Upgrading your broadband? Then you’ll need to choose between a standard ADSL phone line connection or super-fast fibre optic service. The difference in price between the two can be dramatic, but so are the download speeds you can achieve.
To make your buying decision that little bit easier, we compared the price of ADSL and fibre optic broadband from the UK’s six most popular internet service providers (ISPs). Read on to find out which is cheapest for fibre and whether you need it.
Best broadband providers – expert overview
Save up to £100 by switching fibre ISP
It’s no easy thing to compare prices on broadband services. Different contract lengths, short-term deals and hidden fees can all obscure the total cost of each contract. To give as fair a comparison as possible, we compared the cheapest ADSL and fibre optic deals from the six providers in the table above over the course of 18 months – line rental, router delivery and set-up costs are all accounted for.
The victor? TalkTalk’s SimplyBroadband and Fibre Medium broadband packages, both of which cost at least £50 less than the cheapest alternatives from Sky. Furthermore, if you sign up to Utility Warehouse’s fibre optic, instead of getting TalkTalk’s cheapest contract, you’ll pay almost £100 more over the course of 18 months.
TalkTalk’s fibre optic deal also offers unlimited downloads, and this is ideal if you want to take advantage of your added internet speed by watching a lot of BBC iPlayer or streaming plenty of music using Spotify.
That said, it’s not all good news for the cheapest provider. TalkTalk ranked 6th out of 10 providers in our bi-annual broadband satisfaction survey, with the company’s overall customer support scoring an average three-star rating. If you want to combine a TV package with your phone and broadband deal, it’s also worth looking at alternative providers such as Sky and Virgin Media.
Do I need fibre optic broadband?
This depends on how often you use your home internet and what you use it for. A fibre optic broadband contract costs roughly £200 more than ADSL over 18 months, so you want to be sure you’re going to get value for money.
Why is fibre so much more expensive? The connection speed offered is much, much faster. With ADSL you’ll receive a connection that’s roughly between 5.7 and 12.6 Mb. Virgin Media offers fibre optic broadband with a top download speed of 120Mb. Even if your home isn’t able to receive the absolute top speeds stated, you’ll notice a clear difference from ADSL connections – certainly enough to say goodbye to buffering on YouTube or iPlayer, for example.
That said, fibre is best avoided if your computer use is limited to general web browsing and a bit of Microsoft Office. But for regular Netflix users and those with a large family of internet fanatics, it’s an ideal purchase.
Would you get fibre optic broadband?
We asked our followers on Facebook whether they’d pay extra for super-fast fibre optic broadband. You can find the full spectrum of responses from fibre evangelists and ADSL puritans below.
Most commenters seemed happy to save some money and stick with with ADSL for the time being at least. Lesley Mayoh was representative of many people when she wrote, “No, my BB pretty good and fast enough for my needs already.” Gavin Waylock offered up a similarly thrifty opinion, “No I wouldn’t. I want to pay less for ordinary speed broadband.”
Interestingly, several fibre subscribers were receiving the service as part of a deal. “Haggled with Sky & got fibre at no extra cost,” wrote Simon Ruddy.
As Sally Murfitt pointed out, fibre optic broadband is often “not an option in rural areas”.
If you’re speaking to your broadband provider, you’d be well advised to check out our broadband haggling script. One caller saved themselves £228 a year using it.