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How to choose a broadband provider in the UK

Posted on 14 August 2021

A lot of people on Facebook groups tend to ask for recommendations for the best broadband provider, best broadband provider by area, etc. The truth is, other than Virgin who use their own Fibre and Coax network, the rest are all using BT’s fibre and copper network. This means that unlike mobile providers, there is no “best” provider per area.

Why are you looking to change your broadband?

Routers don’t last forever and neither do phone lines. Just because the phone will ring and you don’t have noise on your line, it does not mean there is a fault on your line. Routers can become faulty over time and stop working as well as they once did. All this can be a reason to want to change. In the case of a faulty line, it will make no difference. In the case of the router it will but… that’s only because you’re going to be swapping out for another (probably) poorly made router issued by a provider?

When should you change provider?

  1. If you’re not getting the support you need
  2. You’re paying too much
  3. You need a static IP and the provider won’t offer this

These 3 reasons to change, are about the only 3 things that differ from providers other than virign.

That and the router…

Routers

Routers supplied by providers are often cheaply made, they would be in order for the companies to make a higher profit on their broadband. One way around this is to buy a 3rd party router and set it up with your broadband. This enables you to go with a cheaper provider that offers a poorer quality router (because you’re eliminating the router and opening your options). DrayTek routers seem to be the best all round for Home and Small Business use – although one of the more expensive.

Poor WiFi?

Routers give you WiFi but so do AP’s (access points), if you’re in a really big house or somewhere with solid walls, you might find you need range extenders or additional AP’s. This isn’t because the provider is bad but because WiFi will not travel really far or through dense material.

Sometimes external factors like microwaves can bring down WiFi 😮

How to choose a provider

Depending on what is more important, cost or support, do the following in order of importance:

  • Phone the support line and see how long before someone answers
  • Compare prices
  • Ask about a static address if you need it – If you don’t know what a static address is then the chances are, you don’t need one

It’s as simple as that and if you get a poor router, you can buy one with all that money you’ll save from not going with the most expensive provider in order to get a marginally better router.

Finding your connection is slow regardless?

If you’re line is fine and you’ve changed providers and routers too many times to count then it may be that you’re far away from the exchange, cabinet or BT hasn’t upgraded the line for a long time…

In this case you may want to look into:

  • 4G/5G broadband (Data plans can sometimes be expensive, check coverage first)
  • Satellite broadband (This often comes with high latency)
  • Starlink (Expensive new technology)

Don’t take in the marketing from the providers and don’t go with BT just because it’s their network. The support might just be a lot longer to reach than a cheaper provider.

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