Regular Broadband-related news and comment from the Broadband.co.uk team.
Displaying the most recent posts in all categories.
Posted on 2019-03-21 15:56 in Features
Slow broadband is bad enough at the best of times, but when slowdowns occur out of the blue it's really annoying. Especially as there isn't always an obvious reason why it has happened.
So what's the explanation? Read on to find the six things most likely to be slowing down your broadband. And when you're done, sign up to our newsletter and claim your exclusive free guide, 12 ways to boost your broadband speed.
1. Problems with your connection
One of the most common things that causes your internet to slow down is one you can't control - it's a problem with your connection. How can you tell if this is happening to you?
When you signed up for your broadband deal you should have been given a speed estimate indicating the performance level you can expect to achieve. Use our Speed Test tool to compare this estimate to what you're actually getting. We'd recommend disconnecting all other devices when you run the speed test, and standing right next to the router. Better still, connect your laptop to your router via an ethernet cable, if you've got one.
When done, compare the test result to your estimate. If it's significantly slower it may indicate the problem is with your connection. To be sure, reboot the router and try the test again, perhaps with a different device. Now give your broadband supplier a call.
Make sure you know your rights, here. If they don't sort out the problem to your satisfaction you might be entitled to a partial refund, or even to quit your contract without penalty, especially given Ofcom's new Code of Practice for broadband speeds. See our guide on how to complain to your broadband supplier for more info.
Of course, if your speed test doesn't indicate service problems and you still think it's too slow, it's possible you've simply outgrown your particular broadband package. Many providers will allow you to upgrade to a faster deal mid-contract. If you're coming to the end of your contract you can start shopping round for the fastest home broadband deals.
2. Your router's in the wrong place
The position of your wi-fi router is another common cause of broadband slowdowns. Without getting into the technicalities, a wi-fi signal gets weaker the further it travels and the more physical objects it has to pass through. The weaker it is, the slower it will be.
Try and position your router somewhere central in your home, preferably raised off the floor. This will help the signal reach the furthest corners of your home. Be aware that some electronic devices, such as phone bases, can interfere with signals, as can metallic ornaments. Try and keep it in a fairly open space, not on a shelf hemmed in by other objects. And don't cover it up, either. A lot of the broadband hubs you get for free from your internet provider are designed to lay flat. It's very easy to start piling stuff on top of them without thinking.
3. Your signal doesn't cover your whole house
Even when you do find the sweet spot for your router there are still limits to how far its signal will reach. If you've converted your loft into an office, for example, the signal might have to pass through several walls, floors and doors to get there. There's no guarantee that it will. Older buildings can be a problem as well, as some of the building materials, or even just the thickness of the walls can have an effect on how far a wi-fi signal can reach.
Look into wi-fi extenders or Powerline adapters as a way to increase the wi-fi coverage in your home.
4. There's too many people downloading
What's an obvious reason why anything slows down? There's just too many people using it! That's as true of your broadband as it is of the M25 at rush hour.
A standard phoneline broadband connection in the UK has an average speed of around 10 to 11Mb, and sometimes quite a bit slower. Netflix alone needs a speed of 5Mb to play HD video - that's half of your available speed. Now, add in someone else watching YouTube videos, someone playing online games, and another person downloading large files for work. It adds up pretty quickly, and something has got to give.
This can also apply to the area you live in. The more built up the area, the more customers there are connected to your local street cabinet. This means that speeds can get slower at peak times, because everyone is home from work and school and making use of the internet. You can work around this by setting updates - such as for phone and computer operating systems and games - to download overnight when less people are using the internet.
A lot of routers are good at prioritising certain types of traffic. This means time-critical downloads like streamed video aren't interrupted, but file downloads might be slower. Not all do, though. If you've got a busy family sharing limited bandwidth, rationing your usage might be the way to go.
You're less likely to get this problem on a faster fibre deal. For more on this, check out our blog post explaining what broadband speed you actually need.
5. Background downloads
While it's easy to get your kids to ration their Netflix use, it's still possible that your broadband will be slowed down by other downloads that you don't know about.
These hidden downloads happen all the time. Like when your laptop automatically downloads and installs an update to Windows. Or your phone gets updated, your TV box, or pretty much anything else you've got that's connected to the internet. These updates might be a couple of gigabytes in size, and on a standard broadband connection could take an hour or more to complete.
Video games are even worse. They often have updates that run to 10 gigabytes or more, and could clog up your system for the rest of the day. The same goes for downloading boxsets from Sky or other premium TV services. Not everyone makes the connection between downloading something on a TV and slowing down their computer, but it's all part of the same thing.
6. Viruses and malware
When your internet becomes slow all of a sudden, and for no obvious reason, it's worth checking that your computer and anti-virus software are both fully up to date and working properly.
Viruses and other types of malware won't slow your internet specifically, but they will slow your hardware and make browsing and other online activities feel a lot more sluggish.
Run an anti-virus scan to try and solve the problem. Lots of broadband providers offer free security software when you sign up, so make sure you're using it if yours does. Also, keep an eye out for other warning signs. This includes your browser's home page changing unexpectedly, or your computer's fans spinning fast and loud even when you aren't using it. This can be a sign of dodgy software running in the background.
How to speed up your broadband
There's a lot more things that can slow down your broadband. Maybe your router's settings need changing, or perhaps your phone cables are the problem. Or maybe your broadband isn't slow at all - maybe your computer is.
So how do you find the answers? Start by downloading our free guide, 12 ways to boost your broadband speed. It's packed with essential tips that are easy to follow and require very little technical know-how.
And if you do decide you need a faster service, use our broadband comparison tool to find the speeds that you need.
Posted on 2019-03-08 17:03 in Announcements Features Offers BT
It's becoming common these days for broadband providers to entice customers into buying a broadband package by offering tempting rewards, such as gift cards, shopping vouchers, bill credit and cashback, and even shiny tech like tablets, Amazon devices and TVs. All the big name providers do it and some rewards, such as BT's current offer with a choice of tech and a reward card on top, may seem too good to pass up on.
But such offers may not be the best deal for you, even if they look really good at first glance. Before you rush to take advantage of a deal with rewards, you need to stop and ask yourself a few important questions, including:
- What exactly are all these different rewards and how do they work?
- Will these reward deals still save you money on your broadband contract?
- Is the reward on offer something you already want or even need?
- Could you spend less by getting a cheaper broadband deal and buying the reward yourself?
- How do you get your rewards - are you automatically given them or do you need to claim them yourself?
We've got a brand new page in our Help section all about broadband rewards for you that gives you the answers to these questions and more, so when you decide to buy a broadband deal with a reward, you'll know how much money you'll really be saving, exactly what you're getting and how to get it.
Armed with all that information, you're all set to find the best deal with rewards for your needs - use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area right now!
Read our Broadband Rewards Explained help page.
Posted on 2019-03-01 19:17 in News Offers Expired EE John Lewis TalkTalk Plusnet BT
The first of the month usually has broadband providers dusting off some good offers, and today is no exception. Take your pick from the great deals below!
BT have a very tempting offer this week. Not only can you bag a BT reward card on most packages, if you opt for a fibre product you also get a choice of an Amazon Echo, a Fitbit Charge 3 or a Samsung Tablet A 10.1 - worth up to £179! Superfast Fibre is £29.99 a month and comes with an £80 reward card or, if it's available in your area, you can get Superfast Fibre 2 for £39.99 a month with a £120 reward card.
If you’re not looking from fibre from BT, their standard Broadband with Weekend Calls is only £24.99 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, though sadly no tech extras. TV packages with these rewards are also available.1
Plusnet's offers have been updated as of the 6th March. Those who sign up for their Unlimited Broadband package for £19.99 a month will get a £50 reward card, and if you go with Unlimited Fibre Extra for £26.99 a month you'll get a £60 reward card.
£65 reward card for those who sign up for their Unlimited Broadband package for £18.99 a month, and a £50 reward card if you go with Unlimited Fibre Extra for £27.50 a month.2
TalkTalk’s Fast Broadband package is only £17 a month and comes with a £60 voucher. This offer is only available through the link in this blog post.3
John Lewis have several e-gift cards on offer, depending on the package you opt for. Broadband Unlimited is £20 a month and comes with a £35 e-gift card, Fibre is £28.50 a month and comes with a £50 e-gift card for and Fibre Extra is £35 a month and comes with a £75 e-gift card.4
EE have a Double Data Boost on all their broadband packages. If you have a mobile calling plan with EE you can increase your mobile data allowance by 10GB instead of the usual 5GB boost. Your broadband packages options are Standard Broadband for £21 a month, Fibre Broadband for £27 a month, or Fibre Plus for £31 a month. TV packages are also available.5
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. 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. BT reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers ends midnight ending 14th March.
2. Standard broadband products are on a 12 month contract, fibre products 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. Plusnet reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers ends midnight ending 12th March.
3. TalkTalk Fast Broadband is on a 12 month contract. Vouchers are a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster. Offer ends midnight ending 15th March.
4. Offer is on an 18 month contract, John Lewis will contact you before this is up to inform you have price rises from month 19. E-gift card can be redeemed at John Lewis or Waitrose. Offer ends midnight ending 5th March.
5. Offer available to existing mobile customers. All EE products are on an 18 month contract. You will be contacted before your contract is up to inform you of price rises from month 19. Data should be added to your mobile account. Offer ends midnight ending 28th March.
Posted on 2019-02-28 18:23 in News Daisy KCOM Lothian Broadband XLN Telecom Sky BT Virgin Media TalkTalk Plusnet EE
From tomorrow, 1st March 2019, a new Ofcom Broadband Speeds Code of Practice goes into effect to promote Fairness for Customers in the broadband market. The previous home broadband Code has been in force since 2015, but last year's changes to the advertising of broadband speeds have prompted a series of improvements.
The key changes to the Code are:
- More realistic speed estimates - Providers need to advertise speed estimates that are relevant, and must display an 'average speed' that at least 50% of their customers can get during peak hours, between 8pm and 10pm.
- Tell you your minimum guaranteed speeds at point of sale - Before you commit to buying, you should be told the minimum dowmload and upload speeds you can get, so you know what to expect, whether you have an actual speed problem, and if you have the right to terminate your contract.
- Improving your rights to leave your contract early - Providers will have 30 days to fix your speeds, and if they're unable to do so they must offer you the right to downgrade or to terminate your contract without penalty. This now includes customers on bundled packages, such as landline and TV services.
- These rights apply to all cutsomers regardless of the technology - Previously the rules only covered customers on standard broadband over copper landlines, or 'part-fibre' Fibre to the Cabinet products. Now they apply to 'full fibre' Fibre to the Premises/Home technologies as well, including services that use the Openreach (BT Group) telephone network and Virgin Media's cable network.
The updated Code remains voluntary, so Ofcom won't have the power to force all broadband providers to comply. However, most of the major providers have signed up, in fact Ofcom believes Code complaint providers currently serve around 95% of home broadband customers.
Many of the smaller providers haven't signed up on the basis that the implementation of the technologies needed are too impractical and costly for them to make it viable at this time. The principles of the Code have also been criticised by one small provider. It should also be noted that, although the Code applies to all sales from 1st of March onwards, Ofcom won't be testing the compliance of the rules until 2020 to give the signatories time to implement the changes.
The providers who have signed up for the new 2019 Voluntary Codes of Practice are:
- KCOM (Hull Area)
- Lothian Broadband
- Virgin Media
BT, Daisy, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have also signed up for this to cover Business customers, with KCOM and XLN sign expected to be compliant in the near future.
For more detailed information you can read Ofcom's consumer guide to the new Broadband Speeds Codes of Practice or the full Better Broadband Speeds Information: Voluntary Codes of Practice statement.
Posted on 2019-02-22 18:56 in Features Offers Expired Vodafone SSE Plusnet BT
It's always nice to get rewards and free gifts on top of a good broadband deal, so we've put together a list of the best of those deals from this week for you to choose from.
Plusnet Broadband and Phone bundles each come with a reward card this week. Unlimited Broadband comes with a £75 reward card and is priced at £18.99 a month. Both Fibre products come with a £50 reward card, and are priced at £23.99 a month for Unlimited Fibre and £27.99 a month for Unlimited Fibre Extra. You'll need to hurry, as these offers end on Tuesday!1
Vodafone are offering a £70 voucher with their Superfast 1 fibre package for £21 a month, and an £80 voucher with their Superfast 2 fibre package for £25 a month. These voucher offers are only available through the links in this blog post.2
SSE have a £50 pre-paid Mastercard on offer with their Unlimited Broadband package, which costs £18 a month for the duration of your contract. This offer is also only available through the link in this blog post.3
BT have reward cards on nearly all of their packages. Their basic Broadband with Weekend Calls and a £30 reward card is only £24.99 a month. If you're looking for a Fibre package, then you can get Superfast Fibre with a £50 reward card for £29.99 a month or, if it's available in your area, you can get Superfast Fibre 2 with a £70 reward card for £39.99 a month. TV packages with reward cards are also available.4
1. Offer available to new customers only. Standard broadband products are on a 12 month contract, fibre products 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. Plusnet reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. You will need to claim this reward yourself once your broadband is up and running using instructions that should be sent to you by email. See Plusnet site for reward card terms and conditions. Offers ends midnight 26th February.
2. Offer available to new customers only. All Vodafone products are on an 18 month contract. Vouchers are a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC Word, Marks & Spencer or Ticketmaster. You will need to claim this reward yourself once your broadband is up and running using instructions that should be sent to you by email. See offer page for full terms and conditions and how to claim. Offer ends midnight 28th February.
3. Offer available to new customers only. Offer is on an 18 month contract, SSE will contact you before this is up to inform you have price rises from month 19. Vouchers are a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC Word, Marks & Spencer or Ticketmaster. You will need to claim this reward yourself once your broadband is up and running using instructions that should be sent to you by email. See offer page for full terms and conditions and how to claim.
4. Offer available to new customers only. 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 pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. You will need to claim this reward yourself once your broadband is up and running using instructions that should be sent to you by email. See BT site for reward card terms and conditions. Offers ends midnight 28th February.
Posted on 2019-02-15 17:37 in Features Offers 4GEE Three
Superfast Fibre broadband may now available across 95% of the UK, but there are still a lot of people who can't get it. You might be one of the frustrated few stuck in a broadband not-spot, with Fibre not yet available in your area, or - more annoyingly - it is available, but you're just too far from the street cabinet to see the benefit and are stuck with sluggish speeds on standard broadband over copper phone lines.
The solution to your problem may be simpler than you think.
4G mobile technology started rolling out in 2012 and is now available over 80% of the UK, and now mobile providers such as EE and Three are offering a home broadband solution that uses the 4G mobile network to provide users with speeds that can be comparable with their up to 36Mbps Fibre counterparts. You don't necessarily even need to be in a 4G area to get it, either - you can get respectable speeds in many 3G areas as well, plus there's the option to boost the signal with an external antenna if you need it.
What's more, Three currently have an amazing offer on that's competitive with even the cheaper Fibre broadband deals. For just £22 a month on a 24 month contract you can get unlimited data!
If 4G home broadband is something that interests you, we've put together a handy guide to the service that addresses:
- What 4G home broadband is
- Who it's suitable for
- The speeds you can expect
- The costs involved
- Concerns about data usage
Read our guide to getting 4G home broadband.
Posted on 2019-01-28 16:15 in News Offers Plusnet BT
Here's a simple trick that can save you £30 a year on your broadband, as well as slashing your monthly bills. All you have to do is pay your line rental up front in one go. And what's more, right now this will boost savings enough to net you the cheapest broadband offer possible!
Not many providers let you do this anymore since ASA rules changed to make it harder to advertise line rental prices, but two of the biggest still do.
Plusnet and BT offer 'line rental saver' deals that can get you cheaper broadband, reduce your monthly payments, and also protect you against price rises.
These deals aren't advertised, and they aren't included as standard in any bundles - you have to add them as an optional extra during checkout when you're signing up. But if you can afford to pay a lump sum up front the great benefits make them well worth seeking out.
What deals can you get?
Plusnet value their line rental at £18.99 a month, but will let you have it for £197.88 if you pay all at once. That's equivalent to £16.49 a month - a saving of £30 a year. Throw in the £75 cashback cheque that Plusnet offer if you sign up through this link by Wednesday the 13th of February and you're effectively saving £105 in the first year!
That's not all.
Plusnet's standard broadband - with an average speed of 10Mb - is free. You normally only pay line rental. So if you've paid your line rental up front, it means you'll be getting a year's broadband for NO MONTHLY COST. Or if you divide the total costs of line rental after cashback by 12, you're paying the equivalent of only £10.99 a month. Not bad! And what if you want a faster fibre package? You'll still only pay a little over a fiver more each month under the same terms.
BT offer a similar deal, but with a smaller saving of around £20 a year, which is roughly the same as their activation fee. They also throw in a Weekend calls package. While it probably isn't worth switching to BT solely on the back of this offer, if you were planning to go with them anyway it's totally worth paying the line rental up front if you can afford to do so.
Sounds good, but what else do you need to know?
Firstly, you can obviously only get the deal if you can afford the upfront payment, and it is a lot to pay in one go. Some users might also just prefer to spread the cost over many months. But it does work out cheaper in the long run, and also protects you against mid-contract price rises on line rental (but not the broadband).
Second, make sure you check the length of both parts of your package. Line rental saver offers are for 12 months, but broadband deals can often last 18 months. This will leave you paying six months of line rental at full price in the last part of your contract period. You'll still make a saving, but make sure you make a note of it so you aren't taken by surprise when your bill goes up after a year.
You can renew the line rental saver deal at the end of the year, but we wouldn't recommend this unless you're absolutely certain you're going to be sticking with the same broadband supplier. Broadband prices always go up when your contract ends, so you want the freedom to shop around and find a better deal with a different provider.
A better option might be to hold off until you can get both broadband and line rental on a 12 month contract. Plusnet switches between offering broadband on 12 and 18 month deals frequently.
Finally, your upfront payment isn't refundable. If you need to leave your contract before it's up for any reason you won't get your money back.
On the whole, if the circumstances are right for you, line rental saver deals are worth having. To find out how much you can save, check out the best Plusnet deals and BT broadband offers now, or use this link to see the very best Plusnet offer right now!
Posted on 2019-01-11 17:52 in Features
These days most of us have a mobile phone we use regularly - often using it in place of landline phones to make our calls - and we're always looking for a good deal on mobile call packages. Most of us also rely on the internet in our day to day lives, and most households in the UK consider a broadband package as an essential utility.
So wouldn't it make sense to combine broadband and mobile to get a cheaper deal?
With several of the major broadband providers branching out to offer mobile deals and some of the major mobile networks also offering home broadband as well, there are a number of options for getting a good mobile and broadband bundle deal. You can even throw in a TV package to your bundle to make even more savings!
We'll help explore your options and explain in simple terms how mobile from your broadband provider works.
Our new guide on the subject covers:
- Which providers offer broadband and mobile bundles
- The pros and cons of mobile bundles
- What virtual mobile networks are
- Which mobile networks broadband providers use
Read our guide to getting mobile and broadband bundles.
Posted on 2018-12-14 13:59 in News
Ofcom has launched a new Boost Your Broadband campaign aiming to help millions of internet users get a faster service or to slash their bills on their existing deals.
Half of UK homes could switch to superfast broadband for no extra cost
Ofcom's research has revealed that superfast broadband is now available to 94% of homes, yet only half of UK households have taken it up, and the industry regulator wants more people to start taking advantage of it.
What's more, they found that around four million households with old-style, basic broadband have passed their initial contract period and could switch to superfast for about the same cost as they're currently paying - and in many cases they could even save money!
The high profile campaign is fronted by Gloria Hunniford, and you'll see it on TV, in the press and online. It will help you find out if you can:
- Get a faster service with your current provider
- Pay less for your existing package
- Switch to a better deal with a different provider
Boost Your Broadband offers straightforward, easy to follow advice. Even if you aren't tech savvy and don't even know why you might need faster internet, it doesn't matter. The campaign will equip you with everything you need to snag a better deal.
How to get a better deal with Boost Your Broadband
At the heart of the Boost Your Broadband campaign is the reality that so many of us are still stuck on old deals where the minimum contract period has ended. This leaves us paying more than we should be for a service that's often not as good as it could be.
When that happens you need to speak to your provider to find out what your options are. But if the thought of doing that leaves you feeling a bit out of your depth, don't worry. Ofcom has provided a handy checklist of questions you need to ask:
- Am I still in my initial contract period?
- If I am, how long is left?
- How much am I paying for my current deal?
- What am I getting for that price?
- How fast does my broadband need to be to do the things I want?
- Can I get a faster service, and how much will it cost?
- How long do I need to sign up for?
- Do I need to pay connection fees to get the new deal?
- What happens at the end of the initial contract period?
Once you've got the answers to those questions you'll know what your options are. And that usually boils down to four possibilities: getting a faster service with the same provider, keeping the same speed but signing a new contract (preferably at a lower price), switching providers (which is a lot easier than you might think), or sticking with what you've got.
Before you start, use our Ofcom accredited postcode checker to find out what other broadband packages are available in your area. This will give you an idea of what kinds of speeds and prices you should be looking for. It'll also help you make an informed decision on what to do next.
For more information on Ofcom's campaign, visit the official website at www.boostyourbroadband.com.
Posted on 2018-12-13 16:07 in News EE Zen Plusnet TalkTalk Sky BT Virgin Media
You could be in line for compensation next time your internet goes down, following an agreement involving some of the UK's biggest broadband providers.
A voluntary code introduced by industry regulator Ofcom states that, from early next year, providers will have to reimburse customers if they lose broadband or landline phone service.
So far, BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Zen Internet have signed up to the agreement. Plusnet and EE have also indicated that they may join.
What you'll get
Under the plan, customers will receive £8 per day in compensation when their broadband goes down and the fault takes longer than two days to fix.
In addition, there will be £25 compensation when an engineer misses a scheduled appointment, or cancels within 24 hours.
Plus, customers will receive £5 per day when new services they sign up for do not start on time.
Homes, and small and medium businesses are eligible.
There are some caveats. You won't get compensation if you're the cause of the problem, like if you damage the wiring in your home or are out when the engineer arrives. Most faults are also likely to be fixed inside two days, so you could still experience disruption without being compensated for it.
Openreach are also involved in the scheme, since most faults occur on their network (apart from Virgin Media, who use their own infrastructure). They have said that they won't compensate the broadband suppliers in the event of force majeure events like flooding, leaving the onus on the suppliers themselves to foot the bill in those instances.
After a consultation in Spring 2017, Ofcom published their judgement in November 2017, giving retail and wholesale providers a 15 month deadline by which automatic compensation had to be in place. This means that the very latest we can expect to see the system working is mid-February 2019.
Your consumer rights
The agreement is the latest in a line of measures designed to the experience of broadband users, and ensure we're all getting value for money.
You can already exit your deal early and without penalty in the event of mid-contract price rises, or if the service you're receiving is simply not up to scratch. And the process to switch broadband is also now much simpler than it used to be.
You can find all the information you need on these subjects and more in our guide to your broadband consumer rights.