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

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Updates related to the home broadband provider BT.

A family using the internet

Internet use is soaring - is your broadband good enough to keep up?

Posted on 2020-06-29 17:03 in News SSE Virgin Media Vodafone BT TalkTalk Plusnet

The average Brit is now spending over four hours a day online, according to a new Ofcom study.

The industry watchdog's latest Online Nation report shows that a combination of factors have caused internet use to surge to record levels, up by almost an hour a day in less than two years.

Inevitably, the coronavirus lockdown was part of the cause - the Zoom video conferencing app, for instance, has grown by nearly 2000%, from 659 thousand UK users to over 13 million in just four months. But it's not just that. The popularity of streaming services continues to grow, plus there's the emergence of video sharing sites like Twitch and TikTok. The latter has moved well beyond its initial teen user base, with 12.9 million UK adults now joining in.

Even as the lockdown begins to ease, it's unlikely that our online activity is going to decline. So the question is, is your broadband connection up to the demands of this "new normal"?

Signs that your service might be struggling include:

  • Downtime - we know that the internet infrastructure held up remarkably well during the lockdown, but if your connection keeps dropping, or you're being left without service for hours at a time, it's often a sign that it might be time to look elsewhere.
  • Slow downloads or uploads - your download and upload speeds will slow down when you've got more people sharing your connection at the same time. Speed problems can be especially noticeable when your usage patterns change - like when you're working from home and sharing large files or connecting to your office server.
  • Poor video performance - nothing ruins a boxset binge more than buffering, or even just seeing the picture quality plummet. Both are signs that your broadband can't keep up with the demands of your chosen streaming TV service.
  • Laggy gaming or video calls - speed problems can also ruin the picture or sound quality in your video calls, and render online games unplayable. Occasional lag is to be expected, but if you keep seeing it it might be time for an upgrade.

The best broadband upgrades

So what should you look for in an upgrade? Try and prioritise what you need. That could be a faster service generally, or more specifically faster uploads. Or perhaps a more reliable service, or better customer support.

The obvious upgrade, if you haven't already made it, is to go from standard broadband to fibre. An entry level fibre deal will triple your download speed and should only cost a few pounds extra each month. If you're upgrading to a new deal with your existing provider you might even be able to negotiate a better offer. Plusnet and SSE currently offer the cheapest fibre broadband deals.

The next step is from the basic fibre (around 36Mb) to the higher end fibre, with speeds around 63Mb. Vodafone and TalkTalk have the cheapest deals at this faster speed.

If even that isn't enough, you can get over 100Mb speeds from a number of ISPs. The most widely available are from Virgin Media, who offer speeds up to 516Mb on average. Other big name providers like Vodafone and BT also offer ultrafast packages, but only in certain areas. These faster speeds will give you much better upload speeds as well as downloads.

If reliability and customer service are a bigger priority, the best way to check what you can expect from each provider is to read their customer reviews. Dig into our thousands of reviews for help on deciding your next move.

Ready to start shopping for a new internet deal? Use our postcode checker to find the best broadband offers where you live.

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Watching football on TV

How to watch the Premier League season when it restarts

Posted on 2020-06-16 17:08 in News Features Virgin Media Sky BT NOW Broadband

After a three month delay the Premier League season is finally set to return. It kicks off again on 17 June with a double header including the Man City - Arsenal game. With no fans allowed in the stadiums, all the remaining 92 matches will be shown live on TV, across a mix of free-to-air and premium channels.

Here's how you can watch.

How to watch Premier League games for free

For the first time ever, Premier League games will be shown live on free-to-air TV. There will be 33 free matches in all, spread across three channels.

BBC: The BBC will be showing four matches, starting with Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace on 20 June. The Beeb will also have their usual FA Cup coverage when the competition resumes on 27 June.

Amazon: Amazon have also got four games, which begin with Palace against Burnley on 29 June. You'll be able to watch these even if you aren't a Prime subscriber (although you probably will need a normal Amazon account).

Pick: The remaining 25 free games are on the Pick channel. "What is Pick?", you ask. Good question! It's a channel owned by Sky that you can watch for free on every platform. You'll find it on Freeview channel 11, Freesat channel 144, Sky channel 159 and Virgin Media channel 165.

Don't assume that it's just the less fashionable games that will be available for free. Pick will be showing the Merseyside derby on Sunday 21 June, which could be the night that Liverpool are finally confirmed as champions.

How to watch Premier League football on Sky Sports and BT Sport

If the free coverage isn't enough for you, now's the perfect time to subscribe to a premium sports channel. If you've got broadband from the likes of Sky or BT you should be able to add the channels to your existing deal, or you could even consider switching providers and making a saving on a bundle.

Sky Sports have got 39 exclusive matches (they'll also be showing the games on Pick), which begins with Aston Villa vs Sheffield Utd at 6pm on 17 June. They've got the pick of the big fixtures. They will also be covering the Championship, currently slated to resume on 20 June.

BT Sport will be showing 20 games - 12 more than they originally had - with the first seeing Watford take on Leicester at 12.30pm on 20 June. They've also got the rights to the Champions League, although there's no date yet for when that will come back.

There are four main ways to sign up to watch Premier League football on Sky Sports and BT Sport.

Sky: The most obvious way to get Sky Sports is direct from Sky, via a dish, and you can add BT Sport to your package as well. You can sign up to Sky regardless of what internet provider you use, although you should be able to save on your monthly bill by taking it as part of a bundle with Sky broadband.

Take a look at the latest Sky broadband and TV bundles.

BT: BT now offer a full BT TV service to their broadband customers. This gives you a choice of channel packages, with the sports offerings including BT Sport along with all the Sky Sports channels streamed through NOW TV. What we like about BT TV is that even though you have to take a 24 month contract, your choice of channels is flexible. So, you can sign up for the football now, then when the season ends you can switch to a movie package instead.

Check out the best BT broadband and TV bundles.

Virgin Media: You can get Sky Sports and BT Sport through Virgin Media both as a standalone service or as part of a bundle with Virgin Media broadband. Virgin offer some of the fastest broadband plans that are widely available, with speeds up to an average of 516Mb.

See the latest Virgin Media broadband and TV bundles.

NOW TV: With the streaming service NOW TV you can watch Sky Sports without a dish. It can work out a little more expensive than getting it through Sky, but that's because you don't need a contract - you can cancel at any time. NOW TV doesn't offer BT Sport. You can make further savings by getting the service with a NOW Broadband bundle.

Check the latest NOW Broadband deals.

Upcoming games

So now you're ready for a feast of summer football. Matches take place throughout the week, at a range of kick-off times:

  • Monday: 8pm
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 6pm, 8.15pm
  • Friday: 6pm, 8.15pm
  • Saturday: 12:30pm, 3pm, 5:30pm, 7.45pm
  • Sunday: 12pm, 2pm, 4:30pm, 7pm

About a third of the schedule has been announced so far. Here's the list of games, and where you can find them:

  • Wednesday 17 June

    Aston Villa v Sheffield United (18:00), Sky

    Manchester City v Arsenal (20:15), Sky

  • Friday 19 June

    Norwich v Southampton (18:00), Sky and Pick

    Tottenham v Manchester United (20:15), Sky

  • Saturday 20 June

    Watford v Leicester City (12:30), BT

    Brighton v Arsenal (15:00), BT

    West Ham v Wolves (17:30), Sky

    AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace (19:45), BBC

  • Sunday 21 June

    Newcastle v Sheffield United (14:00), Sky and Pick

    Aston Villa v Chelsea (16:15), Sky

    Everton v Liverpool (19:00), Sky and Pick

  • Monday 22 June

    Manchester City v Burnley (20:00), Sky

  • Tuesday 23 June

    Leicester v Brighton (18:00), Sky

    Tottenham v West Ham (20:15), Sky

  • Wednesday 24 June

    Manchester United v Sheffield United (18:00), Sky and Pick

    Newcastle v Aston Villa (18:00), BT

    Wolves v AFC Bournemouth (18:00), BT

    Norwich v Everton (18:00), BBC

    Liverpool v Crystal Palace (20:15), Sky

  • Thursday 25 June

    Burnley v Watford (18:00), Sky and Pick

    Southampton v Arsenal (18:00), Sky

    Chelsea v Manchester City (20:15), BT

  • Saturday 27 June

    Aston Villa v Wolves (12:30), BT

  • Sunday 28 June

    Watford v Southampton (16:30), Sky and Pick

  • Monday 29 June

    Crystal Palace v Burnley (20:00), Amazon

  • Tuesday 30 June

    Brighton v Manchester United (20:15), Sky and Pick

  • Wednesday 1 July

    AFC Bournemouth v Newcastle (18:00), Sky and Pick

    Arsenal v Norwich (18:00), BT

    Everton v Leicester (18:00), Sky

    West Ham v Chelsea (20:15), Sky

  • Thursday 2 July

    Sheffield United v Tottenham (18:00), Sky

    Manchester City v Liverpool (20:15), Sky

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The best broadband for older people

The best broadband for older users

Posted on 2020-05-12 16:56 in Features EE Sky BT Zen

For lots of us, the internet is a major source of entertainment, or a tool that enables us to work from home. For millions of older people it's a lifeline, the main way to keep in touch with the family, and interact with the outside world at a time when this is otherwise not possible. A good broadband service is vital.

So whether you're shopping for yourself, or seeking out broadband for an elderly parent, what are the priorities you need to look out for?

Reliability and support

We're all a lot more reliant on online shopping at the moment, especially snagging those all too scarce supermarket delivery slots. For a lot of older people renewing prescriptions, managing state pensions, paying the TV license, and lots of other things are important online activities, too.

For this reason, reliability is perhaps the most important point to consider. You need a broadband service that works whenever you need it, and also one that won't cut you off when you hit a data limit. These limits are fortunately quite scarce now, though if you're shopping at the budget end of the market you might still encounter them.

Customer service is also important. If you do experience any problems you need to be confident that your provider will fix them as quickly as possible.

Our Customer Reviews page contains feedback and ratings from thousands of broadband users. It's an ideal way to find out what kind of service each provider offers, and what problems you might face with them. Right now, Zen Broadband top the list for customer satisfaction, although if you'd be more comfortable with a mainstream brand EE rate well, gaining the lowest level of complaints according to a recent Ofcom study.

Speed

Speed might be less important for a lot of older users, but it really depends on what they want to do online.

There's no one-size-fits-all solution. For every older person who is a reluctant technology user, you'll find others who are enthusiastic online shoppers and Facebook posters, alongside those happily working their way through the Netflix catalogue.

There are options for all groups. Anyone who receives pension credit and has minimal internet needs can apply for the BT Basic + Broadband plan. It's cheap, but comes with a very low data allowance so isn't suitable for anything more than the absolute basics.

Beyond that, a basic standard broadband package - which uses a BT phone line - will usually work out the cheapest. It's fine for simple things like email, browsing and shopping, as well as for video calls with the family. It's worth considering if you're in a one computer household. A basic fibre deal, which is faster and allows for a wider range of uses including watching TV, as well as more simultaneous users, typically starts at around £5 a month extra.

Phone calls and TV

The extras you can take with a broadband deal are also important to consider. Most broadband services need a phone line - with line rental included in the price - and many providers give the option to buy a call plan as part of the deal. The plans on offer usually allow a choice of either unlimited calls during evenings and weekends, or unlimited calls anytime.

These can be tempting during a time when staying in touch with family is so important, but don't assume it's a must-have. If you don't take a call plan you'll still be able to make calls. You just pay for them at a rate of a few pence per minute, just like we always used to.

Some providers, especially Sky, also offer pay TV as well, include sports and movie channels. In some cases, though you might be able to get these channels cheaper elsewhere.

Price and contract length

And then there's the price and contract length, and the two often go hand in hand: sign up to a longer deal and you can shave a few pounds off your monthly bill. Anything shorter than 12 months is likely to cost you quite a bit more, while longer than that leaves you at risk of being stuck with a service you're not totally happy with.

Our price comparison guide will help you find the best broadband prices, and identify those deals that are within your budget. Make sure you check the 1st Year Cost column to see how much you'll pay in the initial 12 months - this includes those easy to overlook extras like postage or a setup fee.

Ready to start shopping for broadband? Use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals available in your area today.

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Working From Home

UK broadband has more than enough capacity to handle the surge in home workers

Posted on 2020-03-23 18:17 in News Vodafone Plusnet BT Virgin Media Sky EE

With millions of people now having to work from home there's been a lot of speculation about whether the UK's broadband infrastructure will be able to handle a massive surge in demand.

Well don't worry, because the expectation is that it can. That's the word from BT, who say they've got "more than enough capacity…to handle mass-scale home-working in response to COVID-19".

Last week, the company shared some data to demonstrate just how well their network was able to cope with higher levels of usage. They showed that in the previous week a couple of major video game releases and Champions League football had combined to hit new record levels of traffic for BT - to the tune of 17.5 terabits per second (Tbps) - without the network buckling under the strain.

The increase in home working meanwhile, has seen daytime traffic increase by as much as 60%, but still remains well below the record at around 7.5Tbps. Of course, with schools now closed, it's likely that traffic will go up further during the day, but the industry is confident that it will be able to handle it.

Our own speed test data, compiled from thousands of speed tests each month, supports the view that broadband connections aren't slowing down as well. We pulled the average home broadband speed results from the middle of February, and they were 44Mbps. The period between the 8th and the 14th of March saw average speeds of 43.9Mbps, while between the 15th to the 23rd of March, average speeds were 44.7Mbps. The speed differences displayed are of no real significance, and we're happy that people shouldn't be seeing any negative impact on their connection, despite the current change in UK working arrangements.

Are you working from home? Check out our tips on how to minimise disruption to your broadband service, and make sure it's good enough for what you need.

To help things along, TV streaming companies have agreed temporary measures to slash the amount of data they use by as much as a quarter. Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ are streaming their content at a lower bitrate, while YouTube now defaults to an SD stream - although you can still manually set videos to play at a higher resolution if you want to. The BBC also seems likely to make a change in the not too distant future.

Will you notice the difference? Possibly not, although it depends what you're watching. Streaming at a lower bitrate means that the video is more heavily compressed. With the way video compression works it's more noticeable in busy scenes with lots of fast movement, where the image may become blocky or distorted. In slower scenes, you'll have to look pretty closely to see any effect.

As for streaming in SD, as with YouTube, that might not look great if you watch on a massive 4K telly, but for viewing on a smaller screen like a tablet it should be just fine.

How to pause your Sky Sports and BT Sport subscriptions

In other news, Sky and BT have taken the decision to allow customers to pause their sports channel subscriptions for as long as there's no actual sport taking place. You can do this at sky.com/pausesport or at bt.com/tv. Unfortunately, you can't pause these channels if you've got them through Virgin Media.

BT have removed data caps on all their broadband products. This won't affect most people, since most of their plans are already unlimited. But if you're on an older deal you'll no longer have to worry about managing your usage.

And lots of broadband providers have issued statements to explain their COVID-19 plans, including what happens if you need a callout from a technician to solve a problem. You should have received this via email, but if you haven't you can read them online from BT, Sky, Virgin Media, EE, Vodafone and Plusnet.

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Wi-Fi disc to extend signal

How to get Wi-Fi in every room of your house

Posted on 2019-11-22 16:05 in Features Sky BT

Struggling with patchy Wi-Fi coverage around your house? There's nothing worse than having no-go areas in your home where you can't get online to do some work or catch up on some Netflix. But what can you do?

First of all, try and nail down the problem. Load up our Speed Test tool on your phone or laptop, run it in every room and compare the results. It only takes a few seconds each time, and will give you the full picture of how good your Wi-Fi coverage is - or isn't.

And once you've identified the problem, let's take a look at how to fix it. We'll also provide some links to products on Amazon that you may find useful, though you can find many of these products in your local computer shop and many larger superstores as well.

BT Complete Wi-Fi guarantee

Broadband providers are starting to recognise the importance of full Wi-Fi coverage, and are offering performance guarantees so long as you're happy to pay a little extra.

BT are leading the way. Their Complete Wi-Fi service guarantees full internet throughout your house - with a speed of at least 10Mb - and uses special hardware to do it. As well as equipping you with BT's latest Smart Hub 2 router, they'll also give you a single Wi-Fi Disc.

And what is that? A Wi-Fi Disc is a small Wi-Fi extender that you can place upstairs (or wherever else your connection struggles to reach) that helps to push the signal into the furthest corners of every room. While this may sound complicated, it isn't. You can set one up in less than ten minutes, and the process is mostly automatic. In fact, by using the My BT app on your phone, it'll even recommend the ideal place to put the Disc for the best possible signal.

One Disc should be good enough for most homes, but if it doesn't get the job done you can claim another two Discs for free to eliminate any remaining dead spots. And if there's still parts of your house that aren't covered after that, BT will give you a £20 refund, too.

If you're tired of having to deal with spotty Wi-Fi coverage at home, BT's Complete Wi-Fi makes for a pretty compelling offer. You can add it for around £10 a month, or often pick up deals with it bundled as standard. If you're not with BT and don't plan to switch to them, BT Discs will work with any UK broadband provider, and can be purchased on Amazon.

Check out the latest BT Broadband deals.

Sky Wi-Fi Guarantee

Sky Broadband are also getting in on the act, with a Wi-Fi Guarantee that forms part of their Broadband Boost upgrade.

They promise you a Wi-Fi speed of at least 3Mb in every room. They'll help you get to this by giving you one Broadband Booster device which is similar, but not quite as cutting edge as BT's Discs. Or, if you prefer, they'll send out an engineer to fix any problems. If it still doesn't work they'll refund you everything you've paid for the Broadband Boost service and let you keep the other benefits for free for the rest of your contract.

What are the other benefits? As well as the Wi-Fi Guarantee, Sky Broadband Boost gives you free engineer visits (including evenings and weekends), daily line checks to sniff out problems with your connection, access to the Sky Broadband Buddy app with its parental controls, and 2GB of extra data when your broadband drops for more than 30 minutes - but only if you're a Sky Mobile user.

You can add Sky Broadband Boost to your plan for £5 a month. The 3Mb speed guarantee is quite low - fast enough to stream Netflix in standard definition or to play online games, but a very long way short of the speeds you'll be accustomed to in other rooms. You might be better off looking at some of the other ways to extend your signal first.

How to extend your Wi-Fi signal

If you aren't with BT or Sky, or aren't in a position to switch providers right now, what other options do you have to get full Wi-Fi coverage in every room?

  • 4G or 5G Mobile broadband: 4G, or even the fledgling 5G, broadband is now a viable alternative to a fibre plan. As far as Wi-Fi coverage is concerned it comes with one big benefit: you can be a whole lot more flexible about where you position your router. Because it doesn't need to be connected to a phone line you can place it wherever you like - even upstairs if that gives you the best coverage. You can use Wi-Fi extenders to further beef up the signal, too. Want to know more? Check the latest 4G Mobile Broadband deals.
  • Wi-Fi extenders: There are different types of device that can extend your Wi-Fi coverage. A basic Wi-Fi repeater (such as the TP-Link RE300 or the Netgear EX2700) that makes your signal travel further will do the job, but a better option is a full Wi-Fi mesh network. Something like the Google Wi-Fi Whole Home System works on similar lines to BT's Wi-Fi Discs, and gives you full coverage wherever you need it. They are a little pricier, but these plug-and-play hubs require zero technical know-how to set up and use.
  • Powerline adapters: A more techie solution, but potentially just as effective, are powerline adapters. These devices come in basic packs of two - you plug one in to a power outlet near your router and the other wherever you need it, and the internet signal travels between them via your existing electrical cabling. You have the choice of using the adapter as a Wi-Fi point at the other end to cover all devices in the room, or use ethernet cables to connect devices with where you might want a more stable connection, such as TVs and games consoles. If you find need more rooms covered then you can buy larger packs, or even easily add more at a later date. A well-rated product is the TP-Link TL-WPA4220T starter kit, though there are plenty of others to choose from.
  • Get a better router: All broadband providers will give you a router to use when you sign up. If you've had Wi-Fi problems in the past, make sure you know what router you're going to get when switch suppliers: some are very definitely better than others! We've got all the details in our Broadband Providers guides. If you're looking to buy a router with a bit more oomph, you could consider the ASUS AC66U or the TP-Link AC1750.
  • Check the position of your router: Your other option is just to make sure you're got your router set up in the best possible way. Wi-Fi signals can be blocked by large physical objects, like walls, doors, floors, bookcases and so on. They're also susceptible to interference from microwaves, cordless phones and other devices that emit radio waves. If possible, try and move your router to a different position where there are as few obstacles as possible. With the Christmas season coming up, it's also worth mentioning that decorations such as tinsel have been known to cause problems, so bear that in mind if you want to make your router look festive!

For more, take a look at our guides to Broadband speeds and on how to speed up slow Wi-Fi.

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Virgin Media with Amazon Prime and a £100 reward choice

Broadband deals to get your November off to a cracking start

Posted on 2019-11-05 18:20 in Offers BT Shell Energy Virgin Media

Virgin Media are kicking us off with some great combined offers. Along with a price reduction on TV packages for the first year, Virgin are also offering a choice of a £100 gift voucher from Amazon, Debenhams, John Lewis or M&S or a £100 bill credit. It doesn't stop there, either, as you can also get 12 months free Amazon Prime. Worth £79 a month, you get a whole host of goodies bundled in, inluding access to Prime Video (where you can watch Amazon Original shows along with a whole host of other TV boxsets and the latest movies), unlimited music streaming, access to a rotating selection of content on Kindle, unlimited photo storage and, of course, free next day delivery!1

BT have a whopping £120 M&S voucher offer on Superfast Fibre products! If you want TV as well, packages are available from £15 extra a month and can be added during the checkout process. You can get the basic Classic Bundle with AMC and standard Freeview channels, or choose to add Premium channels with an Entertainment Bundle. Plus, you can add even add Sports from BT and Sky, Movies from Sky, Netflix and a whole lot more! You'll need to hurry, though, because this offer ends on the 14th and is only available via the links below.2

Shell Energy have some early Black Friday deals, offering some great introductory prices without the need to queue or get your kidneys elbowed! Their Fast Broadband package is currently one of the cheapest in the market at only £16.99 a month while Fibre packages are not only reduced in price, but also come with two months free in the form of account credit! Plus there are no connection fees for any of these deals. To top it off, if you're on one of Shell's gas or electricity plans, you can also make extra savings on your monthly energy bill!3

 


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 Virgin Media offers are on a 12 month contract. Offers end at 11:59pm 13/11/2019.

2. All BT offers are on a 24 month contract. £9.99 postage and packing fee for the BT Smart Hub applies, activation costs may apply on TV products. Standard broadband products will not be offered if you are able to get Fibre products. If you're in a Fibre-enabled area but can't get Fibre you will be offered a Standard broadband offer. Offer ends at 11:59pm 7/11/2019.

3. All Shell Energy offers are on an 18 month contract. Two months free will be applied to your account as bill credit 90 days after activation. Offer ends at 11:59pm 8/12/2019.

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Home Office Broadband

How to find the right broadband for your home office

Posted on 2019-10-11 14:49 in Features BT Virgin Media Plusnet John Lewis

Over one and a half million of us in the UK work from home, and the number is growing rapidly. But balancing out the sheer joy of being able to work in your pyjamas is the knowledge that you no longer have an IT-guy to sort out all your tech troubles.

And the biggest of all these troubles is your broadband: if it goes down, you'll lose money.

Let's take a look at how to find the right broadband for your home office.

What speed you need

Whenever you compare broadband deals, finding the right speed is your first priority. For your home office, any fibre deal should offer fast enough downloads for most needs.

However, you need to consider who else will be using your internet while you're working. If it's just you, then fine. But if your kids are going to be jumping onto YouTube and start FaceTiming as soon as they get home from school, you might want to opt for a faster fibre deal to ensure you won't have any interruptions.

Don't overlook the upload speed, too. You need a good upload speed if you do a lot of video conferencing, or need to send large files to clients. For this reason we'd recommend steering clear of a cheap standard broadband plan, as the upload speeds are usually dreadful.

Reliability and support

When you rely on your internet connection to earn a living you need to be confident that it will work reliably. If there are problems you need access to good customer support to fix them. To make your decision a little easier take a look at our customer reviews for all broadband providers. They show ratings for speed, reliability, support and overall satisfaction.

There's often a link between reliability and support, and price. Cheaper services from less established players tend to attract more negative reviews and lower satisfaction levels. It might be worth paying a little extra for a plan from one of the bigger brands.

Also, keep an eye out for speed and performance guarantees from the different broadband suppliers, which will help you avoid being left high and dry should problems strike. On BT Plus plans, for example, you'll be sent a 4G Mini Hub to keep you connected if your broadband ever develops a fault.

Static IP address

So far, the issues we've looked at are ones that you'd consider when buying any broadband service. Next up is a factor that mostly applies only to a subset of remote workers: the need for a static IP address.

In simple terms, an IP address is the address of your computer on the network. With all home broadband packages it's assigned dynamically, so you get a new one each time you connect. A static IP address means you keep the same address permanently.

Why might you need a static IP address? There's plenty of reasons, like if you're running a server or hosting your own website, or if you need a secure way to remotely log in to your employer's computer systems.

You get a dynamic IP address with all home broadband products and you'll need to check if your chosen provider can offer you a static address instead. As an example, Plusnet will give you a static IP for a one-off fee of £5, but BT won't let you have one on their residential packages. You need to switch to a business plan instead.

Full Wi-Fi coverage

You don't just need to find the right broadband, you need to get it working well enough, too. And that means making sure your Wi-Fi coverage extends to wherever you set up your office. Now, if you're just working from your dining room then you're probably already good to go. But if you're planning to convert your loft - or even your shed - into an office, you should hold off on that trip to Ikea until you're sure you've got your internet sorted first.

Your Wi-Fi signal is less likely to reach into the furthest corners of your house or garden. Even if it does, a weaker signal will mean slower speeds. Grab your laptop and head out to your office location, then use our Broadband Speed Test tool to find out if your connection and speeds are up to scratch.

If it isn't see our guide on how to speed up your broadband for tips on the best ways to extend your Wi-Fi coverage.

Business vs home broadband

Finally, you might be wondering if you need a specialist business broadband package when working from home, or if you're okay with a normal home deal. It depends on what type of work you're doing, and what's specified in your provider's terms and conditions.

BT say that their broadband is only for personal use; John Lewis Broadband say that "occasional home working is acceptable"; while Virgin Media offer the HomeWorks upgrade for £9.99 a month, which adds remote worker-friendly features to a residential plan. In all cases, a residential call plan will be strictly limited to personal use - so don't go setting up a call centre in your kitchen.

Business broadband will get you the option of a static IP address, better customer support - usually 24/7 - and better security options as well. Prices from suppliers like Plusnet aren't all that much higher than what you'd pay for home broadband.

Want more on finding the right internet service for your remote working needs? Check out our full guide to home office broadband.

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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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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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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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