Author Topic: Broadband  (Read 7166 times)

armaghniac

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #30 on: October 11, 2017, 11:30:01 PM »
The only time they would be going outside of the town (or any town) would be where it was government subsidised I would say

Well Eir have run fibre through the Louth part of the parish, without subvention.
And it wouldn't be unknown for kit to become smaller and cheaper over time, BT have tested pole mounted "cabinets" with half a dozen connections in trials in Britain.
if at first you don't succeed, then goto Plan B

lfdown2

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2018, 11:32:17 AM »
looking some advice - I purchased a mobile broadband router (O2) recently and as i had thought I am getting speeds 10x my BT broadband, only issue is the range within the house. Have any of you used a mobile router in a home/workplace that you could recommend?

armaghniac

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #32 on: February 15, 2018, 02:03:51 PM »
looking some advice - I purchased a mobile broadband router (O2) recently and as i had thought I am getting speeds 10x my BT broadband, only issue is the range within the house. Have any of you used a mobile router in a home/workplace that you could recommend?

If the mobile router has an ethernet connection one possibility is a separate wireless hub, i.e get the best device for picking up the mobile signal and the best for wireless in the house and connect them together. Also you may be able to move the mobile device to somewhere which improves the wifi coverage e.g. roofspace. 
if at first you don't succeed, then goto Plan B

mick999

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2018, 02:14:12 PM »
Or just pick up a better wireless router and swap your sim into it .
This would be one of he better models :

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06ZZL966Q?ref=emc_b_5_t


Fionntamhnach

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2018, 06:54:09 PM »
Those "MiFi" devices that the networks give out only have a very short wifi range. If they were to try to be as powerful as a normal WiFi router they would eat up their battery pretty quickly.

The Huawei B525 linked by mick above this post is one that gets recommended quite a lot for 4G home broadband fro reviews and discussions I've seen. It's not a cheap piece of kit but you may find one going second hand on the likes of eBay. Routers like the B525 allow the attachment of external aerials for 4G reception if reception on its internal aerials are a bit iffy. This can range from a monopole or a collinear aerial that looks like a WiFi aerial on the back of a router, to an external aerial that can be mounted on a wall or sharing the TV aerial pole on a chimney.

Both EE and 3 (UK) have been making recent pushes to promote their 4G as a home broadband alternative especially in places where FTTC/VDSL service doesn't exist and ADSL is lousy.

3 have an offer called "home-fi" which bundles in a Huawei B310 4G router for home use with either a 40GB or 100GB data allowance a month either on a 30 day, 12 month or 24 month contract, on their website the 100GB option  is only offered on a 24 month contract but I understand that if you pop into any 3 store in the north you can get 30 day or 12 month options as well. If you go for the 30 day contract, you have to pay £60 upfront for the router, the 12 & 24 month options bundle the router in for free. With the HomeFi broadband you get 3's "Go Binge" included which includes streaming from the likes of Netflix, TV Player, Deezer etc. where these services are zero-rated i.e. they won't eat into your monthly data allowance.

EE did a press release a few days ago where they say they're planning to offer an installation service for people ordering their 4G home broadband service where they would add a rectangle-shaped aerial fixed to the outside of the property if indoor reception was bad. Their packages are a bit more expensive than 3, but they do offer up to 200GB for £60 a month which in the scheme of things isn't that bad - it was still £100 a month back in January. They also offer 100GB (£45) and 50GB (£35) a month packages. You can take the service on an 18 month contract and you'll get the "4GEE Router" thrown in for free, or take it on a 30 day contract and pay £100 upfront for the router. Not sure who manufacturers the 4GEE Router, but it does have the ability to add an external aerial and it also has an ethernet port. If you are a current EE pay monthly customer (with bundled phone or sim-only) you can also get an additional 5GB of data added on to your mobile plan as long as you're a 4G home broadband customer. While not the cheapest the main advantage with EE is that they have the biggest share of mobile spectrum in the UK - each EE 4G base station uses at a minimum 20MHz of bandwidth for 4G compared to 15MHz for 3 and 10MHz for O2 and Vodafone. Plus the majority of mobile phone network customers in NI are on O2 (60%) with only a small amount on EE & 3, so using EE for 4G home broadband (and 3 to a lesser extent) is less likely to suffer significant drops in download speeds at peak times. If it helps, EE also use a hard cap for data so you can't run up an expensive bill for going over your allowance, not sure if this is the case with 3.

Vodafone have some 4G broadband deals but they only go up to 50GB (£30) per month for a data allowance, would be hopeful they will soon introduce something similar to their cousins in the south who offer 150GB per month packages. I don't see O2 beginning to offer targeted 4G home broadband packages unless they can at least win some spectrum in the upcoming Ofcom 2.3GHz & 3.5GHz spectrum auctions. Otherwise if they did, I wouldn't be surprised to see their data network in NI collapse quite suddenly.
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Syferus

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2018, 07:03:06 PM »
A prepaid Three mobile sim with the All You Can Eat data bundle you get by topping up by 20 Euro is the best value by a mile. Just put it in the most useless Android phone you have lying around. If you need more than a hotspot, get a regular router that allows you to plug in the phone as a 3G/4G modem. I know Asus’ support this but I’m sure most modern ones do as well.

It’s way better value (you still have the phone credit on the sim, which can be spent on a bunch of different things like a Spotify subscription or Android apps) and if you’re technical enough not to be scared by the process you never have to worry about data caps.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 08:52:18 PM by Syferus »

Main Street

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #36 on: February 16, 2018, 09:42:36 PM »
looking some advice - I purchased a mobile broadband router (O2) recently and as i had thought I am getting speeds 10x my BT broadband, only issue is the range within the house. Have any of you used a mobile router in a home/workplace that you could recommend?
As others have said, get a decent 4G modem. However the wifi signal from a decent 4G modem  can be crap. My first solution was to connect the 4G modem, via a long ethernet cable, to a modem wifi router placed somewhere more convenient in the house. A suitable 300Mbps wifi modem can be bought s/h online market or in charity shops,  a dime a dozen.


I was in Ireland last sept and checked out the available options for 4G LTE broadband for a friend.

The best I came across was with Three
http://www.three.ie/online/data/contract/
Huawei B525   -  Modem free. with 3 broadband Two - 18 months   contract

http://www.three.ie/online/data/contract/huawei-b525-black/priceplan/
click on  the line  <3 broadband Two - 18 months>  (not the select button)
and in the Java pop up page
3 broadband Two
monthly charge  Eur 30
  30gb - 750GB

I live outside Ireland and have to use 4G.
I have a 4G Huawei B315 
When I got it first, I had no indoor or outdoor LTE antenna,

I had to place it in a room by a west facing window to get any decent connection.
The ethernet connected desktop got 70Mbps, wifi speed was similar in the room, but faded quickly around the house.
 I chose to get an outdoor LTE antenna
a. I wanted to free up the 4G modem from having to be in that location
b. I wanted more speed
c. I wanted to be sure of more speed in rush hour. It’s a capitalist type system, the guy with the biggest antenna goes to the top of the queue to suck the available 4G signal.

I bought a directional antenna with a 10m cable.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00D1VXZ3E/ref=pe_3187911_189395841_TE_3p_dp_1
It was dead simple to erect. Speed went up to 110 /120 Mbs, I assume that's the max I can get from the provider.
The 4G modem's wifi performance remained weak, even if it was now better located in the house.The wifi signal would drop off inside a bedroom some 10m away, with the door closed.
But I already had my broadband wifi router, in fact 2 of them, so it was easy to fix that issue.

Later I got the mini mobile Huawei 4G modem, it cost me about Eur5 p/m, to add it on to the same 300gb plan. I love it. I carry it around with me and can connect  phone/ tablet/laptop online, anywhere in the service area.
 I would not use the mobile device as a sole modem for home use, only unless there was no other.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 09:54:02 PM by Main Street »

Fionntamhnach

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #37 on: February 16, 2018, 11:01:40 PM »
Would agree that 4G home broadband should not be the first port of call if possible for most people. If you can get a decent speed/service from a landline provider through ADSL, VDSL, DOCSIS (Virgin Media) or Fibre to the Home/Building then they should be more preferable. But in you're in an area where ADSL is bad, and no other option via your phone line, cable etc. Then 4G is perhaps among the best of the rest alongside belonging to a fixed wireless network. Both are definitely an improvement on satellite.

3's current offer of 750GB of data a month for €30 is on the face of it a steal, but I wonder how good it is - from what I know 3's mobile network in the south is the slowest of the three in terms of data speeds compared to Vodafone & Eir. If a lot of people locally are using 3 for their home broadband with such a generous data allowance, I can see such connections getting chocked easily during peak times. Supposedly a lot of bluffers are using 3 PAYG sims where topping up €20 every 4 weeks gives unlimited data (or at least a 60GB soft cap) and either putting them into 4G routers/MiFi dongles or tethering. It's against 3's T&C's to do that but they don't seem to be enforcing it, which is strange - their UK cousins enforce their "no tethering" rules on plans that don't allow it quite strictly (there are ways to get around that, but that's another time). If there's a lot pulling that trick then no wonder data speeds on 3 aren't great. Might be better in some places than others depending on network loads.

Vodafone's 4G home broadband offer of 150GB/€45 a month which looks dear against 3's 750GB/€30 but again I understand that Vodafone's data network is more consistent and reliable than 3's. 150GB would probably be plenty for the majority of households unless you're regularly downloading large files and/or doing a lot of HD/4K streaming in a household with at least 3-4 teens and adults. Not sure about Eir, I can only see MBB packages for them up to 50GB a month but there are supposed to be larger data packages available. Maybe they only offer them to customers where FTTC/FTTP isn't being offered by them and ADSL speeds are slow?

As for others, Imagine are now using LTE to deliever their wireless broadband service but use a non-standard frequency (compared to mobile networks). Seems to have started off good but in recent months, if boards dot ie are worth reading up on, things have gone downhill in terms of speed consistency especially at peak times. The misleadingly named Rural WiFi doesn't use wifi but is a reseller of 3's 4G data network. Not as cheap as 3 in terms of package data & costs but the feedback I've heard so far from them has been decent despite using the 3 network - maybe they have higher data priority than some of 3's customers? (Quite possible).
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Main Street

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2018, 12:00:03 AM »
3's current offer of 750GB of data a month for €30 is on the face of it a steal, but I wonder how good it is - from what I know 3's mobile network in the south is the slowest of the three in terms of data speeds compared to Vodafone & Eir. If a lot of people locally are using 3 for their home broadband with such a generous data allowance, I can see such connections getting chocked easily during peak times.
There is a paucity of information re 4G modem services  on the provider websites in the south.I get the impression they won't offer the service if you live in a good broadband area.
From my basic experiments over a few days, the 4G signal strength varied from poor to moderate in Louth and Monaghan, that's why I'd regard an ext antenna as compulsory for home use.
 
Re Three's prices,  I think the Eur30 is for the basic 30gb/month package and rises incrementally.
It would probably be expensive for anything over 300GB.
Mostly I don't stream live content as it would just eat into my 300GB quota. I just reserve live streaming for the special sport event, GAA games and the CL/El games and generally I'd download media content the old fashioned way.

Quote
Would agree that 4G home broadband should not be the first port of call if possible for most people. If you can get a decent speed/service from a landline provider through ADSL, VDSL, DOCSIS (Virgin Media) or Fibre to the Home/Building then they should be more preferable.
I meant that if you have to use 4G, then get the proper 4G modem and not to depend on the limited mobile 4G modem for home use.
 
« Last Edit: February 17, 2018, 12:06:13 AM by Main Street »

Fionntamhnach

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #39 on: February 17, 2018, 01:04:03 AM »
Unless I've read it wrong, the €30 a month package is now on a 750GB data limit, no longer 30GB.

Quote
^750GB promotion applicable to customers who signed up or upgraded on or after 15/01/18 on 18 month minimum term only.

http://www.three.ie/plans/mobile-broadband/bill-pay/

While if you choose that package, then choose the Huawei B525 router, clicking on the €29.99 "3 Broadband Two - 18 Month" link bring up this info in the pop up.

Quote
*Applicable to customers who signed up or upgraded before 15/01/18.
^ Applicable to customers who signed up or upgraded on or after 15/01/18. 18 month minimum term only.

* referring to 30GB allowance, ^ referring to 750GB allowance.

Quote
Would agree that 4G home broadband should not be the first port of call if possible for most people. If you can get a decent speed/service from a landline provider through ADSL, VDSL, DOCSIS (Virgin Media) or Fibre to the Home/Building then they should be more preferable.
I meant that if you have to use 4G, then get the proper 4G modem and not to depend on the limited mobile 4G modem for home use.
Ah, I get you. Agree that those "MiFi" dongles aren't really suitable for home use. As I mentioned above 3 do offer a Huawei B525 router and Vodafone also offer a router for their 150GB 4G Home Broadband (Vodafone B528) that are designed for mains power only, so they should be roughly on a par to an ADSL or VDSL modem/router/AP in terms of wireless range.
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Main Street

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #40 on: February 17, 2018, 01:43:01 PM »
Unless I've read it wrong, the €30 a month package is now on a 750GB data limit, no longer 30GB.

^750GB promotion applicable to customers who signed up or upgraded on or after 15/01/18 on 18 month minimum term only.
You're spot on Fionn, you're obviously well used to disseminating the subtleties in the extra fine print  ;D

The 750gb offer to new customers is alluringly good but it's callous towards old customers. If I had signed up sometime  before 15th jan, I would be truly pissed at that new offer and complaining like mad.






lfdown2

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #41 on: February 19, 2018, 08:32:28 AM »
Great, cheers all - plenty of info!

giveherlong

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #42 on: March 03, 2018, 08:05:39 AM »
I'm in an area with no broadband available through the landline
Was looking at Bluebox but reports are that he service is down quite a bit
There is 4G O2 available but not throughout the house
Anyone experience of O2 broadband via 4G?
How would I go about distributing it through the house- I am wired for Cat 6, but is there a router with 4G broadband
What's the typical prices and is there download limits?

Fionntamhnach

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #43 on: March 03, 2018, 08:35:12 PM »
I'm in an area with no broadband available through the landline
Was looking at Bluebox but reports are that he service is down quite a bit
There is 4G O2 available but not throughout the house
Anyone experience of O2 broadband via 4G?
How would I go about distributing it through the house- I am wired for Cat 6, but is there a router with 4G broadband
What's the typical prices and is there download limits?
First, are you sure that you cannot get ADSL or VDSL broadband (i.e. broadband through telephone landline) ?

Check with the link below by either entering your telephone number (028xxxxxxxx) or if you don't have a landline phone then use the address checker entering at least your house number & postcode.

https://www.dslchecker.bt.com/

If the checker says that your expected download speed is no greater* than 2Mbps then you may be able to avail of the government's Better Broadband Scheme (BBS), more on that later.

Secondly, are you sure that there is no one else than Bluebox/Blue Lightning locally for delivering Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband? There are a few operators who run local, smaller scale networks across the north. A few links are given below, if they don't supply a coverage map, phone or email them to find out. (Disclaimer - the links below aren't recommendations by me).

http://airfibrenet.com (based in Armagh, claims a wide coverage area but not NI-wide)
https://www.beaconbroadband.co.uk/ (based around Derry)
http://www.hts-ni.com/ (South Derry based)
http://www.huskynetworks.co.uk/ (East Antrim in area around Carrickfergus, Ballyclare & Larne)
https://www.net1.co.ni or https://net1.ie/ (Much of Fermanagh, parts of western Tyrone, parts of south Armagh and south Down)

All the above, plus Bluebox/Blue Lightning are registered with the BBS.

If after all that you draw a negative then the next step might be to look at 4G for home broadband.

Personally I wouldn't look at going to O2 unless there's no other option for the following reasons...

* Nearly two-thirds of mobile phone customers in NI (and a higher proportion still in rural areas of the north) use the O2 network, therefore is the most likely to be congested.
* O2 have the joint lowest amount of 4G data bandwidth currently available in NI of all four networks (2x10MHz). Vodafone at present uses the same amount of bandwidth locally but has the ability to significantly add to this (as it is already doing in parts of Britain), followed by 3 (2x15MHz & 2x5MHz) with EE (2x20MHz & 2x5MHz plus an additional 2x20MHz in parts of Derry city & Belfast) - with both 3 and EE, more recent equipment are capable of "carrier aggregation" which means they can use several frequency blocks at the same time to deliver better speeds.
* O2 don't have any packages specifically directed for 4G home broadband use, just USB dongles or MiFi devices which I explained about a few posts up on this thread. Same goes for Vodafone.

All 4G data packages, wherever designed for home or on-the-go use, have data usage limits, calculated per month. Try having a rough idea of how much you do or might use per month (if you currently have a broadband account your current provider might be able to tell you on your online account page). Usage will shoot up if you plan to stream a lot of video content (catch-up services like iPlayer or All4, YouTube, Netflix etc.) especially if you are watching in HD or 4K, do a lot of gaming downloads, use Bittorrent a lot etc. and calculate this among the people likely to be using it i.e. your household in general. AFAIK all networks (not 100% sure of O2) allow you to "hard cap" your data so that when you reach your limit it automatically stops so you can't run up a massive bill, but some of them don't have it on automatically, you have to enable it in your account settings. Both 3 and EE allow you to buy "top-ups" if you hit your limit before the end of the billing month, but they only last until your next billing period starts.

Check both the indoor and outdoor coverage of the mobile networks - many people don't realise that the likes of EE & 3 have significantly improved their coverage over the last few years though they can still not be quite as good for indoor coverage compared to O2 & Vodafone. If your house is of a fairly recent build, it may have energy-saving items like heat-reflecting windows that contain metal that are an effective barrier to radio waves and make indoor coverage a lot worse compared to just outside.

Coverage checkers
Vodafone - https://www.vodafone.co.uk/explore/network/uk-coverage-map/index.htm
EE - https://ee.co.uk/why-ee/mobile-coverage
3 - http://www.three.co.uk/Discover/Network/Coverage

Remember that a postcode can cover a fairly wide area and that the coverage prediction for your location might be different to the centre of the postcode area which is usually used to make the predictions, so read the prediction map carefully.

Ultimately you'll know best if you get some sim cards from the networks themselves and put them into a spare network unlocked phone (or even your current phone if it isn't network locked) to see what reception is like for yourself. Do check them both outdoor and indoors. The relevant sim cards can either be ordered for free online from the network's websites or you can buy them in local shops, usually the local grocers, newsagents, village shop or discount store, costing usually no more than 99p per sim card.

I don't rely on 4G broadband for day-to-day use (I've VDSL2 with a speed of 40Mbps down & 10Mbps up) but occasionally when out and about I do tether with my EE PAYG mobile phone and the speeds are generally good, often hitting the 30Mbps download speed cap that my account has. Other networks' capacity, your signal strength, the type of network you're on (4G/3G/2G), time of day, any speed cap and the congestion of the local cell tower will determine what speeds you can get. More congested networks will get hit especially hard at certain times of the day e.g. evenings, rush hour and so on.

Both EE and 3 offer 4G home broadband packages that I've linked to below. They supply a 4G modem/router that is mains powered, can be connected to an outdoor antenna, has a built-in WiFi access point and also has an ethernet port which can then be connected to a switch/hub or another access point/router. Essentially they are mobile data versions of the ADSL/VDSL modem/routers ISPs send out to you when you join their service.

EE 4GEE Router - https://shop.ee.co.uk/dongles/pay-monthly-mobile-broadband/4gee-router/details#
3 Home-Fi - http://www.three.co.uk/Discover/Devices/Huawei/HomeFi?memory=0&colour=Black

Technically the router supplied by EE is better than the one supplied by 3 in supporting 4G download speeds of up to 300Mbps compared to 150Mbps for 3, and the EE router supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wifi whereas 3's does 2.4GHz only. But the router supplied by 3 will do most households fine. 3 only offer a maximum of 100GB a month data compared to 200GB for EE, but is considerably cheaper for those 100GB package limits. Also 3 throw in their "Go Binge" package where streaming from certain services like Netflix and A***e music are zero-rated for data i.e. they won't come out of your 100GB or 40GB per month data limit, which might prove tempting especially if you're already a Netflix subscriber. 3's website only offers the 100GB/month package on a 24 month contract, but I understand if you pop into any 3 store in NI they can offer it for a 12 month contract for £30/month (i.e. a pound a month more than 24 month contract) or 30 days also for £30/month but you then must pay for the 4G router upfront (£59.99 I think).

If the indoor coverage of the network is poor but it is usable outdoors, EE can offer you an outdoor aerial installation service where they will get someone to install an outdoor aerial (about the size of a shoebox supposedly) on an exterior wall and run up to 5 metres of cable to the supplied 4G router for £100 including the aerial & cable. Even if reception indoors is usable an external aerial can deliver a stronger signal and more likely faster & more consistent speeds. 3 don't offer such a service at present, though it is possible to connect their router to an outdoor aerial that you'll have to buy and install yourself (or someone who knows what they're doing).

Worth remembering that both EE and 3 have only a small share of users in NI, so the chances of their cell sites becoming congested is low especially their rural sites.

As mentioned earlier neither O2 or Vodafone offer distinct 4G home broadband packages, rather they're aimed at on-the-go travelling use. MiFis usually have a WiFi access point that is much weaker than is used for home routers and rarely have external aerial or ethernet ports. If O2 or Vodafone are the only options, they both do sim-only deals which can run on 30 day contracts rather than tying you into 18-24 month contracts when they supply a "free" MiFi or USB dongle that doesn't cost much. Vodafone's highest data cap is 50GB a month, O2's is 40GB.

Vodafone - https://www.vodafone.co.uk/shop/bundles-and-sims/sim-only-data-bundles/
O2 - https://www.o2.co.uk/shop/sim-cards/sim-only-deals#deviceType=other&contractLength=P30D

You would then need to source your own 4G home router. Some "normal" routers wherever they have a built-in ADSL or VDSL modem or not are capable of using a 3G or 4G data signal from a USB dongle plugged into its USB port and use it as an internet connection that it can then use. There is a lot of variation out there as to what routers can do that and what dongles they support to go into any depth here, but as an example I have in the past used a TP-Link WD8968 ADSL Modem/Router with a Huawei E169 2G/3G USB data dongle. For whatever reason the mobile data speed was limited to a download speed of 1Mbps (the E169 is 3G HSPA 7.2Mbps capable) but it was a reliable connection. I 'think' there are some routers that are capable of being connected to an Android smartphone and use mobile phone data via Android's "tethering via USB" mode, but I'll need to read more on that, it's been a while since I last checked on it.

If you go down the 4G data route, ensure that you get written confirmation that you can get 7 or 14 days to try the service out at home to see if it works satisfactorily for you whereby if it doesn't you can cancel and return their equipment for no charge other than either the first month's charge or on a pro rata basis. Especially important if you end up taking a 12-24 month contract.

Finally, a bit on BBS mentioned at the start of this post. If you live on a premises where BT can't offer you a broadband service over ADSL or VDSL that's at least* 2Mbps download speed then the UK government (provided for in NI by the Dept. for the Economy) can subsidise the cost for you to be able to get at least a 10Mbps download & 1Mbps upload speed via an alternative provider. There's no fixed subsidy voucher cost but it does have a maximum value of £350. How this subsidy is applied varies across providers that are registered with the BBS, some use it to cover the relevant home equipment & its installation while others might use it to cover part of the installation fee and also subsidise the monthly cost of the service for the minimum term of the contract. None of the main mobile networks are registered with BBS, but there are a couple of registered providers available in NI that are data resellers of a mobile network who use those networks to provide their own data service and package (a bit like Tesco & Giffgaff sell their services using the O2 network, or Virgin & Asda using EE's network). It might be worth looking into if a FWA provider isn't available or desired.

https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/articles/northern-ireland-better-broadband-scheme





*I'm not 100% sure wherever they mean "up to and including 2Mbps" or "lower than 2Mbps".
« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 09:05:38 PM by Fionntamhnach »
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giveherlong

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Re: Broadband
« Reply #44 on: March 05, 2018, 10:59:14 AM »
Thanks for the detailed response- much appreciated
Got the voucher through this morning so must look at those providers