Moving house: How to choose your broadband
Broadband access is now a top concern for anyone moving house, adding another thing to the list of utilities we need to manage when entering a new property.
The huge number of providers out there, combined with the differing technologies and our desire for the fastest service at the best price makes choosing an ISP a minefield - not what you need when you're dealing with the stress of moving home.
Here are a few tips to take some of the hassle out of choosing broadband for a new house.
Check the local exchange
Broadband speed is dictated by a number of factors, with the most important being the type of line coming into your home, the distance to your exchange and the services available at the exchange.
To find out which providers or services are available in your home, head over to www.SamKnows.com and enter your postcode, or phone number.
Types of broadband
Most exchanges throughout the UK are 'local loop unbundled', which means ISPs can install their own equipment. This will mean that you can use an ADSL2+ broadband line for speeds 'up to' 16Mb. You may see some providers claim that this will allow up to 20 or 24Mb but in reality you will not see more than around 16Mb.
However, the further you are from the exchange the slower your connection will be, and it can also be negatively affected by the quality of the phone lines. Unfortunately much of the UK is still running on an outdated copper network.
If you want a faster connection you'll have to look at either Virgin Media cable broadband or fibre optic internet.
Virgin Media is installed in many towns and cities across the country and offers blazing fast 120Mb connections, but because the firm runs its own cable network there are many areas not covered, you might even find that it's installed a few streets over but not available where you live.
An alternative to cable is fibre optic internet. This is being deployed all across the UK by BT, and presently offers speeds of up to 76Mb. Coverage is greater than Virgin and prices often lower, because like ADSL broadband the service is available to other ISPs such as Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet. However BT remains the largest provider of these services, if you'd like to find out more or check if the service is available head over to the Broadband Genie BT Infinity deals page.
What speed do you need?
High speed fibre optic and cable internet is ideal for things like large downloads, online gaming and streaming HD video. If that's how you're going to spend your time online then superfast broadband is for you.
But if your usage is largely web browsing and social networking a standard ADSL connection is all you'd need, and it's still perfectly adequate for the likes of Spotify and iPlayer.
Don't forget about download limits either. Unlimited broadband will mean you don't have to worry about how much you're downloading or streaming, otherwise you could run into extra charges or find the connection speed has been restricted. On the other hand you don't want to pay for a service that's far more extravagant than you're ever going to need; a budget package with a download limit can save a lot of money.
Save time and money with bundle deals
Once you've decided on what type of broadband service you want, it's time to start hunting for the best prices.
One of the best ways of saving money on broadband is to sign up for a bundle deal, which as a bare minimum gives you both broadband and a phone line from the same company, and many ISPs also provide television services.
When taken together you can get a great deal on the whole package which will work out to be much cheaper than signing up for individual companies. It also makes managing your budget much simpler as broadband, phone and TV will be billed at the same time every month to one company.
Bundles often include useful extras, too, such as Sky TV and broadband customers getting free access to on-demand content through their Sky box.
They don't necessarily require paying a lot extra for premium TV, either. BT and TalkTalk both offer YouView TV boxes as part of a bundle, which is a freeview TV box with digital recording and integrated catch-up TV streaming features.
You can also get money off with some mobile networks - O2, T-Mobile, Orange and EE all give discounts on home broadband to their mobile customers.
Almost every broadband package will include a wireless router as standard. That will allow you to connect multiple devices using Wi-Fi and typically plug in up to four peripherals or computers via wired networking. If your broadband does not come with this you can purchase one from Amazon or any computer store - prices start at about £30.
Routers also need microfilters which connect to the phone line, but again if you receive a router from the ISP at least one will be included. You do need one on every line that is in use though, so purchase extra if required.
In most cases that will be all you need, however Wi-Fi networking is a short range technology and the signal is easily blocked by walls and doors. If you find that you're unable to connect in certain areas of your home or the speed is greatly reduced you could also invest in a powerline network adapter.
These devices use your electricity lines to transmit data. One adapter connects to the router with a network cable, then you can then plug other adapters into sockets anywhere else on the same electrical circuit within your home. That means you can enjoy the full speed of your broadband in another room without the connectivity problems sometimes encountered with Wi-Fi.