FROM grocery shopping to internet banking, we are spending more of our lives online.
Here is how to find cheap broadband deals to stay connected and save money on your web surfing.
What is broadband?
In the early days of the internet, web surfers had to use their landline to get online.
This was known as dial-up internet and could be frustrating as it you couldn't use it if someone was on the phone at the same time.
It has been replaced by new technology called broadband, which provides a high-speed, internet connection separate to your phone line that can be used to get online.
A broadband deal provides wi-fi in your home so you can send email, stream or play video games online.
It may also be needed to use subscription TV services such as Sky and Virgin.
How do I choose which broadband is best for me?
There are lots of factors to consider when finding cheap broadband offers.
Price is one factor and some deals may only be available in certain areas.
Broadband deals are often marketed based on their monthly cost, internet speeds, download limits and contract terms.
You should compare cheap broadband offers based on your needs.
If you plan to do lots of streaming or gaming then you may need fast speeds and unlimited downloads.
But a more basic package could be suitable if you don't need too many downloads and only use the internet for occasional browsing, to work or to check emails.
Providers may try to tempt you with cheap broadband and TV packages that lock you into a long term contract.
Check how long a contract lasts and make sure you are comfortable with the term as there can be hefty exit fees to leave early.
Also consider what channels you are getting in a TV package and if you will actually use all the services otherwise you are wasting money on content that you don't actually need.
There may also be setup charges and fees for extra for equipment such as a router.
How do I find a cheap broadband deal?
Providers will show deals for new and existing customers on their website.
It can be time consuming to check several different websites so you can save time by using a comparison website where you can compare offers based on factors such as speed, download limits and contract term.
A comparison website will also let you compare broadband deals that come with TV and phone packages.
You may be able to haggle for a cheaper broadband deal with your current provider once your current contract comes to an end.
There may be special offers for existing customers or you could be offered reduced rates if you find a new deal elsewhere and threaten to leave.
How to compare cheap broadband deals
Price, speed and download limits are all important factors when you compare cheap broadband deals.
The advertised speeds are often just targets though so also check a provider's average speed figures.
The average speed is supposed to be disclosed by all broadband companies as it gives you a sense of the internet quality you will get.
A comparison website will let you see all these factors in one place.
Beyond the setup and monthly costs, also check a provider's customer service record.
It is all very well having a cheap broadband deal, but you want to know thatany issues will be resolved.
A comparison website may show customer service ratings for a broadband provider or you can check Trustpilot or Google reviews as well as Ofcom complaints data.
What types of broadband are there?
There are a few types of broadband that provide different speed levels.
Internet speed is measured by Mbps or megabits per second, which is essentially how long it takes to open a webpage or download a video, image or email attachment.
The most basic is ADSL, which stands for asymmetric digital subscriber line.
This uses the same copper wire network as your phone to reach your home but lets you make calls and be online at the same time.
There are two types of ADSL.
ADSL1 can reach speeds of up to 8Mbps and ADSL2+ can get up to 24Mbps.
The speed you get will depend on how far your home is from the telephone exchange.
A faster option is fibre broadband.
These use fibre-optic rather than copper cables to provide faster internet connections and download speeds.
There are two types of this broadband, fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fibre-to-the premises.
Download speeds can range from 35Mbps on a fibre broadband deal and there are also ultrafast options that can provide speeds of 300Mbps and 1gigabit.
You may not get a choice on the type of broadband as some parts of the country, such as rural areas, can only access ADSL internet.
The government is trying to rollout broadband nationwide to boost internet speeds.
What’s the difference between FTTC and FTTP?
Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connections run cables from the telephone exchange to street cabinets before entering your home.
This is faster than ADSL but the actual speed you get can depend how far you are from the cabinet as it can be slowed down by your telephone lines.
Alternatively,fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) cables connect directly from a street cabinet to your home without the need for phone lines, providing the fastest speeds.
Other broadband options include cable.
This uses fibre optic or coaxial wires that provide fast speeds and uses the same infrastructure as cable TV services but it isn't widely available.
You may also be able to get mobile broadband using 3G or 4G from your smartphone or satellite broadband.
Neither of these require wiring but speed and availability can vary.
What is the cheapest type of broadband?
ADSL or standard broadband speeds tend to be the cheapest as the speed is slower and you aren't paying for fibre optic cabling.
Fibre broadband deals can still be pretty competitive though so it is worth comparing all types.
It is also worth considering using your smartphone for your broadband.
This can be cost-effective if you have unlimited data and a good 3G, 4G or even 5G connection where you live as your phone bill will essentially also pay for your internet access.
You should also consider if a packaged deal that combines TV and a phone line works out cheaper than just paying for broadband.
What other services can you get with broadband?
Many cheap broadband deals also come with other services such as a phone line or TV package.
Most internet deals require a phoneline so you may find cheap broadband packages that combine both.
Providers may offer packaged deals that offer cheap broadband and TV together.
This can be more convenient as you just pay one bill for all your media use and only have to contact one customer services department if there is an issue.
A package will combine costs such as line rental, TV and broadband so it is worth comparing separately so you understand how much you are paying for each item and seeing if there are cheaper deals elsewhere.
Check for any download limits and the costs for exceeding these and also consider of you will use all the premium channels you may be paying for.
Will I save money with a broadband bundle
You may save money with a broadband bundle.
This combines your internet with a phone and TV package.
You may also be able to just combine a broadband and phone deal,broadband and TV or all three.
Providers may offer cheaper packages compared with standalone broadband deals as they hope it will get you hooked on their services so youhopefully pay more when your contract is up for renewal.
A packaged deal may be cheap when you first sign up but it is often worth shopping around at the end of your deal term as your monthly costs may be hiked.
Is it cheaper to get broadband without a landline
Traditionally, broadband users have had to pay for a phone line to get internet.
This is because the most common forms of broadband, ADSL and FTTC still require a phone line.
If these are the only options available where you live then you may have to pay line rental as part of your internet deal.
This covers the cost of your landline and you may get free evening or weekend calls.
There are providers that offer deals without line rental but you would need to have FTTP available your area.
Taking out line rental may sound cheaper but it isn't always as FTTP isn't common across the UK.
You would still have to pay line rental with a provider if you wanted a landline so it may be worth packaging it with your internet.
Will cheap broadband be fast enough?
The cheapest broadband deals may save you money but they often come with the slowest speeds.
That can be annoying if you do a lot of streaming, gaming or downloads as content can be slower to load.
A cheap broadband deal with slow speeds may be worth it if you are not a frequent internet user and if there are not a lot of people in your household who need to use it at the same time.
Faster broadband deals such as those with fibre cables rather than ADSL are often only a few pounds more per month or may be cheaper if there are special offers or packaged deals.
Can I get cheap broadband if I have bad credit?
Your credit score is important when signing up to broadband.
A provider wants to know if you will keep up with monthly payments as they don't just want to give you internet or TV services for free and you are essentually signing a financial contract.
It is not as strict as taking out a mortgage or loan but a history of bad debts, county court judgments or bankruptcies on your credit reportmay make some broadband firms wary about providing services to you.
Not all providers do credit checks so it is still possible to get broadband .
A comparison website or a provider will often tell you if a credit check is needed for particular offers.
Do cheap fibre broadband deals exist?
Fibre broadband usually only works out a few pounds more expensive each month compared with basic ADSL deals.
The costs can go up if you want ultrafast broadband or premium packages that have all the TV channels such as sports and movies.
It can also depend what is available in your area and which providers operate near you.
Cheap broadband in my area
Broadband may not be one of your main considerations whn you choose where to live.
But your postcode is important when it comes to the type of internet you can get.
Providers may only operate in eretin areas and some parts of the UK such as rural regions may not have ibre prbadband.
This influences the type of internet deals you can get and how much you pay if you want cheap broadband.
You will need to enter your postcode when searching for deals on a comparison website or directly with a provider and the results will show you offers that are available in your area.
Which are the cheapest broadband providers?
The cheapest broadband provider can vary depending on where you live and the type of service you want.
Some may be good for speed or unlimited downloads while others may offer decent TV package deals.
It is worth shopping around and looking out for special offers.
A comparison website lets you see deals from different providers in one place so you an check the cheapest and see what you are getting in return for the monthly payments.
Which are the most popular providers in the UK?
There are plenty of well known big brand broadband suppliers.
Bigger isn't always better though and you can also get decent deals from smaller companies or sometimes your mobile provider so it is worth shopping around.
Check ratings and reviews from independent sources such as consumer watchdog Which?, Trustpilot and industry regulator Ofcom which release complaints and performance data on firms.
This will give you a sense of how even the most popular broadband providers perform and what their actual customers think.
What broadband speed do I need?
Broadband providers are expected to guarantee a minimum speed when you sign a contract with them.
Ofcom recommends that this should be 10Mbps.
Keep an eye out for minimum guaranteed speeds when looking for broadband deals and if your broadband is slower than that after signing in, you can cancel your contract immediately and for free.
The speed you need will depend on what you are using your broadband for.
You may need a fast speed if there are lots of people using the internet at the same time and if you are using streaming services or need to do a lot of downloads.
A slower speed may be ok if you are just using the intet for broawing o to check emails.
Compare the Market suggests that 10Mbps is good for light users, rising to 30 to 60Mbps for families.
It suggests 60 to 100Mbps can cater for student shares or streaming household while serious gamers may need more than 100Mbps
Can I switch my broadband provider?
You can leave your broadband provider and switch to a new deal at anytime but there may be fees for exiting before the end of your current deal.
The best time to switch is when your existing deal is about to end as your monthly payment will often fall onto higher default rates unless you move to a new contract.
It may still be worth switching if you are in the middle of a contract if there is a big saving to be made or you are getting extra featuresbut check for any exit fees.
You can also leave for free if you aren't getting the minimum guaranteed speed.
Use a broadband speed checker on a comparison website or from your provider to see what speed you are getting.
How do I switch broadband providers?
If you are looking for a new broadband deal, you first have to check what is available in your area.
Your current provider may send you new deals to switch to when yours comes to an end but it is worth shopping around so you know you aren't overpaying.
You can also use this as a negotiating tactic if you can find a cheaper deal elsewhere as a provider may offer better rates to stop you leaving.
Use the postcode checker on a comparison website or directly with a provider to see what deals are available and check if you are happy with the features such the cost, speeds, download limits and contract length.
Contact the provider you are interested in once to find a deal you like.
You can usually do this online or over the phone and will need to provide your address and bank details to setup a monthly direct debit.
In most cases your new provider will contact the old one to complete the switch as many are using the Openreach cabling network.
The only exception is Virgin Media which has its own network of fibre optic cables so you will need to speak to both sides if switching from or to this company to manage the move onto a new system.
Ofcom has proposed changing the rules so this happens automatically.
A switch can typically take two weeks but this may be longer if there is new equipment needed.
Your new provider will give you a start date so your internet shouldn't go downbut you may lose service temporarily around the time that your supplier is changed.
You can also change your mind within 14 days of first requesting a switch.
Should I choose a broadband deal based on price?
Price is an important factor but also think about what you are getting in return.
Paying for cheap broadband is only worthwhile if it meets your needs.
Are you getting the right speed? Is the customer services up to scratch? Does your internet cut out regularly?
It may be worth paying a bit more if you need faster speeds or better equipment to boost your connection.
Alternatively,you may find you don't need as many downloads you are paying for and could be better off with a cheaper and slower deal.
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