If you’re looking for a deal on your household broadband, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options out there. From big name internet service providers, through to mobile networks which have diversified into broadband services, and new up and coming companies, it can quickly become a confusing situation. Happily, with a little forethought, you can approach the challenge with confidence, and find the best broadband deals at the moment, which are ideal for you and your family’s needs.
Every Household Is Different
Here in the UK, 82% of the population are directly connected to broadband internet services , which are delivered through a combination of fixed-line and mobile connections. Of this figure, almost three quarters of UK residents (73%) are able to enjoy download speeds of 30 Mbps or higher, which is categorised as Superfast. Today’s broadband providers are increasingly able to advertise far faster speeds, with Virgin Media leading the way with its Gig1 package promising incredible average download speeds of 1130 Mbps.
According to the UK government, 95% of properties are now able to access Superfast broadband speeds, whilst 60% of premises can now connect to broadband with Ultrafast, Gigabit speeds . This number is likely to increase as the connection network continues to be upgraded from the old copper wire to fibre cabling, with the target set at 85% of properties achieving Gigabit access by 2025, and 99% by 2030.
When it comes to a great broadband package, there is no “one size fits all” solution and the sheer scope of prices and features on offer reflects the fact that different households have different demands from their broadband. Each household is unique, so take the time to work out what your own family actually needs from its internet package. For example, if your home consists of a parent working remotely from home, along with kids who are keen online gamers, and who also like to stream videos and TV together as a family or in separate rooms, you’re likely to require faster download speeds than a household that doesn’t place such an emphasis on internet usage.
Likewise, if your household comprises a group of professionals sharing amenities, you may decide to chip in together to pay for the best possible download speeds available for your address, to enable Ultrafast gaming, streaming, and seamless working from home.
This means that the first step should be to take a good look at how you expect to use your broadband. If you expect to use it for work, study, and general browsing, then you probably don’t need to pay extra for faster download speeds. However, if you are interested in online gaming, or enjoying the ultimate movie and TV streaming experience, getting a deal that offers faster download speeds will be a good option. This is because the faster the speed of your broadband, the less latency (the time elapsing between clicking on a move in a game and the command taking place) you’ll experience when playing, and the less chance of tiresome buffering happening when you’re engrossed in a 4K movie.
You may also want to pay extra for WiFi optimisation services, particularly if you live in a large or irregularly shaped property which has areas of poor reception, or if you have created a Smart Home environment with plenty of connected smart devices. BT and EE, for example, both offer Smart WiFi options that make use of WiFi extender discs to ensure that everyone enjoys optimum broadband access, wherever they are in the house.
If you want to make it easy to keep track of household expenses, opting for a combination deal can be a good choice. Many broadband service providers offer packages that include internet, telephone and TV, which means that these bills will be taken care of with a single monthly payment. This can also be accompanied by appealing benefits, such as a 4K TV box with Alexa voice control, which TalkTalk offers for a mere £4 extra a month.
On the other side of the coin, if like a growing number of households, you don’t have any need for a landline, the majority of providers can accommodate your broadband connection without requiring that one is installed. This can save you money, especially if you would otherwise be paying for line rental. In fact, some broadband providers will even offer mobile phone contract as part of their deals, but it’s vital that you calculate whether such a bundle will work out as the best value for you.
Considering All Family Members
If you have children, you may well feel that internet safety is a priority. After all, whether it’s researching topics for school projects or simply enjoying online games and videos, the internet is now an integral part of family life, and, as parents, you will want to ensure that your kids aren’t accessing content that isn’t suitable for their age, or, indeed, spending too long online when they should be tucked up in bed. This means that opting for a broadband deal that includes family protection can be a smart move. All of the major broadband providers have settings that can effectively limit the kind of websites accessed, but some offer a little more security, which can be a ideal solution for families.
For example, TalkTalk offers Home Safe with Kid Safe security as part of its packages. This allows parents to manage and monitor how their children use the limit. You can set “Homework Safe” to prevent gaming or social media use whilst they should be studying, too. Similar features are provided by other internet service providers, too, with Sky offering its own “Sky Buddy” app that gives parents control over their kids’ internet browsing.
It can be easy to get swept away by a great sounding deal, especially if it comes with enticing extras or a handy combination of services such as TV and telephone. However, it’s vital that you establish whether the package you want is going to be realistically affordable for you – and, of course, it’s much better to work this out before you commit to a contract, and potentially land yourself in financial difficulties.
Most broadband packages require a commitment of at least 18 months, with many asking that you sign up to a 24 month contract. Bear in mind, too, that a substantial number of internet service providers will increase the cost of their broadband after the first year. This price rise should be plainly visible on the company’s website, although it may be found in the “terms and conditions” section. Be sure to check whether this is the case before you sign up to a package, and factor in the increased cost for the second year of of your agreement when you calculate whether this deal really is right for you and your household budget.
Luckily, you don’t need to be an accountant to quickly work out a realistic family budget that shows clearly just how much you can afford to spend on your broadband each month. There are free tools available online that make light work of the task, such as this one created by Citizens Advice
(https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/budgeting/budgeting/work-out-your-budget/). As well as giving you a breakdown of your current monthly outgoings, this handy tool will also help to identify areas where you can cut costs and save money, making it well worth a try.
Check The Availability For Your Address
You may like the sound of a deal on offer, but it simply won’t be any use to you if it isn’t available in your location. Not all broadband companies offer the same levels of coverage across the UK, so unless you live in one of our larger towns and cities, you might just find that your choice of supplier is limited by your address.
This means that before you invest too much time investigating a particular broadband provider, be sure to do an availability test. These tests are free, and found online, usually on each broadband company’s website. After all, they don’t want to create frustration for disappointed would-be customers who go to sign up, only to discover that their great deal isn’t accessible at their address.
You can also use these tools to discover the average download speed that you can expect from a provider, as this too will vary according to your location. Those who live close to a broadband street cabinet, for example, can typically expect faster speeds than those living a few streets away, whilst those lucky enough to be living in a FTTP (fibre to the premises) area can look forward to achieving the best possible speeds available on their package.
People who live in the most remote or rural areas of the UK may therefore feel a bit concerned that they could end up spending more due to this limited choice for their location. Happily, one of the best rated broadband providers, BT, is able to offer fast and reliable broadband services to 93% of the nation’s addresses. Better still, other companies also make use of BT’s extensive network, so you can be sure to access the rapid download speeds and reliable access you need whilst still having options when it comes to the precise package you go for.
Both PlusNet and EE, for example, are highly rated internet service providers which make use of the BT network to deliver their broadband, so you will be likely to have these companies (and their various packages) as an option wherever you live. And, of course, with the UK’s fibre upgrade in full swing, even more households can look forward to better broadband access and choice of deals in the next few years.
Always Think Smart
Many broadband providers will dangle free gifts or other perks as a reward for signing up to their service, but such additional benefits should never be taken into consideration when choosing the right broadband deal for your home. For example, BT currently offers a £75 BT voucher, whilst Virgin Media has a £95 Amazon voucher for new customers.
Whilst these “free gifts” can certainly seem generous and can be a real temptation, it’s important to bear in mind that you could end up paying the value of the gift (and more) over the course of your broadband contract, should it mean that you choose a package that is more expensive than you had intended. Focus instead on choosing a broadband package that is sufficient for the needs of your household, and you can perhaps use the savings you gain to treat yourself!
It should be clear by now that there is no such thing as the UK best broadband deal, but by doing some research and using the free tools available online, you can certainly find out which is the best broadband deal for you.
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