Choosing the best broadband package isn’t always easy. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all option for broadband because people use the internet for very different things. That means that your first step is to figure out what you’re actually going to need from your broadband connection.
What kind of broadband package do I want?
Broadband Deals - if you are just starting out, it's likely that you're looking for a package that's easy to set up, not too expensive and offers good customer support.
Heavy-Use Broadband Deals - If you enjoy downloading oodles of songs and movies using peer-to-peer software or you're a big fan of online gaming, it's almost certain that you'll be classed as a heavy user.
Business Broadband Deals - these packages differ from consumer deals as they offer extras like static/fixed-IPs, webspace and email addresses as well as routers and security suites.
Mobile Broadband Deals - if you access the Internet primarily from your laptop, then mobile broadband is an option worth considering - whether to be used at home or on the go.
Mobile broadband providers will send you a 'dongle' (modem) or MiFi that you connect with your laptop to access the Internet, at broadband speeds, wherever there's mobile phone coverage.
- Family Broadband Deals - with more and more devices like laptops, tablets, TVs, set-top boxes and gaming consoles connecting to the Internet, families can be among the heaviest users.
How fast is it?
There are a lot of factors that can affect your choice of broadband service, but the biggest is probably the connection speed.
Where broadband speed is concerned, it’s worth remembering that you aren't always guaranteed the speed touted in providers' adverts. This is down to a number of factors.
One is that your ISP will share your line with other customers (which is why it’s slower at peak times). The distance of your house from the telephone exchange, plus the quality of the cabling used, will also substantially affect the actual broadband speed you receive.
Super-Fast Broadband – Offering speeds of up to 100Mbps, and even 120Mbps in areas where Virgin Media has upgraded its network, fibre broadband is the fastest home broadband technology around. With an unlimited data allowance, this is the all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet of the broadband world.
Fast Broadband – This is a seriously good middle-ground. Fast broadband will allow you to stream HD, download HD, upload movies and game heavily, but at peak times, and with all these things running, you may notice it struggling.
Cheap Broadband – These packages can handle all the little things. You’ll have no problem checking emails, surfing, laughing at cats on YouTube or sharing photos on Facebook.
You’ll be able to download and play games reasonably quickly. But you may experience some buffering and slowdown. What's more, if you've got lots of things going on at once you’ll really notice your connection struggling.
Data limits are also a big part of package choice. For home or business broadband (i.e. not mobile) the limits vary from 10GB per month to unlimited GB per month. Any extra data used is chargeable, with these rates varying between ISPs.
For mobile broadband the limits tend to be a lot lower, usually between 500MB and 1GB, making them suitable for light users.
If you’re an average user with average needs, this can be the major swing in your choice of provider. Visit our broadband provider page to see what people are saying about customer service, reception and advertised vs actual speeds.
Looking for super-fast broadband? Compare the best fibre broadband deals