The speed, price and even availability of the various different broadband packages can vary wildy from place to place, but there are a few things you can do to try and ensure you get the best deal you can in your area.
Things aren’t as simple as you might think when it comes to broadband availability. Unfortunately, the same packages are not available to everyone. Because of the UK’s Broadband infrastructure, what is available to you will vary depending on where you live in the country. When you switch your broadband, it’s crucial to double check what is available in the area before you make a decision.
It’s pretty simple to see what is available to you, however, by using a postcode checker. Just put your postcode in the box and you’ll be able to see the packages that you can have. Don’t worry though - your postcode will not be shared with anybody else.
In general, if you live in the countryside you won’t have as much choice. Remote areas can’t have the broadband speeds that are available in most towns and cities. This is likely due to the distance from your nearest telephone exchange, and because it isn’t as profitable for broadband companies to offer their packages in your area as there are fewer people. Data tends to lose it’s speed the faster it has to travel, so you would likely have to deal with snails-pace broadband.
Fibre optic broadband is one option, however, that loses less speed over a distance and can carry more data. Fibre optic broadband is now available to 2 thirds of homes and businesses in the UK. This number is soon to rise to 95%. This means you’ll be able to get broadband from suppliers like BT infinity in the majority of homes within the next 3 years.
The provider with the biggest coverage is BT. This isn’t really surprising as BT owns the national phone network. BT broadband is available to 99% of the UK, so this is likely one broadband provider that is available to you. Many other providers also use the national phone network to provide their customers with broadband.
However, the speeds and features may vary depending on different factors, so make sure you enquire about this with the provider.
Virgin media is the largest exception to the rule, as it uses it’s own cable network to provide customers with TV and broadband. It’s network isn’t as big as the national telephone network, though, so it only covers around 50-60% of homes in the UK. You’re more likely to be eligible for Virgin Media broadband if you live in a town or city, as this is what the network covers most.
If you want both TV and broadband, and you’d like to save some money, having both in a package deal is a good way to save some money. However, the availability of your TV packages usually match the availability of broadband packages. BT and TalkTalk are both based on YouView. This means they use your TV aerial for freeview, but things like catchup and extra channels will use your internet connection. This means you can only get BT TV with BT broadband, and, you guessed it, TalkTalk TV with TalkTalk broadband.
The speed of different broadband packages can vary substantially between different areas, and even between houses on the same street. There are a variety of different factors that go into broadband speeds. Just some of those things include: the distance from your home to your street cabinet, the number of people who share the same connection in the area, and even the quality of the wires used to create the connection. This is why speeds vary so much from place to place. Your broadband speed may not be the same as your next door neighbour’s even if you have the same provider, so bear that in mind.
By looking at a download speeds providers list, you will get an idea of what around 10% of people with the same package get in their area. This means that up to 90% of people may not get the speeds outlined. This is why you should always enquire before you decide on a package or a supplier.
If you want or need a broadband that guarantees you’re going to get fast speeds, then fibre optic broadband is the best option to go for. This type of broadband is much more reliable than ADSL. You’ll also get speeds that are closer to the speeds advertised, too. However, you need to be sure it is available in your area first. Luckily, it is available to the majority of areas at present.
Whenever you choose to sign up with a new provider, they should tell you what speeds you should realistically expect to get in your area. If not, make sure you ask. You shouldn’t sign up to a package without being aware of the speed you’ll likely get.
If you're below a certain age, you might not remember the last time you used a landline phone. However, most broadband deals come with phone lines too, and it's worth considering whether you're going to use yours. Using your landline to make calls can save you some money if you select the right package. Just like on your mobile, you can get inclusive calls with your landline. You can choose anytime calls or evening and weekend calls if you just use your home phone when you're not out and about. You can also choose not to have any calls included if you're not planning to use your landline much at all. If you're also looking for a better deal on your mobile, you can bundle up your broadband, TV, and mobile into one package to save money.
Still confused? Have a look at some of these frequently asked questions to help you puzzle out what you're looking for and nail down the best deal for you.
When you move into a new home, you need to choose a broadband provider to set up your connection. But if you want to change your existing provider, you might think it's a bit more complicated. Fortunately, it's not complicated at all. In fact, you follow the same steps as setting up a connection in a new house. Use our comparison tool to look for the best broadband deals using your postcode. Choose the ideal package for you, then sign up with the provider. They'll deal with telling your existing provider that you don't want to continue receiving your broadband from them. It's like getting your new partner to break up with your old one for you. However, if you're currently with Virgin Media or switching to them, you need to do this yourself. Once you've signed up, your new provider will help you get set up. They'll send you what you need, including a router, and arrange a time to send out an engineer if they need to.
There's no set time it takes for your broadband to be switched from your old provider to your new one. However, everything should be done in around 10 working days, which could be up to two weeks in total. If there isn't currently a working phone line, an engineer will need to come out and install one. This can delay things a little as you'll need to be home and arrange a suitable time for them to come. Remember that if you're cancelling a Virgin Media package, you need to call them.
You might have an email address that is connected to your current broadband package. When you make the switch, you might be worried that you'll have to give up that address. In some cases, you'll be able to keep it, but some providers won't allow that. You can still access your email if you use BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet or Virgin, although it might only be temporary. Before you switch your broadband provider, you should consider a new email address and change any accounts connected to your old one.
The broadband provider with the best deals depends entirely on your outlook. It depends on what matters to you when you choose a provider. You need to think about how much you're willing to spend, how fast you need your connection to be, and where you live. Our tool to compare broadband deals begins with inputting your postcode. That's because it's the first stage of finding out what options are available for you. Some regions have more options or just different options. In some areas, you can get fibre broadband, while in others it hasn't yet been made available. You will be able to get TV and broadband bundles in some places but not in others.
When you compare broadband providers, weigh your budget against the benefits you receive from different packages. You don't always need to choose the most expensive option to get what you need.
You might know that fibre optic broadband is "superfast", but perhaps you want to know more about it. Fibre optic broadband is a newer form of broadband that provides a faster service than standard ADSL broadband. Unlike standard broadband, fibre optic doesn't use your existing phone line. It uses a brand new line that's dedicated to providing better connectivity. It's better able to deal with the modern demands that a lot of homes and businesses have. Because it's a newer service, it isn't available all over the UK. You can use our comparison tool to find out if it's available for your postcode.
When you search for broadband deals using your postcode, you might find that you can't see any options for fibre optic broadband. The reason for this is that fibre optic is a relatively new technology and service. Broadband providers are still in the process of rolling it out across the UK, so it might not have reached your region just yet. The majority of the country has access to this fast service, but there is still a portion waiting to receive it. The rollout is sponsored by the government, and it's happening quickly, so fibre optic broadband should soon reach your area. You could choose to wait for it to become available or you can look for the next best deal now and switch your package or provider when fibre optic comes along. Occasionally, fibre optic might be available in your region but it's not available for your property due to your location or the positioning of your home.
You might also be hoping to see deals from Virgin Media when you compare broadband packages. However, like fibre optic, Virgin Media is not available across the whole of the UK. The provider uses its own cable network, which covers about 50% of the UK. You're more likely to have access to it if you live in a town or city than if you live somewhere more rural. Virgin Media is expanding their network, so if you can't get it now, you might be able to in the future.
Can't remember the last time you used your home phone? Have no idea what your landline phone number is? You're not alone. Many people now use their mobile phones to make phone calls, whether they're out and about or at home. It's convenient because you get minutes included with your phone package and you're not tied down to one place. So you might be wondering if you can get broadband without a phone line. Unfortunately, most broadband uses phone lines to work. There are a couple of exceptions. There's Virgin Media, which uses separate cables, as well as a smaller network called Hyperoptic. You can also use mobile broadband, which works like the internet on your mobile phone.