How to choose the right home broadband package
Unless you're living in halls you'll need to find yourself a good deal on broadband. With a reliable internet connection at home you'll be free to work whenever it suits you, and not just when the libraries are open
Researched for RGU by Ofcom Accredited site Cable.co.uk
With broadband it’s really important to understand what you need and what you can afford – and whatever you do don’t just buy the first package you see. We’ve compiled this guide to tell you how to choose the right broadband deal.
There are two main types of broadband available in Aberdeen; ADSL and fibre optic broadband. ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) uses the existing telephone network to transmit data while fibre optic uses a dedicated network.
As a rule of thumb the top speed you can expect from ADSL in Aberdeen is around 20Mbps, and this will decrease the farther you are from the exchange. As such ADSL broadband packages are only suitable to share with a few other people at most.
Fibre optic broadband is much faster at up to 80Mbs in some areas, so if you’re looking to share broadband with a houseful of fellow students this might be the way to go. It’s not yet as widely available in Aberdeen as perhaps you might expect but the BT Infinity fibre optic network has already reached parts of the City Centre and the Ashgrove Road, George Street, Kittybrewster, Linksfeld and Rosemount areas – and new areas are being connected each month.
To find out which broadband types are available in your area you should use a postcode checker on a broadband, TV and phone comparison site which bears the “Approved by Ofcom” badge, such as cable.co.uk.
Whether they’re called download limits, monthly usage allowances or usage limits they all amount to the same thing; the total amount of data that you're entitled to upload and download each month under the terms of your broadband deal.
It’s really important to get the right download limit, as repeatedly exceeding your limits will result in you being fined by your provider. If you only want broadband to research your coursework and keep in touch with Facebook and email a 10-20GB allowance should be fine.
However, if you're going to be sharing your connection with a number of other people and/or you’ll want to stream a lot of video or on-demand TV content a high, or preferably, unlimited deal is recommended.
While it’s important to choose the right type of broadband and the right usage allowance it is absolutely essential that you get a package with the right contract length.
When you sign up for a broadband deal you’ll be agreeing to the terms laid down by the provider, and if you break these terms they’re entitled to fine you for doing so. If you terminate your broadband service before the contract’s minimum term has expired you can be left with a bill potentially running to hundreds of pounds.
If you’ll be staying in the same property for a full year or longer then you should have no problems finding a range of packages with 12 month contracts to match. You would normally only have to give 30 days notice to cancel once the 12 months are up.
However, if you’ll be leaving Aberdeen or moving to a different house once the summer comes you should plan ahead and get a short contract deal. Some providers offer broadband on three, six and nine month contracts which will give you the flexibility you need without incurring any fines. Bear in mind that whatever your contract length you will still need to let your provider know 30 days before you want to leave.
The thing with broadband contracts is to find out exactly what the terms are before you sign up, as any protestations later on will almost certainly fall on deaf ears.
Whether you choose ADSL or fibre optic broadband you’ll need an active phone line to your property, and to pay line rental. This can add up to £14.60 a month onto the advertised cost of your broadband so make sure you know what you’ll have to pay for line rental before you buy broadband.
Many broadband providers will give you the option to pay your line rental to BT or directly to them, although you may have no choice but to switch your phone line and pay line rental directly to the broadband provider themselves. The good news is that these providers often charge less than BT and can save you up to £25 a year.
BT and many other providers also offer Line Rental Saver Schemes. With these you pay a full year’s line rental in advance at a reduced cost, saving yourself £45 or more.
Bills & payments
There are some other charges that you need to be aware of before you order. These vary from provider to provider, so once again you'll need to be very careful to make sure to check any other charges before you agree to any broadband package:
Non-Direct Debit fees – Broadband providers prefer their customers to pay by Direct Debit, and a monthly surcharge is added to any accounts that use any other payment method.
Paper bills – Likewise providers now charge extra for receiving paper rather than electronic bills. There’s really no reason why you’d need to get your bill through the post rather than via email, so do yourself a favour and stick to ebilling.
Installation, connection & activation fees – These terms are used by some providers to cover myriad charges but they all amount to the same thing; they’re one-off charges that you will need to pay before your service will go live. Do your homework and make sure you take any special charges into consideration when comparing your broadband deals.
Phone line charges – If you haven’t got a phone line, or you have a deactivated line you’ll need to pay to have the service connected. This can be as much as £100 or more, so make absolutely sure what you’ll have to pay.
Bundles – Broadband bundles include services other than internet access, such as inclusive phone calls and digital TV. They may seem like a bargain, but make sure you stay within you budget. Bear in mind that with inclusive calls packages you may be fined for making too few calls. Also, if you order a bundle with digital TV you must also get a TV license or you risk being fined up to £1000.