Before you choose a package, it's a good idea to determine exactly what you'll need from a broadband internet connection.
Which is the best broadband deal for me?
We've got a few tailored sites you might want to check out to get started on your search, including:
Broadband deals - For those of you just getting started with the internet, you'll probably want an easy-to-install broadband package that offers fantastic customer care.
Business broadband deals - Businesses have different needs than consumers, and online business broadband packages are tailored for these needs, with essential extras like fixed/static-IPs, e-mail addresses, added security software and online storage space.
Mobile broadband deals - If you need anywhere, anytime access to the internet, 3G or 4G mobile internet is your best bet because it gives you broadband access wherever you are, as long as there's mobile network coverage.
How fast is the internet connection?
While there are many factors to consider with a broadband deal, the most important is probably the speed of the internet connection.
When it comes to advertised connection speeds, you need to remember that speeds vary. Broadband providers advertise "average" speeds that must be available to 50% of customers — meaning you've got a 50/50 chance of getting higher or lower speeds than what's advertised. But most of the time, you won't be getting these speeds due to factors largely outside of your control.
One major influence on speeds is that your ISP will share your connection with other users, which is why connections slow at popular times. The distance between the telephone exchange and your house coupled with the quality of the cables used will also determine the speeds you can actually receive.
We've broken speed down into three tiers:
Fibre broadband – Offers speeds up to 900Mbps in select areas. Virgin Media and BT's fibre to the premises (FTTP) cable broadband services are some of the fastest around.
Cheap Broadband – Cheap packages are fine for light internet users. They allow you to check e-mails, browse the internet, watch videos on YouTube and play computer games; however, the quality of the connection and speeds are somewhat lacking and will struggle more often with activities such as streaming HD video.
Data limits are an important part of a broadband package because they determine how much you can use the internet each month.
Although most new contracts have unlimited data allowances, some providers still offer packages with data limits starting at around 20GB.
With data limits, you'll be charged for any extra data you use above your limit, so it's a good idea to get more than you typically use.
Mobile broadband data limits are usually significantly lower than home broadband, with allowances ranging between 1GB and 32GB a month.
Customer service is incredibly important if you’re an average internet user.
Check out our [broadband provider page] (/broadband/providers/ "Broadband Providers") to compare broadband providers, including their customer service numbers and information.