Broadband packages: which is best for you?
Broadband packages come in all shapes and sizes, with options ranging from cheap budget deals to bundles that include TV, phone, and mobile. With so much choice, how do you go about choosing the best broadband package?
This guide will explain everything you need to know about the right broadband package to suit your needs.
What broadband options do I have?
Start by entering your address into our deals checker. This way, you'll be able to view the broadband deals available to you. Read on for more help understanding what the different options mean.
Broadband Genie deals checker
ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) is the most basic type of broadband available in the UK.
However, ADSL is slow by modern standards, with an average download speed of approximately 10Mb. You might find it struggles with:
- Large downloads
- High-definition video streaming
- Homes with multiple users and devices
ADSL broadband uses BT Openreach's traditional copper phone network. There are plans to switch off this network by 2025 and move customers over to a full digital network. With this in mind, we recommend opting for a fibre broadband deal if you can.
There are several different types of fibre optic technology in use around the UK. The type of fibre will affect what kind of speed you can get and which providers you can use.
FTTC: Or 'Fibre-To-The-Cabinet' is currently the most widely used fibre broadband technology.
With FTTC, fibre optic cables go to street cabinets and then the connection into homes is completed using a regular BT Openreach telephone line. This makes it much easier and cheaper to deploy, which is why it’s what almost all fibre broadband packages use right now.
Once the Public Telephone Network (PSTN) is switched off, this second part of the journey will be replaced with a digital line.
FTTC has a top speed of around 80Mb, and most packages are advertised with an average speed of about 35Mb or 65Mb.
FTTP/FTTH: Fibre to the premises is also sometimes referred to as FTTH (Fibre-To-The-Home). This is a full fibre connection that eliminates the ageing copper telephone network.
FTTP is the future of broadband and will be increasingly common in the next few years, but at present, far fewer homes can get this type of fibre compared to FTTC.
Virgin Media (cable): It used to be known as cable broadband, but Virgin Media is a fibre broadband service, and in most places, it uses HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial) technology.
This is similar to FTTC as fibre runs to the street-side cabinets, but Virgin completes the connection into homes with coaxial cables rather than telephone lines.
In addition to HFC, the Virgin network is also using FTTP connections for some locations.
Virgin Media can deliver speeds up to an average 1.1Gb, which is significantly quicker than many other providers.
Mobile broadband uses mobile network signals to provide wireless broadband access. This can be reasonably fast. 4G can get a download speed of approximately 25Mb on average, while 5G can achieve more than 100Mb.
Mobile broadband doesn't require any kind of fixed-line, but it does depend on a strong signal. Many mobile broadband packages also have data usage limits. The good news is that unlimited deals are available and can be reasonably priced.
We’ll likely see more mobile broadband packages offering 5G broadband at prices that compete with the fixed-line services once it's more widely available. This soon may soon be a viable alternative to ADSL and fibre for the home.
What types of broadband package are available?
Whether you’re looking for ways to save money, simplify your billing with a bundle, or get faster broadband, you’ll find something that fits in one of the following broadband packages.
If you only care about getting broadband service and aren’t fussed about any other features, this is where you should start your comparison.
'Broadband only' can have slightly different meanings. In some cases, these are packages where you only pay for the broadband, but an active phone line is still required. This means you have the freedom to choose a different phone provider.
It can also be used to refer to packages where a phone line isn’t required at all (which is also covered by broadband without a phone line). However, there are few of these kinds of packages available. Therefore, on Broadband Genie, our broadband only deals will also list packages where you get broadband and line rental, but no other extras like TV.
Broadband without a phone line
Broadband without a phone line can mean broadband that doesn't need an active phone line, or even wireless broadband.
Virgin Media is the most popular option for broadband without line rental. It's widely available and offers quick broadband deals without requiring a phone or calls service (but it does still need a physical cable to operate).
Our broadband without a phone line deals may also list packages that do require (and include) line rental but without any additional charges for inclusive calls.
We do this because we’ve found that many people who start out searching for broadband without a phone line end up choosing a regular broadband service with line rental. Perhaps this is because there are no suitable deals in their area, or because they find that there isn’t a big saving to be made.
Here are two of the cheapest 'broadband without a phone line' deals. You can see more available in your area by entering your postcode into our postcode checker:
Broadband and phone
Broadband and phone packages are the most common type and the best fit for most people. You’ll find these with everything from cheap, entry-level ADSL up to high-speed fibre optic broadband.
Often, you'll have to get a broadband and phone package because a phone line is needed for the broadband to function. Many providers don't allow you to have separate broadband and phone contracts on the same line.
Some packages come with inclusive calls, and others may only include line rental, with calls charged at a standard rate.
We recommend inclusive call packages if you frequently use your landline as it can save a significant amount of money compared to paying for each call, and it also means your monthly bill will be a fixed cost.
If you don’t use the phone, then choose a deal without inclusive calling (or at least one which does not charge extra for this feature).
Here are a couple of great 'broadband and phone' deals available at the moment:
Broadband, phone, and TV
Broadband, phone, and TV packages are also known as 'triple-play deals'. These can be great value for money compared to the cost of paying for each service individually. It also makes budgeting simpler as the three services are handled on one bill.
They're more expensive than a regular broadband and phone package — especially if you opt for a TV bundle that includes lots of movie or entertainment channels. Because of this, they're only worthwhile if you’re going to get full use out of every aspect of the package.
Broadband, phone, TV, and mobile
These 'quad-play' packages add a mobile plan alongside broadband, phone, and TV.
These are less common than the 'triple-play deals' but potentially a decent way to save some money,
Even if you don’t want a quad-play package, it’s worth checking with your mobile network to find out if you get any extras for being both a mobile and broadband customer.
Frequently asked questions about broadband packages
What are the benefits of broadband bundles?
Bundling your broadband with other services, such as TV or phone calls, can save money when compared to the cost of having separate providers.
It also means you’ve got one bill and one point of contact for everything. Bundles may also include additional extras like free TV content or discounts on other services.
How do I compare broadband?
Broadband Genie makes it effortless to compare deals.
Start by using our deals checker to see what’s available in your area. Then use the filters to narrow down the options to find the perfect package. You can also click the table headings to sort by criteria such as speed and price.
What broadband speed do I need?
The ideal broadband speed depends on what you’re planning to do with the broadband and how many people are sharing the connection.
If you’ve got family or housemates who all want to be online at the same time, or you want to use the broadband for things like TV streaming, then fibre optic broadband is a must.
Look for deals with an average speed of 35Mb at minimum, but be prepared to spend a little more to get faster broadband if you’ve got a busy shared home.
As a rough guide, allow a speed of 10Mb per person, plus 10Mb for each person using the broadband for demanding activities like downloading, gaming, and streaming.
It’s always better to overestimate your speed requirements, rather than get a package that is too slow.
We don't recommend 10Mb ADSL services for most homes. ADSL can be suitable for an individual who’s mainly using it for web browsing and social media, but it is now quite slow by modern standards. There are plenty of cheap entry-level fibre broadband deals which will provide a much better experience.
To learn more about choosing the right speed, read our beginner’s guide to broadband speeds.