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How to get the best broadband deal

A broadband connection is now a 'must have' for households in the UK. Those without Internet access at home have become a minority as the latest Ofcom statistics show that nearly 80% of adults have access to high speed broadband. With so many services available online, the Internet access has changed our lives - from the way we shop to the way we listen to music with broadband playing a huge role in this change.

Of all the factors you can compare by far the two most important are speed and reliability


Speed
Standard (non-fibre) broadband connections should give you over 15 Mbps (Megabits per second). If you are looking for an optic fibre connection they range between 40 – 200 Mbps. Any speed above 40 Mbps is enough for anyone who likes streaming from services such as the iPlayer or Netflix.

Terminology Guide

Mbps – Megabits per second
ISP - Internet service provider
Reliability
This is the hardest thing to determine and it seems to very much depend on the area you live in. In some areas Virgin is more reliable, in some areas its BT or Sky. The truth is some networks have patchy coverage and reliability in some areas (much like mobile phone operators) We recommend you do your research about the reliability in your local area by asking friends and searching online to get some gauge of what people are saying. If you can find nothing then you should just assume that they are all as reliable as each other.

Remember To Shop Around
It is reported that 1 in 2 new broadband contracts are made via a customer's existing phone provider. Although this approach is the easiest option is it often not the best. Shopping around for better deals may be well worth your time. Make sure you find out exactly what you get for your money.

Price to Pay?
Broadband services from major ISPs start from as little as £5.99 a month up to around £40. Don't forget to consider any start-up costs. Installing a phone line typically costs between £25-50 and buying a broadband modem costs about £40. There are 'all-inclusive' deals out there, which will include the cost of phone line installation and a free broadband device but that will in most cases mean tying you in to a 12- or 24-month broadband contract. Look at the complete deal and not just the cheapest one - find the offer that's right for you.

Beware of Capped usage?
Some broadband ISPs cap the amount internet data you can download and upload. If all you do online is surf the net, send emails and download a few tracks, then you're not a high web user and anything from 1 to 50 gigabytes (GB) a month will be fine for you. However, if you are a power web user, a capped broadband service will prove to be useless. In this case, you should certainly check if your package offers 'unlimited' downloads before signing up.

Market Trends
Bundles – Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk and BT are all fighting to offer the three (Landline, TV, Broadband) and four (Landline, TV, Broadband, Mobile) offering. These are often very attractive packages and make broadband as an individual element look very cheap. Overall we view these bundled offers as very good – however if you do not, for example, watch a lot of TV then they are probably not right for you.
Mobile Broadband – One of the disadvantages of broadband is that it needs a fixed landline. This often means that broadband is double the cost as you have to pay for that landline that many people now do not use. In some locations, for example, central London mobile broadband is a real alternative. Companies such as Relish offer mobile broadband where your router connects to the mobile network without the need for any landline. While this does work well in many areas do not expect the same reliability as a landline.