Clever Consumerism #1: Broadband

All Photos by Rebecca Loose, // All Rights Reserved
I’ve had a fair bit of experience selling, comparing and helping customers with broadband and it’s something I noticed that most customers didn’t really know a great deal about. Here are my top tips for purchasing home broadband.

Be Organised

If you’re moving to a new property you’ll likely have an activation date 10-14 days from when you set up your account so be organised and get it set up before you move in. You wouldn’t believe how many people leave it until the very last minute. Both Openreach & Virgin engineers run on a Monday-Friday basis with appointments either 8am-1pm or 1pm-6pm although in some areas they run evening and weekend appointments depending on engineer availability. Somebody over 18 will need to be home for this appointment so you might need to book time off work- another reason to get it sorted nice and early!

Find Out Who Supplies to Your Home

This can be done by either using a comparison site or by putting your postcode into SamKnows (this will also tell you your distance from the exchange.) When BT is availabe, which is 98% of the time, it means most of the companies running off BT will also be able to offer a service, ie. Plusnet, Post Office, Sky. TalkTalk is an LLU provider and will be listed seperately as they use their own exchange equipment with BT lines. In my opinion TalkTalk is the fastest ADSL provider but Virgin wins overall with their coaxial cable & fibre network and speeds of up to 200Mbps. That being said, only 50% of the UK can get Virgin Media although in the areas it is available, it’s often over-subscribed- every service has its positives and negatives.

Understand What Speeds Mean

Broadband speeds are measured in mega-bits (Mb) per second whereas most other things like documents, images and mp3s are measured in megabytes (MB). So when your broadband speed is say 17Mbps, you’re able to download at a maximum of 2.12MB per second. The package you buy will advertised an ‘up to’ speed and when purchasing you should receive a speed estimate for your specific property. The speed at your home is determined by distance from the exchange box, quality of your phone or fibre line and how well your router copes with solid walls etc.

Find the Package You Need 

Find the package you need NOT the package you’ve seen the price of. For example if you need a landline too, don’t just take the most basic package, add anytime calls so you don’t pay per minute when you use the phone. If you don’t need a landline, take a pay as you go talk package and don’t plug in a landline.

Renewing Your Contract

When renewing your contract make sure that you get the same (or a better) offer than the new customers are getting. If you are offered a higher price than new customers then dispute it. You can always cancel and sign up again and your provider knows this. Renewal/retentions teams are the only department you can ‘haggle’ with. If you’re starting up with a new company you’d be wasting your time signing up over the phone as all the best deals for new business are on the net.


Next time on my new Clever Consumerism series- Car Insurance.


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