How to choose your broadband provider

Signing up for a new broadband deal can be quite the commitment, with contracts running for up to two years.

You don’t want to regret not including TV in a bundle, or find you’ve gone for a speed too sluggish for streaming video or gaming.

Although you have certain rights to cancel, you could end up with large cancellation fees, so it's better to choose the right broadband from the start.


Key points

 

Choosing the cheapest broadband deal

If you only need a basic speed connection and your home is close to a telephone exchange, it makes sense to simply compare broadband deals in your area and go for the most cost-effective one.

But ask yourself a few questions first: are you likely to move home before the contract is up? Do you need a faster connection? Are you in a rural area where standard ADSL broadband is very slow?

Most deals tie you in for a minimum term, so consider your needs before committing.

 

Choosing the right speed

If you do more than just basic surfing, you’ll need speeds that’ll support movie nights, gaming sessions, and Netflix binges.

Using a broadband speed checker will let you know roughly what sort of download rate you can expect, then you’ll be able to decide if regular broadband is adequate, or if you’ll get the full benefit of a fibre broadband connection.

If you live in a rural area where it’s difficult to have a reliable hard-wired connection, you might need to consider satellite broadband to get a decent speed.


Choose the correct contract length

Broadband providers are only allowed to tie you in for a maximum of 24 months, but two years is still a significant contract length.

If you’re not sure what your circumstances will be like in a year or so, a 24-month contract might not be the best fit for you, or you might end up paying cancellation fees.

While most contracts are 12 or 18 months, there are short-term and no contract options available that could better suit your needs.

 

Know your limits

Broadband contracts with no download limit are widely available, but lots of the cheapest deals limit the amount you can download.

Despite the name, some unlimited broadband deals have a fair usage limit. Make sure you won’t exceed this, or it could find that you pay extra or have your usage limited.

 

 

Availability in your area

Not all deals and providers are available in every area.

For example, you might not be able to get cable broadband services like Virgin Media if you’re in the countryside.

Other providers, like Plusnet, will have areas of the country that they can supply to more cheaply than others, so you might find better deals with different providers in different areas.

 

Consider bundle deals

If you enjoy a lot of television, you might want to consider a bundle deal that includes both your broadband and TV from the same provider.

Bundle deals can work out to be good value for some, but make sure it really is the best option for you and that you need all those extra channels before basing your choice of provider on one of these offerings.