Families have quite specific needs when it comes to broadband. For instance, with a household full of people, you're much more likely to work through your monthly usage allowance than a person who lives alone.
What's more, if more than one of you is going online simultaneously, it's vital that you've got a strong wireless connection throughout the house.
To help you sign up for a broadband package that's right for your family, we've summarised some of the key factors you need to consider.
With home PCs, laptops and games consoles being used by all members of the family, often at the same time, broadband for families has a lot of demands to fulfil.
If you're running more than one device on your broadband connection — and who isn't these days? — wireless broadband is mandatory. Most ISPs now include free wireless routers with their packages as standard.
Compare all wireless broadband packages suitable for families now.
It's worth noting that the more devices using the broadband connection at once, the slower the overall download speed becomes. Hence, packages that offer higher speeds are the ones to look for if your family downloads lots of music, plays games over the internet and watches IPTV.
See our fast broadband page to compare fast broadband packages suitable for families.
As well as higher speeds, you should consider the download allowance of your broadband package, too. Your best bet is to look for broadband deals with unlimited downloads.
When it comes to 'unlimited downloads', it's important to note that some ISPs have fair usage policies attached to prevent a minority of heavy users taking up all the bandwidth and slowing the connection for other users at peak times.
Be sure and have a look at the terms and conditions of each package so that you fully understand what you're signing up for.
Compare all unlimited broadband deals suitable for families here.
Some ISPs provide extensive parental controls to try and help you make sure your children are safe on the internet and filter out URLs they consider unsuitable. A small problem here is that selectively changing the level of restrictions according to which member of the family is using the computer isn't always easy. One way around this is for different family members to have separate log-ins.
Another way providers help keep your kids safe is by allowing you to limit the time your child is on the internet, as well as offering to e-mail you reports which list the websites your child has visited.
There are also other measures that you can take yourself — for example, buying software such as Net Nanny. Here, instead of the ISPs filtering the URLs your child can access, this software does the job.
There a couple of pitfalls with this, though, in that you have to update the software regularly. You're also relying on the manufacturer of the software you've bought to decide what's unsuitable for your children.
It’s not just children that need to be careful on the internet, though. Everyone needs to be vigilant online in an era where credit card fraud and identity fraud is rife. To guard against this, you should follow advice from your banks about internet security and never give out personal details.
ISPs can provide very comprehensive family protection. But although you can find a plethora of software to help, you should be careful not to rely solely on them.
No matter how good they are, measures such as these cannot be 100% safe. If you’re worried about your children, the best way to protect them is to supervise them as much as possible and try to get the whole family to be as careful they can.
To compare all family broadband bundles, see our dedicated page broadband bundles page.
Direct Save Telecom has reduced the price of its contract and non-contract broadband deals.
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Ofcom has named BT and KCOM as its proposed providers for the forthcoming broadband universal service obligation.
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