Should you be rushing out to buy superfast broadband?

If you’ve ever cursed that little buffering wheel when you’re trying to watch a video or missed the end of an online auction because the page didn’t load fast enough, your broadband connection could probably do with an upgrade.

Fibre-optic broadband is now widespread in the UK and there’s now a lot of choice in the market when it comes to speeding up your browsing.

When this superfast broadband first landed on the market, you didn’t have much choice when it came to providers or packages.

In fact, for a while you could only get it through Virgin Media. But now quite a few companies have jumped on board and consumers have much more choice.

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What makes it so fast?

Although the fact that fibre-optic broadband is much faster than standard ADSL connections is really all you need to know, here’s a quick run-down of how it works.

Basically, there is a limit to how much data you can transfer at one time through traditional copper line networks, which means that internet speeds can only get so quick.

Fibre optic broadband utilises a new network of cables that use fibre-optic technology.

This technology means that more data can be transferred at higher throughput over longer distances than copper networks.

Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at Broadbandchoices.co.uk, says: “The speeds that fibre optic offers customers is streets ahead of standard ADSL and can reach up to 100 megabits per second (Mb/s) and beyond.

“Customers won’t need any special equipment to sign up to fibre optic, but they will need to live in an area that has had fibre optic cable installed.”

Checking your eligibility

Telecoms regulator, Ofcom has an informative interactive map which tells you the availability of various broadband services in your area.

To check which providers cater for superfast broadband near you, simply click “Get a quote” to go to our Ofcom-accredited broadband site then enter your postcode and click “Compare deals”.

On the next page, just slide the minimum download speed to 20Mb and you’ll be presented with the superfast deals available to you.

Fibre-optic broadband is continuing to be rolled out across the UK, and if you can’t get it yet, chances are you will in the not-so-distant future.

So hold tight and make sure your local council knows there is demand for it in your area.

Shop smart for superfast

The first thing you’ll need to look at when deciding on your package is speed.

If you want to download an album seconds and seamlessly stream HD video at the same time while your kids are in the other room on their laptops, chances are you’ll need one of the faster packages.

Baliszewski gives his tips for getting the right deal, saying: “You need to consider the download limit on your package – most fibre optic packages will have unlimited data allowances but there are some with limits in place.

“You also need to consider the contract length. Most standard ADSL broadband packages are on a 12-month contract but quite a few fibre optic options last for 18 months, tying you in for that bit longer.

“Finally, look at price. Fibre optic is not nearly as expensive as people think it is.

“Try to strike the right balance between something that is fast enough for your needs, has a data allowance to protect you against hefty excess usage penalties and also won’t cost you the earth.

“If you bundle up two or more services with the same provider you can make even greater savings.”

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