It can be difficult to know where to start when setting up your broadband. Navigating yourself through a maze of confusing information can be daunting, but we are here to map your way and help you get the best package for your broadband needs.
Firstly, getting to grips with the terminology is essential when searching for which broadband provider and package you should go for. Knowing your megabits from your megabytes is key when it comes to making informed decisions about your broadband.
Broadband Jargon Glossary
‘Asymmetric digital subscriber line’ is the standard form of broadband. It’s delivered through copper phone lines, which means it can’t match the speeds of fibre optic broadband delivered down fibre optic cables. It is also more prone to interference and is thus less reliable.
This is the volume of information per unit of time that an internet connection can handle.
This is essentially a home internet system that you never have to switch off. It replaced the old dial-up internet and offers much faster speeds. Broadband is the standard form of internet connection, although your choice of providers and speeds depends on where you live.
This is a monthly allowance that limits your broadband usage. Everything you do online uses data and eats away at your allowance. If you exceed your monthly allowance, your provider will charge you extra for any further that you use. Unlimited data allowances are available.
This refers to how fast your internet connection is. Fast download speeds mean you can download files quicker, stream videos without annoying buffering, and web pages should load smoothly. By using internet speed tests you can see how fast your internet speed is as any one time.
Fibre-optic broadband is a high-speed internet connection. It takes it name from the fibre-optic cables which transmit data. These are made from either glass or plastic, which enable signals to travel much faster than traditional copper cables. Despite the quicker speeds, fibre-optic cables offer a more reliable service, as they are less prone to interference.
‘Fibre to the cabinet’ means there are fibre optic cables from the internet provider distribution point to the street cabinets, which then connect to standard phone lines to deliver internet to your home.
‘Fibre to the property’ means the line is fibre all the way from the exchange to your home. This is a pure fibre connection that can deliver faster speeds than FTTC, as there is no copper connection at all.
A gigabyte is a unit used to measure the size of computer files and memory capacity. One gigabyte (GB) contains 1,000 megabytes (MB).
An ‘internet protocol address’ is a number assigned to your computer or device when it goes online, so the network knows where its sending data to.
Your ‘internet service provider’ is the company responsible for providing your internet connection.
See list of ISPs in UK – https://www.ispreview.co.uk/review/top50.php
To get a home phone connection you need to pay for line rental. Many internet providers will also require line rental to set up your broadband package – so line rental is often included in your broadband package.
A ‘megabit’ (not to be confused with megabyte!) is a unit of measurement for the transfer of digital information, and is used to denote broadband speeds. So, for example, if your broadband package has speeds of up to 52 Mb then (theoretically) it is capable of transferring 52 megabits of data per second.
A ‘megabyte’ (not to be confused with a megabit!) is a unit of measurement for digital data that generally refers to the amount of data a file requires. For instance, downloading a song will take up around 5MB. If you have a download limit on your broadband package then this will count towards that, as well as taking up space on your computer hard drive.
Ofcom – (https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/)
This is the government-approved regulatory and completion authority for telecoms, broadband, television and phones in the UK. It has a statutory duty to represent the interests of citizens and consumers.
This is the all-important box that gets you connected to the internet. It comes with most UK broadband packages and is hooked up to the broadband connection so it can emit a Wi-Fi signal for your devices to connect to. The router is significant when it comes to internet connection as the most powerful ones will provide a more reliable and stronger signal across a wider area.
This term covers watching TV, movies and video clips, and listening to music over the internet. Streaming means you view the media without saving the files to your computer.
During peak internet usage hours, the broadband network can get very congested and speeds can drop. To combat this many providers use traffic management. This means that essentially the provider is slowing the service of certain users at peak times to ensure everyone can get online.
This measures how fast data is transferred from your device. This affects how long it takes to upload pictures to social media, send emails, or have clear skype calls. Not to be confused with download speed, which measures how fast data is transferred to your device.
How you connect your devices wirelessly to a router. The router sends out a signal, and your gadgets can connect to this if you have the right password. The lifeblood of modern western civilisation!
Different types of broadband
As well as knowing these terms, it is important to grasp what type of broadband is on offer and understand the differences between them so you can work out exactly which broadband is right for you.
What is standard broadband?
Standard broadband is the most basic form of internet that is available. It is also the slowest, offering speeds of up to 17Mbps. Despite its relatively slow speeds, standard broadband can very well suffice a household containing one or two people who do not intend to stream multiple devices at the same time or game online.
Copper cable are used for standard broadband in order to provide an internet connection. These are not always reliable and can be more susceptible to interference from things like poor weather conditions.
What is fibre broadband?
Chances are if you’ve done any research on broadband deals you will have read a lot about fibre broadband deals. But what does this mean, and how is it different from standard broadband?
Fibre-optic broadband is a high-speed internet connection. It takes it names from the fibre-optic cables which are used to transmit data. These are made from either glass or plastic, which enable signals to travel much faster than traditional copper cables.
Fibre-optic broadband is becoming more and more widely available, but unfortunately not every home in the UK has access to it just yet.
What kind of internet user am I?
Now you must consider what type of internet user you are to determine the internet speed and package you need.
You’re a small household with only one or two devices connected to the internet, and rarely stream videos and music online.
We recommend: standard broadband
An up to 17Mb broadband package should be enough to satisfy your needs. This is standard broadband that runs on your phone line’s copper wires. It will be fine for small households who don’t use the internet a great deal, but may struggle if multiple devices are connected to the Wi-Fi.
You’re a family or shared house that likes to stream and download from the internet, and has several devices connected to the Wi-Fi.
We recommend: regular fibre broadband
For most households a regular fibre broadband package should be sufficient to cover all your internet needs. This is a broadband connection that delivers the signal though fibre optic cables rather than copper telephone wires. Some companies offer entry-level fibre speeds of up to 38Mb, while BT offer a similarly priced 52Mb package.
You’re a big household where multiple people need to be online at the same time. You’re looking for an internet package that can handle multiple devices streaming HD video and downloading files simultaneously, without any drop-off in performance.
We recommend: extra fast fibre broadband
These broadband packages offer lightning fast internet speeds for heavy internet users. These packages can handle multiple devices using the internet at the same time. Most broadband providers offer speeds of up to 76Mb as their premium fibre package, although Virgin Media can offer super-fast speeds of up to 300Mb. Hyperoptic, a relatively new provider, is beginning to make 1Gb (1,000Mb) speeds widely available across the country, and are even trialling 10Gb speeds.
Still not sure what broadband speed you need?
Check this chart for an easy guide to how fast your intent connection needs to be when streaming video online. If you still need a hand deciding, get in touch with one of our expert advisers. You will get straight through and it is completely free!
|Service||Needed for non-HD||HD||Ultra HD|
|BBC iPlayer||1.5 Mbps
|2.8 Mbps||Not available|
|Netflix||3.0 Mbps||5.0 Mbps||25 Mbps|
|Amazon Prime Instant Video||0.9 Mbps||3.5 Mbps||25 Mbps|
|Now TV||2.5 Mbps||5 Mbps||Not available|
|YouTube||2 Mbps||6 Mbps||15 Mbps|
For more information on the broadband speed that you need, check out our article – ‘What internet speed is right for me?’
What package do I need?
Now that you have determined which internet speed you require, the next step is deciding what package you should buy.
What is unlimited broadband?
Whenever you use the internet, you’re consuming data. With an unlimited broadband package, you can download music, stream movies, or watch YouTube as much as you like.
Should I choose unlimited broadband?
Unlimited broadband packages are by far the most popular for consumers today. With them you don’t have to worry about incurring any unwanted bills for exceeding your monthly usage.
If you’re on a capped broadband package, then you will have a download limit for each month. Everything you do online uses data, and eats away at your allowance. If you exceed your monthly allowance, then your provider will charge you extra for any further that you use.
With an unlimited broadband package, you can use the internet as much as you like, safe in the knowledge that you can use as much data as you want each month without being charged extra.
We recommend usually going for an unlimited option to give you peace of mind while surfing the web.
How do I find out whether my house is available for fibre broadband?
The easiest way is just to send over your details to us, and we’ll do the leg work for you. We can figure out whether your house can get fibre broadband and our specialist team will do all the research to find the best deal available to you.
If you want to check for yourself, then you should be able to use the websites of major broadband providers to see if your house is eligible for fibre broadband.
Who provides fibre broadband in the UK?
Most providers use BT’s fibre optic infrastructure, Openreach. BT use this network for their Infinity broadband, while other providers including TalkTalk, Sky and Plusnet also use the same network.
Virgin Media is not part of the Openreach network, and use their own cable network instead. They have invested heavily to create their own fibre broadband network, and it now boasts some of the highest broadband speeds around.
Should I choose fibre broadband?
We recommend going with fibre broadband as it offers much faster speeds and a more reliable connection than regular broadband.
If you want a phone line, then most providers will offer line rental bundled in with broadband deals. In fact, most broadband packages require you to have a phone line, as they will use this to connect you to the internet.
With some providers, purchasing a broadband package with a phone line can even be cheaper than without, but with prices constantly changing, it can be difficult to work out what is cheaper. Don’t worry though, our advisors check all deals daily so knowing the exact package that is right for you is just a free call away.
If you’re looking for pay TV, then this can also be bundled with a broadband package. Different providers have different packages, but there is a variety to choose from. It can even work out as cheaper to have broadband and TV with separate providers. Virgin provide a range of bundles which include fast broadband speeds and a variety of TV channels. Give us a call and we can advise you on the TV deal that would be best for you.
Any more questions about internet providers or broadband packages? Take a look below.
How do I know what broadband suppliers I can use?
Not all broadband deals are available nationwide, so we’ll check for the best deals in your area.
Do I need a phone line to get broadband?
Most broadband packages require you to have a phone line, as they will use this to connect you to the internet. However, if you live in an area with fibre cables, then this can be used to connect your broadband rather than your phone line. If you want a phone line then most providers will offer line rental bundled in with broadband deals.
What do ‘up to’ speeds mean?
Broadband suppliers only need to give this top speed to 10% of customers. So when you see speeds of up to 38 Mb, that doesn’t guarantee that’s the speed you’ll receive.
Taken from Plusnet website.
That’s why we look for the most reliable suppliers, by researching the lowest assured download speeds for broadband packages.
What can I do if fibre broadband isn’t available at my house?
If this is the case then don’t panic – you’ll still be able to get an internet connection, but it will be a standard rather than fibre connection. This means your internet won’t be as fast as fibre optic, but it will still be able to perform all the same functions as fibre broadband.
Fibre broadband isn’t available at my address, but I absolutely must have the fastest broadband speeds around
Fear not because there are ways around the problem. We recommend using Hyperoptic, a fibre-based internet service provider who install and maintain their own fibre optic lines. If your house isn’t eligible for fibre optic broadband, then they can install the necessary cables to your home to give you a fibre broadband connection.
Will my broadband speed vary depending on the time of day?
At peak times when large numbers of people are using the internet, some providers will use something they call ‘traffic management’. This means that the provider is slowing the service of certain users at peak times to ensure everyone can get online.
What are up-front costs?
Some providers will charge you an up-front cost when you start your broadband package. This covers the cost for installation, connection and the delivery of your router.
Taken from PlusNet website.
Can I get a broadband and TV bundle?
Yes! We can get you TV services bundled with your broadband. Just let us know which TV channels you’re interested in and we can find the best deals for you.
So there you have it, all the information required when you set up your broadband is at your disposal. Feel free to get in touch and speak to one of our expert advisors who can now get you the very best broadband deals that aren’t always available on the market.