You can get a good value deal by choosing the right package, for example by bundling your phone line and broadband services with the same provider. Here are a few things to consider when looking for the best deal.
There are three main types of home broadband - ADSL, fibre and cable. These all vary in price, and not all are available everywhere.
ADSL - broadband over your phone line with speeds typically up to 24 Mbit/s (megabits per second). Almost all homes in the UK are able to get ADSL broadband. They’re typically cheaper than cable and fibre deals which offer faster speeds.
Cable - broadband via cable, often supplied alongside TV. Speeds are faster than ADSL with different packages available offering speeds of up to 350 Mbit/s.
Fibre - broadband delivered via fibre optic cable. Speeds are faster than ADSL typically delivering up to 76 Mbit/s.
Speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbit/s) and you usually pay more, the faster your connection.
If you only want to use the internet for browsing the web and emailing, lower speed ADSL packages will probably be more than sufficient. However, if you want to use your broadband to download music, films or video, or the more people are using it at the same time, you’ll need faster speeds to ensure good performance.
For example, downloading a 4GB high definition film at 100 Mbit/s takes 6 minutes compared to over an hour with an 8 Mbit/s connection.
Your broadband package will have a headline speed, although this is an estimate and so it is unlikely you will be able to get this speed all of the time. Ofcom has a code of practice which requires providers to give customers estimates of the speeds they are likely to receive.
Every time you go online you are using data – either browsing, downloading or uploading.
Some broadband packages have a fixed amount of data that you can use every month which is measured in gigabytes.
If you use the internet only for email and web surfing then these limits probably won’t affect you. However, check whether you will be charged extra if you go over the monthly usage limit.
Unlimited broadband packages are now very common, as many people regularly use the internet to download music and films or to stream TV programmes. Most suppliers now offer unlimited data within their basic packages, so in many cases there is no additional cost.
The majority of unlimited packages are truly unlimited, however some may have a ‘fair’ or ‘acceptable’ use policy. This means some providers can restrict your connection if you’re using a lot of data. Check your broadband contract to see if any of these policies apply to you.
If you're regularly going over your download limit, it may actually be cheaper to upgrade your deal or switch to another provider.
Many customers could save at least £15 per month by buying broadband and landline in one package from the same provider – known as a ’bundle’. If you currently buy landline and broadband services separately from different companies, you could buy them both from either one of your current providers, or from a new one.
When you sign up to a broadband deal you agree to pay a monthly fee for the length of your contract (12, 18 or 24 months).
Most broadband packages have long minimum-term contracts, but in some situations, it might not make sense to be tied in for this long. If you’re a student living somewhere temporarily, or are about to move house for example, a short-term rolling contract might be more suitable. This is sometimes called ‘no contract’ broadband and is usually offered on a month-by-month basis.
Mobile broadband connects to the internet using a dongle which you plug into your computer or a SIM which you insert into your tablet.
You can get a pay-as-you-go deal or a pay-monthly contract. Depending on the tariff, you may need to pay a one-off fee for a dongle.
Before signing up to a service, check carefully what coverage you can get. You can do this using the Ofcom coverage checker.
One way of testing whether you can get a good signal is to use any cooling-off period offered by the provider to test the service to see if it works properly - if it doesn’t, you can get your money back. Check what the cooling-off period is before you sign up.
Everyone in the UK will have the right to request a decent and affordable broadband connection from March next year due to Ofcom implementing the governments ‘universal broadband service’. This will give eligible homes and businesses the right to request a decent broadband connection.