Don’t suffer with unreliable broadband. Follow our tips to find the perfect package and make sure you always stay connected.
The right broadband package is about so much more than price and speed - a reliable connection is equally important. However, many of the faster broadband packages are also the most reliable, as they use the latest technology to get you online.
Research your broadband provider
One of the best ways to find out if your new provider will be able to offer a reliable service is to do a bit of research. Read broadband reviews online and see what existing customers say about the service they're getting.
Our customer reviews tell you what actual users are saying about their broadband providers. Each company is rated in different categories - including reliability, download speeds, value for money and customer service - so you can get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each. All ratings are based on customer feedback, so take a look before you sign up to a provider.
Customer Satisfaction Awards 2012
Our annual Customer Satisfaction Awards asks broadband customers to rate the quality and reliability of their broadband service provider. The results of the 2012 survey saw O2 take the top spot as the overall winner (http://www.o2.co.uk) with Plusnet and BT coming in as highly commended. Get the full list of winners here.
Consumer watchdogs, like Which?, also provide independent advice about broadband providers. In the latest Which? broadband review, Zen Internet got 5 stars for its Reliability of Connection; BE broadband, The Utility Warehouse, Plusnet broadband, O2 broadband and Eclipse Broadband all got 4 stars for reliability.
If reliability is your main concern, you can see how many complaints are made about the biggest broadband providers. Telecoms regulator Ofcom publishes regular reports about how many complaints the biggest suppliers have received. The organisation's website has a full list of reports.
While a lot of the information available online is about the larger suppliers like BT (www.BT.com), Virgin Media (www.Virginmedia.com) and TalkTalk (www.Talktalk.co.uk), you shouldn't rule out the smaller suppliers that are sometimes left out of such research. Because they have fewer customers, these providers often try to distinguish themselves from the pack by delivering reliable connections and a high standard of customer service.
There are other factors affecting the reliability of your connection aside from who your broadband provider is:
Check your wiring
If your internet service is delivered via your home phone line then you have a traditional copper wire - or ADSL/ADSL2+ - broadband connection.
This means that the speed of your internet will be determined by your distance from the local telephone exchange, but also that the reliability of your connection will depend on the quality of your wiring.
ADSL broadband uses the old copper wire telephone network, which wasn't originally designed for the internet. Because of this, some homes are connected using quite old and sometimes degraded wires - while some are even linked to the exchange using aluminium wires, which do not perform as well.
Ask your provider how far you are from the local exchange, the kind of wires that connect you and what kind of speeds to expect before you sign-up.
iPlates and microfilters
If you're having problems with your home broadband connection you could try fitting an iPlate. BT, which offers its own version known as the Broadband Accelerator, says that the device increases speeds by around 1.5Mb as well as improving broadband reliability by removing the electrical interference caused by the old "bell wire" in phones.
If you're an ADSL customer, you should also make sure that you have good quality microfilters fitted on each socket in use. A microfilter has two sockets, one for your broadband and one for the telephone, functioning to stop your voice service and your broadband signal interfering with each other.
Fibre optic broadband
One of the easiest ways to improve the reliability - as well as the speed of your connection - is to upgrade to a fibre optic broadband package.
By carrying more data at faster speeds than traditional copper wires, Superfast broadband currently offers speeds of up 100Mb broadband, but that's likely to increase. The fibre optic cable technology used for superfast broadband is capable of speeds of up to 300Mb and as such, is considered "futureproof". Broadband delivered by fibre cables does not suffer the same degree of speed degradation as its copper wire counterpart, and is not affected by your distance from the nearest telephone exchange.
Fibre optic broadband prices are dropping all the time. Compare broadband to see what fibre options are available in your area.