Get bang up-to-date and compare broadband deals
Got gaming on the brain? Are you a sucker for streaming? Can't go more than two minutes without updating your Facebook status with inspired gems like: 'Having broccoli for tea!'
Well if it's the latter, desist immediately. But there's actually one thing that links all these online activities (however annoying they are) - the need for the right broadband.
Fortunately, we've got your back. You're welcome.
Bone up on broadband
- The actual speed your home receives may be lower than the speed advertised
- Truly unlimited broadband means you can use the internet to you heart's content without getting charged
- Parental controls mean you can limit what your child sees while they're online
- Want to know more? Peruse our bulging box of broadband guides
What is broadband?
Broadband is a fast, permanent internet connection used by the vast majority of UK households.
It's sometimes referred to as 'always on', meaning that once you've switched on your computer or mobile device, which includes tablets, laptops and smartphones, you're connected and can access the internet at all times of the day.
Previously, the internet was accessed by households using a dial-up connection, but this has become largely redundant.
Here's why broadband beats dial-up connections hands down:
- It's significantly faster than a dial-up connection. This is because it uses a higher bandwidth than dial-up, meaning more data can be carried at a faster speed. Dial-up uses the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a connection to an internet service provider (ISP) via telephone lines
- Unlike a dial-up connection a broadband connection doesn't tie up your phone line, so you're free to make and receive calls while online
- Broadband can carry video, voice and data at the same time, meaning you can enjoy a full range of internet services. With a broadband connection you can download music, video and TV programmes, play online games, share photos and much more
What sort of broadband should I choose?
Your choice of broadband connection will be partly decided by where you live and what’s available in your area. In addition, you should think about speed and cost, with faster connections likely to be more expensive.
The speed you need depends on how you use the internet and your level of usage. Once you've considered these factors, finding the right broadband package for you should be simple.
Types of broadband
There are a few different options to decide between when it comes to broadband and where you live can narrow your options.
There are four main types of broadband connection available: ADSL, cable, satellite and mobile.
ADSL (a type of digital subscriber line) broadband uses the existing telephone network. A phone socket filter, also known as a microfilter, converts the phone line into two separate signals, one for telephone and one for internet access.
This means that you can make and receive telephone calls while you're online. ADSL broadband is widely available in the UK.
Remember that it's highly likely that you'll be required to pay a line rental which could be on top of your broadband charge.
There'll also be factors affecting the speed of your broadband, including the time of day you're using it and distance from the telephone exchange, so be aware that you may not get the speed advertised.
Fibre-optic cable broadband
Cable broadband transfers data using a system of fibre-optic cables laid underground, which means that they're able to deliver faster broadband than phone line cables, which tend to be made of copper.
These type of cables also support cable television and landline telephone calls, which means that there'll be package deals available offering all three services, known as bundles.
Satellite broadband is an alternative to ADSL and cable broadband which is predominantly used in rural areas where there's no ADSL or cable broadband service available.
The internet feed is beamed from a satellite to a dish installed at the subscriber's home. It can be expensive to set up and the signal can be affected by weather conditions.
Note that you probably won't have access to any unlimited packages with satellite broadband, so there will be a cap on your data usage.
Mobile broadband uses the mobile phone network to connect to the internet - but you don't need a mobile phone to use it. Instead, you use a data card or a USB dongle, which plugs into a USB port on your computer.
This option can be ideal for those who don't want a fixed landline and/or those who want access to broadband on the go - perhaps students, people travelling to business meetings and others who regularly work at external locations.
When thinking about this option, consider the growth in free wi-fi networks. In some circumstances relying on wi-fi networks might suit your needs, but others may find the back-up of mobile broadband invaluable.
However, if you decide to use public wi-fi it's important to make sure that your device is safe from potential viruses and spyware that could be transferred.
Mobile broadband availability in your area depends on network coverage and signal strength. If the aerials haven't been upgraded to 3G (and now 4G in most cities) then speed and connectivity can suffer significantly.
3G (short for third generation) allows mobile devices, including smartphones and dongles, to receive broadband speed internet on-the-go and complete a number of different tasks.
4G (short for fourth generation) is super-fast broadband technology which can keep up with the demands from top-of-the-range smartphones, including streaming films and uploading pictures to social media.
Compare broadband deals
With the help of our partners broadbandchoices you can compare the latest broadband and broadband bundle deals tout suite, giving you the chance to save money and find a broadband package that really satisfies your internet appetite.
As well as price, you'll want to think about the level of customer service and technical support your chosen broadband package can provide.
The main attraction of bundled products tends to be their cost and convenience. Bundling telephone calls and digital TV in with your broadband service should prove cost effective when compared to sourcing each service separately (but this isn't always the case, so make sure you shop around).
This is because providers offer savings in the belief that those who bundle are more likely to stay loyal to them for longer. Bundling can also be convenient because it means that you should only have to deal with one company rather than several.
To decide whether bundles are right for you, consider:
- The broadband download speed and cap. Are they sufficient for your needs?
- Would it cost more to pay for each service separately? Look at the true cost over the first year as this will take into account any introductory rates or discounts as well as any charges
- Is line rental included in the price? If not, how much will it cost you?
- What calling package is on offer and does it suit your needs? For example, if it offers free daytime calls but you're only home in the evenings, you won’t benefit
- What are the charges for exceeding your calling allowance or download cap?
A word to the wise, it's not just about price when it comes down to it. You'll need to make sure that your broadband is delivering speeds which will enable your internet activities 24/7, whether you're a hardcore user or an occasional peruser. Nobody likes a buffering film after all.
Be aware of the words 'up to' when choosing your broadband bonanza deal, these innocent enough words mean that you won't necessarily reach that top speed.
You'll also want to get clued up on whether your provider will implement any pesky download caps or traffic management.
Get up to speed
- 21% of people have never switched their broadband provider meaning they could be missing out on a breathtaking broadband deal
- 82% of adults in the UK use the internet at least every other day and three out of four adults go online while out and about
Check the speed of the internet in your area and choose an appropriate deal. If you only get 20Mbps at your home, there's no point in opting for a 30Mbps option. You do the maths.
The cost of broadband
Having the fastest broadband on the market is all well and good, but if you have to eat beans every day to fund your internet habit, that ain't good.
Take into account the first-year cost, line rental and how much it would cost to upgrade if your current package does nothing to quench your insatiable internet hunger.
Of course you'll want to find out whether there's any connection fees for installation or one-off costs and how much you'll be charged monthly for your chosen package.
Need more information on broadband?
You'll want to head over to our broadband guides which are packed to the brim with all the information you need to know. From unlimited broadband and money-saving tips to internet security and hardware - you can learn more. It's a doddle.