The Right Broadband for you

There are so many broadband providers out there at the moment, both on a fixed and a mobile basis.

On fixed you could choose from BE , Sky , Plusnet , Tesco , and even the Post Office .  And on a mobile broadband basis you have EE, Three Mobile, Vodafone, and O2 just for starters. 

Choosing the best provider really is a tricky decision.  This article will look through how to choose the best fixed line and mobile broadband solutions, and some considerations you should take into account along the way.

Choosing a Fixed Line Solution

When choosing a fixed solution most people buy based on the download speed they can achieve in their area.  After all we all want to do things faster and more efficiently.  The best way to find out the kinds of speeds you can achieve are through online tools.

Many people do a speed test of their connection and this data is shared for all to see on certain websites.  Services such as uSwitch provide the opportunity to do a postcode search of the various speed test results in your area.  These results show you the upload speed, download speed, latency of internet service providers in you vicinity.  This can be a great way to get actual results instead of the advertised results providers want us to believe in.

A Bit about Advertised Results

When you look at internet service providers, whether it’s BE , O2 , or any other service, the ‘up to’ rates that are advertised will not be the actual rate that you’re likely to get.  Advertising has become a little bit more transparent recently but it still isn’t very “honest” in most cases. 

It’s the case that the headline rate advertised is the actual rate you will receive.  It tends to be the case that the ‘up to’ speeds that are headlining the magazines and internet advertisements are the speeds that at least 10% of consumers on a certain ISP can receive.  This means that 90% of people will not receive this speed, or perhaps anywhere near it.

It’s therefore important to read reviews and use these online comparison services in order to get the best provider for your location.  It’s also worth talking to friends and colleagues in your area to find out how their internet connectivity stability is as well.  Some providers will shape traffic during peak periods in the evenings, and this can be a real problem for some people.

If you’re not going for fibre optic broadband, then you are going to be on ADSL broadband, so ensure that you know your distance from a telephone exchange so that you can get a connection that is right for you.

If you are a long way from the telephone exchange it may be that the speed will degrade so much that you’ll struggle to get a decent connection.  It may be that ADSL 2 or ADSL 2+ is the only option to get any sort of speed.

There are around 166,000 homes in the UK that are in broadband black spots where they can’t get decent connectivity through ADSL, or any other standard fixed line medium.

Choosing a Mobile Broadband Provider

When you’re choosing a mobile broadband provider it’s important to ensure that you get the coverage that you require.  The signals for mobile broadband are very similar to telephone signals.  So chances are if you can get a decent telephone signal, you can probably get a decent mobile signal.

It’s well worth noting that the mobile technology is developing quickly and we’re now looking at 4G connectivity.

What is 4G connectivity?

4G connectivity involves speeds that are faster and connections that are more stable.  It is the fourth generation of mobile broadband technology.  Essentially speeds should be up to around 14.4Mbps and more.  And you should get better indoor as well as outside connectivity too because there are lower bands of the spectrum that are going to be better at penetrating brick walls.

There are similar services to help you check the coverage that you’ll likely get in your area with mobile broadband as there are with fixed broadband.  For example, you can do a postcode check and find out what connectivity different providers have in your area.  You can also pop on to the network operator websites and do a check based on postcode.

If you’re committing to a 24-month contract on mobile broadband, it may be worth buying a sim card and crediting it with £5 so that can check the mobile broadband coverage where you need to use it.

You could slip the sim card into your phone if it is sim free and therefore try the mobile broadband on your smartphone.  Doing a bit of browsing and jumping on to Youtube could be enough to satisfy yourself that the connection will be sufficient for your purposes.

Some Other Considerations

Whether you’re with BE  , O2, Vodafone, Sky, Virgin, Plusnet, or any other company, it’s critical that you don’t only consider speed but also your download allowances.  There are a variety of packages available for most providers and it’s only a few of the providers, such as Tesco, that really are limited in their choice.  Most providers will offer you an option for a light, a medium, or a heavy user package so that you can get the right amount of data for your particular needs.

If you spend a lot of time streaming and playing online games then you’ll probably want a fixed line connection with a heavy user package.  This will likely be unlimited and the best unlimited providers offer truly unlimited broadband without the imposition of a fair usage policy and traffic management.

Some of the providers that you could look at are Sky, Virgin Media on their top package, BE, and BT on some of their packages too.

Do watch out for fair usage caps.  TalkTalk have a 40GB cap on some of their unlimited packages and the post office have 100GB, which is more generous, but still far from unlimited.  If you are a media hungry home it’s certainly worth considering the amount of data that you’re going to consume. 

If you spend a lot of time uploading as well then the upload speed may be important.  This can be critical if you run a business where you upload images through e-mail or through some other platform, such as FTP.   Home offices really should look at a business solution where you get better upload speed, prioritised traffic, a more consistent connection and better customer service.