At home and at work, we are all highly dependent on our broadband connections now. This makes reliability a decisive factor when it comes to choosing the best supplier for your needs. Every Internet service provider (ISP) will lay claim to being one of the most dependable. In the end you will need to choose the one you trust most. Here are a few things you perhaps ought to consider in when you are weighing-up your options.Back to top
Check for coverage
Obviously, you will need to check which providers can offer you a service at your location. This will partly depend on how near you are to the green roadside cabinets that act as the local junction box for broadband connections. In business parks these are usually located quite centrally, so that no one premises is too far away. In residential zones it’s often just a matter of luck. The distance to the cabinet will dictate to some degree how good the coverage for your exact location will be.
If you are on a newer business park, you may be really fortunate and have fibre optic cabling already installed all the way to your premises. That will allow you to receive very fast services and they should be incredibly reliable as well.
The other factor here is whether ISPs are providing coverage or not in your specific area. In theory, every ISP should be able to provide you with a service to any connected point on the UK network. But some prefer to concentrate on a particular region, area or even an industry or sector in which they have specialist knowledge.Back to top
Be aware of contract length
All broadband services are offered on a minimum contract basis. These are usually one year, 18-months or two years. You should make sure you know what time-span you are signing-up for in advance. You should be able to change your mind within the first month and switch at any time if the ISP does not meet the levels of performance and availability that they must stipulate they will provide as a minimum. While switching ISPs is not difficult, it’s something you won’t want to do too often.
It is also a good idea to clarify what can happen to terms and conditions and pricing during the contract period. In some contracts the price will be fixed for the term; with others the ISP may have the right to change the pricing at certain points.
Finally, just check what happens when the contract period ends and how and when that will be reviewed. The ISP may see this as an opportunity to upgrade you or increase prices; you may see it as an opportunity to review all your options and renegotiate.Back to top
Work out the total cost
The cost of the broadband service won’t be all you are paying for with most contracts. There may be up-front installation fees – again, the advice is to check before you sign-up. If there is groundwork to be done in order to link up an FTTP service, for example, that could be quite expensive. You may also need to add in the cost of the line rental (with most broadband services you do still need a phone line) and any other additional call costs that might be incurred.
What’s included in your service matters, of course, and if it’s a business service, there may be additional benefits, such as added security, voice services options, and a static IP address. These may be useful if you need them – if you don’t, they may simply be an added cost. It’s the same with home services. There may be options for TV services and connections to WiFi hotspots, for example, and if those are useful for you, they are certainly worth your consideration.
The standard router provided with the broadband service may also be worth checking out, especially if you need good home WiFi. Even the most basic routers come with wireless capability these days, but some will be much better than others – some suppliers may offer you a number of different options.Back to top
Check the speeds
The broadband speed you can get may be dictated to some extent, as we have already mentioned, by the distance between your premises and the green junction box. Unsurprisingly, every supplier will try to convince you that their service is faster and more reliable than any one else’s, but of course, this is not going to be the case. A lot depends on how they set things up behind the scenes and how they manage and apportion bandwidth at different times of the day.
Another factor to be aware of is the use of the term ‘up to’ on all advertised broadband speeds. As they are subject to variation, broadband speeds have to be publicised in this way. While a service may be advertised as providing ‘up to’ a certain speed, that’s not necessarily what you will get in practice. You need to look at the service level guarantee or agreement provided with the contract to see what kind of and performance you are likely to receive on a day to day basis .Back to top
Major providers reviewedBack to top
Plusnet is a very well-known name in broadband and its whole approach is founded on providing no-nonsense value and reliability. The services it offers are fast and dependable and generally come without any add-ons or frills, so you always know what you are getting and paying for with Plusnet. For businesses or home users who want the best performance and dependability on a budget, Plusnet is certainly worth serious consideration.Back to top
BT is the best-known and remains the number-one supplier of broadband services in the UK. The company offers a wide range of services that can meet every need for home users or businesses, and it has excellent UK-wide coverage. You can expect overall performance and reliability of BT broadband services to be very good indeed. While even some of its ‘standard’ packages might include more than some customers need, BT is a good, safe choice for consumer or business broadband.Back to top
Other supplier reviews
There are hundreds of other broadband providers in the UK. None of them could survive in a competitive market without offering something that appeals to their users. Aside from those mentioned above, other big names include Virgin, Sky, EE, and TalkTalk. There is certainly no shortage of choice. If reliability is the decisive factor for you, then you may be best selecting an established, tried-and-tested supplier that you know you’ll be able to rely upon.Back to top