When it comes to comparing broadband packages, there are a whole range of factors to consider. But perhaps the most important are speed, cost and contract length.
With so many providers, contracts, offers and packages to choose from, the first step is to work out exactly what you need in terms of your usage and how much you want to spend.
Once you've established that, you can pick out a broadband provider that best meets your criteria and that offers a service in your area.
Below, we'll be outlining in detail the best approach to buying broadband to help you get the best broadband product for your needs.
What kind of broadband package do I want?
Beginner's broadband. 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. You know you're a heavy-user if you enjoy downloading HD movie or streaming entire series of TV shows via a pay-TV service.
If you make extensive use of peer-to-peer software, or you're a big fan of online gaming, you're probably also a heavy user. If that sounds like you, then our heavy-use packages are the ones to look out for.
- Business broadband. These packages differ from consumer deals by including extras such as static/fixed-IPs, webspace and email addresses that include the name of your business.
Business broadband packages also feature business-grade security to keep sensitive information away from prying eyes.
- Mobile broadband. 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 is usually delivered through a 'dongle' (modem) that you plug into the USB slot on your laptop to access the Internet, at broadband speeds, wherever there's mobile phone coverage.
MiFi dongles are also available and allow you to share a single mobile broadband connection between multiple web enabled devices simultaneously.
- Family broadband. With more and more devices like laptops, tablets, TVs, set-top boxes, smartphones and gaming consoles connecting to the Internet, families have specific needs that are best catered for by certain providers.
Because many family members are likely to be using the same connection, the best family broadband products are often those with unlimited download allowances.
Considerations - internet providers in your area
What kinds of broadband are available in my area?
If you live in a city or built-up area it's very likely you will have access to nearly every package on the uSwitch site.
If, however, you live in a more rural location, you should check which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operate in your area, and whether there are any limitations to what is on offer.
You're much less likely to be able to sign up to a super-fast fibre broadband service in a remote part of the UK than you are in built-up areas.
You can use the uSwitch broadband postcode checker to see which packages are available, but always double check with the provider as availability often changes as providers improve the reach of their infrastructure.
With everyone talking about megabits and download times, it's easy to think that speed is all there is to look for in a broadband package.
That's true to a certain extent, but it's also worth remembering that connection speeds of over 2Mbps are easily sufficient to carry out most online activities without problems.
A broadband connection of 8Mbps will allow you to email, share pictures, YouTube, Facebook and play games. Fast broadband appeals mainly to those who download more or less constantly and have very demanding applications.
The fastest broadband services are those fibre optic broadband products, such as BT Infinity, products from Sky and O2 that use BT's infrastructure, or Virgin Media's top-end broadband offerings.
What do I need to get broadband?
Many ISPs offer free wireless routers with their packages, but others have really pushed the boat out by offering broadband and free gifts, such as vouchers, to subscribers.
Do I need free phone calls with my broadband package?
Bundling your telephone and broadband packages can save you money and time - take a look at our broadband and home phone packages.
Do I need digital TV with my broadband?
Some people aren't that fussed about digital TV, but others love the sheer range of viewing choice it gives them. If you're in the latter group, you can compare broadband and digital TV deals at our dedicated page: broadband and digital TV package.
What hardware do I need to get broadband?
As noted earlier, all ISPs now provide free wireless routers with their packages. These are vital if you have multiple devices, such as laptops and gaming consoles, connecting to a single line.
What software do I need to get broadband?
Internet security should be a priority for everyone. With viruses able to infect computers from visiting dodgy sites, opening email attachments and downloading files, it is imperative to have a level of protection for your computer. As with wireless routers, security suites are included in most broadband packages.
Compare all the best broadband deals at uSwitch now.