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Broadband options - cable vs Sim

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We have Virgin cable broadband at home which comes in at a hefty £40/month (no other TV services). It has a landline included but we don't use it.

I was recently working at a remote site and the company had a mobile router with a 5g sim which we were all using (mobiles & laptops). It was an unlimited data package for £20/month. I was impressed at just how good it was. 

So now I'm thinking is a mobile router/sim package viable for home use? We're in Sheffield and apparently all the main providers have 5g signal where we are, though none of us have a 5g phone to check.

Has anyone got any real-time experience of running a family home on a mobile broadband package? Usage wise I'm guessing the TV with various streaming apps (Now, Disney+, Netflix) and laptop streaming are going to be the heavy hitters. 

Thanks, Stuart. 

In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

£20 a month seems unusually cheap for unlimited data on a mobile router. Were they using a mobile phone SIM (with a mobile phone contract) in the router? 

I think there's something where the operator will let you do it for a single device, but not multiple users (not sure how they enforce it though). Mobile SIMs for home or office hubs are more expensive. It's unlikely to be cheaper doing it “legitimately” via mobile than fibre.

 Jenny C 07 Aug 2022
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Like you I'm looking at ways to get away from the extortionate charges for Virgin.

You have been lied to about 5G coverage - much of Sheffield does not yet have it (or at least not on the Vodafone network).

 Offwidth 07 Aug 2022
In reply to Jenny C:

Negotiate hard with them (ie. 'regrettably I'm going to leave as you are too expensive cf competition'). We always got a significant discount by doing this, armed with info of others on cheaper similar packages (and are about to have to do it again). We are Virgin TV (which is way better than Sky, that I use at my inlaws), broadband and landline. Most of my TV viewing outside news is recorded (at peak times, around 9,00pm, sometimes three channels recording while I watch something else pre-recorded).

Post edited at 10:43
 The Lemming 07 Aug 2022
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I have Virgin also and getting fed up with the charges. I keep thinking about Smarty SIMs of unlimited broadband of £20 per month.

https://smarty.co.uk/plans/unlimited

Hopefully Broadband and cable providers will fall into line with Car Insurance firms and have to offer the same prices to loyal customers as new customers.

In reply to Ridge:

> £20 a month seems unusually cheap for unlimited data on a mobile router. Were they using a mobile phone SIM (with a mobile phone contract) in the router? 

That I didn't ask but I will dig deeper. 

> I think there's something where the operator will let you do it for a single device, but not multiple users (not sure how they enforce it though). Mobile SIMs for home or office hubs are more expensive. It's unlikely to be cheaper doing it “legitimately” via mobile than fibre.

In reply to Jenny C:

> Like you I'm looking at ways to get away from the extortionate charges for Virgin.

> You have been lied to about 5G coverage - much of Sheffield does not yet have it (or at least not on the Vodafone network).

Yeah, think most of it is at the rolling out stage 

In reply to Offwidth:

> Negotiate hard with them (ie. regrettably I'm going to leave as you are too expensive cf competition). We always got a significant discount by doing this, armed with info of others on cheaper similar packages (about to have to do it again).

It's a tiresome game innit. 

In reply to The Lemming:

Does unlimited tethering answer Ridge's point about multi device use? 

 The Lemming 07 Aug 2022
In reply to The Lemming:

Just re-read this. I may just ditch Virgin completely. I never use the land line, and only receive to odd annoying sales caller. And we only watch the free channels on the telly.

I may say bye-bye to Virgin very soon for Smartey with unlimited and no speed restrictions. Just got to investigate their speeds first though as I quite like my 100Mb download speed.

EDIT

I could cut my broadband, TV and mobile phone costs from £60ish per month to £20 per month with just an upgrade to my TV Arial.

Post edited at 10:47
 The Lemming 07 Aug 2022
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

> Does unlimited tethering answer Ridge's point about multi device use? 

Reading the blurb, then yes.

😀

 Offwidth 07 Aug 2022
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

More tiresome every year as the customer service for faults never seems to improve and the (fairly rare) problems get more weird and wonderful. BT customer service was even worse. All the providers are a lot sharper if they think you might leave, and that has kept us with Virgin for nearly a decade. Streaming so far is much chunkier for me to access and use on my main TV (esp on BBC I Player) and lacks some handy features (especially  20% faster playback of delayed live TV and recordings, which is great for many slow paced documentaries, history shows etc).

Post edited at 10:53
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Bear in mind that although an urban setting probably has better provision than your remote work site, it will also have more obstacles and much more contention at busy times. I would certainly look to take advantage of a trial period to check real-world performance across a full range of hours before committing to cutting the cord. Also check the small print to make sure "unlimited" doesn't have any fair usage limitations that could cause you problems.

In reply to Offwidth:

We go through the rigmarole every year and manage to eke out a deal which is only slightly better in comparison. The thing that's kept us locked this long, customer service aside which is always a chore, is that the speed has been incomparable 100mbps... But 5g could be a game changer if prices and T&C are to be believed. 

 jonny taylor 07 Aug 2022
In reply to The Lemming and others:

> I keep thinking about Smarty SIMs of unlimited broadband of £20 per month.

They are cheap, but I gave up on them because their customer support in case of any sort of an issue was nonexistent. I decided to pay a bit more for an EE sim (I knocked them down in price a bit) and I don't regret that.

Post edited at 13:32
 Offwidth 07 Aug 2022
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

A game changer that the cable providers would simply have to shift broadband costs down to meet.... I'm guessing by upping costs for content. The big streaming services, especially Netflix, already seem to struggling.

I'm not convinced 5G could cope with full UK streaming services... I remember, from consultants talking about the lesson of some of the Arab gulf states, on earlier network generations, when they hit network capacity limits because of excess use. Fibre to user (or near user) is by far the most efficient and highest bandwidth transmission mechanism.

Post edited at 13:36
In reply to Luke90:

> Bear in mind that although an urban setting probably has better provision than your remote work site, it will also have more obstacles and much more contention at busy times. I would certainly look to take advantage of a trial period to check real-world performance across a full range of hours before committing to cutting the cord.

^ This.

I've been using 4G home broadband (EE) for a couple of years now. No complaints, as the only other option is "Think yourself lucky if it's over 1Mbps, and no, you're still paying full price" via BT copper wire.

We're in a rural area with only 1 local mast, so speeds do vary depending on network traffic. Currently getting 12Mbps upload and download, which isn't bad for a dull weekend when there are lots of static caravans and caravans/campers in the areausing it. Have seen 60Mbps (usually 15 to 35) when logging on to WFH on a weekday morning.

It was a no brainer for us, especially as I had a good idea of 4G speeds in the area from my mobile.

If cheap 5G broadband rolls out it will be interesting to see if the mobile network could cope with the demand.

 The Lemming 07 Aug 2022
In reply to jonny taylor:

> They are cheap, but I gave up on them because their customer support in case of any sort of an issue was nonexistent. I decided to pay a bit more for an EE sim (I knocked them down in price a bit) and I don't regret that.

I'm with GiffGaff at the moment and their customer support is via their website only. You do not get anybody to talk to.

What I find amazing with all these companies providing a service cheaper than BT is that they are renting BTs infrastructure to provide the same service, or have I got this bit wrong?

In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I had one with EE and used it for a week before deciding it was rubbish and sent it back and continued using my wired broadband. Definitely slower at certain times in the day etc.

My housemate got one on 3 when my EE broadband ran out and it's pretty shonky tbh, ye it has unlimited data for I think £35p/m but it can't cope with multiple devices and apps on the tele Netflix etc are always crashing. I just got a good deal with BT in new house and it's pretty dizzy broadband. I heard talk talk will do Broadband at sub 30 as well so always worth a good shop around!

 Ciro 09 Aug 2022
In reply to The Lemming:

> I'm with GiffGaff at the moment and their customer support is via their website only. You do not get anybody to talk to.

> What I find amazing with all these companies providing a service cheaper than BT is that they are renting BTs infrastructure to provide the same service, or have I got this bit wrong?

Giffgaff run on Three's network - the reason the service resellers are cheaper is that they don't run the same levels of customer support, marketing, etc. budgets of the main providers.

In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Get a mate with a 5G phone and data to come round and speedtest in your house. There might be 5G signal in the area, but indoor speeds may be rubbish if they're using higher frequencies which don't travel through walls very well. Modern houses with foil-backed insulation everywhere are even worse.

 gethin_allen 09 Aug 2022
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

We considered swapping to a sim based deal this year but the area we've moved to has very poor coverage and speeds (~2 Mbit). Even so, we've picked up a new customer fibre deal with one of the big suppliers for £20 a month for the year. At the end of the year we'll probably be moving again so can pick up another deal hopefully.

In the old place we were with virgin and we supposedly had 100 Mbit download available, but we never saw anything near this (~35 Mbit download at best with 10 Mbit upload) and never needed anything more than what we had.

Another thing that annoys me about virgin is that they routers are the biggest ugliest lumps with relatively very high energy consumption, which for something that's left on 24/7 is a real factor. My one was using around 17 W which at current energy costs is ~£44 a year.

Post edited at 14:35
 henwardian 09 Aug 2022
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

I run a business with a 4g sim router. It services up to 17 people with all their phones and laptops and 4 smart tvs. The connection itself has been great from day 1 and I've not had any complaints from guests about it not being fast enough. I pay £30 a month I think and it's unlimited ofc. I had issues to begin with in getting the wifi to cover the whole area without the mesh units dropping out but since I fixed that it's all been fine.

Always check the weasel words, make sure you get the contract that is truly unlimited and doesn't have "fair use" clauses buried deep in conditions that you never read. I found comparing contracts online to just be an exercise in frustration and futility - phone the company directly, say what you want and be specific about needing truly unlimited and you should find something no problem.


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