In an ideal world, we wouldn’t spare our broadband connection a second thought. It should always remain in the background, seamlessly helping us connect with friends, shop online and stream our favourite TV shows. It should just work. After all, we all pay an expensive monthly fee and, at the very least, we expect a reliable and consistent service.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Since 86% of UK adults use it on a daily basis, there’s no doubting the internet has become an ever-present staple of modern society. However, much like the air we breathe, it’s something many of us take for granted; only becoming truly aware of its presence when things start to go wrong.

Of course, when things do go awry, fingers are inevitably pointed at our broadband providers, especially when we’ve attempted a few troubleshooting techniques on our end. If you find your provider is incapable of adequately solving the problem, and suddenly your superfast fibre broadband is struggling to stream an episode of Breaking Bad—then it’s probably time for you to consider switching. But where should you start?

Check the Terms of Your Contract

Your internet provider might have the worst customer service department in the world but, instead of screaming down the phone and ripping your hair out in frustration, you need to take a look at the terms of your existing contract. In most cases, your provider will allow you to cancel your contract before the agreed end date, but this will typically involve a fairly hefty termination fee.

Although there’s typically no way around paying this fee, you should certainly check to see how much an early cancellation will cost; then it’s obviously up to you to decide whether it’s worth paying. If the termination fee is too expensive, then you’ll just have to wait until your contract has run itself down.

Decide What You Need

Before you start looking at different broadband packages and weighing up the various price plans, you need to have a long hard think about what you actually need. To be more specific, you need to figure out your minimum speed requirements to make sure you aren’t staring at a buffering wheel every night.

Your speed requirements will depend entirely upon how you plan on using the internet, and how many people are likely to be connected at once. Whether you live by yourself or in a busy family household, the chances are you’ll regularly have more than one hooked up to your broadband (such as your phone and TV), and you’ll need to work out how much speed each of these devices will need.

For example, Netflix recommends a download speed of just 3 Mbps to stream a standard definition film, while a quick game of Fortnite requires exactly the same. However, this doesn’t mean you should just go for a cheap 3 Mbps package, because you’d need at least 6 Mbps to do these things at the same time.

If you haven’t invested in adequate download and upload speeds, then your bandwidth will soon become congested by your multitude of internet-enabled devices. When that happens, you’ll either be left with lagging gameplay or wondering whether that buffering wheel is ever going to stop spinning.

Investigate the Local Area

Although a particular provider might advertise speeds of up to 25 Mbps, it’s important you understand that this is the maximum speed you’re able to receive. So, before making your decision, you need to take a look into which providers offer the best coverage in your area; otherwise you could end up paying a premium price for much lower speeds.

In addition, although it’s still the most popular form of broadband in the UK, the performance of an ADSL connection will always be dependent on your home’s location from the telephone exchange. Since this type of broadband uses copper wires, the internet signal will weaken over distance, so you should certainly look into how far away you are before settling for this kind of connection.

If you live a few kilometres away from the nearest exchange (which will likely be a more rural area), then you may want to consider a fibre opting connection instead, as the use of fibre cables will seriously negate your distance from the exchange.

Compare the Best Deals

This is 2019, which probably means you’re fully aware of the multitude of price comparison sites out there. Whether you’re looking for car insurance, flights, hotels or a new mobile phone, there’s a plethora of price-spy websites to help you do a bit of bargain hunting.

Well, this is certainly the case with home broadband, and you should spend some time perusing these comparison sites to make sure you’re getting the best value for money. After all, a typical broadband contract will run between 12-18 months, so you’ll want to make sure you’re investing wisely and choosing to go with a reputable provider—which is why you should pay as much attention to the customer reviews as you do the overall price tag.

Once you’ve found a highly-rated provider which offers your minimum speeds at low prices, then you’ve made your first steps towards finally making the switch.