Choosing an internet deal
Whether you have a broadband or mobile connection you need to consider
- How much data you are likely to use each month
- What speed of connection you are likely to get
This is a rough guide to help you work out what might be best for you but always take advice and shop around and ask friends, neighbours and helpers at local online centres about their experiences.
You can also use comparison sites in the same way as you would for shopping such as uswitch
Take a look at Learn My Way as well for lots more help on choosing the right deal
Working out your data needs
When you are comparing internet deals they are usually measured in GB (gigabyte). How quickly you use up your GB allowance depends on what you view – roughly 1GB a month would give you:
- 44 hours of web browsing (1+ hours a day)
- 5 hours of catch up TV (10 minutes a day)
- 256 music tracks ( 8-9 a day)
There is a useful calculator here for you to find out more about typical usage.
Remember: If you are receiving high definition content you’ll get through your allowance a lot quicker
Working out your internet speed
Being on the internet can be frustrating if the speed at which you can get information is too slow – when you are choosing a deal ask about the typical speed and again ask your neighbours or local internet centre what their experiences are. Mobile broadband will usually be slower than landline connections, and 3G is slower than 4G
The very fastest deals are more expensive – see below under ‘super fast’ deals
Typical prices for internet deals
The prices quoted below are for guidance only – always search around as deals change quickly. Plus remember – you may be offered a low starting price which goes up after 3, 6, 9 or 12 months – always check that you can afford for the whole of the contract – not just at the starting price. The cheapest way to stay online is almost always to switch as soon as you are out of contract – a 2017 CAB report says people are losing an average of £113 a year by not switching broadband deals.
Starter (up to 1GB) – Pay as you go deals from around £10per month, SIM only contracts from around £5 per month.
If you only want to use the internet to read emails, look up news or information and browse websites occasionally, then a cheaper mobile deal may be enough (Smartphone or Mifi dongle for tablet)
Up to 3GB – Pay as you go around £15 per month
Again for relatively light use only
Up to 12GB – Mobile contract from £10 – £15 per month. BT Basic landline plus broadband £9.95/mth for 12GB
BT Basics is a good value deal if you are on certain benefits and can watch your data usage
15-20GB (landline broadband) – around £15-25 pm – unlimited deals are also available around this price which would be better value. Often deals available online reduce this cost significantly in the first year, frequently through cashback that you have to claim at the beginning of the contract. Again, you need to switch to keep saving.
Unlimited superfast – around £30-40+ pm. If you are a really heavy user then you may want to upgrade to fibre, but it is costly so probably worth trying a cheaper “ADSL” deal first. You provider may well let you upgrade to a faster (more expensive) deal while still in contract, although you probably won’t be able to switch back. Again, look for deals to reduce and switch once out of contract to keep costs lower.
Mix and match: Can you combine a cheaper data package in your home and use free Wi-Fi in public places, e.g. libraries, when you want to do something that takes up more data?
To find out where there is free high speed Wi-Fi in Cambridgeshire check out Connecting Cambridgeshire