Need broadband that’s fast enough a busy family home? Read on for all the help you need to get a really good service at a really good price.
How to choose a broadband package for your family
A broadband service can come under a lot of strain in family homes, especially when everyone is online simultaneously.
That goes double if your property is home to tweens or teenagers who spend at lot of time playing or downloading games online or using their smartphones, while you're watching streaming services in HD.
That means you need to ensure you get a service that’s fast and reliable enough that it won't slow down at peak times.
How fast, though? Well that principally depends on the size of your family.
Here's a snapshot of the sort of your speeds you should be looking for...
- Small families of one-two people can get by with a low-cost ADSL service, with an average speed of 10-11Mbps. The best value come in at around £20 per month.
- Larger families of three-four people typically require a standard fibre broadband service with an average speed of 30-60Mbps. Anticipate a monthly outlay of about £23-£25.
- Large families of five or more people are best served by a faster fibre package with an average speed of 60Mbps or above. Budget for around £30 per month.
Other factors to consider for family broadband
Irrespective of the size of your family, it's a good idea to pick a package that’s ‘truly unlimited’.
That means you can use the internet as much as you like without racking up excess usage charges.
And just as importantly, it'll ensure that your provider will not deliberately slow down your service at busy times of day.
The good news is that almost all broadband packages are now ‘truly unlimited’.
If your property is large or has multiple storeys, you may also want to consider broadband packages that come with high-end mesh routers.
These provide a better, stronger signal that reaches the nooks and crannies where standard WiFi struggles to reach. Such as attic rooms or basements.
Mesh routers sometimes come as standard, for example with Vodafone’s Pro Broadband, or are available as add-ons for an additional monthly charge, such as BT’s Whole Home WiFi or Virgin Media’s Intelligent WiFi.
Finally, if you’re got younger kids or teens you’ll probably want a package that includes parental controls, which will allow you to set limits on the time your children spend online and restrict access to particular sites or services.
Parental controls come as standard on all packages from big-name providers. But the likes of TalkTalk’s HomeSafe, Virgin Media Web Safe, Sky Broadband Shield and BT’s Parental Controls are particularly highly rated.
Which are the best providers for a large family?
BT Fibre 1 or Fibre 1, Virgin Media’s range of fast ‘M-branded’ packages and Sky’s Broadband Superfast service all come highly recommend for large families.
EE’s Unlimited Fibre Plus and Unlimited Fibre Max packages are also a good bet, as are Vodafone Pro Superfast 1 or Superfast 2 and NOW Broadband’s Fab Fibre and Super Fibre deals.
Most of these providers also offer the option to add TV, with Sky, Virgin Media, NOW Broadband and BT the standouts when it comes to the breadth of content and a good selection of child-friendly channels and movies.
Do families need fibre optic broadband?
Fibre optic isn’t essential for smaller families, particularly if you’ve got between one-three people in your home and perhaps very young children who aren’t yet internet users or go online very infrequently.
But if you’ve got older children who are likely to be gamers or spend more time online, we’d recommend you pay a few pounds more per month and get a fibre broadband package.
Not only will cope much better with the demands of multiple users being online simultaneously, it’ll ensure you’ve got a service that handle streaming, gaming and whatever else your family does to stay entertained.
Sources and methodology
*Based on average monthly bill of £32.69 from nationally representative sample (1000) vs cheapest monthly cost for superfast broadband (>55Mbs), Vodafone £22/m. Annual saving £128.28.
Do family homes require broadband with unlimited downloads?
We’d always recommend that families get a broadband service with unlimited downloads. More specifically, we’d say you should choose one that’s billed as ‘truly unlimited’.
Truly unlimited packages let you use the internet as much as you like without risk of unexpected charges for exceeding a limit.
They also come with the guarantee that your provider won’t deliberately slow down your service at peak times.
Tracking down a package that’s ‘truly unlimited’ is easy enough because nigh-on all packages from the main providers meet this criterion.
So you’ll can be pretty sure be covered whichever one you choose.