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Broadband and TV
Many broadband providers also offer a digital TV service, with Sky and Virgin Media the two most recognisable. But as our broadband becomes quicker and more reliable, many other providers are able to offer a digital TV service that's delivered via a broadband connection, including the popular on demand services.
The available channels and services do vary from provider to provider and package to package, so it's worth checking the detail on your chosen package to see what's on offer. Check the compare button on our results table for up to five different packages to see what channels are on offer, side-by-side.
Often referred to as "superfast broadband", fibre optic offers most UK households the fastest available broadband speeds.
Instead of using the copper telephone network, which is how most ADSL broadband is delivered, superfast is transmitted through fibre optic cables. The signal doesn't degrade using fibre optic cables, which means speeds are much faster. Whereas ADSL can offers speeds of up to 16 Mbps (Megabits per second), we're looking at a minimum of 38 Mbps with fibre.
Virgin Media offers the fastest fibre speeds, in excess of 100 Mbps in some cases and is the widest available provider in the UK at the moment. But Sky, Plusnet, EE and BT as well as some other providers also offer the service.
Unlimited means that the broadband you receive at home will have no caps on usage or downloads.
This means that whenever you want to use the internet, for downloading, streaming or just general browsing, you can do so without ever worrying about incurring extra charges.
Some providers have been known to implement traffic management on their networks, meaning that the speed of a user's broadband is controlled during peak times and this could be the case even with unlimited broadband. It's worth checking with your provider for more information on traffic management.
If you want to have the cost of local and national landline calls included in your broadband package, click this button. Anytime covers your local and national calls during the daytime, evening and at weekends, which means you won't pay extra on your monthly bill for making calls. However some providers will charge for 0870 and 0845 calls, and international calls will also be charged, so do check the details of the package to see what's included.
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Average monthly cost includes everything; connection fees, delivery and line rental averaged across the contract length.
Your broadband usage, measured in megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB), can be a puzzling subject to fully understand.
It's not easy to be truly accurate with how much broadband you're consuming on a monthly basis.
That's why we've cut through the technical jargon by creating three different types of broadband user.
Simply match your activities to one of the user types below:
A single user, or perhaps there's two of you, who like to browse the internet, send emails and maybe download a few songs during the evenings and at weekends.
Packages with 2GB of use or more
Perhaps you're a small family, or a couple who like to watch iPlayer or catch-up TV a few times a week, on top of the usual website browsing, email sending and occasional Skype calls.
Packages with 20GB or more
You're either a large family or shared household. You like to stream TV or Netflix, perhaps play some online video games and generally enjoy living in a connected world.
Packages with unlimited usage
How to understand the different broadband speeds
There are three different types of broadband speeds that are available to you when you take out a new deal. These are ADSL, fibre and superfast fibre.
ADSL is broadband that's delivered into your house via a telephone line and used by the majority of households in Britain.
These deals offer speeds of up to 16 megabits per second (Mb).
ADSL broadband is generally fast enough for you to stream television without too much buffering or pausing and certainly fast enough for day-to-day internet browsing and emailing.
Using fibre optic cables to transfer data, you can achieve speeds of up to 38Mb with a fibre broadband connection.
You will happily watch live TV and play online video games with a fibre broadband connection offering minimal delays or lags.
Superfast refers to fibre optic broadband connections with speeds over 38Mb.
You may opt for a superfast fibre broadband connection if you require large downloads delivered to you quickly, or were a regular player of online video games that needed a faster than average connection in order to play seamlessly.
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What exactly is fibre optic broadband and why should you want it more than your existing connection to the internet? The term fibre optic actually refers to the cables through which the service is delivered – which are made of glass or plastic. These materials are conducive to fast movement of data along their entire length. The cables are also stored underground which requires extensive an ongoing work in digging up the nation's roads.
By contrast, traditional ADSL broadband runs through copper telephone wires which are sometimes overhead. Through copper wires, the broadband speed is lost quickly. This is why ADSL broadband customers will experience different broadband speeds depending on how far their home is from the exchange. By contrast, fibre optic broadband customers will lose less speed over long distances and this makes it the perfect option for those looking for super-fast broadband.
Should I get fibre optic broadband?
So is this kind of cable broadband the right kind of service for you? The answer to this really depends on how you use the internet. If you just hop online from time to time to check your emails and download some holiday snaps, fibre broadband probably won't be necessary. It is more expensive than ADSL and you won't be taking full advantage.
However, if you watch TV and films that are streamed through the internet, are a heavy video game user and play online with other gamers, or you even work from home and require your connection to be 100% quick and reliable, you will need fast upload and download speeds that are only available through fibre optic broadband.
For example, downstream speeds of up to 100Mbps are available through packages like BT's Broadband Infinity, with upstream speeds of up to 15Mbps and unlimited usage. It's important to compare all fibre optic broadband deals and shop around though so you can see exactly what's included and for what monthly fee.
Can I get fibre optic broadband?
Once you have decided that fibre optic broadband is right for you, getting it installed might not be as straightforward. Not all areas of the UK are serviced yet with fibre optic broadband wires – especially small towns and villages in the countryside. There are broadband postcode checkers online that will show you what services are available in your area.
If you find that Fibre optic broadband is not yet available in your area, it can be frustrating as there is not much you can do about it. However, the good news is, it will soon be readily available in every part of the UK rather than just confined to its major towns and cities.
If it is fibre optic broadband is available – as is still the case with millions of UK households – you will need to shop around online and see what's available in terms of upload and download speeds as well as maximum usage and compare costs.
Advantages and disadvantages of fibre optic broadband
Fibre optic broadband is great for speed and capacity. It is also more reliable than ASDL broadband and when bandwidths increase, it's easy to accommodate so you can benefit from a faster service without taking action or encountering any disruption.
Fibre optics also provides an extremely secure transmission medium in terms of security as it is very difficult to 'listen in' or monitor any information that is being exchanged along the cables. Although of course, this doesn't negate the need for full security software on your PC.
But there are some disadvantages too of fibre optic broadband too. The materials the cables comprise of can be susceptible to weather and wildlife damage. Installing fibre optic cables is also still often costly as well as disruptive. However, as this type of broadband communication becomes more common, thankfully these costs are dropping. For more information, read our fibre optic broadband guide.