Broadband for the over 50s

Access to the Internet brings a wealth of possibilities from shopping and booking holidays to banking, finding useful information and keeping in touch. And unlike the old dial-up connections, broadband is faster and easier if it's on all the time, it doesn't tie up your telephone line, and because you pay a flat monthly fee, you know exactly what it's going to cost. Whether you're already online, or considering having the internet at home for the first time, you might benefit from our brief guide to broadband for the over 50s.

The good news about broadband is that it's a very competitive market, which for you as a consumer means lots of choice, and very reasonable prices. Good broadband packages start from around 12 per month, and there's a whole range of options and extras to be had as well.

So how do I choose?

The first thing to do is find out what's available in your area. Not all broadband suppliers are able to cover all areas, and if you live in a town or city you might well have more choices than if you live in a rural area. A comparison website like Broadband Genie can help with this, though simply put your postcode into the free availability checker to see what's available in your area.

Having narrowed it down to what's available to you, it's likely that you'll still have a good deal of choice; so then you can start to look for what you need from a broadband package. The deals offered usually differ by speed, data allowance, length of contract, extras and bundled services and of course price.

It's often a good idea to start with so called bundled deals. Quite a few broadband providers offer reduced rates on their services if you take more than one of them, which can be a way to get a really good deal. So you might have your phone line and phone calls from the same supplier as your broadband, and you'll get a good rate on both, often with free evening or weekend calls thrown in too. The same might apply with digital TV or mobile phone services.

Alternatively, you might be offered a good deal from a company that you're already with for another service for example at the moment mobile phone provider O2 is offering its existing mobile phone customers an excellent price on its broadband.

The next thing to look at is speed, but unless you're used to a really fast connection or do a lot of online gaming you'll probably find that any package offering 2Mbps speed will be fine in terms of broadband for the over 50s.

Download allowance is the next thing to take note of. This is a limit on how much data you're allowed to transfer through your connection per month. Some deals have limits, some claim to be 'unlimited' but are subject to a fair usage policy - but again, unless you're a heavy internet user who downloads a lot of films it's unlikely that download limits will be a problem.

And then there's contract length. Signing up to a contract allows the provider to waive the setup fee, but a long contract does prevent you from shopping around for a better deal for a while. If signing up to a contract doesn't suit you then there are suppliers which offer short flexible contracts; if not 12 and 18 month contracts are the norm.

And finally there is now a pretty good alternative to fixed line broadband, in the shape of mobile broadband. If you travel a lot and want to connect on the move, or if you want to bypass all the cables and routers involved in fixed line broadband, you could look into mobile broadband, which uses a USB modem to connect you to the internet via the mobile networks. As yet it's not quite as fast as fixed broadband, but it has the advantage of being able to connect you, wherever you go.

Finding Broadband for the over 50s shouldn't be a headache, and the important thing is to shop around to get the best price available. But the good news there is that broadband comparison sites like Broadband Genie do all the hard work for you, offering like-for-like comparisons and taking you straight through to the suppliers page once you've found what you need.

About the author: Chris Marling is editor of, the independent comparison website for broadband and mobile broadband.

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