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Broadband Buyer's Guide

This is our almighty broadband buyer's guide, which guides you through buying broadband. Obviously.

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Choosing your broadband

There are currently enough broadband deals to fill the Grand Canyon, with enough left over to fill some other slightly smaller canyon. With this exuberant exaggeration in mind, our Buyer’s Guide could prove useful. It’s here to give you a few ideas about which broadband package, provider and type might be best for you. Read on, dear reader.

Fibre-optic vs. ADSL

As you may or may not know, and also may not be that interested in, ADSL is a broadband type which uses the copper phone lines to deliver your webby goodness. This is basically old-school broadband, but it still has its suitors and offers enough to do a basic job.

Fibre-optic broadband uses more advanced technology, with the copper replaced by thin fibres. These fibres support the transmission of information through pulses of light.

So, with fibre-optic you can get much faster broadband, with the capacity to get even faster as they improve and enhance the fibre network. This type of broadband is far better than ADSL, as it’s more efficient, allows for quicker downloading, copes better with heavy local web traffic and is more reliable.

However, ADSL can certainly be fast enough for those who browse the web casually or just want a basic, simple connection in place. If you want fast downloads, seamless streaming and quick page loads, then fibre would be more suitable, but ADSL is still effective and extremely cheap.

Broadband speed

With ADSL, no matter what maximum broadband speed is achievable, there’s little chance that is exactly what you’ll get. It is affected by local web traffic, distance from exchange and other more unusual factors, like the phase of the moon.

Actually, not that last bit, but there are indeed things out of your control, and out of the control of your provider, which will slow ADSL speed.

You could get a package offering up to 16Mbps, and you’ll get actual speeds of 5-6Mbps. Could be more, could be less. With fibre-optic broadband, you will get speeds much closer to the advertised maximum because the technology is superior.

Get a package offering up to 100Mbps, and you could easily be getting consistent download speeds of around 90Mbps or more. Unfortunately, those interested in fibre may find they are not in reach of the network, and this obviously limits your options.

Download limit

If your downloading is roughly equivalent to the amount of air that passes through your lungs on a daily basis, then a limit would be unwise. Any time you download a song, stream a movie or just load a page, it is all still downloading data, and it uses up any allowance in place.

It’s usually cheaper to take an allowance, but it won’t work out like that if you are unrealistic and exceed your limit. If you choose unlimited, be aware that some deals are still subject to fair usage, which means that your downloading can be restricted. Other packages offer ‘truly unlimited’, with the provider promoting the fact that they will never slow or restrict downloading.

Contract length

This one is pretty simple; there are different contract lengths available. If you don’t want a longer contract then don’t get one! It’s usually cheaper though.

Package bundles

Ah yes, the bundle: a playful term in school for a heavily crowded moment of pure chaos in the hallway, but also a name for combining services. If you use digital TV, home phone and broadband, then it’s worth looking at bundle deals. Some prefer different providers for certain services, like Sky for TV and Virgin Media for broadband, and you’re free to do this in most cases. However, if budget is particularly important, it’s worth seeing how you can save money here.

Providers

We aren’t short of broadband providers in the UK, but if you have certain things in mind then it whittles them down. Only certain providers offer fibre-optic, whilst some dedicated ADSL providers boast the ultra-cheap deals. Some might seem more expensive, but have a better deal on line rental.

If you want to bundle services and get value for money, then you’ll be looking at a deal from one of the bigger names. Use our dedicated online comparison tools to compare broadband providers, and see all the best bits of each deal. Using a select team of advanced monkeys, we collate the offers, incentives and package details, making it much easier for you to find a good deal for the right price.

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