Signing up for a new broadband package involves making choices. One of the most important of these is the top speed of your broadband connection. It might seem obvious that higher speed is better, but for some internet users, paying extra for higher connection speeds will be wasting money on speed they won’t use. By contrast, hardcore users who try to save on connection speed are likely to find the experience frustrating.
Before selecting a speed level, it’s important to think about how much and how often you really use the internet. If you can — if you’re still at your old address waiting to move, for instance — keep a record of how often you use the internet and what you use it for. Once you have a clear picture of your internet usage, you can choose the speed that’s right for you.
Perhaps you only really use the internet to check your email, read a few blogs and look up the occasional direction. This level of use can get along reasonably well with quite a low level of broadband speed. Even a slow 256 kbps connection can deal with this kind of traffic, although it won’t be able to do much else. As broadband speeds get faster and faster, the lowest speeds offered by most internet providers get faster as well, meaning that this level of broadband use is well-served by the lowest levels available.
If you want to make use of streaming audio and video, or play some undemanding online games, you’ll need a higher broadband speed. Larger and larger video files are becoming the norm, and broadband speeds are climbing to keep up. A 2012 survey showed that over two thirds of home broadband users had top speeds of 10 Mbps or higher.
If you download very large files — for instance, if you use a streaming video service to watch films online — or if you play higher-end online games, a faster connection will serve you well. These are becoming more and more common, with 8% of the country’s households in the “super-fast” category, with top speeds of up to 100 Mbps or higher.
One thing to note is that providers often limit upload file sizes separately. If you do a lot of uploading — if you post photographs or maintain your own web site — you may want to pay as much attention to uploads as downloads.
Although broadband speeds are always increasing — and online services are expanding their content to take advantage of the increase — there’s no point in paying more for a faster internet connection than you will actually use. Compare plans using an online tool such as the TalkTalk Broadband Comparison to find the right plan for your level of use.