When was the last time you switched your broadband deal? If the answer is you can’t remember or never, the chances are you’re paying more than you need to for your internet connection.
Many people are reluctant to switch broadband suppliers because they’re worried that their connection will be interrupted, but the good news is that it’s easier than ever to find and move to a better deal. Switching can not only save you money but should also mean you end up with faster and more efficient service.
In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about finding the best broadband deals to suit your needs, and what to look for when choosing a supplier.
Why is it important to find the right supplier?
Having a poor broadband connection can be hugely frustrating, especially if you’re trying to work from home, or regularly need to download large files.
It can be even more infuriating if you’re paying a lot for this poor service, or if your supplier fails to resolve the issues you’re having.
Finding the right supplier for you should mean that you end up with a package that suits your needs, providing you with the connection speed and download allowances you want, at the right price.
What should I look for in a good supplier?
When choosing a broadband supplier, you’ll need to look at the different packages offered, to ensure that you can get the connection, speeds and data limits you want. Cost is also vital, and a good supplier will offer competitively priced deals.
Make sure you know how long you’ll be tied into any deal too – typically you’ll sign up for either 12, 18 or 24 months, so you’ll need to decide whether you want a shorter or longer contract.
It’s also worth checking how the supplier you’re considering switching to treats its customers. Look up reviews to see whether there have been lots of complaints, or whether customers have reported positive experiences.
What shouldn’t I base my decision on?
Although price is obviously really important when choosing a broadband deal, don’t base your decision on this alone.
If you’re tempted by the very cheapest offer, there’s a risk you could end up with a broadband package that doesn’t meet your needs, perhaps because average speeds are lower than you need, or you don’t have unlimited data and you tend to download large files regularly.
Make sure you think about how you use the internet – as well as your budget - before deciding which package is right for you.
How much data do you need?
The amount of data you’ll need will depend on how you tend to use the internet. For example, if you use it to check emails, browse websites and check social media, but don’t tend to spend much more than an hour online each day, you’d be considered a light data user. In this case, you probably won’t need much more than 10 gigabytes (GBs) of data each month.
If you’re a medium data user, and spend quite a bit of time watching films online or browsing websites, and you download songs, games or apps relatively frequently, you’re likely to need a bigger data allowance of at least 25GB a month.
If you tend to use the internet all day for work, download lots of files and send numerous emails, and also use it in the evening to watch films or download music, you’re a heavy user and will typically need between 50GB and 100GB of data each month.
As it can be difficult to work out exactly how much data you’ll need, many people prefer to choose a plan which offers unlimited data, so they don’t have to worry about exceeding a particular data limit.
How fast does my broadband need to be?
As well as thinking about how much data you’ll need from your broadband package, it’s vital to consider how fast you need your broadband speed to be.
Broadband speeds are measured in Megabits per second (Mbps) and the higher the number shown, the faster your connection should be. The fastest broadband connections are available through fibre-optic cables, whereas slower standard connections are transmitted via the existing copper telephone lines.
Fast fibre speeds tend to range from 38Mbps to 76Mbps, whereas standard speeds tend to range from around 5Mbps to 16 Mbps. To put that into context, it would take around seven minutes to download a film if your internet speed was 16Mbps, but just one and half minutes if your speed was 76Mbps.
Remember, however, that the speed you actually get may be lower than the speed advertised, and will vary depending on the time of day you’re using the internet, the number of other people in your household who are online at the same time, and where you live.
The very fastest speeds won’t be available in every location, especially if you live somewhere rural which is a long way from the nearest telephone exchange.
Most broadband contracts run for at least 12 months, but contracts which tie you in for 18 or 24 months are also commonplace.
If you want to change supplier during the contract period, you’ll usually have to pay a charge to do this, which can be expensive, so always check the terms and conditions carefully before signing up.
When your contract finishes, you’ll typically move onto a rolling contract, which you’ll usually be free to leave provided you give your supplier 30 days’ notice.
(MORE: Broadband jargon busted)
What if I want to cancel my broadband package?
Under Consumer Contract regulations, you have the right to cancel your broadband contract if you do so within 14 days of placing your order, whether you’ve done this online, or by post or phone.
You’re also entitled to cancel your contract without penalty if your provider hikes costs during the contract term, or changes the terms of agreement you signed, or if you are having problems with the package which your provider is unable to resolve.
Broadband bundles debunked
Often the cheapest broadband deals are available as part of a bundled package, which involves you signing up to a contract to get your home phone, broadband and digital TV all from the same provider.
If you’re thinking about signing up for a bundled package, you’ll not only need to consider what sort of broadband speed and data limit you’ll need, but also which combination of channels you want from your TV package, and how many calls you make from your landline, if you’re choosing a bundled deal which includes this too.
Should I change suppliers regularly to get the best deal? How often should I change?
Broadband providers often reserve their best deals for new customers, so when you’re approaching the end of your contract, it’s always worth shopping around to see if you can find a more competitive deal elsewhere.
It’s also a good idea to speak to your existing supplier to see what sort of package they might be able to offer you when your contract ends. Switching providers doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated, and rarely results in loss of connection, so it’s definitely worth checking regularly checking to see if you’re on the best possible deal.
There’s no hard and fast rule that you should change every few months though – the best time to switch is when your contract finishes, so that you won’t have to pay a charge for leaving early.
Who are the best broadband suppliers in the UK – who should I be looking at?
The best broadband supplier for you will depend on where you live, as not all deals are available in every area.
There are well over 100 broadband providers to choose from, so once you’ve narrowed down the deals that are available to you, it’s worth checking customer reviews on sites such as Trustpilot to see whether the provider you’re considering has good reviews.
Remember that just because a deal is the cheapest, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the best value for money. To find the best broadband supplier for you, you’ll need to weigh up exactly what they’re offering and whether this meets your requirements.
Which provider has the best broadband deals and what is the cheapest broadband deal in the UK?
Broadband providers are always launching competitive deals, so the cheapest broadband deal in the UK one day might be beaten by different deal the next day.
The best broadband deal for you will depend on where you live, and which provider offers the best deal based on your needs.
Although it might be tempting to go for the very cheapest deal, always make sure you fully understand exactly what’s being offered – you might find a slightly more expensive deal that comes with extra benefits is a better deal for you.
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