Broadband.co.uk Blog

Regular Broadband-related news and comment from the Broadband.co.uk team.

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BT Student Broadband

Last minute student broadband offers and options

Posted on 2019-09-12 11:39 in Features Offers Hyperoptic Three Vodafone 4GEE BT NOW Broadband Plusnet Virgin Media

It's the time of year where students around the country are heading to university, either to start their studies or return for a new academic year.

Whether you're heading to uni for the first time, returning to your student accommodation or about to start out in a new student house share, now's the time to look for a good student broadband offer to keep you online over the next 9 months.

To prepare for student broadband season, we updated our longstanding Student Broadband Guide to reflect some of the student-specific offers available this year with student-exclusive 9 month contract offers from BT and student-exclusive cheaper 1 month rolling contract offers from Virgin Media.

Both of those option mean that you can avoid paying for broadband costs should you head home or go off on travels in the 3 months between academic years. But of course you don't need a special student exclusive offer to get short contract broadband from other suppliers, for example NOW Broadband, Plusnet and Hyperoptic also have competitive 1 month rolling contract offers that even undercut BT and Virgin's prices.

This year, we're also endorsing a mobile broadband option for the first time. Well, it's 4G or 5G mobile broadband technology sold as home broadband services. With 4G and 5G home broadband routers from Three, Vodafone and EE you may have to commit to a much longer contract, but you can then take your router with you wherever you travel during summer break. Vodafone even offer a 30 day rolling contract version, although you'll have to pay more than the cost of 3 months contract to get it.

Unlike most mobile broadband solutions, these have large enough usage allowances for many households. Three's home router even comes with unlimited usage!

Even if mobile data usually isn't strong inside your student accommodation, you may get a better connection from a router, or may even be able to get an external antenna installed to boost the signal.

We weigh up all these pros and cons and give you a table of all the relevant offers over on our Student Broadband guide.

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Ofcom Logo

Broadband.co.uk reaccredited by Ofcom!

Posted on 2019-09-03 11:14 in Announcements News

We're very pleased to announce that Broadband.co.uk has been reaccredited by Ofcom! We've been accredited by Ofcom since 2010, and undergo regular independent audits every 18 months to ensure that our comparison service meets their rigorous standards.

Lindsey Fussell, Director of Ofcom's Consumer and External Relations Group, had this to say on the subject:

"Price comparison services like broadband.co.uk play an important role in helping people to choose a provider, by offering helpful information on services and costs. Ofcom's accreditation scheme means people can be confident that the information they've received is accurate, clear and up to date."

We take pride in the fact that we make every effort to ensure that the information we supply is accurate and up to date and presented clearly to users of our site. This means you can be confident you're getting the best service when you use our postcode checker to find the broadband deal that works for you.

Our CEO, Edd Dawson, had this to say in response to the news.

"It's fantastic to yet again be re-accredited by Ofcom. The broadband market is complex and diverse, our aim is to make it simple for consumers to find and switch to the best deal for them. Being part of the accreditation scheme is key to demonstrating that we are impartial, open and honest with our recommendations."

We look forward to continuing to provide users of our site with a service that they can trust well into the future.

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Broadband for Gamers

What's the best broadband for gaming?

Posted on 2019-09-02 17:06 in Features

If you enjoy playing video games you'll know only too well just how frustrating online gaming can sometimes be. Stutter and lag, random disconnections, painfully slow downloads: they're all a seemingly unavoidable part of the multiplayer experience. Expect they aren't - your choice of broadband provider and package can have a huge impact on your Fortnite or Call of Duty sessions.

To help you out we've got a brand new guide on how to find the best broadband for gamers. It shows you what to look for in a broadband deal, and how to understand some of the jargon you might come across when comparing packages. It's well worth checking out - even if you aren't a gamer yourself you might have someone in your household who uses a Playstation or Xbox and who is struggling along with unsuitable broadband.

Before you delve into the full guide, here's a quick heads-up on some of the main things you need to know.

Download speed is important

Your broadband speed matters, but not in the way you might expect. You don't need fast internet for actual gaming - even a cheap standard broadband deal will be fast enough for almost everyone. But downloading massive files is another part of modern gaming. Triple-A games - the industry's blockbusters - will easily clear 50GB in size, and their regular updates might add another 10GB or more to the mix. If your broadband's too slow you'll be looking at a good 10 to 20 hours of continuous downloading before you can even start playing. Upgrade to a fast fibre deal (or something even faster) and you can slash that to a more serviceable couple of hours tops.

Want to upgrade? Check out the latest fibre broadband deals now.

Lag and stutter

Anyone who's ever played an online game will have at some point found that games can start to stutter or lag, where they don't feel as responsive as they should be. These problems are most likely caused by technical issues like latency (or ping rate) and packet loss. Ofcom research shows that all major providers perform well overall in these respects. Yet there are so many things that can cause them - problems on the gaming server, with your broadband provider, or even on your own Wi-Fi network - that there's really no guarantees.

What you can do is use our Speed Test tool to check the latency on your existing broadband connection, and also read the reviews of any providers you're switching to to see if your fellow gamers are reporting any concerns. You can find out more about these technical issues in our guide.

Reliability matters

Good old fashioned reliability also shouldn't be overlooked when it comes to finding the best broadband for gamers. It's annoying enough when your internet drops at any time, but if you're about to smash in an open goal in FIFA a dropped connection will leave you smashing your controller in rage instead.

You can totally relate, right? Then take a look at our guide on speeding up slow internet for tips on making sure your Wi-Fi network is set up properly. If the problem is still there, it may be time to switch to more a reliable broadband supplier. You can check out broadband deals in your area based that have the highest customer satisfaction rating.

4G and 5G home broadband are okay

Finally, if you're thinking of switching to 4G or 5G home broadband, then you can rest assured that both of these are absolutely fine for online gaming. In fact, in some cases they might even be better than the fixed line broadband options available to you. The only caveat is that you should try and avoid broadband plans that have a strict data allowance in place, or those that slow down your speed once you pass a certain usage level. One or two game downloads a month could eat through your data in no time at all.

For more information on how to find the best deal take a look at our in-depth guide to broadband for gamers. It'll help you pin down everything you need in a broadband package, and also shows you the best deals that are available in your area right now.

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BT with £110 BT Reward Card

Offers roundup: grab a bargain over the Summer Bank Holiday

Posted on 2019-08-23 17:00 in Offers Virgin Media BT Plusnet Sky Shell Energy

It's the bank holiday weekend, and several providers have new offers on to tempt you to switch broadband. We've got the best highlighted for you below.

We're kicking off with BT and a reward card offer across the majority of their products. The non-fibre Broadband and Weekend Calls package is £24.99 a month and comes with a £60 reward card. If you can get it in your area, Superfast Fibre with Weekend Calls is £31.99 a month with a £90 reward card, and Superfast Fibre 2 with Weekend Calls is £39.99 a month with a £110 reward card. The rewards cards also apply to the broadband and TV offers if you want to throw that in at the same time.1

Plusnet are offering £75 cashback on their non-fibre Unlimited Broadband and Phone package, which is £18.99 a month. Their fibre products both come with a £60 reward card; Unlimited Fibre Broadband and Phone is £23.99 a month and Unlimited Fibre Extra Broadband and Phone is £27.99 a month. You'll need to hurry, all of these offers end on Tuesday night!2

Sky have got some great offers on TV and broadband bundles. Entertainment with Broadband Essential is currently £35 a month, while Entertainment with Broadband Superfast is £39 a month. If sports are your thing, then you can also choose Entertainment with Sports and HD for £62 a month. These packages all come with a 1TB Sky Q box and access to over 270 channels!3

You can get still Shell Energy's fantastically low-priced Standard Broadband for just £16.99 a month, exclusively through the link in this blog post. This offer is only on for another week, so take advantage of it while you can.4

In a Virgin Media area? You can get M50 Fibre and Phone for £26 a month, plus a £75 bill credit! This offer is only available via the link in this blog post.5

 


All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our Use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.

1. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. Connection fees may apply. BT reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offer ends 11:59pm 29th August.

2. Plusnet ADSL products are on a 12 month contract and Fibre products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 27th August.

3. Sky deals are on an 18 month contract, prices will rise from month 19. Connection fees may apply. Offers end 11:59pm 26th September.

4. All Shell Energy deals are on an 18 month contract. Prices will rise from month 19, see Shell Energy site for more details. Connection fees may apply. Offer ends 11:59pm 1st September.

5. Virgin Media M50 is on an 18 month contract, prices will rise from month 19. Credit will be applied to your first bill. Connection fees may apply. Offer ends 11:59pm 30th September.

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Fibre optic broadband

Is Boris Johnson's plan for full fibre broadband possible?

Posted on 2019-08-22 14:34 in News

Among the very many pronouncements made by Boris Johnson over the last few months was the strikingly ambitious plan to make full fibre broadband available to the whole of the UK within the next six years. It received a cautious welcome from the industry, along with warnings that there are some big challenges that will need to be overcome first.

The pledge replaces the Government's existing aspiration to deliver full fibre to 'a majority' of homes by 2025 - with the rest to be completed by 2033. However, it is still a pledge, rather than a detailed policy announcement, and there are questions as to whether it's really achievable.

What's in the pledge?

The goal in itself is laudable. When it comes to ultrafast internet we lag behind most other European countries, from Spain and Sweden to Latvia and Lithuania. The PM's 'full fibre' pledge refers to what's known as 'fibre to the premises' (FTTP) broadband. This is a much faster type of broadband supplied by fibre cables connected directly to every building. Currently, most of us get 'fibre to the cabinet' (FTTC), where the fibre cables only extend to the nearest street cabinet and the last part of the connection is made over old, slow copper wires.

The difference between the two technologies is huge. While most current fibre deals offer speeds up to around 68Mb, FTTP makes 1Gb speeds a reality. That's a good 15 times faster.

But the sheer scale of the project cannot be understated. The network needs to cover the best part of 30 million premises. That's a lot of streets to dig up, a lot of planning permissions to be attained, and a lot of skilled workers to be found to do it all. It also needs a lot of cash - estimated to be around £30 billion - paid mostly by private companies but also including an as yet unspecified chunk of public money.

While FTTC is available to over 95% of UK buildings, full fibre covers just 8% right now. Researchers have calculated that to achieve full coverage by the end of the 2025 financial year FTTP would need to become available to over 11 thousand more homes every day. That's a big upgrade on the current total thought to be around three or four thousand. Hence the industry's scepticism.

The industry response

In response to Boris Johnson's plans, three industry groups signed an open letter outlining the issues that would need to be resolved in order to make it possible. The Internet Service Providers Association, the Federation of Communications Services, and the Independent Networks Co-operative Association called for four main changes:

  • Fibre tax. They want the abolition of business rates that tax fibre cables as if they were business buildings. The groups say that this hinders investment.
  • Wayleave agreements. Unresponsive landlords can delay the rollout of broadband services, so the industry wants wayleave agreements that would allow providers access to properties and land.
  • New builds. Changes to planning laws are needed to require all new builds to have fibre infrastructure as standard. It's currently around three in five.
  • Skills. The industry is concerned about a skills shortage post-Brexit, so wants to retain access to global job markets.

They were also keen to emphasise just how big the job would be, but insisted they were "ready and waiting to take on this considerable engineering challenge".

Alternatives to FTTP

Upgrading the UK's broadband network is a plan we can all get behind. But does the upgrade need to be so fully focussed on fibre?

The network is already being upgraded with the G.fast service in many areas. G.fast supercharges the normal fibre to the cabinet infrastructure simply through the installation of nodes in existing street cabinets. No extra cables, and no digging up streets are needed. It still uses copper wires, and isn't as good as FTTP, but it's quicker and cheaper to roll out. It can also achieve decent speeds of up to 300Mb, with much higher speeds possible in future generations of the technology.

And then there's 5G, which launched this summer and is already available in 15 cities, expanding to over 35 by the end of the year. 5G will be able to deliver those all-important gigabit speeds, and with a much bigger capacity the download limits that plagued 4G will be consigned to the past. Those two factors will make 5G a much more viable option for home broadband.

The 5G rollout will take some time, but by 2025 it's likely that many of us will have already switched. It'll be especially valuable in rural parts where installing fibre cables will be take a lot longer and be more expensive. Perhaps using a combination of complementary technologies would be a more achievable way of upgrading British broadband, rather than going all in on just one.

If you don't want to wait to experience the benefits, you can already get 5G home broadband through a few suppliers in limited areas. You can get unlimited data for £50 a month from Vodafone, and it's even available on a 30-day deal if you don't want to commit long term. EE have their own 5G Hub that costs £50 a month with 50GB of data, but is on a 24 month contract. If you live in London, then you may be able to take advantage of 5G from Three now. O2 will follow suit in the coming months, along with more locations for all providers.

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Football on TV

The cheapest way to watch Premier League football this season

Posted on 2019-08-08 17:18 in Features EE Virgin Media BT Sky TalkTalk NOW Broadband

The Premier League is back, and there are more ways than ever to catch the action. Pick the wrong ones, though, and you could end up paying the best part of a grand for the privilege. Shop around, and there are savings to be had.

Let's look at the cheapest ways to watch the new Premier League season.

Sky Sports

Sky Sports is the self-styled home of football, and Sky have the rights to by far the most games. They'll show 128 in the 2019/20 season, across Friday nights, Saturday evenings, Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. They get the first pick from all the games from each round, so this is where you'll catch the big derbies and the title deciders.

But Sky Sports isn't cheap. Although it actually only costs £18 a month, you can't get it from Sky TV as a standalone service. You need to take Sky Entertainment, too, which bumps up the price to over £40. Plus you need a dish, and a Sky Q box (with optional UHD viewing), and have to pay any installation and setup fees. And it all comes with an 18-month contract.

If you want the best service and are happy to make the commitment, your best bet for a good deal might to get Sky Sports and the rest along with Sky Broadband as part of a bundle. Check out the latest Sky TV with Broadband deals.

The same goes for Virgin Media customers, you can't just sign up for Sky Sports Premier League, it has to be taken as part of an expensive bundle along with all the other Sports channels and a variety of other premium Entertainment channels. However, if you're already with Virgin Media, this could still make sense for you. Check out the latest Virgin Media Sports offers.

NOW TV - the cheapest way to get Sky Sports

The cheapest way to get Sky Sports on your TV and tablet is through NOW TV's Sky Sports Football Season Ticket. Right now, they've got a 10 month season ticket available for just £199, offer ends on the 26th of August.

Alternatively, if you just want to watch on your phone, you can get the Sky Sports Mobile Month Pass for only £5.99 per month - you're limited to only one smartphone viewing at a time, but that's otherwise an unbeatably cheap way to access Sky Sports Premier League, and 4 other Sky Sports channels!

You can also get a cheap deal on the full Sky Sports Pass when you take it as part of a great value bundle with NOW Broadband. Just choose your preferred broadband plan and you can add the full Sky Sports package for only £20 a month for a year. That's 40% less than the full price. Even better, there's no contract on the TV side of the deal, so you can cancel whenever you want.

The NOW Broadband plans are very competitvely priced, ranking among the cheapest in the UK. They start at just £18 a month for the Brilliant Broadband service, with average speeds of 11Mb. Or if you'd prefer fibre you can get it for £25 or £30 depending on what speed you need. They're all on 12 month contracts as standard, or you can switch to a rolling contract by paying extra £60 upfront. Choose your NOW Broadband and Sky Sports Pass deal here.

If you don't fancy a broadband bundle and don't want to pay for a season ticket pass, you can take a standalone NOW TV Sky Sports Pass and get access to all 11 Sky Sports channels for £33.99 a month on a 30 day rolling deal. This undercuts the Sky Sports + Entertainment deal for Sky TV, and you can save more money by cancelling in June and July when there are no games.

Although the content's the same, the NOW TV experience isn't quite as good as what you get from Sky. There's no UHD, and HD resolution is currently pegged to 720p. You also can't record shows, though you can pause, rewind and watch on demand. For most, though, it should more than satisfy your hunger for the beautiful game.

As a streaming service you'll need to make sure your internet is fast enough to handle it. 4 to 5Mb should be enough for one device to stream 720p HD. If you need to upgrade, use our postcode checker to find the best and fastest broadband deals in your area.

Save on Sky Sports with TalkTalk TV

The other way to get a good saving on Sky's Premier League football coverage is through TalkTalk TV. If you're already a customer of TalkTalk's broadband and TV bundle - or are keen to sign up - you can add the full Sky Sports package to your deal at the half price rate of just £18.99 a month for six months. NOTE: This offer has now ended. That'll save you over £100 against what you'd normally have to pay if you went direct with Sky or Virgin. You can also add BT Sport for £25 a month for 12 months, if you sign up via BT.

This offer is available to new and existing customers. Take a look at the latest TalkTalk TV offers to see what takes your fancy.

Want BT Sport?

BT Sport have the rights to 32 matches on Saturday lunchtimes. BT get second pick of the games for 20 rounds, and fifth pick for the rest, so you might be more likely to get Watford's trip to Burnley than Liverpool vs Man City. They've also got all 20 games from two midweek rounds, and you get the Champions League and FA Cup among other things, too.

You can add BT Sport to your TV package for only £25 a month for 12 months if you're already a Sky TV or TalkTalk TV customer, and you can get a BT/Sky Sports bundle through Virgin Media. EE also offer a three month BT Sport trial through Apple TV 4K, followed by a cheap subscription for mobile users via the app.

But for the most part, BT Sport is for BT Broadband users, when it's included for free via app or included in all BT TV packages. Thinking about switching? Take a look at the latest TV bundle deals on BT Broadband.

Amazon Prime enters the field

The big new signing for the season is Amazon, who'll be showing games through their Prime Video service. They've got the rights to an impressive 20 matches spread over a rather less impressive two rounds played on Boxing Day and another as yet unspecified bank holiday. With staggered kick off times you might be able to catch more three or four games in total, if you want. But on the whole we'd regard this as a nice addition to the whole Prime package rather than a reason to sign up on its own.

If you're not on Prime Video yet, Amazon will often offer free trials of Prime that can be easily cancelled. If there's a particular Prime Video exlusive game or games that you have to watch, your cheapest option may be strategically timing when you begin your trial membership in order to cover the most matches.

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Man with laptop

Can you keep your email address when switching broadband providers?

Posted on 2019-07-26 16:56 in News Features

So you're ready to switch broadband providers. You've compared the best deals, you're going to get a faster service, and save heaps of money. But there's a snag: your old provider also supplies your email address. Can you take it with you?

Free email offers are not quite as common as they used to be, and they're certainly less of a selling point. This means that if you do have an email address from an ISP, you've probably had it for a very long time.

Trouble is, they own that address. If you choose to switch providers there's no guarantee you'll be able to keep using it.

The process to switch broadband provider has been made much easier, and switching will certainly save you money. But the prospect of losing your email address can be a pretty compelling reason to stick with what you've got. So what can you do? Let's take a look.

Can you switch broadband suppliers and keep your email?

There's no simple answer to whether you can keep your email address after you leave a provider. Each company has their own policy, and you might need to contact them before you switch to find out exactly what will happen.

Here's what you can expect from the main providers:

  • Sky: Sky's now-discontinued email service was provided by Yahoo, so you can carry on using it as normal. You can even sign in via the Yahoo website.
  • BT: You can keep your BT email address if you're willing to pay. You have to sign up to the BT Premium Mail service which will set you back a hefty £7.50 a month. We wouldn't recommend that unless there's some reason why you absolutely need to keep your address.
  • Plusnet: By default, your Plusnet email account will be closed when you close your broadband account. However, you can keep it open by requesting your account gets downgraded to a mail-only package, costing £1.06 a month. It's important to note that you must request this when you contact them to close your account - don't wait until afterwards.
  • Virgin Media: When you leave Virgin Media you'll continue to have access to your email for 90 days after you close your account. This should give you enough time to set up and switch to a new email address.
  • TalkTalk: On TalkTalk you need to pay to keep access to your email address. You do this by signing up to the TalkTalk Mail Plus service, which will cost you £5 a month, or £50 a year.

Bear in mind that even if you can keep your email address now, there's no guarantee you'll be able to keep it forever. Providers can change their policies, or discontinue services, at any time. And if you're no longer a customer of that provider you won't really have grounds to complain.

With this in mind, we'd always recommend against using an email address tied to a specific provider. And if you already use one, it's worth switching.

How to switch email addresses the easy way

The simple solution to all of the above is to switch to a new email address. Most of us have already got Google or Microsoft accounts, which give us free Gmail and Outlook email, respectively. Or if you don't fancy giving all your data to one of these tech giants, you could try a free, privacy-focussed service like Proton Mail instead.

The idea of switching email addresses sounds like a bit of a faff, but with some planning you can make it reasonably painless. The trick is to open and start using your new address at least a month before your old address gets shut down. That way you can get everything sorted and there should be no interruptions to your email access.

Here's a checklist of things you need to do:

  • In your old account, set up email forwarding. This automatically sends a copy of all new messages to your new account.
  • Log in to all your main online services and change the email address associated with those accounts. Prioritise the important ones first - banking, bills, subscription services like Netflix, social media accounts, and so on. Don't forget to change the main email account on your phone, too.
  • Export your contacts from your old account. Send an email to your key contacts to let them know you've got a new address.
  • If you used webmail on your old account, manually forward any important mails you need to keep to your new address. Alternatively, if you're switching to Gmail you can use the Import Mail and Contacts features to pull it all across in one go.
  • Finally, for security purposes you could delete all the emails in your old account, and set a new, strong password. Although the account may shut down on its scheduled date, there's no guarantee that will happen. It might lie dormant for several months, which could leave it at risk of being compromised.

If you do miss any services that are linked to your old email address, don't worry. You'll still be able to log in to them after the account has closed down, as long as you can remember the password.

Once your new email address is up and running don't forget to sign up for our exclusive newsletter. It'll keep you bang up to date with all the hottest broadband deals and offers in your area.

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People using mobile phones

5 things you need to know about 5G

Posted on 2019-07-19 17:01 in News Features

5G is now up and running in the UK. EE and Vodafone have both launched their fifth-generation mobile networks, Three will launch theirs in August, and O2 is set to join the party a month later.

Great! But wait - what exactly is 5G, and what will it mean for you? We've got an in-depth guide to 5G, with the full lowdown on the new tech and why it's so important. But if you'd prefer a quick and easy bluffer's guide, here's what you need to know.

1. 5G is fast

Think the 20-25Mb speeds of 4G are already pretty quick? How does 200-250Mb grab you? Typical 5G speeds are ten times faster than 4G right from day one. Find the perfect conditions and it can go way beyond even that, with Three claiming that their network will hit a potential 2Gb.

And it doesn't stop there. Industry experts reckon 5G could eventually deliver speeds up to a mind-blowing 20Gb.

What do the faster speeds mean? It'll improve everything you do online, from simple browsing to sharing huge files, it'll deliver instantaneous app downloads, and even allow you to watch Netflix in 4K on your daily commute.

2. It'll work in crowded places

5G fixes one of the biggest frustrations of 4G, its limited capacity. You'll know the signs: you try to use your phone in a crowded place and have to struggle along with a grindingly slow connection - if you get a connection at all. The network simply isn't equipped to handle the amount of traffic we're throwing at it.

The 5G network will enable two and a half times as many devices to be connected at once, and to download a whole lot more data while they're there. That means no more waiting around when you want to go online.

3. 5G will be great for broadband

The faster speeds and higher capacity are so important. They don't just mean that we'll get faster streaming and sharing on our smartphones, they will also completely revolutionise mobile broadband.

If you need a data connection on your laptop while you're on the road, you can expect more reliable performance, faster speeds, and - best of all - significantly higher data allowances. In time, 5G could even become a decent option for home broadband, especially in more remote areas where the existing fibre network is so poor.

4. You'll need new devices

Here's the bad news: your existing 4G-enabled phones, tablets, laptops, watches and dongles will not work on the 5G network. You'll have to replace them all. That includes your iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, and everything else.

The good news? There's no rush. There aren't many 5G devices right now, and they carry a price premium. Unless you're an early adopter itching to try it out, you can probably wait a couple of years before 5G gear is a must. And by then, devices will support it as standard anyway. Meanwhile, your 4G kit will continue to work just as well as it always has.

5. The rollout will take some time

So when will you be able to use 5G? It's available right now in major cities like London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. By the end of the year it'll be available in over 30 locations, from Bournemouth to Birkenhead, and then in over 50 places by the end of next year. Different networks will target different places, so you might need to switch.

But the rollout will take some time. Even areas that do have 5G won't have blanket coverage, and if you're in smaller town it might be two or three years before 5G arrives.

For more information on 5G, including how it works and why it'll be a complete game changer in so many other ways, take a look at our full 5G guide. Or, if you'd prefer, have a look at some of the best mobile broadband deals you can buy today.

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Virgin Media with £150 credit

Discounts, rewards, credit and tech in our broadband offers roundup!

Posted on 2019-07-08 15:16 in News Offers Three Plusnet BT John Lewis Virgin Media Shell Energy

There are so many strong broadband offers being presented this week that we felt it was time for another round up of the best broadband discounts and rewards around.

Onestream has one of the cheapest broadband deals we've ever seen. The Flow Unlimited package offers average speeds of 11Mb and is an impressively low £13.99 a month on a 12 month contract, with line rental included! Onesteam also have a range of competitively priced Fibre products, starting with their 17Mb average speed truly unlimited Jetstream Lite Fibre that comes in at just £17.99 a month on a 12 month contract with line rental included - that's cheaper than many provider's standard broadband deals!1 £9.99 setup cost applies on all offers.

Shell Energy aren't far behind Onestream for extremely cheap standard broaband, their Fast Broadband package with average speeds of 11Mb is only £15.99 a month all in.2

There are also a number of strong reward offers on this week. For example, if you want a Fibre package from BT, then not only will you get a BT Reward card, you'll also receive a Marks & Spencer voucher! Superfast Fibre is £31.99 a month and comes with an £80 M&S voucher and a £30 Reward Card, while Superfast Fibre 2 is £39.99 a month with an £80 M&S voucher and a £60 Reward Card.3

Plusnet have a mix of reward cards and cashback offers on their broadband and phone bundles this week. Unlimited Broadband is £18.99 a month in low cost areas and comes with £75 cashback, Unlimited Fibre is £24.50 a month and comes with £50 cashback, while the Unlimited Fibre Extra package is £27.50 a month and comes with a £60 reward card. You'll need to hurry, because the Fibre offers end tomorrow night!4

John Lewis are bundling in a Google Home Hub with all their broadband products. This is a hands-free Smart Speaker with a 7" screen worth £119! You can choose between Broadband Unlimited with average speeds of 10Mb for £20 a month, Fibre Broadband with average speeds of 36Mb for £28.50 a month or Fibre Extra with average speeds of 66Mb for £35 a month.5

Blink and you'll miss it, Virgin Media's flash sale on TV bundles starts today. You can get a fantastic £150 bill credit on select broadband and TV packages. Choose from the Bigger Bundle for £57 a month, Bigger Bundle + Movies for £62 a month or the Bigger Bundle + Sports for £72 a month - all of these packages have average speeds of 108Mb. If you to up your speeds to an average of 213Mb and get more TV options, you can get the Bigger Bundle + Sports & Movies for £79 a month. Or you could go all out and get Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, BT Sport, Kids Pick and whopping average speeds of 516Mb with the Ultimate Oomph Bundle for £99 a month. Hurry, this offer ends on the 12th July!6

Finally, Three's already excellent unlimited usage offer on the HomeFi 4G home broadband router has been further discounted! You can now get unlimited data for just £11.50 a month for the first 6 months of the 24 month contract. After that, it's only £23 a month! Find out all you need to know about 4G home broadband in our dedicated help page on the subject.7

Confused about all the different types of rewards and how to claim them? Our Broadband Rewards Explained help page has all you need to know!


All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our Use our postcode checker or verify on the provider landing pages to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.

1. 12 month minimum contract. Standard broadband price rises to £24.99 from month 13, Fibre Lite rises to £27.99 from month 13. £9.99 delivery fee for the router applies to all deals. Further terms and conditions may apply, see Onestream site for details. Offer is only available via the landing pages linked from this blog post and may end at any time.

2. All Shell Energy deals are on an 18 month contract. Prices will rise from month 19, see Shell Energy site for more details. Offers are only available via the landing page linked from this blog post and ends 11:59pm 8th August.

3. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. BT have announced the intention to raise all prices by a small amount annually from March 2020 in line with the consumer price index, this figure is published each January. Offers end 11:59pm 11th July.

4. All Plusnet deals are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount, cashback will be issued as a cheque when your broadband is active. Offers are only available via the link in this blog post. Fibre broadband offers end 11:59pm 9th July, standard broadband offer ends 11:59pm 16th July.

5. Virgin Media packages are on a 12 month contract, prices will rise from month 13. £35 upfront cost applies. Credit will be applied to your first bill. See Virgin Media website for full details about included channels and extras. Offer ends 11:59pm 10th July.

6. John Lewis Broadband products come on a 12 month contract, John Lewis will contact you before this is up to inform you of price rises from month 13. Offer ends 11:59pm 30th July.

7. 24 month minimum contract. Availability and speeds vary depending on the mobile coverage in your area and level of usage on the same cell tower. Traffic prioritisation will apply so some services may be slower during peak times. Offer ends 11:59pm 22nd August. Three have announced the intention to raise all prices by a small amount annually from March 2020 in line with the consumer price index, this figure is published each January. Check coverage for your area on the Three website.

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Laptop uploading a file

What are upload speeds and are they important?

Posted on 2019-05-24 13:46 in Features

When you compare broadband deals you'll see that most providers sell their services based on how fast they are. When they do this they're almost always only talking about the download speed. That's fair enough - it is one of the two most important factors you need to consider, along with the price.

But there's another speed spec that providers don't shout about, and is often quite difficult to find anywhere. The upload speed.

So what exactly is this, and is it something you need to worry about? Let's take a look.

What exactly are upload speeds?

As you probably know, the download speed represents the speed at which data is transferred from the internet to your computer. Well, the upload speed is the opposite. It's how fast data moves from your computer to the network.

Broadband providers place all their emphasis on download speeds because the vast majority of the stuff you do online involves downloading. Everything from opening a simple web page to streaming 4K video on Netflix is affected by your download speed. By and large, the faster it is the better your experience will be.

But you're uploading all the time, too. Every time your computer communicates with a website or other online service it does so by uploading packets of data to those services. This is how it opens a web page or logs you in to your online bank account. However, the amount of data involved is so small that it's unaffacted by your upload speed. It all happens instantanesouly.

This means that your upload speed is irrelevant for day-to-day web use, which is just as well because it's usually a lot slower than your download speed. Broadband providers know that downloading is more important, so they configure their system to give that priority.

Where it does matter is when you're uploading large amounts of data. If you like to share your holiday photos and videos on Facebook, for instance, your upload speed will determine how quickly that will happen, and it can be a massive difference. Uploading one gigabyte of images would take around two and a half hours at a 1Mb speed, or just 14 minutes at 10Mb.

Or if you make video calls on Skype or FaceTime your upload speed dictates whether you can broadcast yourself in glorious high definition or will have to settle for a more low-res, pixellated image. Skype requires an upload speed of 1.5Mb for full HD.

So, what speed am I getting?

The easiest way to find out what upload speed you're getting is by using our Speed Test tool. You should then use this figure when you start to shop for a new broadband deal, because it's technically possible to switch to what looks like a similiar or better package, and end up with slower upload speeds in the process.

Most providers offer similar upload speeds, just as they do download speeds. For standard broadband with download speeds around 10-11Mb, uploads are usually around 1Mb. On an entry-level fibre deal - 36Mb download - it's around 9Mb, and is around 18Mb on the high-end fibre deal (typically 64-67Mb downloads). Providers that use different technolgies, such as Virgin Media or fibre to the home suppliers like Gigaclear, offer different speeds. But remember, they're always only average speeds, so you might get better or worse.

Here are the average upload speeds for the UK's biggest broadband providers:

  • BT, EE, italk, John Lewis Broadband, Plusnet, and Vodafone : 1Mb upload on the standard broadband plan, 9Mb on the basic fibre and 18Mb on the faster fibre deals, where available.
  • Sky: Sky's fibre speeds are the same, but their standard broadband upload speeds fall a little short at 800Kb.
  • NOW Broadband: NOW's fibre upload speeds are the same as above, but on their standard broadband deal you get a paltry 700Kb.
  • TalkTalk, Post Office, Shell Energy and SSE: these providers' fastest upload speeds are a slightly lower 17Mb.
  • Virgin Media: speeds are 3Mb on the slowest VIVID 50 plan, 6Mb on VIVID 100, 12Mb on VIVID 200, and 21Mb on VIVID 300.
  • Direct Save: mostly above average upload speeds ranging from 5Mb on the 25Mb plan to 30Mb on the 300Mb plan.
  • Gigaclear and Hyperoptic: these fibre to the home providers offer 'symmetric' services, meaning the upload and download speeds are the same. This results in the UK's fastest upload speeds of 900Mb on the top end plans!

Do I need to care about upload speeds?

Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere covered by Gigaclear or Hyperoptic - and that's only around half a million homes between them - your upload speeds are typically going to be limited to between 1Mb and 30Mb (on average).

So how much weight should you give this when choosing a broadband deal? It depends on how you spend your time online. We've established it doesn't matter for normal web use - browsing, social media, streaming TV, or even if you use your broadband for gaming. But there are certain tasks where you'll definitely benefit from faster upload speeds. These include:

  • using cloud services like Dropbox
  • sharing photos online to places like Instagram or Google Photos
  • using P2P file sharing services
  • making VoIP phone calls
  • making video calls over services like Skype or FaceTime
  • uploading videos to YouTube
  • live streaming games on services like Twitch

You might also want it if you work from home, especially if you work with large files or need to do video conferencing, etc. And a larger household with many users online together will also benefit from faster speeds.

For many, though, the upload speed is something that's good to know but not essential. In all cases the most important thing is to make sure you get the broadband speed you need based on how you use the internet.

Our broadband listings show the upload speed for all plans. If you're ready to start shopping for something faster, use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals in your area now.

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