How do I choose a broadband deal?

It may feel at times you need to be a technological genius to understand broadband jargon. Do you need fibre? ADSL? Capped?

Most of us just want a cheap deal - while having quick speeds and the right amount of bandwidth - without needing a science degree or being ripped off.

Things to consider:

To get the best deal for you, you need to think about what kind of user you are.

  • How much will you use the internet? Is it just for emails and Facebook or are you playing computer games online?
  • Do you have a big family who will all be using it the same time?
  • Do you just use it to check your emails every few days?
  • Are you happy to pay for a dirt cheap package or slower speeds or not?
  • Are you ok with the idea of taking out a package that combines your phone and TV services?
  • Do you live in a place where you can get decent internet speeds?

Sure, it's a lot to think about but don't panic, we'll go through everything you need to think about - step by step, so you have all the information you need to make the right decision.

Standalone broadband or a bundled deal?

The first thing you need to decide on is whether you want a standalone broadband deal, or a bundled deal (which includes TV and Phone).

Bundle deals tend to be cheaper and mean you are only dealing with one provider rather than faffing about with multiple bills to pay.

However, it is worth noting that with the rise of Netflix and freeview - many people aren't consuming TV like they used to, and don't need to pay out for TV packages if they aren't watching the more obscure channels.

Also, if you are someone who never uses the house phone or just sticks to your smartphone, you maybe wasting money paying for certain bundles.

That being said, many people enjoy having a traditional TV package with all the bells and whistles such as recording and pausing live TV - which means a bundle is probably best for you.

Superfast or standard speeds?

Now you need to decide how fast you want your connection to be, with most broadband providers offering two options - superfast fibre-optic broadband or a standard ADSL line.

Fibre-optic cables deliver extremely fast and stable broadband that doesn't usually drop out or lose speed. Which all sounds lovely, but because the technology is still pretty new - it's very expensive.

And sure, while most of us will say 'the faster the better' - often, there is no need to fork out the extra money on speeds you won't notice if you aren't using the internet for anything more than browsing social media or reading the news.

If you're downloading a lot, gaming online and have multiple people using the same connection heavily, then it maybe worth spending more money on superfast broadband.

A factor that you need to consider is that if you do decide to pay the extra money for superfast broadband, you will be likely locked into a longer 18 month contract rather than a standard 12 month one.

Unfortunately, if you live in a rural location and internet speeds are generally not very good, you're unlikely to be able to sign up to superfast fibre broadband to improve them.

Unlimited or capped data?

The final thing you need to decide upon is how much data you'll need.

Have a think about what you're using the internet for, and whether you want to be limited in your internet use. If you DO go over your capped limit, you're going to be charged a lot for anything you use.

However, if you literally only turn the internet on every few days to answer emails, then you're wasting money by getting unlimited data and should look for a Lite broadband deal.

Here is a list of the approximate data it takes to perform tasks online:

  • Browsing online & email - 2GB per month
  • Browsing & streaming TV - 10-30 GB per month
  • Browsing, on-demand TV and film & music downloads - 40-80GB per month
  • Browsing, on-demand TV, and film & music downloads AND online gaming - 40GB - Unlimited

Switch broadband provider

Even if you're happy with your internet provider the chances are you can find a cheap deal if you're willing to change. Tariffs change regularly and companies drop their prices to compete with their rivals so you don't do a comparison every once in awhile you'll miss out on the best deals.

Now you know what aspects you are looking for in a broadband deal, you just have to pick a provider which is the easy bit if you use an Ofcom regulated tool.

If after you've done your comparison, you still decide to stick with your current provider, you can still try to negotiate a better deal. Tell your provider you've been shopping around and are thinking about leaving them and the odds are it will do its best to offer you a new, cheaper deal to keep you around.

Some contracts are reduced in price if you already have services with the supplier.

For example, if you have BT Broadband, you save £5 per month on a BT Mobile SIM, or if you add an additional EE SIM to your account you can save money too.

Select any of the products you already have below to ensure that you find the best deals available.
The UK has four licenced network operators: EE, Telefonica UK (O2), Three and Vodafone providing services using a variety of mobile technologies.

There are a number of other companies that provide mobile network services such as Tesco, giffgaff and Virgin. These are known as MVNO (mobile virtual network operators) which lease network capability from one of the four licenced operators.

These are all listed below so you can determine which of the four network operators provides service.

EE O2 Three Vodafone
ASDA giffgaff ID Mobile Lebara
BT Mobile Lycamobile Three Sainsburys
co-op O2 Talkmobile
EE Tesco Mobile Vodafone
Family mobile
The People's Operator
Utility Warehouse
Virgin Mobile