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When you compare broadband deals the first questions you need to ask are:
What are you going to use the Internet for?
How often do you use the internet?
How much are your prepared to pay?
Broadband deals are changing all the time and, with many providers including telephone and TV services in packages, comparing like for like is not always easy. Most basic broadband packages will allow you to browse the web, share photos, send emails, and chat to others e.g. MSN Messenger.
Different and faster packages of broadband are for those who want to use more demanding services, such as streaming video, downloading or uploading large files and gaming. While video and TV streaming are available on basic broadband packages, reliability and quality are increased by having a faster and a more stable connection. Downloading and uploading large files will require a provider without bandwidth restrictions and with good upload rates. Gaming, meanwhile, requires a connection that can move data quickly in a stable and reliable fashion, rather than one which can simply carry a lot of data.
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Customers should look at the following details of broadband providers:
- Speed – How fast is the connection? While 0.5Mb (512k/s) downloading speed is sufficient for most customers, faster is better.
- Contention ratio – The higher the contention ratio, the more people you will be sharing the broadband connection with. This can affect connection speeds and latency, latency being important for those interested in online gaming. Lower contention ratios are better.
- Bandwidth limits – Some providers now set limits for how much data can be downloaded or uploaded by customers before they are charged more for the extra use. Ideally, customers are advised to find a provider without these limits.
- Reliability – It is difficult to judge the reliability of a service without customer testimonials. Look for these online, or check the information the company provides to see if they include statistics on reliability.
- Customer service – Some providers have notoriously poor customer service and support. Do some online research to see which providers have good customer service records, and respond to repair calls quickly and without fuss.
- Cost – The bottom line. How much is the monthly fee, and what are the equipment and installation costs? Compare these between different providers to find the best deal at the best price. Many providers also offer reduced or negligible costs for installation, so it is worth shopping around.