With more options available for broadband suppliers, there is more opportunity to shop around and get a great deal.
However up until now swapping your broadband provider could be a bit of a headache; requesting MAC codes, waiting for them to turn up and then sending them onto your new chosen supplier.
Needless to say this complicated process can put people off changing and getting the best deal. The good news is that from the end of June this whole process is going to get much simpler, no more MAC codes!
Making broadband switching simpler
Changes to the Openreach network (the network which installs and maintains broadband connections) mean that for switching broadband you'll be able to follow what's called a “gaining provider led process”. Sounds complicated! But essentially what this means is you won't have to contact your current provider to arrange the switch, your new broadband provider can do all of that for you, saving you time and money.
How to get the best Broadband, Phone and TV deals
So, swapping is easier, but how do you get the best broadband deal for you?
To bundle or not to bundle?
Getting your broadband, phone and TV package from one supplier in a bundle can be a great way to make savings, so it's worth assessing what you use and if you can consolidate these services. Also, if your mobile phone supplier also offers broadband services you might be able to get a good deal with them.
How do you use the internet?
The next important question to consider is your data or download allowance. How you and your household use the internet will determine the data allowance you need:
Heavy internet user
If you stream films and TV online (think Netflix or BBC iPlayer), download music (iTunes, Spotify) and play online games then you're a heavy internet user and you should be looking for unlimited broadband deals.
Medium internet user
If you frequently browse the internet, enjoy watching YouTube clips or other videos and like uploading photos to Facebook but don't game or stream much then you're most likely a medium internet users, and you can shop around for capped broadband deals to make a saving. Be careful though - If you go over your allowance you could incur extra charges.
Light internet user
Just want to browse, do some online shopping and send a few emails? You could be a light user, and you might benefit from a smaller download package.
Bit baffled by this? Not sure how much data you need? Not to worry, Which have created a handy calculator to help you work out your broadband usage.
Your need for speed
Where you live in the country will dictate how fast the broadband available to you is, but with fiber-optic broadband already covering two thirds of the country most people should have a good level of options.
If you're a light data user you might not need to fork out for fiber-optic at this stage, but if you're a gamer, streamer or other type of heavy internet user, fiber-optic might be the way to go to avoid annoying buffering. This doesn't mean you have to break the bank though, with most national broadband providers now offering competitive fiber-optic services.
Once you've picked your new supplier, and especially if you're upgrading you might want to keep an eye on the speed of your broadband. Those clever people at Which have made tool for that too. New rules from Ofcom also support you if your supplier isn't keeping up with your promised speed. For suppliers that use digital subscriber line technology (for example BT, Sky, Talk Talk and EE) if they're not meeting your minimum guaranteed access line speed you can now leave the contract outside your 90 day cooling period without penalties. You just need to give them a reasonable chance to fix the problem.
Once you've established your requirements you can start checking out the market for the best deals. Discounted line rental for an initial period is a common offer, as are bonus gifts, so depending on what floats your boat you should be able to find a great offer. The following suppliers offer competitive discounts and offers Sky, BT Broadband, Virgin Media, Plusnet and TalkTalk.
It's close to impossible to get through a university degree now a days without internet access and not many students fancy shlepping their way to the library every time they need to log on. However, committing to a broadband contract can seem intimidating when you're only at university for nine months of the year.
Fortunately some of the big broadband suppliers have realised this and have created student broadband packages with nine month contracts or other extra student perks. Check out Virgin Media and BT Broadband for their student broadband deals.