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How to Choose the Best Broadband Provider?

How to Choose the Best Broadband Provider?

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Buying broadband is an important decision. You’ll need to consider several factors, including how you’ll use your broadband, how many devices and people you’ll be connecting to it, and how often it will be accessed.

Should you select ADSL or fibre optic? Satellite or 5G? What makes a good deal? We’re here to answer all your questions and help you choose a broadband provider.

Keep reading to discover our in-depth guide that covers everything you need to know about choosing the best broadband provider.

How Much Can You Afford?

Broadband cost plays an important role in how to choose broadband, but the cheapest option may not be the best for your unique circumstances. It’s useful to think about how your broadband is going to be used and exactly how much you’re willing to pay before you start looking for providers.

Here are some tips to consider to get the best value for your money:

  • If you live in a house with multiple people who will all be using the same broadband, you should avoid going for the cheapest deal you can find. Cheaper deals usually have a monthly data limit and you might end up paying more in overcharge fees if you go over this limit.
  • Keep an eye out for special deals. Some providers offer better rates for certain groups of people, like with student broadband deals.
  • Some providers offer “social tariffs” for people who claim certain state benefits. Social tariffs provide speeds comparable to their standard broadband, but at a much lower cost.
  • The ability to switch broadband providers can be a useful way to save money. Most broadband suppliers raise their prices while you have an ongoing contract. So, switching once it’s over can make broadband more affordable.

How Many Devices Do You Need to Connect?

More people means more devices and that results in slower broadband speeds. Knowing exactly how many devices will be connecting to your broadband is extremely important. This helps you avoid being charged any fees for going over your monthly limit.

Unless you go for unlimited broadband, this could end up costing you. The money spent on these unnecessary fees could instead be spent on a better deal where unlimited usage is included.

Bandwidth speed determines how many devices you can connect at once, with each added device lowering the bandwidth speed. Faster broadband lets multiple people access the internet with their devices simultaneously, with a minimal loss of bandwidth.

For example, an ultrafast package is ideal for busy households. It offers a speed of 500Mbps, but reports an average speed of 522Mbps. A hyperfast package, offering a speed of 1Gb, reports an average speed of 900Mbps. For families with students, professionals, and multiple devices, this means they can work, play, stream, or chat without any impact on their bandwidth.

Your wifi will also play a role in determining how many devices you can connect. You’ll need to find the best place to put your router to ensure you gain broadband coverage across your entire house.

If you have several internet users working remotely from home on sensitive company information, you may also want to consider security. Take a look at this broadband security checklist to ensure your work is protected.

Choosing the Right Speed

Broadband speed is separated into upload and download speeds. The latter is often faster because most of your internet usage will be from downloads, including loading webpages and streaming music or video.

The importance of broadband speed will mainly depend on how you intend to use the internet. If you are online gaming or streaming in high definition, you will need faster broadband than if you were only using a single device to check social media.

Alongside gaming and streaming, video calling can also be a bandwidth-intensive activity. Below, we’ll explain which internet speeds will be best for these common examples.

Online Gaming: What Internet Speed Do You Need?

With so many different games, the ideal download and upload speeds can vary. It’s generally accepted that a minimum download speed of 3Mbps and an upload speed of 0.5Mbps to 1Mbps is acceptable for lower-end games. But, for a consistent, reliable gaming experience, with a minimal loss of performance, we recommend a 20Mbps download speed.

Anything below that is in danger of showing higher levels of latency – the delay between what you input in the game and what is shown on your screen. For competitive games, this could be the difference between winning and losing. A faster download speed can counteract this and help optimise broadband speed in general.

Fibre optic broadband is the fastest type available, so when choosing your provider ensure this is their method of delivery.

What is a good ping for gaming?

Streaming: What Internet Speed Do You Need?

The speed you need for streaming will mainly depend on the streaming services you use. For standard streaming and less demanding services like BBC iPlayer, a download speed of 1.5Mbps is enough.

More demanding, high-definition streaming services will require at least 3Mbps. Attempting to stream in Ultra HD on Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon Prime Video needs at least 25Mbps to avoid any potential buffering.

If you enjoy scrolling through social media on your phone while you stream, you’ll want to choose broadband with a higher download speed due to the bandwidth needed to do both. Multiple devices streaming at the same time will require fast broadband for the same reason.

Video Calling: What Internet Speed Do You Need?

A download speed of 8Mbps is the sweet spot for video calling – any less and you will see some loss in video quality. Any more won’t hurt, but the call quality can only be so good. As always, if more people are intending to use video calling services at the same time, faster broadband will be required.

Do you Need Unlimited Usage?

If you have multiple devices it’s wise to get an unlimited usage broadband package. If you are frequently online, or if there are other people in your home wanting access to the internet, the extra cost is worth it. It’s easy to go over a device limit, so unlimited broadband is better for peace of mind.

It’s generally accepted that you need a speed of 10Mbps per user. This is doubled or even tripled if they are streaming in HD and 4K, or gaming online, which takes up large amounts of data.

On the lower end of usage, 3-4 people will get away with 30-60Mbps, but this means low-quality streaming and frequent interruptions to online play. Five people and over means you would need anywhere from 60-1000Mbps.

A light internet user may not need unlimited broadband, but as soon as HD streaming and multiple people enter the picture, it becomes a real consideration. People working from home and families may find it difficult to keep their usage under a limit, which could cause unnecessary stress.

Choose the Correct Contract Length

Contract length will vary depending on the internet service provider (ISP). Some providers may offer 12-month contracts, while others may offer one that lasts up to 24 months. Most contracts require an early termination fee if you choose to leave before the contract period ends.

This fee will vary according to your ISP. It’s usually the total cost of your remaining monthly payments. Once you are out of the contract period, you will be able to switch broadband providers at any time, without paying these fees.

If your provider can’t give you what was promised in your contract, you may also be able to leave early without paying the termination fee. This could happen if they increase the price higher than the agreed-upon rate, or do so without informing you.

Some providers also offer short-term rolling contracts, which can be cancelled more easily and work on a month-by-month basis. Because there is less security for the ISP, they will usually be more expensive than longer-term contracts.

Availability in Your Area

The area you live in also affects your decision to choose a broadband provider. Fibre optic is rolling out across the country and Project Gigabit, the government-backed scheme to deliver gigabit broadband to the whole of the UK, is also increasing the range of coverage. With high-speed broadband to become a legal right, it won’t be long before it’s available to everyone.

Satellite, 4G, or 5G broadband are alternatives that offer similar speeds, however, these services usually cost more. To reduce unnecessary spending, see if you can benefit from hyperfast broadband.

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