Selecting the best broadband package isn’t an easy task. You have to factor in more than the monthly price. What are the speeds you can expect? Are there other services included in the deal , like television or a phone service? Do you include equipment such as a mesh Wi-Fi system? Will the attractive initial price increase significantly after a few months?
To make the most from your money, here’s our guide to things you should look for in a broadband package (and the provider) when choosing.
Understanding broadband speeds
Broadband speeds are described as Mbps, meaning megabits per second. Megabits are distinct from megabytes, but. Lowercase “b” on Mb indicates megabits, while the uppercase “B” in MB refers to megabytes.
8Mb (megabits) is the same as 1MB (megabyte) therefore the rate of Mbps you see for any broadband package is the amount of data that can be downloaded every second. A speed of 40Mbps for downloads means that you can download 5 megabytes each second.
Providers usually reduce the upload speed, making it lesser prominent since it’s generally slower. It is crucial to have a fast upload speed in order to make mutliple Zoom calls at the same time. Speeds of download determine the speed of access to media – games, movies shows, games, and so on.
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How do you use the internet?
Like most purchases involving technology, be it smartphones, laptops, broadband or more the first step to think about is the way you’ll utilize the device.
In today’s always-online society it can be easy to think that you need the most speedy connection to survive however if you just use the internet to check emails, shop or spend some time surfing Facebook you’ll find that this isn’t the situation (more about this later). Contrarily, some of these cheaper packages that might seem appealing could end up being a problem in the end If you’re capable of streaming those 4K UHD movies due to the speed of your internet connection.
In days gone by the most important rule was how much data you could upload for downloads every month. But with pretty much every major provider now offering unlimited data as standard the next frontier is the rate at which you are able to use your internet connection.
Which speed of internet is the best for me?
The speed you need depends on the number of users within your household who actively utilize the internet, as well as the amount of time they spend online regularly.
Moderate to light use
For general web browsing in a household with two people, you shouldn’t require more than 10Mbps download speed and 2Mbps upload. This is fine to check your email and make one video call at an time. If you stream films at these speeds, they are ideal for streaming to a single device at a time instead of streaming separate content in different rooms on different devices.
Moderate users on another hand or families of three to four persons could require 35Mbps or 5Mbps upload. Social media frequently and stream films simultaneously in different rooms.
Moderate to high usage
If you’re a part of a household of fairly heavy internet users, you need to consider a broadband that has speeds that can reach 60Mbps or more. This includes streaming multiple videos as well as playing online games and engaging in social media across multiple devices at the same time.
This is for households with a larger size where videos are streamed in 4K, and come with a range of smart assistants and devices (security cameras and thermostats, lighting, alarm systems etc.). There are also the possibility of in a live stream with avid gamers that frequently download and stream games and movies. You’re on the internet 24/7. You could even run a company at home that demands frequent video calls as well as connecting to the cloud and uploading huge file sizes.
These types of use typically require up to 200Mbps. This is naturally more expensive, and it is recommended to determine the extent to which your internet requirements are prior to finalizing on a plan. These speeds are available through ‘full fibre broadband plans and aren’t accessible everywhere.
Each providers will ask you to enter your address to check which services (and speeds) are available for you.
What are the different kinds of broadband available?
There are three main options currently available: ADSL (the standard router that connects to your phone line) as well as fibre (much faster speeds that need an individual line) or cable (again a dedicated line that is usually part of a bundle like the ones provided via Virgin Media).
ADSL is by far the most common connection type (although it is quickly being replaced with fibre as the faster services extends to more locations) and it only requires the usage of a standard home phone line to operate. Because of this technology, it is limited to a maximum speed of around 20Mbps for downloads , and 1Mbps for uploads. This is plenty to use social media, surfing the web and streaming HD content on YouTube, Netflix and other services. Actually, Netflix states that to stream HD TV shows and movies you’ll need at least 5Mbps.
Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll reach those speeds unless you happen to live right next to the phone exchange, since the further down the line speeds will be slower. This is among the major reasons why people who live in rural areas may struggle to connect to a stable, fast connection.
To check out the speeds you can expect from a standard ADSL connection, there are generally widgets available on the sites of the service provider in which you input your postcode. We suggest you use Ofcom Mobile and Broadband checker. Ofcom Mobile and Broadband checker because the impartial nature of the service will mean it’s completely free of bias.
Keep in mind that the more users you have connected, either through laptops, tablets as well as smartphones, the less speedy the speed becomes since it’s essentially split between you. In this regard when you’re in a household with a few kids (especially those who like to play games on the internet) then you might find that a fibre connection is the best choice.
If you’re restricted to an ADSL internet connection Sky has its Essential service,, while Plusnet provides Unlimited. The speeds you can avail will depend on how far from the exchange. However, check these sites to learn more.
It is a no-brainer that this type of connection employs an optical fibre cable (instead of telephone wires made of copper), which can provide more speed than ADSL.
There are various levels in fibre connections, with names such as Ultrafast Superfast and Superspeed. The reason behind this is that certain fibre connections are only able to go as far as the exchange closest to your home Copper wires will be used for the remainder of the journey. It’s still much quicker than ADSL and can reach speeds of 35Mbps, or even 70Mbps.
There’s also “full fibre which means that the optical cable connects directly to your house. This can provide speeds as high as 100s of Megabits per second with the top-quality packages offering a dizzying 1000Mbps.
This makes fibre the best choice for those who want to stream HD or 4K films and TV shows (Netflix suggests 25Mbps to stream 4K) and also have reliable connections when video-calling for work or the family or friends. It also makes it much faster to download media files to your tablet, smartphone or laptop you are at home.
While full fibre is being deployed throughout the UK however, some areas aren’t yet able to benefit from the new technology. Therefore, in order to determine whether you’re among the fortunate households, verify the availability by entering your postcode in the checker found on each provider’s website.
It’s a different option but it’s only available to a small number of providers, and only in certain areas. More efficient than ADSL as it relies on a dedicated cable that negates the need for a telephone landline. Usually , they are part of a package deal the most common cable provider within the UK is Virgin Media, whose offerings as of the date of writing included the M50 package , which has average speeds of 50Mbps.
Look into bundle offers to get better value
If you’re happy to move your mobile phone, landline or TV subscription to one provider, then you should be taking a look at the bundle deals that are available. All of the major players have them including BT combing the home telephone, broadband, in addition to BT TV, while Virgin and Sky doing likewise with their particular TV bundles.
Combining these services could result in lower monthly costs in addition to giving you bonus points if you can find a good deal. They are constantly changing with frequent offers and discounts.