How to find Cheap Broadband
At a guess, I’d say you already know what the benefits of broadband internet are so I won’t give you a long winded description; needless to say you are here looking for tips on cheap broadband. But not only cheap, you want reliable internet connectivity – I’m going to give you rundown of high speed broadband suppliers who will set you up at a minimal cost.
ADSL (broadband) is basically a very high speed way of getting the internet into your home. The technology works by converting electronic data in noise in pretty much the same way as a dial-up connection however, higher speed ADSL connections are achieved through more efficient data conversion and by using a greater frequency range. Confused? Don’t worry, the tech lesson is over…
When you first subscribe to broadband, you’ll find that most decent companies will supply you with all the necessary equipment; broadband modem, filters (attach to your homes telephone junction box to ‘clean’ your signal), settings etc. Typically, setup time takes about a week and you shouldn’t notice any difference to your telephone line (ADSL works over telephone lines). Most service providers tend to lock you into your contract for between 12 and 18 months in order to make money on the equipment they supply.
How to choose a broadband package
First, you need to work out what’s best for you.
1. How long will you spend on the web?
Broadband internet prices are usually based on the amount of data transferred. Measured in Megabytes (MB) , or Gigabytes (GB), the amount of time you spend browsing different pages racks up the data transferred – opening one page will clock up a minimal transfer of data but looking at hundreds of different sites while you are logged on will eat up far more data units. But don’t worry, most suppliers have a fairly general usage policy so, unless you’re downloading hundreds of MP3’s or watching a lot of TV on the net, you should be ok. As a rough guide, viewing 25 web pages will use about 1 MB which means that with a 1 GB monthly usage limit you’ll be able to look at around 25,000 pages. You can always keep an eye on your data use by downloading such as Rokario. This will let you know how much of your monthly quota you are using.
2. What speed will you need?
If you’re only interested in browsing relatively simple web sites i.e looking at your web mail or browsing our money saving tips site then a basic broadband of 512Kbps (which is about ten times faster than regular dial-up) should be fine. Watching movies, browsing videos on YouTube or internet based TV programmes will, generally, need higher speed connection to get a decent playback. If you’re in the second group you’ll want to consider anything up to 8 Mbps broadband.
3. How technical are you?
You have to be honest here – if you don’t know how to setup your modem ask. Some cheap internet providers do provide technical support ranging from a little visit from a techie to telephone helpdesks. But be aware, both of these services usually cost money so if you can get help from ‘a friend who knows’…do it.
Bundled Broadband or not?
Some of the cheapest broadband packages come as a bundle of telephone+ADSL. Probably the cheapest broadband bundle on the market is TalkTalk but be aware that their service can be a little flakey (I’ve used it in the past) but they do have an excellent forum which plenty of technical advice.
If you travel with your laptop it’s unlikely you’ll want a fixed internet connection – you’ll be wanting 3G which we’ll cover in another post.
Moving broadband provider
If you’re an existing broadband user and you want to switch suppliers the process is pretty simple:
First, check to see if you are locked into your existing supplier. If you leave before you lockin period has expired you could be penalised – read your contract for more info
Second, ask if you will you be charged for migrating. Most providers will transfer you onto their service for free as the competition for customers is fierce. However, there are still a few companies will charge you a migration fee. You should only move to one of these companies if there is a really good reason i.e. you know nothing about computers/internet and part of the fee includes fitting and configuration of your equipment.
Third, get your MAC. Phone your existing broadband supplier and ask for your MAC code (Migration Authorisation Code). There should be absolutely no problem getting this. Typically most companies will ask why you are leaving them, so, if you’re simply after a cheaper internet connection – NOW IS THE TIME TO HAGGLE! You may actually get a better deal from your existing provider. Still moving ISP? OK, now pass your MAC to the new supplier. By giving this code to them you should see minimal outages as your broadband account is moved.
Free and subsidised broadband
There aren’t many suppliers of free broadband and the first one that springs to mind is TalkTalk. If you decide to go down the free route make sure you check out some reviews and forums first otherwise you’ll only have yourself to blame.
There are some cracking deals on broadband for existing owners of certain contract mobile phones. For example, Orange customers can get Orange broadband for free. Otherwise you’re looking at £9.79 a month which, nonetheless, is still pretty cheap.
O2 have a similar deal where they will knock about a third off the normal price of broadband internet for existing customers (basic 8 Mbps costs £7.50 per month). This is a pretty cheap broadband deal when you consider that they will throw in connection, a wireless router and technical help for free! The only downside is that the service is currently only available to about half of the country right now but this will get better.
If you’re a Sky TV customer you can get 2 Mbps Sky broadband for free (2 GB usage cap) but only if you sign up for the Skytalk home phone package. Standalone broadband will cost you £5/month. There’s also a £60 installation fee for the base package, and you’ll need to be in a Sky network area otherwise the price will start to rise
Best Buys on Cheapest broadband packages
We’ve listed what we think are the best 5 broadband products on the market. The list is based on pricing so if you’re after that something extra, shop around.
First, TalkTalk. As we’ve said before, TalkTalk’s home phone and broadband is definitely worth looking at:
For £19.41 per month you get line rental, broadband, free evening & weekend national calls plus anytime local calls. With the TalkTalk Essential package you are locked in for 18 month contract but connection fees are included in the overall price. Definitely worth looking at if you’re a heavy phone user.
Next, Virgin Broadband. This broadband bundle starts at £22.75/month but is ideal if you don’t have a landline as the calls and internet run over fibre optic cables. Tell that to your neighbours!
Cheap standalone broadband packages
The cheapest option we found is Plusnet Option 1. You get 8 Mbps, a free wireless router and 10Gb download limit for £5.99/month inc. and free wireless set-up. The 10GB applies to daytime only and then move to unlimited downloads from midnight to 8am – the ideal time to download movies and MP3’s. If you go over their daytime download allowance you’ll be charged £2 for 2GB. This contract will tie you in for 18 months.
Be Value is another good option. Prices start at £10.13/month which gives you unlimited downloads (subject to fair usage), a wireless router and free tech support. The Be Value broadband package is subject to a 12 month contract.
O2 has a decent offering in their 20 Mbps broadband offer. For £14.68/month (note, first three months are free) you get 20Mbps with no download limit, modem and connection fee are included in the price and free technical support on an 0800 number. If you’re an existing O2 customer (contract or PAYG) you’re in for a bonus – O2 will sell this broadband package to you for £7.34 per month.
That’s it, 5 cheap broadband deals currently doing the rounds. Like I said before, make sure you get the full details no matter which package you choose and happy surfing.