There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing broadband, which are made even more difficult if you are unfamiliar with the different characteristics of the offers that are out there and the different types of provider.
Put simply, broadband is the generation of internet connection technology that followed on from the first (which was known as dial-up). This new generation of technology allows for substantial increases in download and upload speed, and also removes the constraint of not being able to use the phone line for calls while the internet is running.
And nowadays the options are even greater, with more kinds of broadband available, including two kinds of mobile broadband, cable, and fibre optic. What this means is that there are a range of types of broadband, with each suited to different needs.
Here we will discuss some of these factors and some of the offerings from the main providers.
There are some very price-friendly options available. Standard ADSL broadband goes through the BT phone-line and is usually the cheapest option. Note however that this service is not limited to BT, since most other providers use the BT network and pay them a fee for the use which is then reflected as line rental in your bill. Fibre optic is more expensive and faster and can involve further installation costs, and cable broadband is more expensive again.
While mobile broadband is more expensive and not as efficient as the other kinds of broadband per MB of data used, for many people it could actually work out cheaper if they use very low amounts of internet per month. In fact, buying a prepaid 4G plan enabled with a dongle or even by mobile tethering would enable you to get basic broadband for a very low price and zero startup fees (for £10 a month you could get more than enough broadband for basic internet use at a reasonable speed).
And even if you use more data (for things like downloading media content and streaming), mobile broadband might be still the best option if you’re on the move a lot.
In speeds available, there are bug differences in speeds available. Mobile is slowest, followed by ADSL, then cable, and fastest in fibre optic. This does not mean that the best for everyone is fibre, since there is not much use paying for extra speed capacity if you have no use for it. Mobile broadband could be sufficient for many.
It is also worth bearing in mind that there are location factors which will affect your speed available. Urban homes close to the local phone exchange will have much higher speeds than in some areas.
In general nowadays, broadband services have much less downtime than in previous times. This means that reliability is less of a factor, however if it is an important issue to you then it’s worth knowing that cable is generally the most reliable, and since it is provided by private companies you can generally expect faster problem resolution.
Mobile broadband involves less chance of a long drop in connection for maintenance or damage issues so is in fact quite reliable, but quality of signal can be very patchy depending on the area and the time of day.
There are many factors that go into choosing the right broadband, others to be aware of are the lengths of contracts and especially the other services you use, since in general its cheaper to get as much services (TV, phone, broadband and mobile) from the same provider. But if you’re starting out with broadband, its best to get an idea of what your requirements are, and work from there.