Menu

#1 for moving abroad

  • 1. Location Details
  • 2. Size of Move
  • 3. Your Details
  • 4. Your Quotes
  • As seen on
  • Time logo
  • Guardian logo
  • Forbes logo
  • Telegraph logo
  • BBC Radio logo
  • Business Insider logo

We are a proud member of the International Association of Movers and IAM Logistic Network.

How to Choose Broadband in the UK?

how to choose a broadband 1

Choosing broadband in the UK is a surprisingly complex subject. If all you care about is an internet connection then you will have few problems choosing between the myriad of providers offering budget broadband deals. If you need something more reliable or with higher download speeds there are a huge number of factors to consider.

Here we are going to look at some of the important things to consider with broadband and the best options available for different users.

Most Important Factors for Choosing Broadband

When you’re choosing any broadband package there are 4 things you should seriously consider:

  • Your actual usage
  • Speed
  • Download limitations
  • Price

Your Internet Usage

your internet usage

Your usage – how you actually use the internet – is the most important factor as it determines really how much you need to spend, how much speed you need and whether download limitations will matter. There are 3 recognised categories of internet user we can use to judge our own use; light internet user, medium user and heavy user.

To work out which category you fall into we can look at what data we realistically use. For example opening emails daily will use only 1-2 gigabytes (gb) of data a month. Streaming films and video can use 2-4GB an hour! To estimate your data usage you can use the table below.

ACTIVITY DATA USED
Browsing the Internet 1.5GB for 10-15000 web pages!
Checking emails 1-3GB a month
Downloading a song 3-6 MB (depending on quality)
Downloading a film 1-5 GB (depending on quality)
Streaming a film 2-4GB (depending on quality)
Skype or other VoIP 1GB for a 10 minute call
Playing online video games 50-500MB/hour

While these figures are estimations they are useful if we are trying to assess how much we really use the internet. If you are a relatively low internet user you will be using less than 20GB a month, a medium user will be using 20-40GB/month while a high user will use over 40GB a month.

Top Tip: Always buy a package with at least 5GB of data allowance above your normal usage.

Internet Speed

Internet speed

How fast your internet connection can be is incredibly important if you like to stream, download or play computer games online. For simple activities like browsing and emails speed really isn’t too much of a concern as the actual data you need to download is tiny!

However, that said there are huge disparities in the UK between speeds offered compared to speeds received and the actual speeds on offer in the UK!

Fibre optic broadband is currently the fastest connection type available and offers speeds of up to 152 megabytes per second (MBPS). However, throughout most urbanised areas of the country the fastest speed available is 100mbps. In rural areas of the UK speeds can be as low as 2mbps – though usually they meet the national average of 7.2mbps.

Checking what speeds are on offer in your area is fairly easy as any major provider will tell you which speeds are on offer in your area. However, the real problem is that the actually receive may be wildly different from what you are paying for.

Packages in the UK are offered with “speeds of up to”. This means that the advertised speed is the “maximum available speed” and not the actual speed you will receive. If you are switching an existing provider you can use a broadband speed checker to determine what speed you are actually currently receiving. If you are receiving significantly less than advertised then it may be worth switching to a cheaper package – though bear in mind that performance is effected by your router, your distance from a junction box and the time of day!

Top tip: Always use a wired internet connection to achieve the maximum speed possible.

Select the Size of Your Move to Get Free Quotes

Download Limitations

download limitations

Many of the cheaper internet packages come with download limitations that restrict your service or charge you an additional fee if you exceed your monthly, or weekly, data allowance.

When you are looking at a broadband package you need to make sure that you understand how much extra you will be charged for additional data. If you are buying a more expensive service they will usually be unlimited – but bear in mind that some internet service providers maintain a “fair use” policy. If you are going to be using high bandwidth consuming activities constantly make sure you check what the “fair use” policy actually means.

Top Tip: Make sure you choose a package with a data allowance that exceeds your normal use by a considerable margin. This way you can avoid excess charges.

Price

price

Price compared to service will, of course, be an important factor. Prices start for a simple broadband connection from around £5 a month but can go as high as £60 for a premium connection.

That said there are a few things to bear in mind with price. Firstly, unless you are with BT or have cable broadband you will need to pay a “line rental” fee. This is usually £15.99/month. When looking at any deal make sure to check whether line rental is included or excluded.

What are the Most Common Packages?

Once you know which type of internet user you are you can start to actually look at the packages available. There are a number of key characteristics to look for in any broadband deal that effect price and utility. We have already covered speed and data allowances but you will also want to look at:

1. Whether there is an installation fee

Some smaller providers charge an installation fee of £50 or more.

2. Whether there is a set-up fee

Similar to an installation fee some providers may charge to set up your account and internet connection.

3. Length of contract

Most contracts last for 12- 18 months and many providers will charge you a fee if you try to break the contract early. This can cost anything up to £200 so if you are likely to move make sure you will be able to transfer your account or opt for a shorter contract.

4. What extras are included

Most of the largest providers offer bundle deals. These can include mobile internet, TV packages, home phone (landline) free calls or other additional benefits. If you are looking at package deals try to work out whether you actually need or will use the additional services – as it is easy to overspend here.

The most common packages available are 50mbps with some rural areas still only receiving a maximum allowance of 25mbps. The following table gives a rough outline of the most common package types and the providers offering them.

Package Type (Speed) Unlimited Use Cost Provider(s)
152mbps Yes From £22.50/month Virgin
100mbps/td> Yes From £20/month Virgin, BT
76mbps Yes From £15/month Virgin, BT, EE
50mbps Yes From £10/month All providers
Speed 25mbps Some From £5 month All providers

76mbps packages and above are only available in major cities throughout the UK. 97% of the UK can receive a speed of at least 25mbps though the average actual speed will often be closer to 7.2mbps.

The government has a policy to bring super-fast fibre optic broadband to the whole of the country by 2016 so the speed nationwide is increasing rapidly.

So Which Broadband Provider is the Best?

With so many companies offering broadband it can be difficult to choose. To make life easier we’ve taken an in depth look at the most popular providers so that you can find one that offers the perfect package for you.

EE

EE have a reputation for offering the best mobile and broadband packages at very attractive prices – far lower than their competition. This makes them perfect for people who like to stay in touch and not break the bank on broadband.

The important points:

  • Speeds of 17mb, 38mb and 76mb
  • Prices from £9.95 a month
  • Includes router
  • Includes anti-virus software
  • No data cap on any package
  • Does not include a £15.75 a month line rental fee
  • Options for mobile, landline and international calls included

EE is perfect for people wishing to stay connected with people in the country and outside of the country whilst enjoying unbeatable value.

The current best packages from EE are:

1. 17mb Broadband with Landline for £9.95 a Month

  • Introductory price of £2.50 a month
  • Includes router
  • Unlimited weekend landline calls
  • 12 month minimum contract
  • Norton Anti-Virus included
  • Does not include a £15.75 a month line rental fee
Find The Best EE Broadband Deal

This is exceptional value broadband with great service and calls.

2. 76mb Broadband and Mobile, Landline and International Calls for £34.90/Month

  • Introductory price of £20 a month for 3 months
  • Includes router
  • Unlimited weekend landline calls
  • 1000 landline minutes to UK mobiles
  • Landline to landline calls to 30 international destinations
  • 18 month minimum contract
  • Norton Anti-Virus included
  • Does not include a £15.75 a month line rental fee
Find The Best EE Broadband Deal

This is the best international call and broadband package available in the UK. If you want to stay in touch with loved ones at home then this is the best package to have.

Virgin Media

Virgin media is the largest provider of broadband and TV in the country and offers the best speed of any UK provider. They have a significant support network and a reputation for great prices and deals.

The important points:

  • Virgin Media offers 3 speeds of fibre optic broadband – 50mb, 100mb and 152mb
  • All their packages come on a 12 month contract which is reasonably short compared to many other providers
  • Their packages come with a router included
  • Their packages do not need a phone line rental (£15.99 a month extra if including calls)
  • Option to include TV from £15/month
  • Their fibre optic packages are only available where the virgin network has been added

Virgin Media packages are very flexible and easy to set up. These are the most popular deals currently:

1. 50mb Broadband with Phone for £15.50 a Month

  • Includes router
  • Includes installation
  • No data cap
  • Unlimited weekend calls to landlines
  • Does not include a £15.99 a month line rental fee

If you don’t need the fastest internet connection available then this is the perfect package deal. Free weekend calls and a great speed for the price make this a very attractive mid-range deal.

2. 100mb Broadband with Phone and TV for £30 a Month

  • Includes router
  • Includes installation
  • No data cap
  • Unlimited weekend calls to landlines
  • 130 TV channels including Sky and HD
  • TiVo box included
  • Does not include a £15.99 a month line rental fee

This popular package offers everything you could need for a reasonably low monthly price. TV, phone and superfast internet for little more money than just a 100mb internet connection.

BT

BT is one of the largest UK telecommunications providers in the UK and provides exceptional service for good value. They offer broadband and phone line packages or broadband, phone and TV packages.

The Important Points

  • Speeds of 17mb, 38mb and 76mb
  • Prices from £10 a month
  • Includes router
  • No data cap on selected packages
  • Free weekend calls to landlines
  • Set up included
  • No installation necessary
  • Does not include a £15.99 a month line rental fee

BT is very easy to set up as you do not generally require an engineer to install your router (as they use normal phone lines). Their prices are very reasonable for low users and are particularly useful for anyone requiring a home phone. The current best packages from BT are:

1. 38mb Broadband and Phone for £23 a Month

  • Includes router
  • Includes unlimited weekend calls to landlines
  • 18 month contract
  • No data cap
  • Does not include a £15.99 a month line rental fee
  • Does not include a set-up fee (£30)

This package is a good mid-range package with an exceptional router and high speed internet.

2. 76mb Broadband, TV and Phone for £33.45 a Month

  • Includes router
  • Unlimited weekend calls to landlines
  • 18 month contract
  • Does not include a £15.99 a month line rental fee
  • No activation fee
  • Includes YouView+ box
  • Includes 20 extra TV channels

Sky

Sky is the largest provider of satellite TV in the country and their TV and broadband bundles offer exceptional value and selection.

The important points:

  • Speeds of 17mb, 38mb and 76mb
  • Prices from £12.50 a month
  • Includes router
  • No data cap on 38mb packages or above
  • £6.95 router delivery charge
  • Does not include a £15.40 a month line rental fee
  • Sky box included with all TV packages

Sky is perfect for TV lovers and they offer an incredible range of introductory offers including free TV for a year or more!

The current best packages from Sky are:

1. 38mb broadband for £20 a month

  • Includes router
  • No data cap
  • 18 month subscription with first 6 months free
  • Does not include a £15.40 a month line rental fe

This is a great package for anyone wanting high internet speeds at a reasonable price.

2. 17mb broadband plus TV for £29 a month

  • Includes router
  • No data cap
  • Includes 40 premium sky channels and Freeview
  • 12 month subscription

This is a great package for low internet users who would like a wide selection of TV channels.

Talk Talk

Talk Talk is one of the best budget broadband provides and offer fantastic no-frills packages at unbeatable prices.

The important points:

  • Speeds of 17mb and 38mb
  • Prices from £3.50 a month
  • Includes router
  • Free calls between Talk Talk customers
  • No data cap on any package
  • Does not include a £15.95 a month line rental fee
  • Options to add international calls

For pure value Talk Talk cannot be beaten on price; making them a very good choice for budget conscious broadband users.

The current best packages from Talk Talk are:

1. 17mb Broadband with Landline for £3.50 a Month

  • Introductory price of £1.75 a month
  • Includes router
  • 12 month minimum contract
  • Does not include a £15.95 a month line rental fee
  • Add international calls to 36 countries for £3.50 a month
  • Add unlimited UK landline calls for £5.00 a month
  • Add 100 mobile minutes for £3.00 a month

This is one of the best pick and choose packages on the market and incredible value with or without the extra features.

2. 38mb Broadband with Landline for £8.50 a Month

  • Introductory price of £4.25 a month for 6 months
  • Includes router
  • 12 month minimum contract
  • Does not include a £15.95 a month line rental fee
  • Add international calls to 36 countries for £3.50 a month
  • Add unlimited UK landline calls for £5.00 a month
  • Add 100 mobile minutes for £3.00 a month

A slightly faster and more expensive package from Talk Talk offers a much higher quality of internet connection but still at an unbeatable value.