Home > Bargain Hunting > What Should I Look for in a Broadband Provider?

What Should I Look for in a Broadband Provider?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 30 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
Broadband Provider Broadband Rates

Broadband is an increasingly important part of our everyday lives. Some estimates suggest that more than 70 per cent of British households now have broadband access, and this figure looks set to rise – particularly as the government has pledged to increase the number of households with high speed internet connections in rural areas.

But despite its enormous benefits, broadband is yet another expense to add to your monthly outgoings. Once you have factored in your internet connection and your line rental, these costs can quickly mount up – so it is important to know that you are getting your money’s worth.

The range of broadband packages on offer can be overwhelming. So what should you be looking for in a broadband provider?


Broadband technologies are continually changing, and each new offering promises faster speeds. The next great step is likely to be fibre-optic cabling, and this is being gradually rolled out across the country. Fibre-optic broadband provides a much quicker connection, but access is currently limited and expensive.

If you are keen to keep up with the latest technological developments, you should think carefully about the term of the contract that you sign. Some providers are still demanding that customers sign a two-year agreement; if you do so, you will likely be tied into current technologies for the full two years.

Connection Speeds

The speed of the connection is a primary concern for many. This is determined by a number of different factors, including your distance from the exchange. Crucially, though, it is also affected by contention rates – that is, by the number of people with whom you are sharing a connection.

Broadband providers should make their contention rates known to potential customers, and they are expressed as a ratio. So, a 60:1 ratio means that you could be sharing the connection with as many as 60 other people at a time. The lower the contention rate, the better quality your connection is likely to be.

Download Limits

Many of the major broadband providers still place download limits on their users’ connections. This means that you will have a set allocation of, for example, 20 gigabytes per month. If you exceed this, you will be charged extra – and the charges for going over your limits can be extortionate.

If you are a heavy internet user you should seriously consider a provider that does not limit downloads in this way. Beware, though, of so-called ‘unlimited’ packages; these often include a fair-use clause to cap downloads anyway. Do some research to ensure that you are getting a truly unlimited connection.


Finally, price is likely to be a key factor in any choice. Monthly charges can vary massively, from less than £5 to as much as £50. The old adage that you get what you pay for often rings true in these cases; if you value customer service and tolerable technical support, you may need to pay a little more. You might also want to look at packages that bundle your internet connection up with your phone line, and maybe even your TV. These can often prove to be the most cost effective option.

Broadband is now pretty much a necessity in every home – but, of course, this comes at a cost. By doing some research and shopping around, you can ensure that you get the most from your broadband provider.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Jdmagik
    Re: How Much Tax do I Have to Pay?
    I currently work 20hrs a week earn £6313, don't pay tax or Ni. I'm looking to start up my own cake decorating business from…
    18 November 2017
  • TheBoy
    Re: How Much Tax do I Have to Pay?
    Hi I have just started a job on £38k a year but have not earned £11k in this financial year, for the first £11k I earn will I…
    18 November 2017
  • mordi
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    My wife was getting unemployment benefit back in our EU country until February 2017. She worked in the UK 4 hours for one…
    17 November 2017
  • PLine
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    @Nic - it's not like he'd need it for another reason though! Ring up DWP, they'll tell you straight.
    17 November 2017
  • chrisjourno
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    Hi- if your ex is filling the online form it may automatically ask for spouses details , as it asks for joint claim info if…
    16 November 2017
  • MoneyExpertise
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    ela - Your Question:Hi , I was wondering if I want to claim unemployment benefit , but my last job was in another country but…
    14 November 2017
  • Nic
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    My ex husband (decree absolute dated 11/10/17) has lost his job, which he has worked at for about 7 years, and trying to…
    14 November 2017
  • Lis
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    Hi, I have been working in a company during the last 9 months in a fix term contract and they have decided to finish it next…
    13 November 2017
  • ela
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    Hi , I was wondering if I want to claim unemployment benefit , but my last job was in another country but only for a month ,…
    13 November 2017
  • MoneyExpertise
    Re: How Much Tax do I Have to Pay?
    Mazza123 - Your Question:Hi. I have a full time job but worked two days as an extra for a film. I believe being an extra is…
    13 November 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the MoneyExpertise website. Please read our Disclaimer.