Author: Fiona Conner
Broadband Deals Buyers Guide
We know from feedback from consumers how daunting it can be when looking to choose a broadband deal. The broadband marketplace is crowded with companies looking to entice you to sign up with them. A service like broadband sounds outwardly simple, "it's just internet access surely?", but start to investigate providers and you'll be hit with a storm of jargon which to many people makes little or no sense at all. But fear not! Our sole mission is to help you understand the broadband marketplace in the UK and find the best possible deal for you.
Why compare broadband?
What's the argument for comparing broadband providers? Well quite simply it's because every supplier is different and your needs as a customer will be different from the next person.
The key reason for comparing is to match the right provider and package to your needs as an individual (or household if you are buying for your family). It's more difficult to argue to not to compare broadband, making a considered comparison just makes sense, pure and simple.
Before you start
Now that you've decided that you want to compare broadband suppliers then you need to work a few things out for yourself beforehand:
What are your key motivators? - Are you only motivated by price? or is good technical support your need? What about speed and download allowances?
You have to be clear in your mind as to what you are after from the start as this will help you immediately begin discounting deals that don't meet your criteria, say you've decided that only a deal with unlimited downloads will do, then you can discard all broadband deals which are not unlimited.
Why pay more?
The number one motivator for most customers is price, they purely and simply want the cheapest price and it's hard to knock that motivation for most people.
However, we would just say that the old adage "you get what you pay for" can quite often be true. Not that a deal is bad just because it is cheap, but a super cheap broadband deal you may find does not meet all your requirements (unless of course you are willing to sacrifice every other factor just to achieve the lowest price). The best strategy for most people is to find the deals that match their criteria and then compare them by price, just starting off with price straight off the bat may lead you to choose unwisly.
Getting the best deal
Getting the best broadband deal means you have to do a little homework, but that doesn't mean it has to be difficult, we are her to help you each step of the way.
Generally as long as you have the postcode of the property you want to get a broadband supply for then we can help, either via our postcode checker or over the phone. You'll soon have all the info you need to make a comparison, keep reading and we'll explain how to use that knowledge to best effect.
Things to compare
Some things are easy to compare:
- Price - Easy at first glance, but always look at the full first year cost.
- Speed - Depending on where you live the speeds that deals offer may vary a lot, always use a postcode checker to see exactly what can be achieved at your house.
- Download allowance - The higher the number of GB the more you can download per month. Unlimited deals have no limit in theory, in practice many have restrictions (we clearly label these in our results).
- Contract Length - Long contracts can often mean lower prices per month, but if you want to leave for any reason there will be a penalty to pay (read the smallprint when signing up to learn what this is).
Other things can be much harder to compare such as models of router that you may be sent to you when you sign up, and the value of some other items such as "security" can be almost impossible to value in terms of cash but can be invaluable for peace of mind.
You can use the table below to aid you in your comparison.
Work out what you need
Most broadband suppliers will happily take your cash in return for the service you choose, it's not in their interest to down-sell you, they will go for the up-sell at every opportunity.
So it's important to work out what you need so you don't end up paying for what you don't need. The key things to gauge right are:
- Download allowance - The very cheapest deals tend to have small allowances, and the most expensive tend to have larger allowances. If you only use the internet a few times a week then don't fork out for an unlimited allowance! Likewise if you are online watching video on demand every day then you really need that unlimited allowance and choosing a deal with only 1GB allowance per month will soon cause you problems.
- Download speed - You may not get a choice on this one, but those with the good fortune to be in an area serviced by fibre optic broadband suppliers may find this an option. Quite simply just don't pay for speed you don't need and on the flip side if you need super-speeds then don't scrimp on the cost.
- Add-ons - Many suppliers will try and provide add-on services such as access to wi-fi hotspots when out of the house. But if you don't use broadband on the move then this will be no use to you. With every add-on that your deal has remember it's something that ultimately you pay for, so a more no frills deal might be better for you.
Yet again it's a case of being prepared in your mind knowing what you do and don't want that will make the comparison much easier and quicker.
Things to watch out for
There are a few things that we know from experience you have watch out for:
- Headline prices - Some deals come with great introductory prices, but after a certain amount of time the price is increased, so you need to look at the full first year deal cost to really be able to compare. Helpfully our comparison tables include full first year cost.
- Long contracts - Many providers will only make a profit on you if they lock you into a long contract, for some people this isn't a problem, but it's something you need to be aware of, especially if you plan on moving house soon and you may wish to go for a short contract broadband deal instead, it might cost more per month but will allow you the flexibility of cancelling anytime you wish.
- Small print - Watch the small print on every deal for hidden costs such as setup fees, high postage costs on "free" equipment and a whole host of other things that the broadband provider is hoping you won't notice before you sign up.
Remember, once you have signed up you are in a contract and the only way to terminate will be to pay an exit fee, so make sure you fully understand the deal before you sign.
Reviews, the intangible comparison
It is of course easy to compare broadband providers on the numbers, download allowance, price, speed are all simple to compare on, we don't need to explain how you do that.
But we all know that even if on paper two providers deals look identical thay the experience of being a customer is going to be different with each supplier. In an ideal world everyone would sign up with the provider of their choice and everything would set up without a hitch and the service would be impeccable at all times and you'd never have a single problem. Whereas down here in the real world we know that this is most defintely not the case for every customer! So what's the best way to find out what the customer experience is with each provider? Well you simply have to browse our broadband reviews, these are written by real customers of each provider (you can even leave your own for you current supplier if you like while you are there).
Always remember that people tend to be quicker to complain than they are to praise, and it's normal for there to be more negative reviews than positive. Always try and watch out for people with a vendetta, but browse a good number, you'll soon have a feel as to what a provider is like to their customers.
What's best in my area
The frustrating thing for most people when it comes to broadband is that unfortunately not all suppliers and deals are available in all areas, this makes broadband quite a unique product.
Even within a very small area there can be massive variations in types of broadband available and the capabilities. It's not unusual to see people on neighbouring streets receive huge variations in download speeds and even access to individual suppliers. There are even cases where one side of a street can get cable broadband and the other side can't!
Therefore it's really important to use our broadband postcode checker tool to find out just what is available in your area, if you supply your telephone number as well as your postcode we can be even more accurate.
We boil down what would otherwise be many hours of research into a 2 second form with your details and then we'll narrow down and filter our huge database or broadband providers to leave you with just those deals available in your area along with details of the capabilities of the different types of broadband in your area.
A good tip when using our comparison tables is to click the column headers as this will cause the table to sort the deals by the information in that column, so clicking monthly cost will sort by monthly cost by cheapest to most expensive, click it again and it will reverse the sort order so that you'll see the most expensive deals first.
If at any point you thing you could do with some friendly expert advice then you can call us up and speak to one of our advisors, they are all broadband experts and can even help you switch suppliers over the phone, a great service and one that's accredited by Ofcom who are the government regulator of broadband in the UK.