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COPY OF Is your broadband delivering?

·4-min read

The pandemic has changed much of the landscape of everyday life, but it’s the shift to remote, home and hybrid working that’s been embraced by employers and employees alike. Many of us would quite like to make that WFH status a permanent thing… at least for a couple of days a week.

The findings from a YouGov survey of 1,061 business leaders show that 24% would be happy for their employees to continue working from home at least one day a week, even after all of the COVID protocols have been lifted.

While hybrid working models are being embraced, truly getting the benefits of home working for the foreseeable future means reassessing your workspace: perching at the end of the kitchen table in an uncomfortable chair is not a feasible long-term strategy.

The biggest issue for home workers? According to one survey after the next, it comes down to broadband connectivity. Unreliable broadband is a huge hassle for home workers, slows down our productivity and can undermine our professionalism (dropping out in the middle of that crucially important Zoom video presentation comes to mind). Here’s what you need to know to ensure you’re getting the best from your broadband.

Do I need fibre optic broadband?

A slow and unreliable internet connection is a non-starter for those working from home, which is why you may want to consider a fibre optic, or superfast broadband deal: these are quicker and more reliable than standard broadband and allow for quicker data transfer through plastic or glass cables (which are speedier than copper alternatives).

Crucially, fibre broadband can help support multiple devices using the internet at the same time, so you can continue working while someone else streams, downloads content or games (one common issue with broadband is having a set-up that doesn’t support the needs, or the number, of users in a house). Price-wise, fibre optic broadband can be similar in price to the standard ADSL broadband if your shop around; you just need to check that it’s available where you are. Start comparing fibre broadband deals here.

How does my broadband compare to my neighbour’s?

Broadband speeds vary enormously: 11Mbps is considered an OK broadband speed for a standard connection. At the other end of the spectrum, super-fast broadband speeds of 100Mbps or more are also available. While repeated lag issues and dropped connections may already have you thinking about your options when it comes to other broadband providers, you can easily do a check online using the broadband speed check tool at Compare the Market’s Good Things hub.

Simply type in your postcode and broadband provider and you can determine your broadband speed, as well as those of your neighbours. Prices for each provider are also included, so you can see if you’re getting value for money with your current deal.

If you are shopping around for new broadband deals, consider one with unlimited broadband, where you pay a set price for unlimited access (all the streaming, gaming, downloading and internet use you and anyone else in your household can handle). Check that the broadband you’re considering can support 4K streaming, which requires upwards of 25 Mbps. If you’re looking to save on costs, think about bundling your broadband with TV and phone services.

Update your hardware

Investing in some practical equipment can also help improve your broadband experience: a dedicated workstation and the latest software updates are a start, but you may need to invest in a toolkit that improves your Wi-Fi signal across every room with gadgets like mesh networks and range extenders.

Amazon’s eero is a popular choice that connects multiple access points together to improve signal across the house and eliminate dead spots. Google Nest is another option for those looking to upgrade their routers.

How to find the cheapest broadband

If you think it’s too much of a stress to change your home broadband, maybe you haven’t done it in a while: price comparison sites will outline the best deals for you, and even regulators like Ofcom are trying to facilitate the process for customers.

Ofcom is planning to institute a “one touch” switching process that involves contacting the new company you’re changing to in order to streamline the process, after their research discovered that 41% of those who don’t switch providers are put off by the hassle.