Simple Broadband Guide
Cheapest Broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
One of the cheapest broadband providers in the UK, if not the top cheapest, is Origin Broadband Unlimited .
Origin is a provider that has won several awards, including the one for Best Budget Provider in 2017.
It aims at delivering a better standard of broadband service nationally, was formed in 2012 and is based in Yorkshire. Its network is today the 6th largest in the UK, as well the leading one in Yorkshire.
Among Origin's benefits for customers are 24 / 7 / 365 UK support, free router, truly no restrictions on your connection, namely no download limits, no fair usage policy, no traffic shaping, and no blocked websites.
After you choose the package that's right for you, Origin will arrange everything of the switch with your previous provider, send you a new router, and keep you up-to-date with the progress.
It offers these Broadband & Phone Packages special deals but you have to hurry as they end soon:
- Origin Broadband & Line Rental - up to 17Mbps download speed, totally unlimited downloads, powerful All-In-One hub included. 24/7/365 freephone UK support, 12-month minimum term, no hidden set up nor delivery charges - £17.99 per month;
- Origin Fibre & Line Rental - up to 38Mbps download speed, totally unlimited downloads, powerful All-In-One hub included. 24/7/365 freephone UK support, 18-month minimum term, no hidden set up nor delivery charges - £21.58 per month, for the first six months, £31.58 thereafter;
- Origin Max & Line Rental - up to 76Mbps download speed, totally unlimited downloads, powerful All-In-One hub included. 24/7/365 freephone UK support, 18-month minimum term, no hidden set up nor delivery charges - £27.99 per month, for the first six months, £37.99 thereafter.
TalkTalk Phone and Broadband is one of the British ISPs with the highest numbers of subscribers, and one the UK's cheapest national superfast broadband providers.
TalkTalk is one of the best for simpler packages and all-inclusive pricing, with TV as well as broadband and phone services, but you can also pick and choose which service you want.
It gives you guarantee of no price rises for all your contract's duration until 2019, for 24 months your broadband price stays the same: you'll always get the same brilliant deals and low price as its new customers.
All Fixed Price Plan customers get: totally unlimited internet usage, powerful Super Router, SIM with 500MB data a month. online security features, fixed price for contract length, access to TalkTalk TV Store.
With each package you can add and remove extras, including: unlimited UK mobile & landline calls, flexible international call plans, online security across 8 devices, option to boost your Fibre speed up to 76Mbps.
Here are some of TalkTalk's latest package offers:
- Fast Broadband and Line Rental - up to 17Mbps speeds, no usage caps, £9 set up fee applies, option to add flexible landline call plans, £20 a month fixed price all contract length (saving you up to £306 vs BT over 24 months);
- Faster Fibre Broadband and Line Rental - up to 38Mbps speeds, up to 4.5x faster than standard broadband, no usage caps, £30 set up fee applies, option to add flexible landline call plans, £27 a month fixed price all contract length (saving you up to £305 vs BT over 24 months);
- TV Plus with Fast Broadband and Line Rental - up to 17Mbps speeds, no usage caps, £9 set up fee & £25 TV box cost apply, option to add flexible landline call plans. In addition: TalkTalk TV Plus box – Pause, rewind & record up to 180 hours of TV, Add & remove channels - including Sky Sports & Sky Cinema - on a flexible 1 month contract, 6 top entertainment channels from Sky, £25 a month fixed price all contract length.
Why in Broadband Older Is Worse
Many people don’t like to change their broadband provider, and I must add that I’m one of them.
Just the thought of changing router puts me off and makes me put up with a provider or a package that may be more expensive and less efficient than many alternatives.
Plus, all the headache of having to go through the various deals of different broadband companies, and furthermore not just their internet packages but also landline telephone, mobile, TV…. At first sight it looks crazily complicated.
But, since older packages cost more, permit lower downloads and offer slower speeds, you and I are very likely to be better off in terms of everything - price, speed and capabilities - if we switch to a new company or a new package, even with the same provider, as I’ve discovered whenever I got round to doing it.
So, let me see if it’s possible to simplify broadband, and establish some ground rules in the process,.
RULE 1. If you want more from your money and your broadband, be prepared to change.
There was a time when internet connection was delivered through dial-up over the phone with a modem, which was originally on a pay-as-you-go basis by which you spent according to your consumption, and later on a contract basis, generally by year.
Dial-up gave a slow and limited connection, and became superseded almost universally by broadband, which uses a broader range of frequencies and permits more information to be carried than dial-up.
There are two types of broadband: home (aka fixed line) and mobile. This guide covers home broadband, which is hard-wired into your living or business place.
The speed of internet broadband, namely the velocity at which data are transferred over the line, is measured in Megabits per second, or Mbs. Bear in mind the difference between the easy-to-confuse Megabits and MegaBytes: 1 MegaByte equals 8 Megabits. So, for example, a speed of 76 Megabits per second (Mbs, with a small “b”) is 9.5 MegaBytes per second (MBs, with a capital “B”).
RULE 2. But the usual speed measure that you find in broadband providers’ information is Megabits per second.
RULE 3. The speed notified by broadband suppliers is only a maximum, which they themselves describe as “up to”, and for various reasons few people will get the highest level. Different packages even from the same company can provide different maximum speeds.
There are two distinct speeds: one for downloading (transferring something from the internet to your computer or other device, what you normally do when you surf the web, download programs, videos, music or other things to your PC, or receive email) and the other for uploading (transferring something from your computer to the internet, for example if you publish on a website, post or comment to social media, a blog or a forum).
The UK’s actual average download speeds nowadays are these: for urban areas just over 45 Megabits per second, suburban about 30 and rural 15. Average broadband speed in Britain has constantly increased over the last few years, and a higher percentage of customers now use what the national communications regulatory body Ofcom calls Superfast Broadband Lines, whose download speeds are a minimum of 30 Megabits per second and are supplied via fibre-optic cables together with or in alternative to coaxial cables.
There is not one single method or technology that can uniquely be called “broadband” (also known as high-bandwidth) or define it. This term has come to simply mean “faster internet” as opposed to the old dial-up (narrowband) method. In a sense, “broadband internet” just means “non dial-up internet”. Any other definition, in terms of speed for example, encounters a relativist problem of being tied to a particular time and age. As we know, “faster” is as much one of the three goals of the Olympic Games as a fundamental driving force of the digital technological era.
Geographically, rural areas have been historically left behind in terms of broadband coverage, but the UK government in the last couple of years seems to have been determined to remedy that. At any rate, you can find out which broadband or other internet service providers operate in your area by using one of the many maps on individual companies’, Ofcom or Openreach websites.
RULE 4. Not all broadband providers are available in all areas, so before choosing one make sure it’s present where you live.
The different technologies involved in broadband can be grouped, following the regulator Ofcom's guidelines (but keep in mind that today different government bodies and local authorities apply diverging definitions of superfast broadband service - that's bureaucracy for you), in this way:
- a) Standard Broadband (or Basic) is delivered through standard existing copper telephone wires connecting your home or business to the network via your local telephone exchange. A filter splits a single telephone line into separate voice and data channels, letting you make telephone calls and access the internet at the same time (feat that was impossible with the ancient dial-up).
It’s simple to install and doesn’t need an engineer’s visit. It’s the cheapest broadband option, but is also the slowest and least reliable. Performance is affected by a few variables. One is that the greater the distance from the local exchange the slower the connection, and more than 6.5km can be pretty slow. Another is called interference, or crosstalk: your expected speed is slowed down over time as more lines are added and there is too much over-the-phone broadband traffic in your local area. Bad home wiring and interference from other home devices are other potentially affecting factors. In the property, the shorter the distance of router from telephone socket the higher the speed, through my personal experience as well. And put the router higher up.
The technology used in the UK is ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), with its higher-speed successor ADSL2+.
Real download speeds go from a minimum of 2Mbps to a maximum of 24Mbps.
- b) Superfast Broadband provides speeds of at least 30Mbps (government schemes, generally, use the over 24Mbps benchmark) through fibre optic cables (like those for cable TV) and/or coaxial cables, such as Hybrid Fibre / Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTP/H) or cable (DOCSIS).
- c) Ultrafast Broadband provides speeds of at least 300Mbps (or 100Mbps according to some) through pure fibre optic cables (FTTP/H) or hybrid fibre solutions.
These different conventions shouldn't worry you, though, as the information provided by the supplier specifies the maximum speed it offers.
It's obvious that the great divide nowadays is between ADSL delivered through the phone line and fibre or cable. One fibre can carry far more data than copper, first, and in a much shorter time, second. It’s more reliable and lasts longer. And the problem of being far from the local exchange doesn't exist. On the downside, it requires an engineer to install it. It costs more, but time is money so, if it makes you save time, it's cost-effective.
Broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Advice
RULE 5. Don't just consider the broadband cost but also other charges (router, upfront costs, etc) that might make cheap broadband a bit less cheap.
RULE 6. Read the reviews, but keep in mind that even good providers have some disappointed customers. You have to look at the overall picture of the percentage of satisfied customers to get a balanced view.
It’s now easier to switch broadband companies, since the new rules established by the regulatory body Ofcom in June 2015. You still have to pay a penalty fee for withdrawing from a contract before it expires but not always: not, for example, if the speed provided is below the guaranteed minimum, or if the supplier raises prices mid-contract without warning you before the signing of the contract, as long as you give the company a notice that you’ll leave within 30 days from its notification to you of the price increase. The switch is now fairly simple, it takes usually 1-2 weeks, and it’s up to the new provider to inform the old one of the change and cancel the old contract as far as all the more than 200 major suppliers are concerned, with the exception of Virgin, which is not part of the Openreach telecoms network.
RULE 7. As in buying anything, the first thing to do is to clearly identify what you need. The generality of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer a few different packages each of which has the purpose to suit dissimilar kinds of customer, so it's up to you to discriminate in your choice.
You may need superfast broadband if you spend a long time on the internet, if there are several internet users (at least three) or several devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, games consoles, TV set-top boxes, and smart appliances) in your household.
You'll also be better off with superfast for some activities, like gaming, video streaming, watching films, streaming catch-up TV, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), video calling, Skype (which can be a pain with standard over-the-phone-line broadband), and big downloads including music.
RULE 8. As with many other things, remember that cheaper is not necessarily better value. A broadband provider has to offer a reliable service that does not let you down when you need it, has to have a good customer support, be easy and quick to contact by phone, promptly respond e-mails, and obviously the connection speed is an important consideration. Otherwise, if you base your choice of a provider only on price, you'll end up spending more time and money not being able to use your connection effectively and trying to contact the supplier. Time is money anyway. Luckily, these days broadband companies have a more advanced technology and a far better customer service than in the old days, but a little extra expense can still go a long way in getting you what you want.