Broadband is a service you pay for to get your home connected to the internet. Not all broadband deals are the same, however, with several options to consider when comparing plans. Many of us have heard of fibre broadband, but few of us can make out how this relates to buzzwords such as superfast, hyperfast or ultrafast, which are used by broadband providers to distinguish between packages.
In technical terms, the options for getting your home connected include:
Each of these connection methods has a limit to the average speed it can offer, which is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Most providers only advertise the average download speed offered by their broadband deals, as download speed is what accounts for activities such as browsing, streaming videos and music, online gaming and so on. If you’re a content creator on a platform such as YouTube or SoundCloud, upload speed will form an equally important part of your usage. It takes a little extra digging to find out the average upload speeds offered by a broadband package, but in this case it’s worth doing.
Apart from average speed, you’ll also want to consider whether a deal offers unlimited broadband, the minimum term on the contract and the monthly cost. Always put your usage at the heart of any decision you make in signing up for a broadband deal, however, as it’s easy to end up paying more than you should for download speeds you don’t need, or to be frustrated by a bargain deal that doesn’t meet your usage requirements.
Get to know your usage and read our guides on the broadband deals to help you find one that suits your needs for the most reasonable price.
Mobile-phone deals come in several shapes and sizes, with the plan you’re after depending very much on your circumstances and needs. The deal you decide on will depend on whether you would rather pay monthly or sign up to a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plan, whether you’re looking for a new handset or a SIM-only deal, what you’re willing to pay, how much mobile data you use, whether you need unlimited texts and unlimited minutes, and many other factors besides.
Broadly speaking, here are your options for signing up to a mobile deal:
If you need a new mobile phone, you might think that a pay-monthly contract that includes a handset is a good way to go, but this is only the case if your usage is consistent every month. Equally, a SIM-only deal will offer a rate on calls, minutes and data on a PAYG plan, but it only makes sense to sign up for this if it’s cheaper to sign up to the stated allowance than it is to pay for what you actually use. Your usage and your needs should be at the heart of your decision when it comes to your mobile-phone deal, otherwise you’ll either be paying for something that you don’t need or needing something for which you don’t pay.
Other factors to consider when comparing mobile deals include the brand, phone specs, battery life, phone camera, the contract length and the total monthly cost. Many people only consider iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices when choosing a smartphone, but a number of brands offer similarly excellent handsets that could meet your needs for less. If you live in an area with 5G coverage, you may prefer to only consider 5G-ready devices – not all smartphones are equipped to connect to this technology, so you won’t necessarily get the fastest speeds available on certain older devices.
Factor in your usage and requirements and read our guides on mobile deals to help you find a plan that meets your needs for the best monthly price.
You don’t necessarily need a phone line to sign up to a broadband deal, but not many providers offer broadband without one. Most UK broadband providers connect you to the internet via the BT Openreach network, which does require a phone cable to be laid to get an internet connection. Some providers, however, operate on their own networks which don’t use phone lines – Virgin Media has the largest network operating independently and does offer broadband without a phone line.
Broadband refers to the internet connection supplied by an internet service provider (ISP), which is usually done by passing data through some sort of cable to your router, whereas Wi-Fi refers to the technology which allows you to wirelessly connect a device to your router in order to access this data. You can also connect a device to your router more reliably using an ethernet cable, but the convenience of Wi-Fi technology has meant that most people now only connect to the internet wirelessly.
Fibre broadband is an internet connection which uses fibre-optic cables to achieve high speeds. Fibre-optic cables contain strands of glass fibres which carry data in the form of light, allowing for average speeds of anywhere between three and a hundred times those of the copper cables used in standard ADSL broadband. More than 80% of the country now has access to fibre broadband, with older connection types slowly being phased out.
There are only four UK mobile networks, collectively known as the ‘big four’: EE, Three, O2, and Vodafone. Other providers, known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), operate in partnership with these four companies by offering mobile deals which take their signal from their networks.
Data from RootMetrics suggests that EE is the best mobile phone network in the UK, particularly if you go by how advanced its infrastructure is. EE is the only network operator to record 5G availability of more than 55% in any UK city and has the fastest, most widely available 5G network in the country.
5G stands for 5th generation. It is the 5th generation of wireless technology which makes up the infrastructure of networks which provide our mobile phones with signal and data connectivity. Being more advanced, it provides faster speeds than its predecessors 4G and 3G, but is less widely available in towns and cities across the UK at the moment. If your phone is 5G-ready and your mobile deal includes it, you automatically join a 5G network once you enter an area which has coverage.