Last month, we switched to Vodafone as our new Internet Service Provider (ISP) at home.
We’ve been with Now Broadband (Sky’s budget brand) since autumn 2018, who, at the time, could offer us faster speeds for less money. And they’ve been pretty good; when I was working at home full-time during lockdown, I rarely had any issues. Our bandwidth was sufficient for me to participate in online meetings whilst our (then) four-year-old watched Netflix in another room. Our typical download speeds were in the 35-40 Mbps:
But then Now raised their prices by £9 per month. They probably told us that they would do this, but I have no recollection of being informed in advance.
Finding a new ISP
Meanwhile, Vodafone could offer faster speeds and a new router, for £2 less than Now before the price rise. So, we would be getting a better service, and paying £11 less per month for it than if we stayed with Now.
We used the MoneySavingExpert broadband comparison tool, which showed that Vodafone was the cheapest big name that didn’t have a poor customer service rating. Shell Energy were cheaper, but their customer service isn’t great and they’ve just been taken over by Octopus Energy who don’t currently offer broadband.
The switchover took a couple of hours, and seemed to happen early in the morning, so by 7am we were already online with Vodafone. And the speeds are much better – around 75 Mbps download and 19 Mbps upload, so almost twice as fast. Considering that this is over DSL, I’m impressed with how fast it is.
The new Vodafone broadband hub is also better than the basic Now broadband router that we had previously. It has four 1 Gbps Ethernet sockets for a start, compared to just two on the Now router; this means I no longer need a separate Ethernet switch. It also looks nicer; it’s free-standing but has mounting holes on the back for screws.
Digital Voice Line
The hub also supports Digital Voice Line, where your phone calls are made over the internet, rather than PSTN. Openreach intend to switch off the analogue phone network in two years time, so switching now is timely. This means that our landline phone plugs into the hub, rather than the micro-filter attached to the master phone socket. That being said, since the switchover, our phone hasn’t actually worked. The fact that it took me several days to realise shows how much we use our landline, but I’ll need to get on to Vodafone to have them look into it.
As with all changes to a new ISP, over the first few weeks there was a little instability with the connection. But it’s settled down now and works well. The other issue I had early on was with connecting to my Raspberry Pi externally, as port forwarding didn’t seem to work properly. This was a bit of a gut punch, considering how much effort it took me to get Home Assistant working with HTTPS, but it seems to be sorted now.
If it’s been a while since you switched your ISP, I would recommend that you do a quick check to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. Broadband providers make a lot of money from people who just let their contracts auto-renew. Even if you’re happy with your current ISP, you could try haggling with them to see if they can offer you a cheaper package.