When should you switch broadband?

The cost-of-living crisis is affecting almost everyone in the UK at the moment, with the latest Government data revealing that 89 per cent of adults have reported an increase in living costs. In addition to our energy bills, internet users could soon be feeling a pinch. In September 2022, Ofcom began urging more broadband providers to offer social tariffs and resist price increases as over eight millions households admit struggling to afford connectivity.

Luckily, customers have the ability to shop around if they feel they aren’t getting the best deal. As costs rise, there are factors to consider to make sure you’re on the most cost-effective deal for your individual needs.

How much data do you need?

First and foremost, it’s crucial to confirm whether your internet connection meets your home or business’s needs. We’re all using the internet a lot more nowadays, with many residences connecting multiple devices simultaneously — laptops, tablets, game consoles, smart TVs and mobiles.

With a greater demand for internet comes a greater requirement for fast download speeds and large data allowances. Take the time to review your internet needs and how fast you need your internet to be.

For the majority of households with a heavy internet consumption, there’s a need for faster internet that works at gigabit speeds. But some providers apply excessive additional charges for their faster services. It’s worth shopping around to ensure you’re with a provider that doesn’t charge excessively for increased speeds, to ensure you can access the quality of internet you need.

Are you out of contract?

Contract lengths vary — with 12, 18 and 24-month contracts usually available as standard. If you haven’t checked your broadband bill in a while, it’s worth giving it the once over to ensure you’re still in contract.

As per the end of contract notifications rules that Ofcom introduced in February 2020, they must tell residential customers if their current contract has ended. However, if you don’t do anything following this notification, the provider will switch you over to a standard tariff, which is considerably more expensive. If you’re on a direct debit payment plan, it’s possible these payments will be taken without warning, which is a completely avoidable payment spike.

Around three to four weeks before the end of your contract is the perfect time to shop around, as there’s no early disconnection fees and it gives you enough time to ensure your new connection is set up before your old contract comes to an end. It’s worth contacting your existing provider to see what deals are available to you — whether it’s a better deal or better speeds — and if not, enquire elsewhere for a better price.

Are you making the most of the support available?
Bundling

Could you benefit from a bundle? Many broadband providers offer bundles of a phoneline, broadband and TV in one. But packages are branching out too. There are several deals that include mobile phone contracts, TV sports or cinema packages and extra add-ons like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

These are all products that a lot of people pay for anyway, but purchasing them in a bundle often works out more cost-effective in the long run.

Type of connection

What type of connection should you go for? While ADSL broadband is cheaper, it does have a looming deadline over its head. The lines that are used to connect ADSL broadband are being retired from December 31, 2025, since the ageing lines are becoming unfit for purpose.

Instead, a more futureproofed choice that can handle the increasing demands on internet is full fibre. It’s faster, has a greater capacity, and it’s ready for the future — while full fibre connections can support up to one gigabit per second (Gbps) per connection at the moment, many fibre to the premise (FTTP) providers have built their network to support ten Gbps without requiring any infrastructural changes, so you can keep the same connection to your home for years to come.

Whilst lots of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sell broadband, historically there has been far fewer that build the underlying network. With less choice over the network operator, this has kept consumer prices high. But now, a whole host of new companies are building telecoms infrastructure — altnets. It’s worth looking to see if an altnet is or will be in your area as they are often far cheaper than a traditional provider.

At MS3 Networks, we build the infrastructure that enables full fibre internet. Our origins lie in Hull, where our alternative network is helping to bring greater consumer choice, and lower prices to the city once plagued with the highest, but our network is expanding, with more providers joining the network.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to rampage the UK, making small changes to ensure you’ve secured the most suitable, cost-effective deal for your internet needs will help to alleviate some of the pressure.