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So what should you consider when switching broadband plans?

We all want better value and faster speeds but what should you keep in mind?

Image: 24oranges.nl/Flickr

WE ALL WANT a better deal with our broadband. Fast speeds at a low price will always be the aim but such deals aren’t immediately obvious.

While you could compare different deals, not everyone wants the same package and not everyone needs a bundle. So here’s what you need to consider first before making a decision.

Check availability

There’s no point choosing a package if the service isn’t available where you live. Therefore, it’s recommended you check the different providers first before you start looking at packages.

While we would all love to have fibre broadband, the majority of broadband connections are ADSL (Asymmetric digital subscriber line) which uses copper wiring for data transmission.

The biggest providers would be Virgin Media, eir, Sky, Vodafone, 3, Magnet, and Imagine but if you’re in a particularly rural area, satellite is also a valid option. However, they come with extra setup costs which can be as high as €230 (Imagine has a similar setup cost at €120).

If in doubt, contact the provider you’re interested in to see what kind of speeds are available to you.

eir Fibre map eir has a map showing where fibre broadband is available but it's mostly limited to cities, towns and villages. Source: eir

Keep an eye out for hidden charges

Price is usually the biggest factor for people so it’s important to check the small print first before committing to a deal. Some providers have deals which see you pay a reduced amount for the first three to six months before bringing it to the real cost for the rest of the contract.

Always make sure you check this first before you commit to a deal as the short term savings might not be worth it in the long-run. According to Eoin Clarke, the managing director for broadband comparison site switcher.ie, the biggest cost of switching plans could be the contract you’re exiting. If you haven’t finished the agreed length of time, you could be hit.

“Consumers have to shop around but if you’re in a contract at the moment and you’re looking to switch away, you could end up paying a heavy exit fee,” he says.

Know your usage

Likewise, the importance of knowing how much you’re going to use your connection, and what you will use it for is pretty important. The quickest way is to check your previous bills and see if any patterns emerge.

Clarke says a connection with speeds of up to 24Mbs is enough to get you by with general use like sending emails and social media, but if you’re thinking of doing more heavier usage, he recommends you check your usage first before you make a switch.

He also recommends carrying out speed tests too so you know what you’re changing from.

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Speed test Source: Speedtest.net

Bundles can sometimes be better value…

But only if you require them. Much like data usage, it’s recommended you take phone and TV usage into account as well before you sign up to any deals.

If you don’t really need them, then you could end up wasting more money in the long-term, according to Clarke.

Families would use them as there would be multiple people living in the one place but someone living on their own might not require them.

“The likes of broadband, digital TV and mobile phones are now seen as essential services but they can build up to a small fortune,” warns Clarke. “It’s not uncommon for bills to be in excess of €120 a month”.

No two plans are the same so before you switch, take the time to look at the offers that are out there and choose the package that suits you best.

Keep your ear to the ground

If there isn’t a plan that you would like to switch to, don’t despair as there are always new deals and offers being made. If you can hold on for another month or two, it can work out better in the long run, says Clarke.

The choice [of providers] is even bigger than it was. Last year we had new entrants and rebrands offering more… [so] continue to monitor the market because each month there are new offers. There’s good value to be had if you shop around.

Read: This is how you make sure your apps only update over WiFi >

Read: Want a VERY memorable website name? Time is running out >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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