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Broadband buying guide

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The internet has been a lifesaver for many households, with binge-watching now an everyday pastime for all of us, Zoom or Teams calls our Friday nights out, and online gaming a genuine method of staying in touch with your friends.

If the internet is our hero broadband will be the horse that it rides on. There are a lot of internet service suppliers (ISPs) throughout the UK that offer myriad offers to regular consumers.

The world of hogging the phone line , and then dialling your internet to find a pixelated menu from your favorite takeaway restaurant is an outdated notion. The dial-up mode of internet access has been replaced with faster constantly connected broadband that is capable of utilizing a larger (or broader) bandwidth, leaves your phone line open to calls and makes general internet life much easier.

Once you’ve overcome the jargon thrown at you way, it’s quite a simple market to grasp and master to ensure you get the greatest digital value for your money.

What is broadband?

There are two types of broadband: Standard and fiber. Standard makes use of ADSL technology to connect to the nation’s existing copper phone network, which means that it is available throughout the majority regions of UK. What you receive for the availability is a slowdown in speed, which includes when downloading.

Standard broadband’s average download speeds range from 10 to 11 megabits (Mbps) that translates to just a few minutes of downloading your favorite TV show as opposed to some fibre alternatives handling the same task in seconds. It’s not much on the surface, but it could cause issues with video calling, sending large email files, online gaming and more in particular if many people are online at the same time.

What is fibre broadband? Can I get it?

Fibre broadband refers specifically to the superior fibre-optic cable internet service providers utilize for connecting you to the internet and send information. This allows to transfer data at a much faster rate which in turn will make your internet faster when it comes to downloading and uploading, and is more reliable. – copper is much more likely to degrade than fibre-optic cables.

Not all of the UK is connected to fibre, but efforts are in the process of being made to connect the entire country. At present, 97 percent of households are expected to avail a speed of 24 Mbps and around 80-90 per cent of UK covered by BT fibre and 60 percent by Virgin Media’s own fibre broadband network. It’s easy to determine this by entering your postcode into any ISP’s website.

Unfortunately it’s true that the UK is still among the lowest average speeds for internet in the world that is coming in at 44th last year. However, many users won’t notice the difference – it’s mostly national pride that suffers.

Do you require a cell phone line for broadband?

The need for a landline is not a requirement to use broadband. Actually there are some ISPs provide landline-free plans to those that have already made the permanent change to cell phones. This isn’t a common practice, since the majority of ISPs employ an copper wire system at one point to supply broadband services Many fibre plans employ fibre optics to connect the closest Internet Exchange (a series of physical locations where the internet’s data is transferred) to your street, and then through the phone line to get to your home. That means providers need to pay the owners of the copper network such as BT Openreach – to give you their package.

Virgin Media is the only big UK ISP with its own fibre broadband network distinct from Openreach which means that it can always offer broadband without landline. But, the absence of landlines doesn’t mean that it’s cheaper and it’s a good idea to shop in both markets, even if don’t have a home phone and it may be better price to purchase one in the first place.

What is the best broadband speed? And what bandwidth speed do I require?

Speed is essential: it could mean the difference between a pleasant film night with your spouse and the expense of replacing your screen after you kick a shoe in anger at Leonardo’s freeze face that is buffering.

The equation is pretty simple the more users in the household connected to your internet, the greater stress this puts on the speed of your internet. If everyone in your home is connected simultaneously (and we’ll admit it: in the past year, who hasn’t? ), delays and connection issues will get worse.

However, just choosing the fastest speed of broadband will not necessarily mean you get the best deal as many people don’t require top-of-the-line speeds, particularly household with a single or two members. You’ll pay more than the potential for your requirements.

For most people, download speed is the more important factor, because it is how your connection can handle streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Spotify and YouTube. The majority of video streaming services provide high-definition streaming, which can take a greater burden on download speeds as does online gaming as well, which put the burden on upload speeds.

The majority of households don’t require ultrafast (above 30Mbps) or ultrafast (above 100Mbps) broadband. They’ll be capable of stream, work and access social media with speeds of 10-15Mbps, but if you have a large number of internet users at home in the house, each wanting to stream each other’s HD streams or play high-frame rate games, then it’s wise to look into the most powerful broadband option.

Another point to consider While broadband offers mention the “average speed” for each offer, ISPs only need to offer this to 50% of their customers in peak times in order to make the claim. The speeds will vary according to how many people are in your local area, how far you are from the exchange and the state of your cables and can be slower than advertised. Most providers will let you know the expected speed of your internet when you start the process of signing up.

Is broadband the same thing as WiFi?

They definitely go well together, but broadband is not an alternative to wifi. Broadband is the hardwired tech that brings internet data into your home via the cable. When this cable fails at some point, the majority of homes use wireless routers to share the information around the home using wifi. To get the full broadband that you have paid for it is necessary to connect to the router directly by using an ethernet cable. only then will you see the maximum speed the package will provide. Wifi is a method for connecting your devices without the need for a cable. It works by using radio waves which can be cut off easily by distance or by a particularly thick wall, so normal speeds could be affected.

It is important to ensure that there is enough distance between the devices you use and your router – avoid putting it in a wardrobe or behind a bookcase for example. If you’re still experiencing issues with your wifi connection either offering a weak signal or simply dropping between the two it could mean that your router is old or just broken. consult your ISP for assistance.

UK broadband providers

There are four major companies in UK broadband. BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk have the most extensive customers. BT is comfortably the most well-known, with the estimated 9.3 million subscribers. However, the other providers have millions of contracts themselves.

As we’ve mentioned, BT’s fibre network is the largest, with between 80 and 90 per cent of the UK covered, followed by Virgin Media and its independent fibre network at 60 per cent. However, there are other ISPs which are less expensive but have excellent customer service. Vodafone has entered the market only a few years ago and offers simple broadband packages at a great price, without the flash and glamour that you often find with the big four. A current Vodafone deal in our area has an average speed of 63 Mbps, with no setup costs.

Companies like A&A, iDNET and Kcom have a wide range of services, such as elevated technical expertise and support, or exceptionally fast speeds for a good price, but these smaller providers are more limited in their coverage across the nation.

Deals are varied however, they are usually offered in 12-, 18- or 24-month contracts, or longer, depending on the amount you wish to pay monthly. A low-cost contract may appear attractive, but it could trap you in a long-term deal that will become outdated, so take your final price into account prior to signing the cheap broadband contract, but it will last for five years without the chance of the possibility of upgrading.

What if I want to terminate my broadband subscription?

It’s possible, but beware of high early exit fees. If you’re satisfied with the service the provider you’re with has, erm or offered, a phone call to them is the best bet, detailing your issues. Most often, the threat of losing your clientele is more than enough for an ISP to give you more favorable terms, such as more speed or a less expensive monthly cost.

Always remember to compete to get the most affordable price on an offer. Many customers, confused by the broadband landscape and various types of deal they are content to remain on their current agreement, unaware that the monthly price after your initial agreement has risen in a significant amount as new customers get the best deals offered by their ISP. Always be looking for better deals, whether elsewhere or with your current ISP and keep notes of any potential “loyalty penalties” you’re enduring by remaining with your current provider. When it comes to contractual agreements, loyalty can be something that can be achieved in two ways.

The verdict: Broadband contracts

One advantage that broadband had when competing with fibre was cost. But as fibre becomes more widely available throughout the nation, and efficiency improving every day, the cost difference between them is becoming less and less significant.

Broadband is certainly a major business. As of 2022, more than 92 percent of UK adults were recent internet users. That is certainly increased over the past year or so. It’s important for broadband companies to provide the most competitive rates they can. Unfortunately, this sometimes isn’t the case, particularly for customers who are long-term subscribers. There are a few options available by the network spread of various providers, but there are plenty of great value deals there. Be sure to look around and take your time shopping around before making your decision.