Considerations When Purchasing Home Entertainment Packages
When you first come to choose an entertainment and communications suite of services for your home, it can be a complex process. After all, there are so many options out there and how do you tell the difference between them. This article will look through the broadband, talk, satellite TV and cable offerings to help you understand the options available to you, and what you should be considering.
When you get a bundle of broadband, satellite TV, or digital TV, and landline, you will often get some really good deals on the broadband. You may get 3, 6, or even 12 months free broadband and you may also look to get line rental for discounted prices. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for deals in the market in order to identify the best offering.
The broadband itself is an important component of the bundle. You should ensure that you get the right blend of speed and data allowance for your individual and household needs. You may not need to go for super fast broadband but it may be of benefit if there are multiple people in the home using the broadband for fairly high intensity activities. When you have many people using a connection, the bandwidth is split between them and so the ability to do HD streaming will be reduced.
Fibre optic broadband connections run up to 100Mbps on Virgin Broadband, and up to 80Mbps on BT Broadband. There are a number of providers that sublet the BT Infinity service and offer their own branded broadband connections through the fibre optic network. Fibre optic broadband is currently available to around 60% of the UK, although it will be increasing in its coverage over the coming year.
It is therefore a 60/40 chance roughly whether you’ll be able to get fibre optic broadband where you are. But if you live in an urban area you’re far more likely to get it than if you live in the suburbs, or out in the country.
If you can’t get fibre optic broadband, you will probably be considering ADSL Broadband. ADSL comes in different variants, with upgrades of technology enabling speeds up to 24 Mbps; three times as fast as the standard ADSL of 8Mbps. You should look for providers that have their technology installed in the telephone exchange in order to ensure you get the best bandwidth you can.
Indeed, these ‘in network’ connections are cheaper than the “out of network” connections. For example the satellite TV and broadband provider Sky offers ‘in network’ connection speeds that are up to 24 Mbps on ADSL; whereas, the out of network offering is only up to 14Mbps.
Equally the cost of the out of network package is £5 more and you get a data cap of just 40GB per month, rather than having truly unlimited broadband when you have an unlimited in network package.
It’s important to consider your downloads when you are getting broadband and ensure that you get enough data as well as speed to cater for the needs of every consumer in the home.
Unlimited Packages on Offer
Unlimited packages come in two main types as we’ve just seen.
- Some unlimited packages are subject to fair usage and traffic management policies that restrict your data cap every month and also limit you in your activities by reducing speed.
- True unlimited broadband has no such policies and enables you to do just about whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it without fear of having your speed slowed or your connections cut.
The satellite TV provider Sky offers a free broadband service for those that will really need only a very light connection. Their Lite package costs absolutely nothing and offers 2GB of data per month. It is not a particularly comprehensive offering at all and most consumers these days will use more than 2GB, but if your household only uses the internet to browse and check e-mail occasionally, it should suffice.
The Talk Packages in Your Bundle
Talk packages aren’t all standard even when it comes to bundles. For example, some providers will have longer peak periods and shorter off peak periods for inclusive minutes. Some will offer any time calls rather than just weekend and evening calls and some providers will even offer free calls to mobiles as well as landlines. Non-geographic 0800 and 0845 calls are often included in free minutes although sometimes 0845 are not.
The actual costs of calls outside of your free minutes allocation also varies by provider. You should check the per minute cost of calls that you tend to make on your landline in order to ensure that you get the best value for money. It could be that you tend to ring landlines more, in which case that may well be your priority. However, if you use your landline to call mobiles, and don’t have a good allowance of inclusive minutes on your smartphone, then you should check the prices of mobile calls.
The Satellite TV Channels
The satellite TV channels, or digital channels on cable, are the most important aspect of bundles for many. Indeed, we all get excited about the entertainment options through our new digital TV package. The packages from Sky are mirrored pretty well by most of the other providers. You could choose Sky, TalkTalk, BT Vision, or Virgin as your provider. There are other smaller companies but these are the main players who have similar channels and offer really good value for money.
When it comes to the big two, it is undoubtedly Virgin and Sky. Virgin is available to around 50% of the UK and Sky is available just about everywhere. Satellite TV provides 100% coverage of the UK although the broadband isn’t available everywhere so if you are in a particularly isolated location you may well struggle to get ADSL broadband through Sky although you’ll be able to get the satellite TV service.
The Sky satellite TV service includes entertainment channels, sport channels, documentaries, and movies. There are many channels offered on a free basis and many that you have to subscribe to in the various packages, such as entertainment, entertainment+, movies and sports bundles. You should ensure that you get the right blend of channels for your needs; but bear in mind that if you go for a Sky bundle, you could quickly be spending £100 per month by upgrading and upgrading what you take on.