Over the past few decades the Internet has become as important to most of us as electricity and running water; a fact backed by the government, which now considers broadband a ‘utility’ we’re all entitled to, rather than a luxury.
But while the politicians are talking up ‘broadband for all’ the reality, as always, is quite different. When it comes to getting online not all postcodes are created equal. So what’s the best way to ensure your new home doesn’t end up in the slow lane?
It is essential to do a postcode check for your new address, either through Samknows.com or a comparison site such as Broadband Genie (which uses Sam Knows’ technology, but delivers you available broadband deals along with your results). This will tell you what combination of Virgin Media cable, BT Openreach fibre and old BT ADSL are available.
In the vast majority of cases, if either or both of the first two options are available you should get a good broadband speed (20Mb or higher). However, you may want to contact your chosen supplier beforehand with a telephone number the building currently uses to make doubly sure – a line check is more reliable than a postcode one.
Doing a line check really is important, where possible, especially if you’re moving into a new-build. For example, Virgin Media has done very little over the past few years to expand the reach of its network; an old house on one corner of a road may get cable, while the new house just around the corner won’t.
If the local exchange still only has BT ADSL, you may have a problem in terms of speed. While you will be able to get broadband, it could be very slow (perhaps as slow as 1-2Mb, depending on your distance from the telephone exchange). It could definitely be worth exploring the options below.
What speed do you need?
Of course, while we can try to move to an area with great broadband we don’t always have a choice. Some significant exchanges are still in the dark ages and cover a large area, so if you need to be someone with broadband for college or work you may be left with little choice.
However, what is now considered ‘slow’ broadband can be more than adequate for many of us. This is particularly true if you’re going to be the sole user of the connection at any one time, or if you’re not going to need to do data-intensive tasks such as large downloads, streaming HD television or uploading large amounts of content. If you’re just checking email and surfing the web while watching a few videos on YouTube, you may get some slowdown or buffering but you won’t have too much to worry about.
If you do end up moving to an area with terrible, or no home broadband, hopefully you can at least get mobile broadband.
Mobile broadband has come a long way this year thanks to the introduction of 4G. However, it is really still an early adopter technology and rather typically it is first being rolled out to the places that need it least: the big cities, where the networks will see the most profit.
That said, a fast rollout has been promised with 2015 being given as the date for most of the UK’s population being within reach of 4G mobile broadband masts. This should bring mobile speeds in the region of 20Mb to most of us, but don’t get too excited. As we’ve seen with 3G, mobile broadband is great in theory but often a little underwhelming in practice.
Mobile broadband, by its nature, is patchy. Everything from the amount of people using the mast to the weather can affect it, so for now at least it certainly can’t be relied on in the same way landline broadband can. However, mobile broadband is still a brilliant back-up service – as well as being invaluable on the move.
Now you know how to ensure that your broadband needs are met, sign up to Lettingweb alerts in your chosen area.
Author bio: Chris Marling is writing on behalf of the broadband comparison site BroadbandGenie.co.uk, where you can find the latest broadband deals and information.