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Your guide to choosing broadband packages and providers

Superfast broadband? Heavy-use broadband? Beginner's broadband? What type of broadband is right for you? Read our guide and we'll cover everything you need to know.
Max Beckett author headshot
Written by Max Beckett, Broadband Expert
Published - 15 May 2024
Updated - 15 May 2024

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.

What broadband do I need?

Not all broadband is created equal. With an array of fast part-fibre and ultrafast full fibre 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.

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Broadband for beginners

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.

Find cheap broadband deals

Browse our low-cost broadband deals if you want to save money on your next broadband service.

Broadband for film and TV buffs

If you enjoy downloading high-quality movies, or if you make extensive use of TV streaming services like Netflix or Disney Plus, 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.

See our fibre broadband deals

Plus, if you're already signed up to a pay-TV service from BT, Sky or Virgin, you could end up saving a good amount of money each month by bundling your broadband with your TV provider.

Take a look at our best broadband & TV bundles to see if you could reduce your bills while continuing to watch everything you love.

Compare broadband and TV deals
Take a look at the latest TV and broadband packages on Uswitch.
Compare the latest broadband and TV packages on Uswitch

Broadband for families

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 fibre broadband deals
Explore our wide range of fibre broadband deals on Uswitch.
Compare our wide range of fibre broadband deals on Uswitch

Broadband for students

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.

Broadband and landline packages

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.

Broadband for businesses

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.

Browse business broadband deals
Keep your business running smoothly with a dedicated business broadband connection.
Browse business broadband deals
Keep your business running smoothly with a dedicated business broadband connection.

How to choose the right broadband provider

There are dozens of broadband providers in the UK, and many are known for doing particular parts of the service very well. For example:

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.

More factors you'll need to consider

Keep in mind these things when you're choosing your next broadband package.

What kinds of broadband are available in my area?

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.

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'.

Do you need fast broadband?

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.

Do I need free phone calls with my broadband package?

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.

Do I need TV with my broadband?

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.

Will my package provide the hardware I need to get wireless internet?

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.

Do I need internet security software?

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.

See our best tv and broadband packages

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