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Moving to the UK: What you need to know about Broadband

Broadband & Moving to the UK

This guide explains how to get your broadband connected the right way and avoid costly confusion.

Moving to the UK involves lots of changes and lots of questions. You need to know how things work and sort out the utilities for a happy settled life.

This of course includes broadband and sorting a reliable internet connection for wherever you will be staying.

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Do I need to buy a Contract?

Most likely, yes you do – but not always. If you are renting a room in a shared house then it’s highly likely that communal WiFi broadband is already there.

Occupants will share and split the bill like other household utilities such as electricity, water and gas.

Sometimes renting a house or flat for yourself will come with broadband included too, but this is rare. In most cases, you will need to arrange a home broadband setup yourself.   

How do I buy broadband?

Broadband is predominantly sold by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to customers online. Generally, they let you find latest deals and signup for a contract via their websites, or over the phone.

Some providers have high-street shops in towns and cities where you can speak with a sales advisor in person. Sky, Vodafone and EE all have shops in locations nationwide.

Often the best place to start is with a comparison website. These are independent third-party sites listing deals to compare from every provider.

Remember that the availability and speed of broadband varies across the UK. Using a postcode search for your house address is vital for checking coverage in your area.

Which Provider is Best?

The “best” providers tend to promise reliable service performance and good customer care when things go wrong.

Leading UK providers are popular with customers because they have national coverage and a trusted brand.

Top 5 biggest ISPs with Ofcom ratings (2020) for customer satisfaction:

  1. BT (86%) (including Plusnet (96%) & EE (88%))
  2. Sky Broadband (86%)
  3. Virgin Media (85%)
  4. TalkTalk (78%)
  5. Vodafone UK (90%)

Each of the top providers bundle premium TV services with broadband. However, these bundles can be expensive, and with a valid TV license and the national free-to-air channels (Freeview) you don’t need these.

Virgin Media currently offers the quickest broadband speeds available in many areas, but requires special installation of a super-fast cable to the property.

Ultimately though no one provider can be called the best of the bunch. Deciding which is best for you will be based on your own need, budget, and what’s available.

What speed should I get?

The speed of a broadband package is what tends to set its price. More expensive packages boast more Mbps for a faster connection.

Generally, a good golden rule is to try and buy the fastest broadband package you can afford. However, this doesn’t always mean you absolutely need it.

Ask yourself a couple of key questions when choosing:

  • What do you need it for? Think about the kinds of internet activity you and the household will have. Browsing the web and sending email is fine on lower bandwidths, while HD video streaming and online gaming needs more speed.
  • How many people will be using it? A single person or a couple will have less usage than a big family. Fewer users with fewer devices won’t create as much network traffic to slow a standard connection down.

In general, a cheap fibre optic service with an average speed of around 35Mb is a good minimum for any home.

It’s worth noting that UK broadband services are advertised with an average speed. This is a figure supplied by the provider which is achieved by 50% of its customers

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Activated and ready for moving day?

Once you have signed up with a provider they will assign you an activation date.

You can negotiate this if you want it timed to fit your moving in date. If you’re already in your new home it can be fairly quick, usually within a few days.

Be aware that the setup process may take longer if any installation work is necessary. In this instance, the ISP will book an engineer to visit when convenient. If you are renting, you should check with the landlord or agent as this can involve drilling holes and attaching equipment to the wall.

You should expect any routers and equipment to arrive by post to the home address.

Getting online while you wait

If you do suffer a wait before home broadband is activated, there are other ways.

  • Smartphone hotspot. Tethering to a smartphone and using a mobile 4G or 5G network is a good temporary solution.
  • Public WiFi is available. Most hotels, pubs, coffee shops and libraries all have free WiFi connections available if needed.

The nice thing about broadband is that it is universal. While you might be new to the country and anxious about the differences, broadband is probably the easy part.

Be confident about what you want, shop around and good luck in your journey!

If you’re moving home, be sure to get a quote for your home move and choose Purdie Worldwide.

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