GUIDE How to Choose a Broadband Internet Provider - Page 2 - UK ISPreview
GUIDE How to Choose a Broadband Internet Provider
By: Mark Jackson - September 5th, 2011 : Page 2 -of- 8
"with only a small portion of an ISPs total customer base usually being classified as part of the third group (Heavy Users)"

broadband provider router connectionSadly there's no accurate way to express GB because everything will use a different amount, it's a bit like trying to know how much fuel your car will use up before you get to the destination. What follows is our best guess, based upon experience. Take note that there are plenty of free download monitors to be found on the internet and many ISPs will also give you a means of tracking your usage, often through an online control panel/account admin page.

Common Customer Types - Where do I fit?

* Basic / Light Users

Customers who make limited or infrequent use of the internet. Related users are unlikely to use much more than the basic online services (e.g. email, website browsing etc.) and probably only go online for short periods each week (e.g. around one hour per day). Customers in this group should pick the cheapest package, which will often come with a usage allowance of less than 5GB (GigaByte's) per month.

* Average / Medium Users

Customers who make frequent use of the internet and engage with more than the basic online services (e.g. video streaming, multiplayer gaming, social networking, skype etc.), albeit not excessively. Related users will probably make regular trips online and may also need added flexibility for communications and multimedia services. Customers in this group will need a mid-level package, often including a usage allowance of around 30GB or an "unlimited" service.

* Heavy Users

Customers who make almost constant use of the internet, especially multimedia and entertainment services (multiplayer gaming, video streaming etc.). Related users will often be heavy downloader's and usually seek the highest quality and most flexible package possible (e.g. "unlimited" usage or deals with large download allowances of 50GB+ a month). This group usually applies to home workers, families or highly active individuals.

Most people tend to gravitate towards either the first (Basic Users) or second (Average Users) category, with only a small portion of an ISPs total customer base usually being classified as part of the third group (Heavy Users). If you're still uncertain about where you fit then consider picking the cheapest deal first as you can usually upgrade (regrade) to a better package later.

How much you use the internet can have a big impact upon the price you pay because ISPs are charged more by their bandwidth consumption than rental or speed of the connection itself. The old adage of "you get what you pay for" often holds true; don't expect the best service or support from the cheapest providers. Excessive use charges can be another cost but we'll cover that later.

The next consideration is whether or not you will need pre-configured connectivity hardware, such as a modem or router, which is usually necessary for getting online. Devices like this are designed to manage the internet connection and we highly recommend that any new users make sure that their package comes with the necessary kit; these are normally plug and play (i.e. easy to setup).

Buying a modem or router separately can cost anything from £10 to £100+ and will also require a small amount of additional technical knowledge to setup. It's worth making sure that the device includes Wi-Fi (local wireless / WLAN) connectivity as many home networks can benefit from this (i.e. allows you to share your internet with other Wi-Fi equipped devices). Just make sure that you secure the wireless link with a password through WPA or WPA2 encryption (the manual should explain how) to prevent unwanted access by others.

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