There are hundreds of broadband providers in the UK offering thousands of packages. However, Broadband Essentials only uses the top broadband providers. You may never have heard of some of them but these providers are the best around and are backed by some of the largest companies in the world maning you can sign up with confidence.
Although there are many ways of receiving boradband, the most popular are ADSL via your BT phone line and cable broadband via your cable network. This is why we only compare suppliers providing these two types of service.
Broadband comes in many different speeds, that is the speed with which data travels up and down your phone line or cable network. The standard entry level is now up to 8Mb which is up to 160x faster than a dial-up internet connection.
With 8Mb broadband you can do everything you ever wanted to do on the internet from surfing to online gaming. Pages load instantly and it's becoming cheaper and cheaper.
If you're looking to experience the full potential of broadband then an 8Mb connection is essential but with technology improving all the time broadband speeds will only increase. Increased speeds of up to 50Mb are already available.
Most broadband packages have some sort of monthly usage allowance varying from 2GB to unlimited. This figure indicates the amount of data you can transfer (download or upload) each month.
In order to simplify comparisons, Broadband Essentials have split the way most people use the Internet into three categories:-
- Standard usage - 10GB/month. Up to 8MB download speed. Perfect for most people. Great for surfing, emails, photos and music.
- Medium usage - 40GB/month. Up to 24MB download speed. For frequent downloaders. Great for gaming, streaming video and multiple connections.
- High usage - Unlimited usage. Up to 50MB download speed. For demanding Internet users. Download capacity for really intensive Internet use. Great for all types of usage.
There are many different additional features available when looking at broadband packages. Some broadband providers include some or all of these additional features as standard, others are optional.
- Email - the majority of broadband providers offer at least one personalised email account for free. The amount of email space and number of email accounts offered varies between providers.
- Web space - space to host your own web site. Similarly to email, the amount of web space offered varies between providers.
- Virus protection - email virus protection to stop your mailbox falling victim to the latest viruses.
- Firewall protection - prevents unauthorised users from hacking into your computer.
- Parental control - enables you to block offensive websites and control email use.
- Junk mail/Spam filter - prevents your mailbox being clogged by annoying unsolicited emails.
There are usually three customer support options available:-
- Phone - most broadband providers offer some sort of customer support via a call centre. Some calls are free but charges do vary so check the tariff before you call.
- Email - a popular way of providing customer support. Email your query to your support centre and they usually get back to you within 24 hours at no additional charge.
- Online help - online support is becoming a more popular service whether it takes the form of online help guides, FAQ pages or community forums. Most problems have been experienced by someone else and are likely to be documented. The current trend for providers is to have staff online to help you diagnose your problem there and then at no extra charge.
There are two main options with regard to contracts:-
- 12 month contract - pay monthly for a package that is usually cheaper and will probably contain additional features such as free router and connection costs. Some broadband providers do prefer 18 or even 24 month contracts.
- 1 month contract - effectively a rolling monthly contract that gives you greater freedom allowing you to cancel your broadband package with just one months notice.