How to choose the right broadband speed and data allowance

Many of us stick with the same broadband provider year after year, often because we’re not sure exactly how to go about choosing a better deal

Guide_to_choosing_a_broadband_package

Here, we explain what to look for when choosing a broadband package, so that you can find the best deal to suit your individual circumstances.

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Before you begin

Remember that before you move to a different provider, you’ll need to check that there aren’t any penalties to pay when you move from your current supplier. If there are, you may need to wait until your contract ends before you switch. The telecoms regulator Ofcom is currently consulting on rules that would require broadband providers to warn their customers that their contracts are about to finish. If introduced these should make it much easier for consumers to know when to move.

Consider what’s important to you

The right broadband package will depend on what’s most important to you. For example, is your priority superfast speeds, or is having unlimited downloads a necessity?

Fortunately, comparison sites have made it easier than ever to compare broadband deals available to you and you can filter your results by highlighting what’s important to you.

Remember that if you are basing your decision on the speed a particular package offers, the speed you actually get may be lower than the speeds advertised and will vary depending on the time of day and how far your property is from the relevant exchange.

If you want to find what broadband speed you’re currently getting, type ‘broadband speed test’ into any search engine and you’ll find a number of simple, free speed-testing tools.

When choosing a broadband package, Broadbandchoices.co.uk suggests that if you’re in a large household of four or more regular users, you look for a package with average download speeds of 34Mb or more. If you live in a shared home with up to four people, speeds of 10Mb or more should be enough.

Will I need unlimited data?

Some deals will have a monthly data allowance, which is the amount of data measured in Megabytes (Mb) and Gigabytes (Gb) that you are allowed to use every month without incurring any charges.

If you are a heavy internet user and regularly use video streaming services or download a lot of films, a package with unlimited data if likely to be your best bet.  If all you do is email and surf the net you may only need a basic service offering 20Gb or less.

Benefits of bundled deals

Often the cheapest broadband deals are available as part of a bundled package, whereby you get your home phone, broadband and digital TV from the same provider. If you’re considering taking this route, you’ll need to think carefully about what you need from your home phone.

There’s no point, for example, opting for a deal which gives you free weekend calls if you make most of your calls from your landline during the week.

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If you are bundling your TV package too, remember that providers offer slightly different combinations of channels, so make sure you are signing up to a deal that gives you the channels you want.