How to choose a broadband provider and plan

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Switching broadband is super easy these days. It basically boils down to three steps:

  1. Think about how you will use your broadband plan
  2. Use our postal code checker to compare offers in your area
  3. Find an offer and follow the link to sign up for your new plan.

Steps two and three are pretty straightforward – it’s that first step that some people find difficult. Luckily, we’re here to help you with what is – we hope – some helpful advice.

But first, for convenience, here are a few current deals that we think are pretty good:

* Average speeds are based on download speeds of at least 50% of customers during peak hours (8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.). Speed ​​can be affected by a variety of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be slower than stated above. You can check the estimated speed of your property before you buy.

Or take a look at our best broadband deals this week

Plus, if you need a little help on how to complete the change process, we have a few guides that can help you, covering everything from how to keep your email address to replying to common concerns:

That being said, here are a few things to think about when switching broadband.

1. How many people will be using your connection?

The more people who use your connection, the slower it will be for everyone. If you have a large family or live in a house shared with four or more people, you should look for packages that are fast enough to accommodate everyone using it at one time.

We also highly recommend shared apartments and families opt for an unlimited package. It’s the most common type of agreement these days, widely available from most providers, and means you can use the internet willy-nilly without worrying about being cut or charged extra for more data.

Suggested types of broadband plans:

  • Large household of four or more regular users: Unlimited fiber optic broadband, average download speeds of 34Mb +. Available from most providers including Virgin Media, TalkTalk, BT, Sky, Plusnet, EE, and NOW Broadband.
  • Shared house up to four people: Unlimited broadband, average download speeds of 10MB +, should be sufficient in most cases. If you watch a lot of movies or download games, you can still benefit from a faster connection, but standard broadband will still do.
  • Single user: If you are a light user, primarily using the web for email, browsing, or social media, you may be okay with a low cost plan with a fixed usage limit.

Interested in high speed optical fiber? Here’s where you can find out more and compare the super-fast plans to find the best deal:


Compare fiber optic offers

2. What broadband speed do you need?

If you’ve thought about the first two questions, you might have a good idea of ​​what kind of gears you need, but there are other things you should think about.

Essentially, your choice comes down to whether you want “standard” fiber or ADSL broadband. Obviously, everyone’s needs are different, but our suggestions are as follows …

Suggested types of broadband plans:

We recommend ultra-fast fiber optic broadband if you:

  • You want to stream TV and videos in HD or 4K quality
  • Download large files from file sharing sites
  • Play and download many video games
  • Live in a shared house with many gadgets connected at the same time
  • You want the most reliable connection
  • Get “standard” ADSL broadband if you:
  • Use the Internet to send emails, check social media, or browse websites
  • Stream videos in HD quality
  • You want the cheapest plan
  • You cannot get fiber optic broadband in your area

3. Are you going to stream or download TV shows and movies on a regular basis?

This one deserves to be separated in its own point, as watching TV and movies online has become extremely important to some people. If you regularly connect to on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, or BBC iPlayer, you’ll need a plan that can accommodate it.

Video gobbles up gigabytes extremely quickly, so unlimited usage is absolutely essential. If you can afford it, we recommend fiber as well, as the high bandwidth will minimize buffering and allow for high definition quality.

That said, if you can’t get superfast fiber, a standard plan will still work for most people. Netflix, for example, recommends speeds of (approximately) 3MB for streaming in standard quality.

Suggested broadband plan type:

  • If you regularly use TV and movie services: Unlimited broadband. Fiber preferable, but not essential.

To learn more about unlimited broadband, check out our full guide:


Unlimited broadband offers explained

4. What home phone plan do you need (if any)?

Many broadband service providers bundle calling plans into their plans, so it’s worth thinking about what you need from your home phone – or even if you need it.

The three most common types of calling plans available are: paid calls, evening and weekend calls, and anytime calls included – and you can also get mobile and international calling plans from some suppliers.

Suggested calling plan:

  • If you phone a lot and are at home during the day: Upgrade your plan to include calling anytime. This means you can call anywhere in UK anytime without incurring significant charges.
  • If you work Monday through Friday, or usually make calls after 7 p.m.: evenings and weekends included calls will work best for you.
  • If you have friends and family abroad: most providers offer international calls, often in addition. Countries covered vary from company to company, so make sure your preferred territory is covered before signing up.
  • If you do not use a landline or prefer to stay on your mobile: choose a pay as you go plan. This means that you will only be charged if you make a call on your landline – and if you don’t have or use a phone, that won’t happen.

Bundling TV with broadband is a great way to save money if you want both services. Plus, it means you only have one invoice to process, so it’s also a good way to cut down on faffs.

There are five TV services commonly available in the UK – and we have guides on each of them:

Everyone has something a little different to offer, so it’s worth taking a moment to check them out, but as a general rule …

Suggested packages:

If you want a complete package, with the most channels and extras: we recommend Sky or Virgin Media. Not only can you get plenty of channels including entertainment, movie, and sports channels, but you also get a huge amount of on-demand content including catch-up TV and box sets.

If you want a cheaper TV service that still has a lot of features: we recommend TalkTalk TV or BT TV. Both are YouView-based, with built-in catch and record features, and allow you to add additional channels.

If you want the ability to add and remove channels from month to month: we recommend TalkTalk TV or Now TV. Both allow you to cut and change the channels you can watch each month. Now television is also available without a contract.

For more information, check out our guide to TV services to see exactly what each provider has to offer.

6. Which providers operate in your area?

The packages you can get depend entirely on where you live. Some providers, like BT, have a very large footprint, while others, like Virgin Media, are available in fewer areas. There are also companies like Relish that only operate in specific areas.

Luckily, there is a way to see the providers and deals available in your specific region – use our zip code checker and we’ll show you. Yes, it really is that simple.

7. What is your budget?

Price matters – you have to choose what you can afford after all. That said, judging a case purely on price is potentially a big mistake.

It’s much more important that your internet connection is stable and supports everyone’s activity in your home, so you should cut down on any offers that don’t meet those needs.

For example, choosing the cheapest plan possible might seem like a good idea, but if you have a family, you might be frustrated with insufficient speed or having to keep paying for additional data.

So be sure to look at the features first, then shop around to find the right plan for you and for the best price.


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