Author: Fiona Conner
Home Broadband Buyers Guide
The most popular type of broadband that people search for using broadband.co.uk is home broadband. It's not as simple a utility as gas or electric so that's why we've put together this detailed buyers guide to answer the most common questions from people looking to buy home broadband. Have a good read through and you'll feel confident moving forward and choosing a new provider.
What is home broadband?
You have a home and you want broadband, that's home broadband! Its name within the industry is actually fixed line broadband, but this doesn't mean much sense to people when they first come across is.
Fixed line broadband means that the broadband supply comes through a wire that is fixed to your house and connects back to the internet via your broadband supplier. It's generally a totally wired solution and as it's fixed it means it's tied to your house.
What are the benefits of home broadband?
Home broadband tends to be the fastest and most stable kind of broadband that you can get to your house in most cases.
It's also very easy to share a connection with everyone in your house using a wireless router (most broadband deals nowadays come with a wireless router included if you don't have one already). Home broadband also is usually the cheapest kind of broadband, pound for pound you will usually get more speed and more download allowance than any other kind of broadband.
What are the downsides to home broadband?
If portability is your main criteria then home broadband is not for you, as you'll only be able to use it when you are at home.
For most people this isn't a problem, but if it is for you then we'd suggest you look into mobile broadband as an alternative.
What are the different types of home broadband?
There are a few different flavours of home broadband, now this might get a bit technical but hopefully it'll help you understand why some deals offer different capabilities than others:
ADSL Based - Short for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, ADSL covers a number of technologies such Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) and ADSL2+. You don't need to remember all the techno jargon, you just need to remember that all ADSL based home broadband deals are supplied down a BT phone line. ADSL broadband gets slower the further away you are from your telephone exchange.
Fibre Optic Based - The latest and most advanced form of home broadband, fibre optic broadband is delivered to your home using a fibre optic cable. Some fibre optic deals require a BT phone line, some a Virgin Media cable connection whereas others deliver direct with their own fibre optic cable. Fibre broadband is in most cases less susceptible to loss of speed with distance from the exchange, and will provide for much greater speeds than ADSL broadband.
ADSL based broadband is available to more than 99% of the UK, whereas fibre optic is available in only around 65% of the country.
Is home broadband right for me?
If the most common place you use the internet is at home, then yes it's right for you. If you have other people in the home you want to share the connection with, then yes it's right for you. If speed and download allowance are important to you, then yes it's right for you.
It really is a case of home broadband is the best choice in almost all cases as it is the cheapest broadband and the fastest broadband you can get. Any home with multiple internet users should get home broadband over any other type. As should those looking to get the best broadband for gaming or any other high usage activity such as streaming video and music.
How do I compare home broadband deals?
It's easy to compare broadband deals.
Just use our handy comparison table below which you can easily sort by clicking the table headers for each item.
Will I need to sign a long contract?
Most home broadband deals require you to sign up for between 12 and 24 months, however there are several no contract broadband deals that have rolling 1 month contracts.
The longer contract deals usually have no setup costs and provide all the equipment you need with no upfront charges. The shorter the contract length the more likely you are to have to pay setup charges and equipment fees.
Can I sign up over the phone if I want?
Some deals are only available if you sign up online, this is because it saves the provider money by automating the process and can help them keep the price they charge you low.
However, there are many deals that you can sign up by phone if you prefer, in our comparison tables we list the phone number to use under the monthly price.
You can also call us directly and speak to one of our broadband experts on 0800 093 0405 who will be able to talk you through the options available to you and help you through the complete switching process.
I already have broadband, how do I switch?
Switching broadband suppliers is a relatively simple process. If you are switching to a provider who uses the same kind of technology as you currently use (such as ADSL to ADSL) then you just need to call your current supplier up and ask for your MAC code.
Once you have your MAC code you then sign up with your new supplier and provide the code. Your new supplier will then be able to handle the entire switching process and it will seamlessly take over your supply and handle cancelling your old supply.
Switching to a new supplier who uses a different kind of technology to the one your current supplier uses can be a bit trickier, but is by no means difficult. We have a full broadband switching guide that covers all the different switching scenarios that can apply, if you think you might fall outside of the MAC code system we'd suggest you take a look.
How do I get the fastest home broadband?
If you are looking for the fastest home broadband then we can easily help you find the fastest broadband in your area. The key thing to remember is that the fastest speed you can achieve will be determined by a couple of factors:
- Availability - Not all broadband technologies are available in all areas. Fibre optic broadband is the fastest type of broadband in the UK at present, however it's not available in all areas, if you can't get it then you have to look at other options.
- Local factors - The exact location of your house will have an effect on the speed you can get with many types of broadband. The most well known is that with ADSL broadband the further you live from your telephone exchange the slower your maximum speed, and similarly with FTTC broadband the further from your nearest street cabinet the slower the maximum speed.
Fortunately we can do all the hard work for you when it comes to finding out exactly who can provide the fastest broadband to your house, simply use our broadband postcode checker and give us your postcode (and ideally your phone number as this can help us give much more accurate speed estimates) and we'll give you a table of all the broadband deals available in your area. You can then sort this table of deals by speed by simply clicking the column heading marked "Speed" and you'll see the quickest deals listed for you in ascending order.
I'm not sure home broadband is right for me, what are my other options?
If having read this far you think that home broadband isn't going to suit your needs then you do have a few other options.
- Mobile broadband - If you are the kind of person who doesn't like to be tied to one place and wants the freedom to take their broadband with them on the move then you should look at mobile broadband, just be aware that speeds tend to be lower and relative costs higher.
- Satellite broadband - If after some research you've realised that you live in just too remote an area for standard home broadband then take a look at satellite broadband. It may be pricey in comparison to other types of broadband, but its universal availability is unrivalled.
How do I setup home broadband?
It's simple to setup home broadband and your new provider will contact to you a few days before your switch with details of what you need to do as well as sending you any new equipment you will need in the post.
In most cases it's nothing more complex than plugging in a new router on the day of the switchover and waiting a few minutes while the service switches.
If you do have questions or problems then your new providers support teams will be standing ready on the phones to help if you need them.
Can I bundle in other services?
There are many deals available that mix broadband supply in with another service. There are broadband and telephone bundles which are the most common type of bundle. Also available are broadband, TV and phone bundles (also known as triple-play deals).
The advantage of a bundle is to get services from a single supplier, which means a single point of contact and a single bill. Quite often taking a bundle can give you a good discount on the cost as compared to taking products from individual suppliers. However as bundles are an all or nothing option you may find that sometimes you have to make compromises on the exact details of the product rather than choosing the perfect match for each part of the bundle.
What are my next steps?
Now that you've read through our buyers guide you should be much more clued up on what home broadband is, whether it's right for you and what you want to get out of it.
If you have other questions then you should have a look at our full list of broadband guides. If you want to speak to one of our broadband experts then call us, or if you are feeling confident then try our broadband postcode search.