Many of us set up a broadband service, pay our monthly bill, and give the matter no more thought. But are you wasting your hard-earned money? There could be better broadband deals out there for you.
Could I find better broadband deals?
If it's been quite a while since you last switched broadband provider, you could find that your contract has ended and the price you pay has gone up. Lots of providers offer tempting discounts for the first few months, then hike up the price. If you are happy with your broadband supplier, but your contract has ended and the price has gone up, you could try renegotiating and warning them you will switch if they can't offer you a better deal. But what are the best broadband deals for you? Here's everything you need to know to work that out.
What type and speed of broadband do I need?
There are different types of broadband connection. The types available to you depend on where you live and they work at different speeds. Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and determines how much data you can download in a second. What is data? Everything that comes to your home over your internet connection. Websites, videos, video calls, emails, images, music, games…all data.
This is the most basic type of broadband, with the slowest average speed, of around 11 Mbps. This is fine for a small household using email and browsing the internet, but is unlikely to be enough for heavy internet users.
This is faster, with average speeds of 35-50 Mbps. This type of service relies on plastic or glass 'fibre-optic' cables having been installed in your area, so may or may not be available to you. For a family streaming films and music with a few connected phones, tablets or computers, this will usually work well.
Super or Ultra-fast fibre
Superfast fibre averages around 63 Mbps, and uses the same kind of cable as fibre. It's a little faster on average, so is worth considering if your fast fibre connection is usually enough for your needs, but not quite fast enough at peak usage times.
Ultra-fast is only available where fibre connections can be installed all the way from your provider to your home and can provide speeds of 100 Mbps or higher. If you work from home and rely on video conferencing, or If you have a large family of avid gamers with lots of consoles, phones, computers, and tablets all competing for bandwidth, it could be worth looking into whether ultra-fast fibre is an option.
About broadband speed
Bear in mind that you will not get the maximum advertised speed all the time, or possibly ever. Companies advertise the average speed of their connections meaning that sometimes, particularly at peak times, your connection could be much slower. On the bright side, sometimes it could be faster! Your connection could be affected by the quality of the cabling in your building or to your building. The number of people online in your area and number of connections to the cabinet to which your home is wired can also make a difference. There are lots of services online that you can use to check your broadband speed.
Some companies love to offer you 'upgrades' on speed that could end up costing you more. It's always tempting to agree to a faster connection, but will it really make a difference? If the devices you use are limited to a 100 Mbps, and all the devices in your home use WiFi instead of a wired connection to your modem, upgrading to 200 Mpbs could make no difference at all unless you want to connect and use more devices at once. Sometimes it's worth downgrading the speed of your connection to save money without seeing any noticeable difference.
Limited or unlimited data?
Most broadband deals now offer unlimited data, which is great if you like to watch films or box sets. Watch out for limited data deals, as the charges for using extra data can be high and you could end up with an unexpectedly expensive bill.
Broadband deal bundles
If you pay for a cable TV package and a landline, it's usually cheaper to get your broadband connection in a bundle. If you find that you don't really use a landline phone anymore, or barely turn on your TV as everyone in your household is busy watching different streaming services on their devices, it is worth looking at broadband-only deals. Are you paying for extras that you don't really use?
What should I look for in a broadband deal?
Things to consider in looking for a new broadband deal include:
- Price. When comparing deals, work out the average price per month over the whole contract, including any cashback offers. Make sure you clearly understand whether the monthly price you will pay at the start will rise after an offer period, and if so, when?
- Speed. Will the package be fast enough for everyone in your home at peak times?
- Customer service. If a deal looks really great, but the customer service reputation of a company is terrible, will it be worth the discount?
- Hidden costs. Will you have to pay for new equipment, installation, extra data, or an exit fee?
- Contract Length. How long do you want to commit to using this broadband service? If you are planning a home move, will you be able to use the same provider? If not, will they charge you?
How do I switch?
If you are switching to or from Virgin Media, it is your job to contact your current supplier and let them know. For any other provider, it is the job of the new supplier to arrange the switchover.
You may need to pay for new equipment such as a modem and a TV box if you are bundling your services and get it sent out to you.
Check your contract to see whether you will have to pay an early termination fee. This will usually depend on whether you have had the service for longer than your minimum contract period.
You might need to return equipment to your current supplier. You could be charged for keeping the equipment if you don't return it when they ask you to. Most companies will send you packaging to return your equipment to a freepost address. Often, you will be able to drop it to a local shop or post office after your contract finishes, or arrange for it to be collected from your home. Again, this depends on the company, who will send you instructions.
You might need an engineer to visit your home, or the switchover may be completed without a visit.
If you are also switching between TV services, it is your job to cancel your service with the current provider, or you could end up having to pay both companies at once. Most companies require 30 days' notice, so check your contract.
Ready to compare broadband deals?
Now that you know what to look for, read on to see which broadband deals could save you money - we've done the hard work for you!