Unfortunately, broadband never comes cheaply. To make matters worse, the sheer number of different providers, download speeds and usage limits can make it incredibly difficult to find the best home broadband for your needs. Unless you’re particularly clued up on what to look out for in a package, shopping for deals can often seem completely overwhelming.
However, since over 90% of UK homes now have access to an internet connection, it’s fair to say that every homeowner should prioritise finding a great broadband deal. Whether you’re moving into a brand-new home or looking to upgrade your existing package, a fast internet connection is now an essential addition to every modern home.
So, how can you find a better home broadband deal?
Tip one: Pick the right speed
Before you do anything, you should figure out exactly what you need to pay for. When browsing broadband deal packages, the major differences in price will be due to varying internet speeds, with faster speeds essentially allowing you to do more online. To find the perfect deal, you need to work out your home’s minimum speed requirements and make sure you aren’t overpaying for a service you don’t need.
In short, it all depends on how you plan to use the internet. Perhaps more importantly, your required broadband speeds will depend on how many users and devices are likely to be connected to the internet at the same time. Although reliably streaming a Netflix film needs just 3 Mbps, the required speeds will double if someone else is streaming something on another device.
So, although you might feel fairly comfortable with your 25Mbps package, this can run out incredibly quickly if you’ve got multiple users browsing the internet, streaming video and playing online video games. Since so many of us seem incapable of putting our smartphones down, there’s always a high chance your broadband will have to handle multiple devices at once.
Tip two: Check local coverage
Although a particular broadband deal package may advertise “speeds of up to 35Mbps”, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guaranteed to receive those speeds. On the contrary, you need to understand that this is just the maximum speed your home can receive, and there’s a good chance your speeds could actually be much lower than this.
In fact, according to a recent Ofcom study, more than a quarter of all UK homes suffer from slow broadband speeds, with 26% of households receiving no more than 10 Mbps. Before you start shopping for deals, you need to find out whether you’re located in one of these slow-speed areas and what kind of options are available to you.
For example, although some areas might have poor average download speeds, you might be able to install a super-fast broadband connection to help combat the problem. Similarly, in certain areas, some providers will offer better coverage than others, so it’s certainly worth taking the time to find out which ISP is the most effective in the local vicinity.
Tip three: Compare prices
When you’ve got a firmer grasp of the speeds you need and which providers can offer them, it’s time for a spot of price-spying. There’s a multitude of broadband comparison sites out there, helping you find the cheapest deals from some of the biggest providers; while some of the better sites will let you filter exactly what you’re looking for.
However, some of these sites can be riddled with errors and out-of-date price information, so you should really only use those boasting Ofcom accreditation. Either way, when comparing broadband deals you always need to keep an eye on the speeds, usage limits and contract length being offered, since being drawn to a lower price tag could ultimately make you miss something important.
In addition, some of these sites will initially only display the monthly fee, but you also need to take upfront setup costs into account before signing on the dotted line. Of course, as well as comparing the prices, you also need to compare customer reviews to make sure you’re signing up with a reputable provider.
Tip four: Don’t be afraid to haggle
For many homeowners, the most frustrating part of finding a great broadband deal is the fact providers tend to raise prices after 12 months. After enticing you in with a bargainous introductory offer, most providers will slap you with an enormous bill as soon as this initial contract has expired; inevitably leaving you completely exasperated and sparking a search for a new provider.
However, this is a trend repeated by almost every other major ISP in the country, so there’s a high chance you’d just have to switch again after another 12-18 months. Only Zen, a lesser-known internet provider, offers customers a lifetime guarantee of no price rises (even after the contract has ended).
So, instead of having to constantly go through the stress of switching broadband providers, you shouldn’t be afraid to pick up the phone and haggle with your existing ISP. According to a recent Which? survey, 87% of people who haggle have been offered a discount, saving an average of £96 a year. Failing that, you could simply make the switch over to Zen.