Four tips on how to choose a broadband provider
Before you sign up to broadband, there are a few things that are worth taking the time to consider.
Even though the Ofgem rules are changing to allow some users to break contracts without penalty if the broadband delivered falls bellow certain minimum standards, these rules are far from simple to apply.
For most of us, a broadband deal is fairly long-term commitment and breaking a contract will incur a cost.
So, getting it right in the first place is well worthwhile.
Here are four things to consider before you take the plunge and compare deals online:
1. Fixed line or mobile
If you already have a fixed landline into your home – and an increasing number of people are opting NOT to have – then this will usually deliver fast and consistent broadband.
The big downside is that it will be more expensive than the non-landline alternative.
You’ll need to have a landline installed if you don’t have one already and you will be paying monthly to rent this before counting any broadband charges on top.
If you are a light internet user – not a heavy online gamer, for example – you may want to consider going down the increasingly popular mobile internet route.
Signals are supposedly improving and probably will only get better.
Particularly if you live in an area with 4g, then mobile might be a good choice.
Otherwise, it’s cable or satellite. Cable will provide the fastest delivery by far, but will be expensive and many areas are not already cabled, so it’s not available.
If you live in the sticks, then satellite can make sense; but, again, it’s likely to be more expensive than fixed line or mobile.
2. Usage limits
Watch out for the small print.
Many of us have a good idea what we use the internet for and probably even approximately how many hours a day we use it for.
But few of us have much of a clue how many megabytes or gigabytes this amounts to.
Do some research here and do a few calculations about what you need – and then leave some spare capacity.
If in doubt, it’s probably worth opting for ‘unlimited’ use, which is a common offering these days.
But, take care here that ‘unlimited’ does mean what you would expect it to mean.
Check the word doesn’t have an asterisk after it and this doesn’t relate to an entry in the small print which attempts to define ‘unlimited’ as, well, ‘a lot’ – but certainly not an amount without limit.
If there is a fair usage clause it probably won’t apply to you, unless you’re downloading huge movie files 24/7. But it’s certainly worth checking what it does mean.
Other providers, such as BT, will assure you that unlimited does indeed mean just that.
Bear this in mind when you compare cut-price, 'unlimited' internet deals on A Spokesman Said.
3. Changing habits
Just as the mobile phone sector is rapidly changing, so too is the broadband delivery sector.
More and more services are becoming available through internet networks.
We don’t have to look too far ahead to see the arrival of the ‘internet of things’.
Many TVs are already web-enabled, next will come home lighting, fridges and heating. Perhaps your car won’t be far behind.
While this might sound futuristic to many, the reality is manufacturers are already building many of these things and selling them in the most technologically advanced places, such as South Korea.
The point is, that all this might have a bearing on the length and type of your contract.
Before you sign up, consider what your usage is now, of course, but also how it might well develop over time.
Some of the best broadband deals will be for longer contracts and limited usage.
But will these meet your needs in the near future?
If you have a teenagers in your family, their demand for bandwidth will only ever go in one direction – upwards!
4. Internet speed
Before you select a package and a network on price, make sure you have a reasonable estimate of what speed you can expect to receive.
You can never have internet that is too fast, but for many users, the fastest speeds are not essential.
However, unless you’re tech savvy, you will want to receive a breakdown of not only the range of speeds you can expect, but also what this relates to in terms of how fast you can download, say a movie, or whether you will be able to watch BBC’s iPlayer without problem.
All providers will be able to help you with this kind of information.
Now you're a clued-up broadband buyer, use A Spokesman Said's free tool to find the right deal for you.