This article focuses on UK broadband providers and highlights three common myths.
Are you confused about broadband jargon? Don’t know your megabit (Mb) from your megabyte (MB)? If you have ever wished that broadband adverts could just be written in plain English, you aren’t alone. Most people misunderstand broadband terms used in advertising and some people even regret switching to a new provider. If you are thinking about switching your broadband package, here are three myths that providers play on to make their deal seem better than it really is.
Myth #1. The Download Speed Is Guaranteed
Reality: It’s easy to fall for advertising claims about broadband download speeds. You may see a package offered as ‘Up to 100Mbps’ and think that the connection will let you transfer 100 megabits of data per second at all times. What you need to know is that under UK advertising rules, internet providers do not have to guarantee that all of their customers will receive the advertised rate of data transfer. You may be shocked to learn that providers can advertise a certain speed if just 10 per cent of customers are able to receive data at that rate. The actual speed you receive depends on how far away you live from the local telephone exchange. In other words, a broadband provider will sign you up for a package knowing that people in your area will not receive the advertised speed.
Myth #2. Unlimited Data Plans Allow You to Download Unlimited Amounts of Data
Reality: A commonly misunderstood area of broadband packages is the ‘usage’ policy. This describes how much data you can download per month. The usage is stated in Gb (gigabits) and a monthly usage allowance of 5Gb is usually enough for simple browsing. If you use the internet for music, watching TV, playing online console games or downloading movies you should probably choose an unlimited usage deal. What many people do not realize is that unlimited packages often subject customers to fair or acceptable use policies, effectively capping how much data they can download.
Some packages offer ‘unlimited’ broadband without a fair usage policy but with traffic management. This prevents users who download lots of data from affecting other customers at peak times. If you overstep the limit, you may have a reduced speed for a set time such as five hours. The only real unlimited packages are ‘Truly’ unlimited packages with neither a fair usage policy or traffic management. If you see a cheap package advertised as unlimited, make sure you read the small print before switching providers. If a package has a download limit, the provider may throttle your speed or charge you extra to keep using the internet until the end of the month.
Myth #3. Switching Providers Is Easy
Reality: Switching providers is indeed easy but early disconnection charges from your current provider could leave you out of pocket. To switch providers, simply call up and ask for your Mitigation Access Codes (MACs). You’ll be transferred to the retention department and may be offered a cheaper deal that matches the one you want to change to. If you leave before your contract is up, you may be looking at very high early disconnection fees. Most providers charge people for every remaining month on the contract if they leave early. Something to be aware of is that these fees depend on the package you had. Leaving a 100Mbps contract would cost more per month than leaving a 30Mbps contract, even though in both cases you would no longer be receiving any internet service from the provider.
Something to be especially careful about is the financial penalty for cancelling bundle packages before the contract has expired. Many people choose bundles of internet, phone and TV from one provider without realizing that cancelling multiple services involves paying multiple penalties. Early disconnection levies are common to most, if not all, UK broadband providers so bear this in mind before you switch. These fees could wipe out any savings you hoped to realize by switching to a cheaper package.
As we have seen, broadband adverts can be rather misleading and many customers feel shortchanged through either paying more than they planned to or not receiving the services they subscribed to. If you don’t understand the terms of the broadband package you are interested in, the broadband provider is obliged to explain any unfamiliar terms and show you how much each package will cost you.