When it comes to choosing between internet packages, the number of options can be baffling. Unlimited download data, high-speed cable or fibre optic broadband, with or without phone, umpteen TV packages... how on earth are you to work out which one’s right for you?
To help you decide, we’ve put together a handy guide to what you need to know.
What is broadband?
Connecting to the internet was a slow and tedious process with the old dial-up system. What’s more, you couldn’t use your landline while you were online! Then along came the much faster and more efficient broadband to put those days behind us. But what exactly is ‘broadband’? Basically, ‘broadband’ is a term used to refer to any fast, permanent internet data connection.
What are the different types of broadband?
There are three types of home broadband available in the UK: ADSL, fibre optic and cable.
This uses the copper wires that carry your telephone line to deliver internet data to your home. There are two types of ADSL, with ADSL 1 being slower than ADSL 2.
Fiber optic broadband comes through underground cables made from glass or plastic. These can carry data further without losing speed, making fibre faster than ADSL. Fibre optic connections aren’t yet available everywhere in the UK. And as most of them still use copper wires to take your data on the last leg to your home, you still need to pay for landline rental.
Cable connections send data over fibre optic and coaxial cables. Like fibre optic, cable is faster than ADSL, but not as widely accessible. You don’t need to pay for a landline for this type of connection, but you do need to live in an area where you can receive cable television.
You can find out what speed you’re getting from your current provider by doing a broadband speed check online.
What sort of broadband packages can I get?
If you want to compare broadband options, it helps to understand the different types of package available on the UK market.
It’s perfectly possible to get a broadband only package, which just allows you to use the internet on your computer, laptop, smartphone and/or tablet. Perfect if you don’t need a landline, and don’t want to pay for digital TV.
But be aware that such deals can come with a data limit, so you’ll end up paying out more than the agreed monthly fee if you exceed this. If you think you’re likely to use a lot of data, you might want to look at unlimited broadband only packages. Typically, these will be more expensive than ‘capped’ contracts.
Broadband and phone
Many broadband packages come with a phone line bundled in. Phone options include unlimited daytime, evening and/or weekend calls, free minutes to other numbers on the same network, pay-as-you-talk, as well as cheap local, national and/or international calls.
As such, your best phone and broadband deal will depend partly on when you tend to make landline calls, and where to. If you ring Asia three times a day, then the international call tariffs to that part of the world might be what matter to you most.
Broadband and TV
There are so many TV channels these days, and many of them aren’t free to watch. But which are you prepared to pay for?
All of the main broadband providers offer comparable broadband and TV packages – but all of them have their own exclusive content too. So you’ll need to compare TV packages carefully. Luckily, the TV element of a package is usually very flexible, so you only need to pay for the channels you really want.
Broadband, phone and TV
The other option is to bundle your broadband, phone and TV into one. There are usually major savings on offer for getting the whole package from one supplier, as the more you buy, the bigger the discount. Again, all the main providers offer TV, broadband and phone packages.
Broadband contracts typically last 12 or 18 months, and many come with big penalty charges if you want to switch provider early. But you may be living somewhere temporarily, or planning to move home soon, and might not want to be tied in for too long.
If that’s the case, then a short-term contract may be better for you. These are typically more expensive month-by-month, but if you avoid the penalty fee, they can work out cheaper overall.
How do I find the best broadband deal for me?
Click the button to compare broadband packages with comparethemarket.com. We’ll search the options for you, to help you find the right combination of broadband, phone and TV services.
Pick and choose from the available options, and we’ll list out the relevant TV, broadband and phone packages available in your area for you to choose from. You can also try our postcode checker to find out whether cable or fibre optic services are available in your area.
Try searching with comparethemarket.com today, and see how much you could save on your broadband package.