if you should switch to a faster speed.

Check your broadband speed

How long should my contract be?

Most broadband contracts last between 12 and 24 months. There can be hefty fees if you want to exit early, so make sure you’re happy with your deal before tying yourself in.

Which broadband provider should I choose?

There’s a huge amount of choice out there, from leading providers such as BT, Virgin Media and Sky, to competitors like retailers, mobile phone companies and energy suppliers.

That means new broadband offers and promotions are cropping up all the time and prices change constantly. So it’s well worth comparing rather than sticking with the same provider once your contract ends.

When looking for a provider, don’t just consider price. You’ll also want to take into account type of connection, speeds and contract length. You should also look at what the provider offers in terms of bundled TV and phone deals, and their reputation for customer service.

How long a contract do you want?

Most broadband contracts are for between 12 and 24 months and can have quite hefty fees if you want to exit early, so it’s important to ensure you are fully happy with a deal and that it suits your needs before tying yourself in.

What broadband provider should you choose?

There’s an enormous amount of choice, from leading providers like BT, Virgin Media and Sky to competitors like the retailers, mobile phone companies and energy suppliers that have been getting in on the act in recent years.  

As a result, new broadband offers and promotions are cropping up all the time, and prices are constantly changing. 

When looking for a provider, you’ll want to take into account price, as well as type of connection, speeds and any data limits. You might also want to look at what the provider offers in terms of bundled TV and phone deals, and at their reputation for customer service.

Is it worth getting a broadband bundle deal?

A bundle deal wraps up your broadband with your home phone and TV into one package.

To work out if it’s right for you, compare how much you’ll pay for the separate parts with what you’d pay for the bundle.

Getting everything from one broadband provider could mean you save money. It can also make life admin easier as you’ll only have to deal with one bill. The big providers, such as Virgin Media, EE and BT all offer bundles, but it’s also worth checking out what smaller, lesser-known providers have to offer.

Find out more about broadband, phone and TV packages

How can I find out what broadband packages are available?

Good news - you’re in the right place. We’ve taken the best the market has to offer and have that information right here. All you need to do is enter a few details and we’ll do the rest.

Frequently asked questions

What broadband should I get as a gamer?

If you’re a gamer, you’ll find slow broadband speeds frustrating as this can cause lagging. A higher quality connection will mean a better gaming experience. An average speed of around 35Mpbs should be enough for gaming, but if you can go higher, then so much the better.

What broadband should I get as a streamer?

If binge-watching TV shows is your thing, you’ll want to make sure you can do it without experiencing any kind of buffering or lag. What type of internet you’ll need for streaming will depend on how many people live in your house and rely on the same broadband connection. Netflix recommends speeds of 15Mbps for a 4k/Ultra HD TV, or 1Mbps for standard.

What broadband should I get as a student?

If there are lots of you sharing a student house, chances are you’ll need the highest-quality broadband you can afford. Doubtless you’ll have numerous devices and will be using the internet a lot for studying, gaming, streaming and more. So you’ll want broadband that can offer high speeds, as well as a contract based on the length of your college term.

What broadband should I get if I live in a rural area?

If you live in a rural area, you’ll need to see which broadband packages are available to you. While the Government is investing millions of pounds in expanding broadband networks, you may find that the highest speeds haven’t yet reached your postcode.

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