When it comes to choosing a broadband package, there is a whole range of criteria to consider, including speed, cost and contract length.
The most important factor in choosing your broadband package is what kind of internet user you are. Once you've established this, you'll find it's much easier to track down a package that meets your needs.
Not all broadband is created equal. With an array of superfast fibre and standard broadband packages to choose from, there's a lot to get to grips with when you're looking for a broadband deal that will meet your needs.
To help you make the very best buying decision, we've matched broadband products and providers to the kinds of web users we think they most suit.
If you're just starting out and don't know yet what you'll use the internet for, it's a good idea to choose an ADSL or superfast broadband package. This way, you'll avoid paying for ultrafast speeds that you may not need if all you're doing is checking e-mails or watching the odd YouTube clip.
Starting out small and working your way up is a better bet for beginners than buying too much. If at a later date you find you need a faster, more expensive broadband product, providers will happily allow you to upgrade mid-contract.
If you think you're paying too much for a speed you don't need, you can also move onto a cheaper tariff with your provider without paying an early exit fee, under new rules set out by Ofcom.
If an affordable service is what you're after, find some of the latest cheap broadband deals with Uswitch.
See our cheapest broadband deals
If you enjoy downloading HD movies or if you make extensive use of TV streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, you're classified as a heavy user, so it's important to make sure whatever broadband package you sign up for has unlimited downloads. Nearly all packages these days do, but it's a good idea to make sure.
Heavy users may want to consider paying extra for fibre broadband. Fibre is faster than standard broadband and means you'll be able to download movies, music and games a lot quicker so you'll spend less time waiting and buffering and more time enjoying your entertainment of choice.
Families are also almost certain to be heavy users, especially in homes with teenagers who've grown up with the web.
With four or more people in a household, all of whom are likely to be using a range of web-enabled gadgets and going online simultaneously, you'll likely want to sign up for a fibre broadband package to ensure your connection is smooth.
It's also worth keeping an eye out for which broadband providers offer parental controls so you can keep your kids safe online. Most providers do include it as standard, but before signing up for a package, check the provider's website.
Compare our range of hundreds of broadband deals
What sets student broadband apart from other broadband packages is that contracts last nine months instead of the 12-month or 18-month terms that usually apply. The shorter contract term means students don't have to pay for broadband during the long summer holiday, during which time they're likely to be at home and not occupying their student digs.
Be careful, though: a lot of student broadband packages include set-up fees, so it pays to sit down and do the math to see whether you're better off with a student broadband package or a cheaper, longer contract.
Take a look at our Uswitch guide for students.
If you're looking for a basic deal to keep in touch with your family and occasionally surf the internet, it'd make sense to compare broadband and landline deals that are packaged together.
Our broadband and home phone deals page displays home internet deals that have cheap landlines for seniors, so you can stay connected with your loved ones without overpaying for services you don't need.
If you're a pensioner searching for your first broadband service, our broadband and home phone deals will let you keep your landline, and bundle both bills into a simple, single monthly payment.
If you run a business, you're probably better off signing up for a broadband package that's tailored to the needs of enterprises.
Business broadband packages differ from standard consumer deals by including extras such as static/fixed-IPs, webspace and email addresses that feature the name of your business.
They also offer business-grade security to keep sensitive information away from prying eyes, and you'll also get better customer support to minimise the financial impact if your connection goes down.
Got a business? Find a broadband deal that'll help you grow at our business broadband comparison page.
There are dozens of broadband providers in the UK, and many are known for doing particular parts of the service very well. For example:
Virgin Media is known as one of the fastest providers
Plusnet has a great reputation for customer service
NOW Broadband and TalkTalk deals are very good value
Sky Broadband comes with excellent TV bundles
BT and Vodafone provide very reliable and robust connections with useful backups
The provider you choose depends on what you value the most about your broadband, and there are many more broadband providers that you can choose from in addition to the above.
When you're choosing your next broadband provider, make sure to identify what exactly you want from your service. It'll help to narrow down the options when you compare deals.
Keep in mind these things when you're choosing your next broadband package.
If you live in a city or built-up area, it's very likely you'll be able...
Understandably, average UK broadband speeds in rural areas tend to be considerably slower than those in urban areas. Broadband statistics show, in 2020, the average speed in rural areas was 54 Mbit/s compared to 81 Mbit/s in urban areas.
You can use the Uswitch broadband postcode checker to...
If you live in a city or built-up area, it's very likely you'll be able to take your pick from 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.
You can use the Uswitch broadband postcode checker to see the 'best broadband in my area'.
With all this talk of megabits and download times, it's sometimes easy to think that speed is the be-all and end-all in a broadband package. That's true to a certain extent, but it's also worth remembering that connection speeds of over 10Mbps are easily sufficient for most small households to carry out basic online activities without problems.
A broadband connection of 8Mbps will allow you to e-mail, share pictures, watch Netflix, check Facebook and play games. Fast broadband — typically fibre-optic broadband products — appeals mainly to those who download more or less constantly and have very demanding applications.
If you use your landline, bundling your telephone and broadband packages can save you money and time, and most providers have package deals for the two. In the majority of cases, a physical landline will already be in place when you have a broadband connection, so adding some inclusive call minutes should be a simple matter.
Take a look at our broadband and home phone packages site to see which deals are available in your area.
Opt to add TV to your broadband bundle and you'll get a much wider choice of programmes to choose from, including movie premiers and glossy, must-see US dramas. You'll also be able to see Premier League games live, as well as a host of other crown-jewels sports events.
You can compare broadband and TV deals at our dedicated broadband and digital TV page.
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.
Internet security should be a priority for everyone. With viruses able to infect computers by simply visiting nefarious sites, opening email attachments and downloading files, it's imperative that you protect your computer and data against these attacks.
The good news is that, as with wireless routers, security suites are included in most broadband packages.
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