To make the most of movies and gaming online you need to make sure you're not running up an enormous bill...
Research by broadbandchoices has shown that 20% of broadband users have no idea what their download limit or fair usage policy is, and over 40% don't know how much they download each month.
This clearly highlights the importance of being on the right broadband package, especially if you're a big downloader. The following tips should help and may even save you some money.
Set downloads or fair usage?
Broadband products will either have a set download limit, so you know exactly how much you're allowed to download each month, or are advertised as "unlimited broadband".
However, as increasing numbers of people are aware, "unlimited" rarely means without limits. There will still often be a fair usage policy attached to your package, and depending on the provider, you could have your download speed throttled, be upgraded to a more appropriate - and more expensive - package, or even have your service terminated if you regularly exceed the fair usage limit.
But in the same way that different packages and providers offer varied set download allowances, some fair usage packages are more generous than others.
Pick the right provider (ISP)
Even where a fair usage policy applies, providers will rarely penalise users for excessive downloading - it really just serves to protect the network from "abuse" where people have multiple large downloads running simultaneously around the clock.
Superfast broadband packages
If you want to take your downloading to the next level, you might consider one of the "next generation" fibre optic broadband packages now available.
Virgin Media (www.VirginMedia.com) is a great choice for downloaders. Its superfast fibre packages - the fastest, widely accessible services in the UK - are available with unlimited downloads, though a traffic management policy does apply.
Traffic management, or "shaping", slows down your connection and therefore your downloads. It is applied by many providers during peak hours, so if you can do your downloading at night - usually from midnight onwards - your music and movie files will download a lot quicker.
Telecoms giant BT (www.BT.com) also offers a range of superfast broadband services known as BT Infinity. They offer similar speeds to Virgin Media's fibre broadband but may be available in areas where cable is not yet installed.
Fibre broadband packages
Monthly cost: £13.25
(for 12 months)1st year cost: £159.00
Monthly cost: £7.99
(for 3 months)1st year cost: £173.87
Monthly cost: £15.00 1st year cost: £216.95
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Download late at night
Traffic shaping, which deliberately slows down your connection, is applied by most providers during peak hours. If you can do your downloading at night - usually from midnight onwards - your music and movie files will usually download a lot quicker. Some providers like Plusnet (www.Plus.net) give you "free" overnight downloading, so it won't come out off your monthly allowance.