A guide to choosing broadband
With all of the choice on the market at the moment, choosing a new broadband deal can seem like a daunting task, but this guide can help.
However, once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, it can help you to narrow down your options and find the package that suits you best. We’ve got all of the information you need to get started…
What type of broadband is right for me?
The type of broadband you need to go for will depend on what type of user you and the people in your household are. Here are some of the most common broadband user types, and the type of broadband they will require:
- Light user. You’re a light user if you only use the internet at home for browsing the internet and checking/updating social media. If everyone in your household is this kind of user, you won’t require a really fast plan, or one with huge download limits, so you’ll have plenty of choice.
- Medium user. If you’re a medium user, you’ll browse the internet and check/update your social media frequently, as well as streaming from Netflix or other streaming sites every so often. If you and the others in your household are medium users, you’ll need a reliable broadband connection with decent speeds to ensure no issues with your streaming - if many users are streaming at the same time, you’ll probably want to aim for 20Mbps or upwards.
- Heavy user. If you’re a heavy user, the chances are that, in addition to browsing the internet and social media, you also stream a lot of content, download movies and possibly even game online. If that sounds like you, and the people in your household, you’ll want to opt for a plan with fast speeds - if it’s available where you live - and unlimited data allowance, to avoid any additional charges.
- Families. More often than not, families will fall into the ‘heavy user’ bracket, largely because there are usually several people accessing the internet at any one time for a variety of activities. As such, fast speeds, a high or unlimited download allowance, and a good WiFi router will be key.
- Students. Again, if you’re living with a number of students, you’ll probably be considered a ‘heavy use’ household, because each person will be making demands on the home broadband. Like families, anyone in shared accommodation would be best to look out for plans with an unlimited data allowance, fast speeds and decent WiFi.
- Home worker. If you work from home, you’re going to need a really reliable internet connection to make sure you’re always connection. As such, ADSL or fibre broadband will probably be your best options.
- Gamer. There are loads of things to think about when you’re choosing broadband for online gaming. The most important thing is that you’ll need speeds of at least 10Mbps at all times - but obviously the faster the better. The quicker you’re able to connect, the lower your latency will be, which means you’ll be able to properly interact with the game.
- Streamer. If you don’t have a TV package and spend all your time streaming content instead, you’re going to need decent broadband speeds and a reliable connection to avoid buffering issues. The minimum speed you’ll be looking for will be 5Mbps, but bear in mind that if there a number of people in your home streaming at the same time, you’ll need faster speeds. You’ll also want to go for a plan with a high or unlimited data allowance.
What to consider when looking for a broadband deal
Once you’ve identified what kind of user you are, you should compare broadband plans across the following criteria to find the best one for you:
- Price. This will probably be the most important factor when it comes to choosing a broadband package - make sure you check all of the costs involved, both before and after any discount period, so you know you can afford it on an ongoing basis.
- Broadband speed. The speed you need will depend on what you’ll be using the broadband for, and the speed you can get will differ depending on where you live and the type of connection that’s available. Our broadband comparisons can show you what deals are available where you live.
- Contract length and discount period. It’s important to be sure of contract length before signing up so you know how long you’ll be tied into your plan. In terms of discounts, sometimes they last for the whole contract length, and other times they’re for a shorter period, so make sure you take note of this, too.
- Installation fees. Some providers offer free installation, while with others there’ll be an upfront charge.
You’ll also need to consider whether or not you want to bundle your broadband with other services - like TV or home phone - before signing up. And, remember, the type of broadband available will depend on where you live, as not all broadband types and speeds are available all over the country.
What download speed do I need?
As outlined above, the speeds you need will depend on what kind of user you are, and what activities you’re carrying out online - here’s the speed you’ll need for some of the most common online activities…
|Gaming online||At least 10Mbps|
|Downloading movies quickly||Around 50Mbps|
|Streaming movies in UHD||At least 25Mbps|
|Using social media||1-5Mbps|
|Watching Netflix in HD||At least 5Mbps|
|Making a Skype video call||Around 1.5Mbps|
|Streaming music||Around 2Mbps|
Remember, depending on what type of user you are, you’ll also need to think about your broadband data limit when you’re comparing plans. Many plans now have unlimited data allowances, but this isn’t true of every plan, so be sure to check it before signing up.
Do you need a broadband-only deal?
If you stream all your content and don’t watch traditional TV, you’ll probably be happy enough with a broadband-only plan.
These plans do exactly what it says on the tin - you’ll get broadband, but no home phone or TV element.
One of the most popular broadband-only plans is Simply Broadband from Vodafone, but there are loads of plans out there, so take a look at all deals before signing up.
Do you need a home phone with your broadband?
The latest report from Communications Regulator ComReg showed that only half of Irish consumers now have a landline phone. However, landlines can be handy, especially if you live in an area where mobile signal isn’t great.
If this is the case for you, the best bet is to compare broadband and home phone deals to find a deal that suits you best.
Do you need a TV plan with your broadband?
Lots of people are opting to stream content nowadays, but if you can’t live without the soaps, live news and reality TV, you might want to opt for a broadband and digital TV plan or a triple-play deal, which combine broadband, TV and phone in one plan.
If you do need a two or more services, you will usually save by ‘bundling’ products - i.e. getting them from the same provider.
Not sure what provider to choose?
If you’re not sure about what the difference between providers is, we’ve got a dedicated guide on each of the four biggest broadband providers - eir, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone - which should give you all of the information you need to help you make your choice.
Switch broadband - frequently asked questions
Confused about how to switch? These FAQs should help, but if you have any further questions, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are there any hidden costs to switching?
There are no hidden costs - what you’ll pay is the monthly charge you see listed on Switcher.ie and any installation fees.
However, be sure to check what the cost of the package is after the discount period - if there is one - so you don’t get any nasty surprises.
You should also make sure you’re out of contract before deciding to switch, as if you are still in contract most providers will require you to pay an early termination charge.
Can I keep my phone number?
According to ComReg, it is possible to keep your landline number when moving to a new address, as long as the new location is serviced by the same telephone exchange.
Do I cancel with my current provider before switching?
You will need to give your provider the relevant notice in order to ensure you can switch without any penalties and arrange a date to close off your account.
How do I compare broadband?
With Switcher.ie’s broadband deal checker, you can easily find out the broadband deals available. The tool allows you to compare the plans across things like cost per month/year, broadband speed, providers and bundles. This makes is really easy to find the deal that best meets your needs.
I've decided on a new broadband provider/deal - what's next?
So, you’ve decided to switch, and submitted an application form for your new broadband product.
Soon, you’ll hear from your new provider, who’ll confirm your application and may ask you for some additional details to help to set up your account with them.
You are then responsible for cancelling your broadband account with your current provider when you decide to make a switch to a new provider. You will need to give your current broadband provider the relevant notice - as stated in your contract - in order to ensure you can switch without any penalties.
When you contact your current provider, you should also arrange a date to close off your account. Once the account is closed off, you can then cancel all Direct Debits to this provider.
You should also agree an installation date with your new provider, to ensure you avoid any interruption in broadband service.
What if I change my mind?
Once you sign up, you will have a 14-day cooling-off period, during which you can cancel without any penalty.
When should I cancel my Direct Debit?
After you decide to switch, you will need to give your broadband provider the relevant notice - as stated in your contract - in order to ensure you can switch without any penalties. When you do this, you should arrange a date to close off your account. Once the account is closed off, you can then cancel all Direct Debits to this provider.
Who cancels my current broadband account?
You are responsible for cancelling your broadband account with your current provider when you decide to make a switch to a new provider.
You will need to give your broadband provider the relevant notice - as stated in your contract - in order to ensure you can switch without any penalties. You should also agree an installation date with your new provider, to ensure you avoid any interruption in broadband service.
Will I lose service during the switch?
It’s unlikely that your phone service will be affected, but a temporary loss of broadband service can sometimes occur during the switching process.
This shouldn’t last for too long, but if you have critical times of the day where you need access to the internet, it might be a good idea to arrange your switchover for outside of these times.
Will I pay a fine/ penalty when I switch broadband?
Broadband providers charge an early termination fee if you cancel your broadband or phone during your contract’s minimum term. The exception to this would be if you have a contract-free broadband product.
If your minimum term is up, you will be able to switch without penalty. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that some providers require you to give them 30 days’ notice in order to cancel, so you will need to do this in order to ensure you’re not billed for the product after you’ve switched.