New research from Broadbandchoices.co.uk finds that over half of broadband customers paying for ‘unlimited’ download allowances are not taking full advantage of their download capacity and effectively paying hundreds of pounds a year more than they need to.

In response to increased Internet usage and the demand for faster broadband, ISPs have launched high end, unlimited broadband packages within their product suites. The result is that the majority of ISPs now offer an ‘unlimited’ package – which claims to provide their customers a truly unlimited download allowance enabling them to stream music, video clips and film to their heart’s content.

However, although ‘unlimited’ packages are increasingly popular, new research from Broadbandchoices.co.uk has revealed that many consumers are not even scratching the surface of their download limit and could save money by trading down to a capped package at a lower monthly charge.

Broadbandchoices.co.uk recently surveyed over 1,400 broadband users (1) about their download habits. Of those with an unlimited download allowance (2), over half (53%) downloaded 10GB or less per month and nearly three quarters (74%) downloaded 20GB or less. This is exceedingly low compared to the amount of content they have the opportunity to download with their unlimited packages, meaning that they are essentially paying for a service they don’t need.

Michael Phillips, product director, Broadbandchoices.co.uk said:
“When choosing a broadband package it is easy to become distracted by flash marketing and words like ‘unlimited’ or to be scared by the concept of download penalties. Our survey shows that the vast majority of broadband users spend less than 2 hours a week on each activity such as downloading music; watching video clips; or watching and downloading TV programmes and movies (4).

“Consumers who pay for a service they are not making full use of are in effect throwing money down the drain. Broadband customers should shop around for a deal to suit their usage needs using an Ofcom accredited price comparison site – those who do could save themselves £100 a year or more (5).”

Broadbandchoices.co.uk’s top tips for choosing a broadband package to suit your needs:

1. Think literally – try to realistically consider your needs as a broadband user. If you spend over 2 hours per day using iPlayer or downloading music and film you will need a package that can support that activity. If all you do is email and surf the net you’ll probably only need a basic service.

2. Compare broadband deals in your area – package availability and costs vary by postcode. There might be a solution available in your area offering greater savings so use an Ofcom approved comparison broadband calculator (www.broadbandchoices.co.uk) to check out the best deals.

3. Haggle with your existing provider – they may have a newer deal you can move across to without changing supplier.

4. Sign up online – many ISPs offer additional discounts and incentives if you subscribe online rather than over the phone. Price comparison sites also frequently have exclusive deals negotiated with ISPs, so check an Ofcom-accredited site for the best offers.

5. Use a download monitor – Use a download monitor to identify your monthly usage and set it to alert you when you are nearing the limit. Visit www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/broadband-download-monitor.html

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