7 things to consider when switching broadband provider

Image Rob Flynn
Staff Writer

When your connection isn’t up to speed it might be time to upgrade your broadband provider with But what should you consider before making the switch?

With an increased demand for better home internet access, having a broadband connection that’s capable of meeting our everyday needs is more important than ever. Thankfully, signing up to a new broadband provider has never been easier with and only takes a matter of minutes.

However, there are a number of things you should keep in mind when comparing the best broadband deals on the market.

1. Speed

Speed will be the main reason why many households switch supplier, with the majority of people who switch choosing to upgrade to a faster connection.

Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second, commonly advertised as ‘Mbps’, and Ireland’s leading broadband providers offer average speeds of 75Mbps all the way up to 1,000Mbps. However the speeds available to you will vary depending on the location of your home.

Deciding what speed you require will depend on what you need your connection to do, and how many people will be using it at any given time. For example, broadband speeds between 5Mbps and 10Mbps are required for one person to stream a movie in standard definition, while 25Mbps is sufficient for HD streaming. Therefore, a broadband connection of say 50Mbps might suffice for someone working from home alone, but a family of four will require up to 100Mbps or more.

Also, when browsing deals you should bear in mind that the speeds advertised only refer to the maximum speed achievable and are by no means a guarantee, unfortunately. That’s why it’s always safer to get a slightly faster plan, especially if you’re not incurring any extra cost.

You also need to consider if your provider is offering you a part fibre or pure fibre/fibre-to-the-home connection. With a pure fibre connection a high-speed fibre optic cable runs all the way into your home and doesn't rely on old telephone copper wires for any of the connection meaning your speed will be faster and more reliable. 

2. Customer service 

If you’re considering switching broadband provider we'd always recommend that you check out the customer service credentials of any provider to make sure they’re up to scratch. 

How can you do this?

The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) issues a quarterly report on the customer service record of the main telecommunications companies in Ireland, which is available on its website. The report compiles complaints and issues raised by customers and investigates what complaints, if any, were justified and how many were resolved.

Taking even a cursory glance at the latest report will help give you a good idea of which providers offer good service, as well as those which may have problems in resolving and dealing with genuine complaints and issues.

If you're someone who values quality customer service over big discounts it’s definitely worthwhile to do a little research in this area before making the switch.

3. TV channels

When switching broadband it’s possible you might also want to change your TV provider. That’s why a lot of broadband and TV deals come in one bundle.

Naturally, cost will be one of the first considerations when choosing a package, however, if you’re including TV you’ll want to double-check what channels are included and how many.

Some TV packages include more entertainment or kids channels than others, so making sure you know what you want is important. For example, Sky Atlantic only comes with a Sky TV package and is unavailable from any other provider.

You can browse the best broadband and TV deals on right here.

4. Technology

As technology advances at no end, the newest and most up-to-date advancements provided by suppliers should be considered when switching your broadband. It may take a little time, but doing some research into the latest tech that providers are incorporating into their services is definitely worth doing.

As a broadband customer you want to make sure your internet connection is never interrupted. That’s why companies like Virgin Media and Sky have incorporated a channel optimisation feature into the WiFi routers they provide to customers. This feature makes sure your broadband connection is always on the least congested channel, ensuring you get the speeds you’re paying for.

If you choose to include a TV package with your broadband bundle it’s also worthwhile investigating what set-top box a specific operator uses before signing up as they vary from company to company.

It’s well known that the Sky Q set-top box is incredibly well-received from customers because of its easy-to-navigate interface, among other practical features. Customers can also enjoy further advancements in tech from Eir which uses Apple TV as its designated set-top box.

Before signing up to a specific broadband or TV package reach out to a couple of friends who you know have signed up with a specific provider to see what their user experience has been like. This can also be helpful when deciding what technology is easy to use and what is clunky and not user-friendly.

5. Added extras

When you sign up to a specific deal from a broadband provider you might have more in store than simply a broadband connection.

Some companies like to include added extras to sweeten the deal for customers by way of an additional thank you for signing up. Extras range from a physical product to an additional discount off your first bill.

For example, Eir offers a year's free subscription to Amazon Prime Video while Sky has a great rewards programme call Sky VIP. 

One other important extra, which might be important to the streaming generation, is the incorporation of streaming platforms into TV services and the user interface. Sky has integrated Disney+ into its TV service, for example, while most TV services nowadays include the ability to stream Netflix directly from an app on your television.

When comparing the best broadband and TV deals on you can see all the added extras from each supplier before signing up.

6. Contract length

If you sign up to a new broadband deal the standard contract length is 12 months, but this can vary from deal to deal and from company to company. 

Some deals, such as Virgin Media’s Freedom bundles, are Pay As You Go and customers are billed from month to month, while others can be longer than the standard contract length and can last for 18 or even 24 months.

Before signing up to any deal we'd always advise you to look at the length of the contract to ensure you're happy with it. Otherwise you could end up stuck with the same provider for longer than expected. 

Important to note is that customers are entitled to a cooling-off period within the first 14 days of signing up. During this time you're free to cancel and leave without incurring any penalties. If you leave while you’re still in contract, however, you can expect to pay an early exit fee which will vary depending on your supplier.

7. Price

When signing up to a new broadband provider, price will be at the forefront of most consumers' minds, and will be one of the main reasons why people are looking to switch.

However you shouldn't get blindsided by any introductory deals for the first few months and should always look at the total first-year cost. This is the full amount you can expect to pay over the first 12 months of your contract and will include any other charges such as setup costs or installation fees.

On you can easily see the monthly and first-year cost of each plan. And if an introductory offer or discount is available for the first few months of the contract, then this will be clearly marked too along with the follow-on price. 

Did you find this useful?

Did you find this guide useful? Why not check out another broadband guide on some of the most frequently asked questions when switching broadband providers.

If you're now ready to make some savings and switch your broadband, head over to our broadband comparison tool and start your switch today.