In this guide
How to switch broadband?
- When you don’t want to renew contract with your current provider, make sure that you switch to new provider or a better deal by the end of contract, after carefully going through the cancellation policies set by your current ISP. You would have to pay for the remainder of the contract, when you change the service in the middle of the contract. You may need to follow the notice period terms set by the existing provider.
- Find the provider and deal you want to switch to. You may need to sign up online to get the best offer.
- Contact your new broadband provider to help you move from the existing provider. The new telecom firm would complete the process in a week or two.
- When you switch to Virgin Media cable broadband from BT Openreach network (BT, TalkTalk, Plusnet and Sky), you will need to cancel the service before Virgin take up the switching process and install the cable broadband.
- New phone line installation may involve additional charges.
How much would broadband cost?
- Monthly price: Only standard monthly price needs to be carefully watched, as many deals come with low prices for the first 3 or 6 or 12 or 18 months. So, after the first year savings, you will need to pay at standard pricing.
- Line rental: It is one of the hidden costs which is more pricey than broadband. You may need to pay for both broadband and landline, when you use broadband. If you have different providers, you will have to pay bills individually. You can get discounts, when you pay upfront line rental for 12 months in advance. This option is available with BT, TalkTalk, Plusnet, Post Office and Virgin Media.
- Installation: Installation and activation cost would vary with packages. You may get it free with selected bundles or specific providers. Fibre & TV deals often will need to pay extra for installation. However, it is one-off fee, when you take up the service.
- Router, TV box: Required hardware usually is offered free of cost with the service, when you sign up for a contract. Sometimes, upgrades may include extra costs.
- Delivery: Router delivery by post may cost you as well.
- Early Termination charges: You will need pay this cost when you quit your existing provider when the contract has not ended. You will need to pay for remaining months, days of the the contract, when you cancel the service prematurely.
- Extra data usage cost: When you are on capped packages and your broadband usage exceeds the monthly download limit, your provider will charge for it. Or you may have to buy extra data at the prices fixed by your ISP.
What broadband speeds are available?
Residential broadband services in the UK come with following download speeds which are indeed advertised speeds by ISPs. This means minimum 10% of the users can get this speeds, while the actual speeds may be higher or lower, depending on line quality, traffic congestion and other factors. Copper based ADSL broadband offers the maximum speeds when the users live very near to the exchange. Fibre optic and cable broadband offer much higher speeds and reliability due to their capacity to offer quality broadband over long distance.
- Up to 8Mbps: This is the maximum speeds over old, ADSL lines which are currently being upgraded to faster ADSL 2+ broadband by BT Openreach.
- Up to 17Mbps: This is the speeds offered by the popular ADSL 2+ broadband widely supplied by a range of broadband providers like BT, Plusnet, TalkTalk and Sky. Both ADSL and ADSL 2+ are technically not suitable for high levels of traffic and superfast speeds. However, these packages are affordable and provide decent speeds for usual activities like browsing, email and social networking etc.
- Up to 38Mbps: BT’S FFTC (Fibre to the cabinet) is a kind of hybrid fibre networks which use both fibre and copper and provide much faster speeds than regular ADSL 2+ broadband. BT Openreach has expanded FTTC networks over 80% of the UK to enable major providers offer fibre broadband to their customers.
- Up to 50Mbps: This is the standard speeds that cable broadband provider Virgin Media offers to its customers. Virgin Media uses cable network which is made up of fibre to offer much faster speeds.
- Up to 52Mbps: BT has recently increased its speeds of its Infinity 1 broadband from 38Mbps to 52Mbps.
- Up to 76Mbps: BT Infinity 2 broadband offers up to 76Mbps to residential users. TalkTalk, Sky, Plusnet and EE which use BT Openreach’s infrastructure offer their packages on these speeds.
- Up to 100Mbps: Virgin Media is the first provider offer up to 100Mbps speeds to homes in a large scale. Later it was doubled after an upgrade on its cable network.
- Up to 200Mbps: This is the speeds offered by Virgin Media on top-end packages.
What is broadband speed?
Broadband speed refers to the volume of data that can be sent or received per second over an internet connection. It is usually mentioned in Mb or Mbps or mega bits per second. 5Mbps means the connection has the capacity to transfer 5 megabits of data per second.
What is the difference between download speed and upload speed?
When you access broadband, it is a two way communication – data is being sent and received from your end all the time. However, more data will be transferred from remote computer to your end, when you download a file. This kind of downstream traffic happens when you watch videos or listen to internet radio or download movies from the web. However, when you upload files to Facebook or cloud, just the reverse happens means the upstream traffic of data from you end.
So, the download speed refers to how fast you are able to download a file from the web to your local computer. Similarly, upload speed is the rate at which your data (photos or files) get transferred to the location on the web.
Home broadband speed is not symmetric as it offers faster download speeds and much slower upload speeds which ISPs do to manage the bandwidth and maintain the quality of broadband over the line.
What broadband speed will I need?
The bandwidth of your internet connection will determine what speed you will get, although there are other factors that can affect the speed. Most importantly, whether it is ADSL or fibre that you are going to use.
Secondly, how many in your home are going to use the connection? If multiple users access broadband simultaneously, you will need to make sure that you get high speed internet or fibre broadband to meet the bandwidth requirement.
Thirdly, what broadband speed you need heavily depends on what websites you visit. Downloading files or streaming videos and just browsing the web are not the same. For quicker downloads and for watching online videos without buffering you would need faster speeds. Some times you need faster upload speeds, for example, when you play online games or upload files to the internet.
If you occasionally download big files or not a regular streamer of videos or only two in household share broadband, ‘up to’ 17Mb ADSL speeds will do.
Otherwise, you would need superfast speeds (up to38Mbps/up to 52Mbps/up to 76Mbps/up to 100Mbps) to meet your requirements and fibre optic broadband will be ideal for watching TV shows online, playing games and downloading big files & movies in a busy household.
Fibre broadband is nearly 3 times faster than ADSL, or even more, depending on the bandwidth. So, an album of 10 songs (50MB) which is downloaded in 22 seconds using 17Mbps ADSL, will be downloaded in just 10 seconds via 38Mbps fibre connection. Use 76Mb bandwidth, it will be done in less than 5 seconds.
What is download limit?
This is the monthly cap applied to your data usage unless your broadband package is specified as ‘unlimited’. In recent years, monthly usage allowance or download limit has been pushed up as the standard download speeds have been boosted by the ISPs, thanks to the upgrade and growing fibre adoption.
With a typical ADSL 2+ connection which offers ‘up to’17Mbps speeds these days, 10GB monthly usage is often seen as fit only for light users who access internet mainly for browsing, email and social networking.
Superfast broadband has changed internet users’ habits and the streaming of videos and online gaming which benefit from faster speeds have resulted in heavy data usage across the households. So, 20GB+ data limits are often preferred by those who want to go for capped packages.
Sky and BT offer 25GB capped plans which would go well with users of light to medium use and for streaming of videos or watching videos without any hassle.
All the capped packages will have fair usage policy and the users will need to pay more when they exceed the usage cap before the month end.