There are a wide number of tools available to help you make sense of the broadband market and make switching very easy, so you can find the best deal for you and your family without having to worry too much about the technical side of things. There’s many questions you need to ask, such as how do I test my broadband speed? What provider offers the best value for money? What sort of download limit will work for my family?
The key is in finding the balance between not paying for a service you don’t need and paying too little and ending up with not enough services! Researching online can help you find the balance which will save you money in the long term. With the average broadband connection costing around £14.99 a month and the average contact lasting a year, even small savings can make a big difference. Likewise, if you sign up to a yearly contract on a bad deal, you’ll be stuck for a year before you can move to another provider.
One of the most important elements for most people looking for broadband is speed. Broadband speed in the UK is generally slower than the European average, and while most providers offer services of at least 8 Mbps, the actual average of the UK is only 5 Mbps, only half the speed of the European average of 10 Mbps. How fast you can get a connection is determined by a number of things including the technology you use.
You can choose between older but more available copper wire services that are generally called ‘ADSL’, or more modern fibre optic services that are referred to as ‘cable’. But how do you decide which is the best technology for you? For some of us, our location decides that for us. While you can get ADSL and the usually faster cable services in many towns, cable isn’t available everywhere and before you try to make a decision on if cable or ADSL is better for you, you need to visit a cable site and do a postcode check to find out if you can pick up a cable service.
If you can’t get cable, you still have plenty of choice when it comes to an ADSL provider, but your maximum speed is pretty fixed by your homes distance from your local BT exchange, and how modern that exchange is. More rural exchanges are likely to not be completely up to date with modern technology, although all of them eventually do get upgraded. The further your home from an exchange, the slower your ultimate internet speed will be.
The best way to find out what kind of speeds you can expect from any ADSL service is to use a broadband speed test website that will tell you what speeds you are likely to achieve from your own home. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as you’ll come to finding out exactly what type of speeds you will get. A broadband speed tester usually uses two methods of speed test online; one will do it by your phone number and one by your postcode. The phone number test will give you a much more reliable figure, although obviously it’s not very useful if you’ve just moved and haven’t had your phone line installed yet!