Slow internet. We’ve all been there.
Is there anything more frustrating than pressing enter and being met with the loading symbol spinning round and round? Two minutes feels like an eternity.
If you are experiencing the pain of poor connectivity, maybe it’s time to switch. But what broadband package is right for you?
Let’s start with the basics.
What is broadband?
Broadband is an extremely broad (excuse the pun) term which encompasses many different types of technology.
Put simply, broadband is the transmission of wide bandwidth data which transports multiple signals and traffic types. Broadband provides internet access via multiple technologies including fibre optics, wireless, ADSL and satellite.
It is the UK’s most popular form of internet connection and is used by millions of people across the country.
How to get broadband access
A broadband service is supplied by an ISP (an internet service provider). You need to choose what ISP you want to go with and they will supply the line and equipment needed to get your business or home online.
Not all broadband types require a line to work. You can also get broadband access through other means, such as the mobile phone network, satellite internet or wireless transmission.
What is the difference between broadband and WiFi?
Although often used interchangeably, WiFi and broadband are not the same thing.
Broadband is the actual internet connection that your router uses to send and receive data from your house/business to the wider world.
WiFi is how you distribute that connection from your router around your property. It allows you to connect your devices wirelessly.
It’s important to recognise the distinction between the two. Often poor or weak WiFi signal is mistaken as a broadband issue or vice versa. Don’t make the mistake of switching providers without looking into where the problem really lies. You might find it’s an easy fix.
What types of broadband are available?
There are several different types of broadband available. They are ADSL, fibre broadband, mobile broadband and satellite broadband.
ASDL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)
This service uses your copper phone line to get connectivity to your home. It is available to the vast majority of properties in the UK. Speeds will depend on your proximity to the telephone exchange. For rural businesses and homes, this often means that speeds on ADSL are very poor.
Average internet speed using ADSL is around 10Mbps for download and around 1.5Mbps for upload speeds.
FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet)
This method uses fibre optic cable from the local telephone exchange to a distribution point (commonly called a roadside cabinet). Then the connection is brought to your premises using the normal copper telephone line.
Due to the fibre cable, this service is faster than ADSL with download speeds reaching 80Mbps and upload speeds around 20Mbps.
FTTP (Fibre to the Premises)
This service uses fibre optic cables all the way from the exchange to your business or home. For this reason, it can provide much faster speeds than FTTC.
However, it is not as widely available and is often a lot more expensive. Although, one clear advantage is that you don’t need to pay landline rental for the service to work.
Download speeds can reach a whopping 1Gbps! You can also see upload speeds of 100+ Mbps.
4G / 5G Mobile broadband
Mobile broadband uses the mobile network to wirelessly provide a broadband connection. You will need a device that is equipped with a SIM card. The SIM allows the device to send and receive data using a nearby cell mast owned by whichever carrier your SIM is provided by (EE, O2, Vodafone).
4G broadband offers a theoretical maximum speed of up to 150Mbps. Real world speeds are often more in the region of 20-50Mbps. Speed will depend on your location, mobile signal and proximity to a cell mast.
As 5G coverage in the UK is now increasing, 5G broadband is becoming a more popular choice. It is considered by many to be the future of broadband. Speeds using the 5G network can rival those seen on the fibre network, with theoretical speeds of 1Gbps+.
This service is transmitted using a wireless connection via a satellite dish, similar to those you use for satellite TV.
It’s often considered a last resort option for those who do not have access to traditional broadband methods due it’s poor speeds and high latency (lag) issues.
So, which broadband type is best?
There are many superfast broadband providers who offer all the different broadband types. You need to work out what type makes the most sense for you.
This requires considering what you are really looking for from your broadband connection.
You should consider:
The speed you need will depend on the activities you use the internet for at your home or business.
If you only require broadband for browsing the web and sending emails, you won’t need superfast speeds. If you are looking to do more data heavy activities such as video calling, streaming or gaming, you will need a high-speed connection to avoid frustration.
Data caps are the limits your broadband supplier sets each month on how much data you can use.
Similar to speed, you’ll want to make sure this is sufficient for your needs.
How quickly do you need this service installed? Some broadband types have long lead times to allow for surveys to take place or to get the right infrastructure in place for your connection.
From installation to cancellation, make sure you know what charges you’ll be paying beyond the monthly bill.
Some broadband packages also require you to pay for the hardware you have installed too.
Once you’ve narrowed down what you want from your connection, you need to see what’s actually available in your area.
How do I find out what superfast broadband providers are available in my area?
You will need to carry out an availability check to see what options you have.
Availability checkers will tell you whether you have the infrastructure in place for ADSL, FTTC or FTTP broadband.
To find out if you can get mobile broadband you will need to check your 4G and 5G coverage. You can do this using the coverage checker links on this page.
Now you know what you’re looking for, let’s look at the best option for your requirements.
How to get broadband with high speeds
If you have lots of simultaneously connected devices and a high amount of users, you will benefit from a superfast broadband package.
Your best options will be a fibre package (especially FTTP if available) or 5G mobile broadband. These are the broadband types that provide the fastest speeds.
If fibre is not available in your area and you don’t have 5G coverage, the next best thing will likely be 4G broadband.
How to get broadband in rural areas
If you’re located in a rural area, it can sometimes feel like decent internet speed is a million miles away.
But you’ll pleased to know there are several options to choose from, even when you aren’t based in a major town or city.
ADSL, mobile broadband and satellite broadband are all widely available to rural areas.
4G mobile broadband is likely your best chance at seeing some reasonable speeds, especially if you have good mobile signal where you are.
SimRush is the ideal 4G solution for broadband rural areas. SimRush hardware can connect reliably to 4G LTE even in locations where mobile phones cannot due to its high gain antenna. This means even if you have poor mobile signal, you are still likely to get a good service.
How to get broadband for a business
Running a business requires a fast, secure and reliable broadband connection.
Fibre plans allow you to choose a speed bracket that is suitable for the size and scale of your business. If you’re a small business with only a few employees, you can likely get away with a standard broadband package. However, if your business is larger and reliant on the internet to stay productive, then you should invest in a superfast plan.
If you have a fibre connection as your primary broadband, it might also be a good idea to get mobile broadband set up as failover. This will help ensure your business never goes offline.
How to get broadband without a landline
The broadband types which don’t require a landline connection are FTTP, mobile broadband and satellite broadband.
To use ADSL or FTTC, you must have a landline phone line installed.
Read our full blog on the pros and cons of broadband without a landline here.
How to get broadband cheaper
The cheapest form of broadband available in the UK is ADSL.
Many people assume broadband without a landline phone is cheaper, but in most cases it’s around the same price, if not more expensive. Take your time to look around to find cheap broadband deals.
Are you planning on moving house
If you’re planning on moving house sometime in the near future, you need to invest in a broadband service that you can bring with you.
A traditional fixed line connection or fibre installation cannot be moved with you if you change property. The best option for you will be mobile broadband.
You’ll be able to bring the hardware (normally a 4G external antenna and an indoor router) with you when you move. The only thing you’ll need to check is if the 4G coverage is different in your new location. You may need to switch data SIM carrier if they no longer provide the best coverage in your area.
How to get broadband installed quickly
You will find that certain types of broadband have longer lead times than others.
Normally fibre optic broadband will have longer lead times as it requires the cabling infrastructure to be in place for a connection to be provided.
As mobile broadband does not require any pre-existing infrastructure, it usually has the shortest lead times and can be installed as quickly as the next day.
It’s perfect for any urgent or temporary broadband requirements.
How to get broadband without WiFi
If you don’t need WiFi as part of your broadband deal, then you don’t have to have it.
You can get mobile broadband routers which don’t have WiFi built in. Instead of connecting devices wirelessly you can connect them using a wired connection.
How to get broadband in Wales
Wales is known for having widespread difficulties in getting access to superfast broadband. This is because there are so many rural communities across the country.
In recognition of this fact, the Welsh government have set up the Access Broadband Cymru scheme. This scheme provides grants to fund (or part-fund) the installation costs of new faster broadband connections for homes and businesses in Wales. It does not include monthly rental costs, only installation and setup costs.
If you live in rural Wales and are interested in applying for the scheme, click here.
How to get broadband with a government-paid discount
There are several schemes available that help with costs towards faster broadband. Usually they are designed for those in areas that have poor broadband access.
Contact your local council to see if there any schemes available in your area. Normally, there will be several major broadband providers listed as suppliers on the schemes, along with many local ISP’s too.
How do I find out if my current package speeds are up to scratch
Whether your speeds from your current provider are fast enough depends on what you are using your connection for.
If you only use the internet to check your social media, browse and send emails you won’t need superfast speeds. However, if you are running a broadband hungry business with multiple users & devices, streaming video or gaming you will have a better online experience if you have fast broadband speeds.