Choosing a broadband provider

Choosing a broadband provider for home use in the UK is not trivial, particularly if you want reasonable flexibility in bandwidth and connect a few PCs. Many providers allow just a single computer to be connected, or have low transfer limits of 1-2GB per month, which is easily used up when transferring photos, music or movies. The ISP should also include things like email addresses, email via POP and IMAP, etc.

I found and used the following two web sites as an aid in choosing good, cheap and stable providers:
* ISP Review
* ADSL Guide

To address the two most common offerings, here are my findings:
* BT‘s basic offering suffers from the fact that you cannot connect more than one PC to the connection, and there is a limit of 1GB per month. It costs £20 per month.
* AOL‘s Basic offering is £20 per month, is only 256k, and also does not let multiple computers use the system.

The review sites highly recommend Vispa as a good ISP. They have a convenient 512k package called “Simpology” Wireless Pack that includes a DSL modem that is also a wireless access point, software, email addresses, anti-spam and anti-virus software, etc. The monthly cost is £25, and there is a startup fee of £130, including the hardware, a SafeCom Wireless ADSL router. There is no bandwidth restrictions on this service.

An interesting option is offered by MetroNet, who have a pay-as-you-go service. The PayGo500 option costs between £11.75 and £23.75 per month depending on usage – but for the high price, you get unlimited usage. There is an activation fee of around £60 that does not include any hardware, so we have to buy a DSL modem/router, which costs around £100 as well. But this service includes no email addresses, etc, which is a problem unless you have an alternative way of getting email.

NDO also has a good DSL offering, and I quite like the Home500 UpFront package. It costs £20 per month, and has a setup fee of £65, without any hardware. The service includes 512k speed, a 20MB POP mailbox with aliases, and 24/7 support.

Demon has a service called Express Solo, which offers 512k and no bandwidth limitation for £25 per month and a £50 setup fee without a modem. This service includes unlimited POP3 spam-filtered mail accounts.

Finally, Plus net seems fine; they are the ISP that I use. They have a Broadband Home option that starts at £15 per month for a 512k connection – to increase the 1GB limit to unlimited bandwidth brings the cost to £22 per month, though. Activation for a yearly contract is £58.75. The service includes unlimited email addresses, web space, etc.

It’s not an easy choice – and then we need to choose a wireless DSL modem too!