Get more gigabytes for your money as broadband tumbles

Broadband prices have fallen so sharply you can save money and speed up your service, says David Prosser

he cost of broadband internet access has fallen by almost a third over the past 12 months and prices are still falling. Price comparison service Uswitch says the average standard broadband deal cost £23 a month last March - today it is down to just £16.50.

The reductions mean that for those without internet access - or those who still have slow dial-up services - broadband has never been more affordable. And if you've already signed up to a deal, by switching, you may be able to save money and improve the quality of your broadband access.

The advantage of a broadband connection over dial-up services is speed. Your internet access will be at least 10 times faster, plus you're always connected, and the link does not tie up your home phone line.

The good news is that broadband is getting faster. A year ago, the standard service was 512Kbps (kilobits per second). Today's basic packages are generally at least twice as fast, at 1Mbps (megabit per second). Connection speeds of 8Mb are widely available, though not all telephone exchanges have yet been equipped to deliver broadband providers' fastest services.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of broadband service available, though bundled packages (see story right) are also worth considering.

First, if you're only a moderate internet user, a standard 1mb connection should be fine. At this speed, websites will appear almost instantly, but downloading music or video files may take slightly longer.

Second, there are premium services. Neil Hodges, of the price-comparison service Simply Switch, says: "If you're a heavier internet user, you may need to pay a little more in order to get a speedier service." Paying a premium for a 2Mb, 4Mb or 8Mb service will cut down on waiting time if you download a lot of large data files. It should also improve your online gaming experience, if that's what you use the internet for.

The third issue to consider is how much you download. Most basic packages set a monthly limit - one or two gigabytes is typical. Each web-page that you call up counts towards that limit, though simply surfing won't get you anywhere near a breach. Regularly downloading large files, however, will eat up capacity and you may need more.

Broadband providers charge more for extra download capacity, but unlimited deals are not prohibitively expensive. Just think carefully about what you need. Although BT has just announced a crackdown on those users who regularly go over their contracted download limits, most providers will not penalise a few occasional breaches.

"The people who genuinely need speed are also the ones most likely to be heavy downloaders," says Hodges. But pick a broadband deal that best fits your profile as an internet user.

There are some hidden costs to watch out for. Before signing up for a deal, check whether there are any upfront charges to pay in addition to the monthly subscription. 4D Internet's unlimited download deal, for example, is competitively priced at £29.99 a month, but comes with a £70.50 connection fee.

Sometimes, it may be worth paying such fees. If you're signing up for a 12-month contract, check the total amount you'll pay over the year, rather than focusing purely on connection charges or monthly fees.

Also, check on the price of technical support. Broadband suppliers provide a telephone hotline you can call if you have any problems - most charge national rates, but some are premium-rate. Toucan, for example, charges 30p a minute for calls to its support line, and costs will mount up quickly if you do have problems.

Finally, note that the majority of broadband providers now require you to sign up for 12 months. If you want to get out of the contract earlier, you'll have to pay penalty charges. It's not a problem signing a year-long contract as long as you're aware of the commitment you have made. And suppliers offering one-month contracts - including Virgin and Plusnet - are rarely the absolute cheapest broadband providers.

Bundles of savings for doubling up

* Some of the cheapest deals on broadband are available from suppliers offering bundled packages, with internet access and a home phone service for one price. Cable & Wireless's Bulldog service, for example, offers broadband at a speed of up to 8Mb for just £9.75 a month, but you also have to sign up to its phone line, for £10.50 a month.

* Chris Williams, of the price-comparison service Uswitch, says these deals are definitely worth considering. "The risk is that by getting a cheap deal on broadband you'll be paying over the odds for your phone service, but most bundled packages are pretty competitive on both," he says. "You might get a slightly cheaper deal by finding the cheapest phone and internet providers separately, but many people are happy to pay slightly more for the convenience of a single package."

* Home-phone users with a standard deal from BT are likely to be able to save money on their phone costs by switching to a bundled broadband deal - and they don't need to change their phone number.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
UK Border Control
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

    £36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn