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A Helpful Buyer's Guide To Home Broadband: What To Look For?

A decade ago there were only a handful of suppliers offering broadband services running up to 512 megabits per second but today's market offers so much better speeds. Each company promises faster download speeds, larger download caps and better customer service all at reduced prices to compete with the likes of BT and Virgin Media.

With all these new companies entering the market and new technologies being used, choosing a broadband service provider is no longer a simple task. Price is no longer the deciding factor on which broadband service to sign up to and the differences between broadband technologies does nothing to help users distinguish which one is best for them.

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To make this decision-making process a little easier, we have compiled a helpful buyer's guide to point out the features of some of the top broadband deals.

DSL or Cable?

There are two main technologies being used to run broadband these days- DSL and fiber optic cables. But which one is for you? They are both high speed and reliable in contrast to the 56k modem days so why is there so much debate on which one is better than the other?

In terms of download speeds, DSL connections offer slower speeds to that of fiber optic cables and the main element which effects the overall performance is the distance between you and the service provider's hub. The further away you are from the central hub, the slower your overall connection will be. Cable connections are still effected by distance however they are also generally effected by the number of users logged on at any one time so you may find performance drops during peak internet hours. The main advantage of fibre optic broadband over DSL is the connection speeds on offer. DSL technology in the UK only goes up to around 10 megabits per second but some cable operators are offering speeds in excess of 50megabits which is a huge difference in performance.

Both connection types tend to be very reliable but some residents may find DSL connections are not available in their areas and so may have to choose cable connection out of necessity. If you are unable to get a DSL or cable connection in your area you may want to look into 4G or 5G mobile internet (ask your local mobile phone shop) or the more expensive option might be to install a dish and receive your internet via satellite connection (like Sky TV).

What one is cheaper?

DSL tends to be the more expensive option out of the two when taking into account both setup and monthly fees. Cable internet is usually part of a TV and Internet package which is why cable connections are often thought of as cheaper option than their DSL counterparts. If you are happy with your current TV package or cable is not available in your area then we suggest you adopt a DSL connection instead of changing your existing setup.

What one is more secure?

With regards to security, there is not much difference between the two contenders as both are permanently connected to the internet and as such are still subject to the nasty's that lurk in the shadows of the internet. These issues are easily rectified with good antivirus software which you can find for free on the net.

Customer service

Broadband customer services are notorious for the lack of support they offer their customers and requests often take weeks to complete as most of these companies do not own the infrastructure where the changes need to be made. DSL suppliers often come off worse in the customer services department as they are often smaller outfits compared to larger cable companies who not only support their broadband technology but also the TV and phone services as well.

What one should you choose?

So which one should you choose? Personally for me download speeds is the more important thing I look at when deciding a provider. If I am lucky enough to live near a cable exchange with service providers offering me up to 50 megabit connection speeds, I would certainly jump at the chance. If however like most of us you do not live close enough to an exchange to get this benefit I might still opt for the cable option as their TV and Internet packages are often cheaper than that of DSL and a cable equivalent such as Sky TV. If you want broadband on a budget or you are a light user DSL might be able to offer what you are looking for at a decent price. Just watch out for the download caps, there is no point having a lightning fast internet connection if you run out of download space within the first few weeks.

Our advice is to compare offers from few internet providers and check the availability at your address. Bear in mind if there is set up fee, or price rise with the time. Choosing the right plan should be based on your personal needs as a package deal is the most suitable solution for those who need Tv and phone service too.

You might be interested to know about: TV package deals

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