Broadband has been more important than ever to us all in recent months – with an increasing reliance on our connection for everything from banking to keeping in touch with grandchildren.
As social distancing becomes something that looks to remain with us for some time to come, retaining or upgrading to the best broadband service possible will continue to be vital.
Consumer research from Ofcom last year demonstrated that customers who are out of contract can save an average of around £100 a year on their broadband by seeking out a better deal either with their existing or a new provider.
At the time of Ofcom’s research about 40% of customers were thought to be out of contract and free to move without penalty.
What to look for when considering switching broadband providers
Switching isn’t all about price, of course. We all need to know, now more than ever, that we can rely on our broadband to deliver what we need it to.
Other things to consider include:
Speed – a free tool accessible from this page allows you to check your current broadband speed and compare it to the best available in your area.
Usage – you may choose to opt for a lower price deal with limited usage if your usage is low, which can be the case if you are a couple living alone and don’t use the internet for downloading large files or streaming programmes and films.
Service – taking some time to consider the customer service experience of others can save you a lot of frustration in the long run should you need to contact your provider about an issue.
Contract length – be aware of varying lengths of contract and also of jumps in pricing after the initial introductory period.
Availability – depending on where you live and the local broadband infrastructure, the best speeds advertised may or may not be available.
Buying broadband as part of a package along with landline, mobile and/or TV can make it cheaper too – so consider treating this as one big process with those other utilities.
Advancements in broadband
Super fast broadband (defined by Ofcom as providing a minimum 30Mbit/s download speed) is now said to be available to 91% of premises in the UK.
Fibre broadband is less common, but provides even faster speeds. It is mostly only necessary for those who have a lot of people within the home (all using the internet at the same time) or for those who live stream a lot of music, video or games. It is only available to about 3% of homes.
If you primarily use the internet for browsing, emails and online shopping, standard ADSL, which is available to 99% of homes, should be sufficient. Video calls will be better and more reliable with an upgraded faster service, but ADSL will usually support video calls well enough.
It is worth noting that Ofcom’s research found discounted prices for superfast broadband were sometimes lower than those being paid for slower, older style connections by out-of-contract customers.
Even people who don’t shop around for a new broadband provider and choose just to sign a new contract with their existing provider can typically save around £9 a month on out-of-contract prices, Ofcom said.
As with many services, financial products, insurances and utilities, it seems the key to getting a better deal on broadband is to ensure you ask for one, look for one and are aware of what you’re currently paying.