A Close Look at AOL

The Basics of AOL Broadband

AOL broadband has been offering internet connections to UK consumers for a decade.  This provider specialises in a no frills, basic broadband service which is geared toward consumers looking to keep everything simple.  While this appeals to a lot of people there are others who do not see the purpose.  It is important that you find out as much as you can about the company and the packages they offer before you make up your mind.  You should understand the limitations compared to the likes of Be broadband, Sky and BT Broadband.

AOL Broadband in the UK

AOL which stands for America Online started in the United States and moved into the UK over 10 years ago.  However, the broadband division of the UK AOL holdings was taken over by the Car Phone Warehouse group in 2006.  This acquisition by the Car Phone Warehouse made them one of the largest LLU broadband providers in the UK. 

In 2007 the parent company wanted to make the most of AOL broadband and started to offer a free laptop with all of the broadband packages.  This was in direct competition with the free laptop offers consumers could get from PC World with Orange Broadband.  These offers did increase the number of consumers using AOL as their service provider. 

AOL no longer falls under the Car Phone Warehouse group, but is now part of TalkTalk.  This happened in 2010 when the Car Phone Warehouse and TalkTalk split into two separate companies.  AOL still offers the same no frills packages that has made them popular and will continue to offers these basic packages. 

AOL Packages

There are three packages that you can get with AOL.  None of these packages offers the same level of service or the same features as many of the large service providers.  AOL packages are known as a family friendly provider because of the offering of parental controls and security software. 

The three packages you can get include broadband only, broadband and calls or broadband, calls and line rental.  The best option for most people is the broadband, calls and line rental option.  The reason why this is the best option is due to the speeds that the package offers.  While it is an ADSL package the connection speeds reach up to 24mb per second. 

All of the packages with AOL come with unlimited data and have no connection fees.  You do need to have a phone line with all the packages but not all the packages include this in the monthly cost.  New customers get additional benefits of months for free.  All of the packages require a contract agreement of 12 months minimum, but they can be extended should you want to.  A free router is included with all of the packages and they all come with hassle free set ups. 

The Pricing of AOL Packages

AOL offers broadband based on an LLU system.  LLU stands for local loop unbundled and involves the lines in the phone exchange.  When a service provider offers LLU they have inserted a device into the local exchange which makes it easier and cheaper for them to offer an ADSL broadband service.  However, there are many exchanges that are not part of the AOL LLU network.

Property outside of the LLU network may have different pricing than properties inside the LLU network.  To find out if you fall into the LLU network you need to use a broadband postcode checker.  These checkers will tell you if there are any LLU networks in your local exchange and which service provider they are linked to.  If you are not in the network you should contact AOL to find out about their regional pricing structure.  The regional pricing is generally not much more than the pricing within the LLU network.

Benefits of AOL

There are a number of benefits that come with being an AOL customer that you should be aware of:

  • AOL offers telephone support every day of the week.  If you have a phone line with the provider all calls to the AOL Talk Line are free.
  • There are a number of support articles on their website.  This allows you to find technical and customer support easily without having to call anyone.
  • Customer loyalty is often rewarded.  If you have been a customer of AOL broadband for a prolonged period of time your monthly premiums may be reduced as a display of gratitude for your customer loyalty.

The Small Print

Something that you should take note of in the small print of AOL is the traffic management policies.  This policy dictates what is termed as fair usage and what the consequences are for people who do not adhere to this policy.  The most common terms in these policies is that there are data limits during peak times of the day.  The peak times do vary depending on the provider and the consequences vary from throttled speeds to suspension of the service.

It is important that you view all the terms of this policy before you take a contract with AOL.  The effect of the policy may not relate to the package you have taken as some packages are offered leniency.

Should You Use AOL?

Many consumers who come across AOL broadband wonder if this is the right provider for them.  AOL does have a good reputation and has been in business for over 10 years and that says something about the service they offer. 

If you are looking for broadband that offers you an internet connection which is stable and reliable then AOL is a good choice.  However, if you want additional features which many other providers offer then AOL is not a good option.  AOL offers very basic broadband for people who want a simple option.

AOL has been around for many years and has provided internet connections in the UK for over 10 years.  There are many consumers that have stayed with this provider for as long as they have been around.  This customer loyalty is an indication of the level of service that this, often forgotten, service provider offers. 

Be Broadband, Sky Broadband and BT Broadband Unlimited

Be Broadband, Sky and BT offer truly unlimited broadband. They have no fair usage policies and don't impose stringent traffic management procedures. If you are a heavy broadband user then you should consider one of these providers if possible.