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Frequently asked questions

  • What is broadband?
  • What are the different types of broadband?
  • What types of broadband package are there?
  • How long does a broadband contract last?
  • How do I know what broadband options are available in my area?

What is broadband?

Broadband is the umbrella term for any permanent internet data connection.

What are the different types of broadband?

There are several types of home broadband available in the UK: ADSL, fibre optic and cable.

ADSL

This stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and uses your copper telephone wires to deliver internet data to your home. You can get ADSL1 and ADSL 2, with 2 being much faster.

Fibre optic

This is the one everyone's talking about. It's much faster than ADSL because it uses underground cables made from glass or plastic, which carry data further without losing speed.

Not everywhere in the UK has fibre optic connections yet, and most still use copper wires to take your data actually into your home, so you'll probably still need to pay for landline rental.

Cable

Like fibre optic, cable is faster than ADSL, but not as widely accessible. It sends data over fibre optic and coaxial cables so you don’t need to pay for a landline, but you do need to live in an area that receives cable television.

What types of broadband package are there?

There are several options:

Just broadband

If you already have a landline and don't want to pay for digital TV, you can get a broadband-only package.

Be aware that these usually come with data limits, which give you a set amount of data for you to use over a month. If you go over this, you'll be charged, so try to anticipate how much you'll need.

No idea how much data you use in a month? Your best bet is an unlimited broadband package if you:

  • play online games on a regular basis or
  • have lots of different devices using data at the same time

You won’t need to worry about going over the data limit, and you should be able to get a breakdown of your data usage from your provider, so you can always downgrade to smaller package at a later date.

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.

Even if you never install or use the landline, you might find that you get a better deal with a combination package of broadband and phone.

The phone package that's right for you depends on when you tend to make landline calls, and where to. If you ring Asia three times a day, you'll want a package that gives you the best international call tariffs. Or, if you only ring your Nan in Sussex every weekend, you might be happy with free weekend calls.

Broadband and TV

All the main broadband providers offer digital TV packages with their broadband, with loads of paid channels and their own exclusive content too.

You can choose a TV package based on what you like to watch – sport or movies, for example, or just get one that gives you more choice of channels.

Not everyone can receive every digital TV service – it depends where you live. Around 99% of the UK can receive satellite TV from Sky or Freestat, according to Which?, while Virgin Media covers about 60% of UK properties.

Broadband, phone and TV

Having everything you need with one provider makes it easy to manage and you can usually get major savings by bundling your broadband, phone and TV together.

All the main providers offer all-in-one packages, but make sure you look into the specifics of what the package includes.

How long does a broadband contract last?

Broadband contracts can start from as little as 1-month rolling contracts but typically last 12 or 18 months. If you want out during this time – you might be renting for six months, for example – you'll probably face a big penalty charge.

Short-term contracts are great if you don't want to be tied in for too long. They're generally more expensive month-by-month, but if you're planning on switching providers after a couple of months, it can work out cheaper to avoid the penalty fee.

How do I know what broadband options are available in my area?

Use our postcode checker when you start to compare packages. We'll list out the relevant TV, broadband and phone packages for you to choose from.

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