When it comes to deciding on which broadband provider to choose it can be difficult. You’ll surely have friends and family recommending (or warning against) certain providers and you’ll no doubt have some experience of providers you’ve used in the past.
Sometimes the jargon and sales techniques used in adverts and on broadband provider websites can be overwhelming. What parts of the technical specifications are important? What don’t apply to you or the kind of broadband connection you need? What are the most important factors to take in to consideration?
We’ve reviewed the main things broadband providers focus on and have selected the five things we consider the most important. Before deciding which provider to choose please make sure you’ve checked what they can offer you with regards to the following features:
1. Connection Speed
An obvious one perhaps but certainly one of the most important. If you only use the internet to browse website and purchase the occasional album then you won’t need to go as fast as fibre optic broadband. However, if you play games or need to upload or download files regularly you may benefit from the fastest connection you can get to allow you to do more than one thing at once with your connection. If you have a large family who all use the same connection a faster connection over over 10 mb would be recommending if your phone line allows it.
The speed you get from your telephone line will depend on the quality of your line and the distance from your local exchange so make sure you perform a speed check first to see what your actual maximum broadband speed should be. Just because a broadband provider says you’ll get up to 16 mb connection speeds it doesn’t mean your phone line can necessarily go this fast.
2. Download Limit
A lot of broadband providers off unlimited download allowances these days but these will undoubtedly have some kind of “fair usage” policy built in to cover them. This means that if you are using the connection too much or taking up too much bandwidth they still have the option to slow your connection or limit it despite promises of unlimited usage.
A lot of providers will offer a lower price package which will have a limit to how much you can upload or download a month. If you are a light user then this should be absolutely fine and is a good way to make a saving on your monthly broadband fee. If you download and buy a lot of movies on iTunes then the chances are your download limit will be gobbled up quite quickly so it is something to consider when choosing your next provider.
3. Monthly Fees
Anther important (but obvious) consideration is how much you will be paying for your broadband each month. Packages range from a few pounds per month up to hundreds of pounds for business connections. The old saying of “you get what you pay for” is often true when it comes to broadband but there are still great deals to be found.
My recommendation is to work out what you think you need first (in terms of connection speed and download limit) then stick to that when reviewing and comparing the different providers. When you find several packages offering exactly what you need you can then work out which will be the cheapest each month without compromise.
4. Introductory Offers
To grab your attention away from rivals a lot of broadband providers offer a reduced monthly fee for a certain amount of time. We’ve listed some recent offers in our broadband deals section and it is worth checking the websites of each provider to see what they are offering each month. Some providers even offer free months as an incentive to encourage you to sign up with them.
Don’t assume this low price will last the whole length of your contract. It’s best to work out the total you’ll be paying over the length of your broadband contract and divide it by the number of months to provide yourself with an average monthly fee over the period.
5. Contract Length
This one is very important. Once you’ve signed up to a broadband provider it can be hard to change providers half way through your contact. If you are unsure of which provider to go for it may be best to consider choosing ones who offer a monthly rolling contract. The better deals and promotions often seem to come with 12, 18 or 24 month contracts which is something to think about when deciding if the introductory deal or promotion is worth being tied in to a long term contract for.