Could you save money by lowering your broadband speed?

Many of us don't really need the top speeds we pay for - you may be able to save on broadband without any real drawbacks.

Monday, 20 February, 2023

In the UK, we’re currently enduring the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse.

In order of their arrival, they are Brexit, the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and spiralling inflation.

Each would have been damaging in isolation. Collectively, they’re bringing misfortune to millions.

The ensuing economic struggles have seen households up and down the country attempting to rein in spending and save money wherever they can.

Perhaps surprisingly, internet bandwidth represents one of the few areas of domestic consumption where costs can be cut without affecting overall quality of life.

A highly elastic band’

Internet contracts are typically negotiated according to the highest bandwidth a line into a domestic dwelling can support.

If you have a Fibre to the Cabinet connection, your speed will often be capped at either 35 or 65Mbps, and there’s no reason to accept a connection speed any slower than that.

Yet full fibre connections operate at a different level entirely, and it may not be necessary to maintain them at their peak rate.

Many of today’s full fibre cables are capable of speeds which simply aren’t necessary at present, though they are futureproofed against increasing levels of demand.

A household routinely streaming 8K video content would benefit from a download speed of 1,000Mbps, but these services don’t exist as of February 2023.

In fact, as we recently reported, you’ll struggle to find 4K content online. HD tends to be the default file standard for video streaming services, but it wouldn’t ruffle a gigabit connection.

If you’re currently subscribed to a 1Gbps connection, there’s a high chance that you won’t even be using a fraction of your available bandwidth for 99 per cent of the time.

If that’s the case, you could enjoy an equivalent service on a 300Mbps line, or even a 100Mbps connection. And since these are cheaper, that could yield a significant saving.

But are there any drawbacks to lowering broadband connection speeds from a previously higher threshold?

Bait and switch

The transition to a lower internet speed isn’t heralded by any dramatic events like flashing router lights or messages on your internet browser.

If you were using less bandwidth than the revised connection supports, lowering broadband connection speeds might not even result in a discernible drop in connection standards.

You’ll have the same wireless router (for better or worse), the same monthly billing process (though somewhat cheaper) and the same online experience (during normal activities).

The only time you might notice the difference between a 100Mbps line and one ten times faster is if several people are simultaneously attempting data-intensive tasks.

Uploads can also be an issue – photographers sending RAW files or YouTubers wanting to upload their latest content might notice diminishing connection speeds more acutely.

Otherwise, lowering broadband connection speeds shouldn’t affect your online experiences. Yet it could save money on your internet contract every month.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!