What is a good broadband package?
Each person and each household will want different things from their broadband, whether that’s high-definition streaming, online gaming, or just a reliable service that doesn’t cost the Earth. At the end of the day, the best broadband deal is the best one for you.
So when searching for the best deal for your household, consider what you’ll be using the internet for, what extras you’d like to get (TV channels, landline, mobile, etc) and what you definitely want to avoid.
When comparing broadband deals on Uswitch, you can filter your search results by speed, price, and provider to help you make the most informed choice.
What are the best broadband deals in my area?
Another thing to consider when looking for a great broadband dea is whether or not that service is available where you live. If you have your heart set on a provider that advertises 300Mbps download speeds you’d be disappointed to find out your house could only get a third of that speed in practice.
Broadband availability depends on the fixed lines and the infrastructure in your area. So if your street has got fibre-optic cables throughout then those ultrafast broadband speeds could be yours for the taking, however if it’s only copper wires you’ll be limited to a standard ADSL.
Before browsing and comparing broadband deals online, first use our broadband postcode checker to narrow your search down to deals that you can actually get.
How to find the best broadband deal for you
Here are a few things to consider when you’re shopping around for broadband:
The easiest number to look at when comparing deals is the monthly price. The majority of the time, there will be a new contract with a different provider that comes with a lower monthly price than what you’re currently paying.
However, these introductory offers are often only for a fixed-term period, so make a note of when your contract runs out to avoid unnecessary price hikes –– which Uswitch has found to be as high as 62% at times.
Are you in or out?
If you’re concerned about the price hike once your contract ends, you may be in luck — Ofcom recently made it compulsory for broadband providers to notify you when your contract is ending.
This notification must also come with an offer of similar deals that the provider currently has available, but be careful: those deals won’t necessarily be better than other offers from different providers. So it’s worth comparing other packages before you go for a new deal immediately.
The new rules also state that anyone who is already out of contract must also receive a notification telling them they are paying prices higher than their initial fixed-term amount.
To get more information, like when you might receive them and what else they offer, check out our full guide on end of contract notifications.
Speed is one of the most important deciding factors when choosing a broadband package, and faster is usually better. Faster download speeds typically come with a higher monthly price, so make sure you get a broadband service that’s fast enough, but don’t get more speed than you need if you want to keep costs down.
Likewise, you could also get the cheapest broadband package on offer, but if it’s not a fast enough speed, it’s not much of a deal for you.
Broadband contracts tend to be offered as either 12- or 18-months long, with a few providers offering flexible rolling plans. But don’t be scared of longer contracts — they often just mean that you’ll be paying a lower monthly price for a longer period of time.
Just be cautious if you’re a student or renting your home, as you don’t want to get stung with early termination fees in the situation when you have to move before your contract is finished.
Keep an eye out for setup costs as they can offset some of the savings you make from a low monthly price. Setup costs are clearly shown below monthly prices on all of our deals tables and they typically include all the delivery, installation and activation costs you will incur when you purchase a new broadband package.
Extras, add-ons and bundles
There’s more to life than just broadband — there’s broadband extras, add-ons and bundles too. You can typically find broadband packages from providers that combine services like TV packages, call plans or even mobile contracts.
Free gifts, vouchers, reward cards and cashback
In order to make their deals stand out, providers will often “sweeten the pot” with some kind of reward or incentive — like cashback, bill credits or a free gift of some kind. Depending on the value of these rewards (and specifically their value to you), they can bring down the effective monthly cost or enrich your package a little bit more.
These rewards are typically limited-time offers, but don’t let that force you to make a decision too quickly. If you know what you want from a new broadband deal, don’t be seduced by a £100 gift card if it’s not the right deal for you. However, if the deal is what you’re looking for, don’t wait too long and miss out on some good freebies.
What broadband speed do I need?
The higher the speed, the faster you can download and stream content. But how much broadband speed do you really need, and are the top-end options worth you paying a higher monthly price for?
Broadband speeds are usually quoted in Mbps, which stands for “megabits per second”. This refers to the amount of data you can download (and upload) in that time period.
If you’re happy with how fast your current broadband service is, then it’s a good idea to only search for deals that provide your current speed or higher.
What’s my broadband speed?
A good way to find out what speed you have is to run a broadband speed test while you’re at home and on your Wi-Fi network. This will tell you the download and upload speeds available at your current location.
You can then use that reading to search for broadband deals that match your speed criteria. If you’re finding your broadband is slow, unreliable, constantly buffering or taking ages to download files, then it would make sense to look for something faster.
Broadband speeds for your home
0-30 Mbps (1 – 2 people per household)
- Fine for those that don’t use the internet for much more than browsing or social media.
- Provided by ADSL broadband, which offers average speeds around 10Mbps.
30-60 Mbps (3+ users per household)
- Suitable for multiple people using the internet at the same time, especially when streaming video.
- Infrequent streamers and smaller houses can likely get away with a broadband deal offering speeds of 38Mbps or 50Mbps.
- Fibre broadband packages will give a more reliable service.
60-100 Mbps (Serious streaming households)
- You’ll want to make sure you’ve got a steady connection to try to avoid buffering.
- Aim to have at least 63Mbps to ensure uninterrupted streaming and gameplay for larger households.
- Faster fibre broadband deals are usually only a few pounds more per month and are worth it for heavier broadband users.
100Mbps or higher (Working with large files and downloads)
- Ideal for serious online gamers and those with a lot of connected devices throughout their home.
- Great for people who often work from home and need to download a lot of files.
- Faster connections are vital for conference calls and those that use file-sharing.
Which are the most popular broadband providers in the UK?
- BT: The UK’s largest telecommunications provider and the most established, with a history spanning back over 160 years.
- Sky: Best known as one of the biggest TV brands in the UK, Sky has a great selection of broadband and TV bundles.
- Virgin Media: Virgin Media is one of the few providers that run on its own dedicated cable network, offering some of the fastest speeds in the country.
- TalkTalk: Known for its range of competitively-priced offerings that focus on value for money.
- Plusnet: A popular brand for value for money broadband products.
- Vodafone: One of the UK’s largest and best-known mobile providers, Vodafone providers superfast fibre services with discounts available for mobile subscribers.
Will I get the advertised broadband speed?
Broadband speeds are always advertised as ‘average speeds’, meaning you won’t always be guaranteed to get that speed every time you connect to the Wi-Fi.
In order to be accurate, average speeds are measured during peak time — between 8pm and 10pm when most people are online — and must be available to at least 50% of users. This means you’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting speeds above or below this number.
There are a number of factors that can affect your broadband speed:
The type of connection you have
In general, fibre broadband offers faster and more reliable speeds than ADSL broadband. Which makes sense since fibre cables transfer more data in a given time period than the copper wires ADSL relies on.
How far you live from the exchange or cabinet
Despite its name, fibre broadband doesn’t necessarily mean your connection is serviced entirely by fibre cables, just that most of it is. The final connection from the exchange –– that green cabinet that looks like a postbox at the end of your street –– to your home is often serviced by traditional copper wires. Therefore, the farther you are away from that cabinet, the more reliant you are on copper cables, which means your connection might be slower.
However, fibre-to-the-premises technology, commonly known as full fibre, does in fact connect straight to your property, which eliminates the slowdown you get between the cabinet and your home.
Where you put your router
If you’re experiencing slow internet speeds, it could be as simple as moving your Wi-Fi router to a better spot. Let’s face it — routers aren’t usually the prettiest of things, so we tend to hide them behind furniture or in cabinets.
However, this interferes with the Wi-Fi signal and could slow your broadband connection down significantly, especially if it’s blocked by thick walls or metal. For a better signal throughout your home, keep your router out in the open and ideally away from any other electrical devices.
The time of day
Just like rush hour traffic, the busier the internet is, the slower it tends to be. With more people logging onto their Wi-Fi during peak times, the demands on broadband providers drastically increase, which results in slower speeds for each household. Again, this is an issue that mainly affects people on ADSL broadband plans.
Can I get fibre broadband?
Fibre broadband is far superior to ADSL, and is now available to over 95% of the UK. Also, as its availability has increased the market has become much more competitive, meaning fibre broadband is usually very reasonably priced these days — so there’s likely no reason not to switch if you’re still on ADSL.
The majority of providers will offer fibre broadband deals that are well worth a few extra pounds per month. Compared to ADSL, fibre broadband has a couple of significant benefits:
- Faster speeds: Fibre broadband will always be faster than ADSL and can range from roughly 36Mbps to 1000Mbps (or 1Gbps). In comparison, ADSL broadband can usually offer around 10Mbps.
- Reliability: Due to the infrastructure behind it, fibre broadband offers a more reliable connection than ADSL. Fibre-optic cables can carry more data than copper wires, and so people with fibre broadband won’t experience the same sluggish broadband during peak times.
Compare broadband packages to find a better deal
While broadband is pretty much a household essential, it probably isn’t the only essential service you’d get from a telecoms provider. So if you’re looking to get a landline or TV subscription as well as broadband, it could work out cheaper to combine them into a bundle of services.
Broadband and phone packages
A number of broadband providers do offer call packages as well, which can potentially save you money if you’re still using your home phone. If you’re interested in finding a broadband deal with calls included, check out our dedicated comparison page for broadband and phone deals.
Broadband and TV packages
In addition to calls packages, a number of major broadband providers offer TV bundled together with their broadband deals. These are better value only when you’re looking to take full advantage of your TV package, whether that be watching exclusive content, recording shows or watching live events.
Once you know what features and channels you want out of a broadband and TV deal, you can compare broadband and TV deals on our featured page.