Connecting to the internet at home
To connect to the internet you can use one or more of the following:
- Landline Broadband
- Mobile Broadband
- Mobile phone
This page tells you more about the pros and cons of each. It is a basic introduction and there is more detailed information from Digital Unite here
This is a fixed link to the internet via a home telephone line or cable connection.
- Usually faster
- Choice of packages, including “unlimited use”
- Better value – especially if you are going to use the internet a lot
- Anyone in your home can connect to the internet
- If you want to use the internet to watch films or catch up TV this is probably the only option in many areas (See under deals)
BT Home Essentials is £15/mth for fibre speeds (35mbps) – fast enough for at least several devices to stream HD video at once.
Home Essentials Plans are available for anyone on one or more of these benefits:
- Universal Credit (all claimants)
- Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based).
- Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
There is no cancellation or early termination charge. BT will re-check your eligibility every 12 months.
Mobile broadband is better for some as there’s often no credit check, you can pay for it month by month with no tie-in. You can top up on some deals when it suits you, to ensure there’s enough money in your account when payment’s due. Deals vary, but you can usually get around 30GB-40GB a month for £10, and unlimited data from £15-£17 a month.
If you only need email/browsing/some social media then cheaper lower data deals may be enough (e.g. 10-15GB for £6-8/mth) The best way to check the cheapest deals is to use the SIM Only comparison tools on sites like uswitch.com, moneysupermarket.com or comparethemarket.com.
The best deals might be an unknown name but, like Tesco Mobile
and others, they all use one of the same ‘Big 4’ networks for their signal (EE, Vodafone, O2, Three) – some are even owned by these networks.
Mifi or dongle – these use a SIM card to pick up a connection wherever there is a signal.
- Convenient – get online wherever you can find a signal to pick up
- Easy and light to carry around
- Can get cheaper options (BUT only for light usage)
- Pay as you go options as well as contracts
- No line rental to pay or line installation required
But you also need to consider:
- Normally slower, especially if the signal is poor
- Not suitable if you want to watch films, catch up TV
- You have to watch your use very carefully as you can easily exceed the data allowances (especially on the cheapest deals) and face penalty costs
- Even one large PC system update can take up most of your smaller allowances for the month
Remember – going over contract data allowances can be costly
Mobile phone/ smartphone
This enables you to be online wherever you can get a signal but is for lighter use.
- Smartphones are available from around £30 with good options available under £100
- Some contract or pay as you go deals may already have some data included in your current charges, so then no additional charge.
- If out of contract, look for SIM Only comparison tools on sites like uswitch.com, moneysupermarket.com or comparethemarket.com.
- Some deals may allow you to ‘tether’ your phone to a PC or tablet and use your phone like a Mifi but not all do, so check if you need to do this
- Great for checking emails, Skyping, and quick checking for information
- Can use a Wifi connection if available (e.g. at library, supermarket, home, etc.)
But you also need to consider:
- Data allowances tend to be small, often even smaller than mobile broadband deals
- If on contract, going over your data limit can be costly – look for deals with a cap to avoid nasty shocks
- Can be hard for people to know if they are using their data allowance or WiFi
- Less experienced users may find hard to control apps using “background data” without their knowledge, which can use up allowance or attract excess use charges
- Small screen makes them fiddly for anything more than casual use – not really suitable for job applications or other more complicated uses