Broadband basics guide

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Longer contracts should have a lower monthly charge, but make sure you check. The downside of a long contract is that you may miss out as technology improves.

Other things to consider when checking a contract:

  • Exit penalties These may apply if you change ISPs before the contract term is up.
  • Changing your plan If you decide to upgrade or downgrade your plan with the same ISP within the contract period you may be up for additional costs.
  • Usage Ask how your usage is measured.
  • Your obligations when using the system, these are usually included in the contract under 'Acceptable use policy'.
  • ISP’s obligations Check the ISP's responsibilities with regard to help lines and faulty equipment, especially if the ISP retains ownership of the modem or other hardware. Some ISPs won’t help if you’re using equipment they haven’t endorsed.
  • Bundling If your broadband is bundled with telephone or TV, check what happens to your broadband charges should you decide to vary the other parts of the plan.
  • Variations ISPs may retain the right to vary the plan during its course. If this happens you could be in a position to cancel the contract and avoid a high exit fee.
  • Cooling-off period Some contracts, usually from door-to-door sales, have cooling off periods which allow you to cancel without penalty.
  • Home networks These may not be supported under some contracts.
  • Home business Make sure the contract doesn’t exclude multiple users or other activities that apply to your normal business activities.
  • Privacy All ISPs should have a privacy policy which is worth looking over to ensure your information will be handled carefully.
  • Relocating Moving house can be complicated and some ISPs make it easier than others, you can get an idea of what’s involved from the contract.

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