Broadband Buying Guide

When it comes to shopping around for the right broadband package, there are a number of important factors that need to be considered, including speed, monthly usage and cost.

Another important factor to take into account is package combinations, or bundles. Many UK providers now offer broadband packages that include extras such as free or cheap phone calls from your landline or mobile and digital TV subscription.

Therefore, you also need to think about whether a certain broadband package could save you money on your mobile/home phone calls, digital TV subscription, etc.

Our buyers guide is designed to help make the broadband buying process as simple as possible, especially if you're ordering broadband for the first time. Each of the important factors involved in the buying process are explained in detail, along with the basics of broadband internet.

What is broadband?

Broadband is simply high speed internet access. A broadband connection provides a faster and more reliable internet connection compared with older methods of accessing the web, such as dial-up connection.

The faster connection speed allows users to download large media files, enjoy many of the more high-end areas of the internet such as streaming live TV and radio, play high speed games online and perform a number of tasks at the same time.

With broadband internet, users can also interact via instant messaging and make free phone calls to one other using services such as Skype. In addition, a number of people can use the same broadband connection at once if they are networked together.

What are the different types of broadband?

There are two main types of broadband connection - ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) and Cable.

  • Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line or ADSL refers to the broadband services that are provided through your existing copper telephone land line. ADSL is the most common type of broadband used today and is widely available throughout Britain, covering 80% of UK households. The service is 'asymmetric' because the achievable download speeds over the phone line are generally faster than the upload speeds.
  • Cable broadband services are delivered to households through a fibre optic cable line. This type of broadband is most commonly used if you already have cable TV or live in an area with cable access. It is very similar in quality and price to ADSL.  

The other less common types of broadband are Satellite and Wireless broadband. These are used in remote areas where ADSL and cable connections are generally unavailable and therefore can be expensive to run.

Broadband availability

Although broadband availability depends on the area you live in, the chances of broadband internet not being available to you are very slim as UK coverage is now at 99% - in other words broadband is available to 99% of the UK population.

However, different areas of the country are best suited for different types of broadband so you may not get to choose from every possible internet service provider (ISP). Therefore, before searching for a broadband package you should carry out a local availability test to check whether you can get broadband, and if so, which companies’ services are available in your area.