There are hundreds of different deals out there from dozens of providers, offering different connection types, speeds & data allowances at a wide range in costs. The following article will break down the differences in packages to help you make an informed decision when choosing a broadband deal.
What are your broadband needs?
- Infrequent usage
Do you just log online occasionally to check your emails and perhaps the news and weather, then a basic package is likely for you. There is no point in paying for ultra-fast speeds and large data allowances you won’t use.
- Heavy usage
If you are streaming Netflix while the other half is on Zoom and the kids are downloading music then it’ll be worth looking into faster connections and unlimited data allowance.
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- Speciality usages
There are also packages for more specific usages. If you’re running a business from home and a stable and quick connection is imperative, then a business package maybe be worth the investment. Similarly if you’re looking to connect a student house, student packages offer contract lengths that suit term times.
What type of connection?
…stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line and is the most commonly available type of broadband in the UK. It is delivered through the copper wires of your phone line and has a maximum speed of 24Mbps. The speeds, however, depend on how far you live from your telephone exchange - the further away you are, the slower the speeds are.
This network use fibre optic and coaxial cables to deliver superfast broadband, this is the quickest available to most of the UK with speeds up to 150Mbps.
Fibre broadband is delivered via clusters of fibre optic cables which are thinner than a strand of hair. There are two types of fibre broadband - ‘fibre-to-the-cabinet' (FTTC) and ‘fibre-to-the-premises' (FTTP).
In some rural areas wired in connections aren’t possible. While satellite technology present a reliable and quicker alternative, they do come at a cost.
- Mobile broadband
Another way to avoid a wired in connection is by using a mobile signal to connect to the internet. This is a device that essentially acts like your phone when you hotspot it, often called a Mi-Fi.
How much data do you need?
The amount of data you will need, depends on what you typically use the internet for. Below you can see some categories you may fit into.
- Low usage
For internet browsing and emails: 10GB.
- Medium usage
For internet browsing and some video streaming: 10-30GB.
- High usage
For constant on-demand TV streaming, watching movies & music downloads: 40GB+ (An unlimited package is likely the best option).
If you're still unsure of what usage you need, you can use the table below as a rough guide to help calculate what you may need in a month.
|1hr of web browsing||10-25MB|
|1hr video call||350MB|
|1hr of BBC iPlayer||150MB|
|1hr of Netflix in HD||3GB|
|1hr of music/radio streaming||150MB|
|1hr of gaming||50MB|
|1 movie download||1.5GB|
|1 song download||4MB|
|1 console game download||50GB|
What speed do I need?
Again, what speed you need will depend on what you use the web for, but in general, the faster the better. Having said this though, there is no reason to get the fastest connection if you’re not going to use it.
With an average web page being 1.6 Megabits, and the average internet speed in the UK being 71.8Mbps, most of the internet can be loaded in a fraction of a second. How quickly you download information, therefore represents your download speed.
Another measure of internet speed is your upload-speed, which represents the speed you transfer data back to the internet, like publishing photos online or sharing video during an online call for instance. According to OFCOM (the UK regulator of the communications sector), the average upload speed is 14.2Mbps.
See the table below to get a rough idea of what speeds are needed for certain tasks:
|Activity||Minimum speed needed|
|BBC iPlayer||1.5Mbps (2.8Mbps for HD)|
|Netflix||3Mbps (5Mbps for HD)|
|YouTube||2.5Mbps (4Mbpsfor HD)|
|Video call (one on one)||1.2Mbps|
|Video call (group)||2.5Mbps (3.0Mbps Upload)|
What Internet Provider to go with?
There are dozens of internet service providers (ISPs), ranging from the usual suspects, BT, Virgin, and Sky to energy companies now getting into the mix, like Shell. There are also new companies cropping up like Cuckoo who are differentiating themselves by offering the simple service of only having one fee and one speed.
So, when choosing a provider, it is important to consider the above factors, such as the type of connection, data allowances and speeds. Additionally, you should also consider the length of the contract as well as the reputation of the ISPs customer service for the odd occasion there is an issue.
Bundle deals refer to packages including broadband, TV, and often phone services in one bill. Combining these with one provider, can be cheaper and more convenient than paying for multiple services separately. Whether this pays off however, all depends on your normal usage and needs for these various deal.
Switch your broadband supplier
To get the best deals, you need to switch energy providers. Use our technology to compare broadband deals and see how much you could save on your next broadband bills.
We believe that everyone deserves a fairer deal on broadband. Switchcraft is a free auto switching service that continually scours the market for better broadband and energy deals. Sign up in 3 minutes, and after that, we’ll automatically switch you to a better deal every year.