Broadband buying guide
Choosing what you really need
The right package for you depends on several factors including how many people are in the home, what devices are used and what you do online.
Someone who lives alone, occasionally shopping and browsing online has different needs from a home full of gamers looking to download the latest releases.
To help you choose the right package, we’ve created a quiz that takes under five minutes to complete.
What do the speeds mean to you in real terms? View an estimated download time for some of the most common file types. See how choosing the right broadband package could make all the difference.
Examples are for illustrative purposes only. File sizes are indicative only and may be larger or smaller depending on content. Download times are measured in seconds and calculated using the formula file size (MB) / (download speed(Mbs) / 8) and compare KCOM’s 900Mbps Lightstream fibre to the home broadband service with Ofcom’s reported average speed for UK home broadband - FTTC connections (46.8Mbps). Please note KCOM services are subject to a traffic management policy. For more information on speeds, please visit our broadband speeds explained page.
Want to know more about our speeds?
We know how important having a fast and reliable internet connection is.
We do everything we can to improve your broadband experience, but don’t just take our word for it – read all the stats, facts, figures and FAQs so you can see for yourself just what’s going on.
How long it takes
Generally, for most providers, from order to activation it takes between 7 and 14 days for your internet to be set up and ready to use.
This depends on the type of technology used to provide broadband, if you’re a current customer with the provider, and whether you own the property or have the owners permission.
What's the difference between the internet, broadband and Wi-Fi?
The internet is an enormous network of computers, servers and other devices. The term World Wide Web (www.) describes it perfectly, it is a vast web of interconnected devices all over the world.
Although the internet is enormous and contains millions of machines, it is controlled with strict networking rules, which tell the machines how to behave and allow it to run efficiently.
Most web pages you visit, such as this one, are stored on large servers (huge computers with lots of storage) which are owned by companies such as Google or Amazon; this service is known as hosting. Although this is common practice, there are still many individuals and companies who host their own websites on their own equipment.
Due its vast size and complexity, the internet is notoriously difficult to regulate and control.
Broadband is the name of the technology which is used to connect you to the internet. It is called Broadband because the bandwidth used is wide, which allows multiple signal at once. This basically means it is quicker than a non-Broadband connection.
Do you remember the internet when you had to dial in and no one could be on the phone at the same time? That wasn't Broadband, but everything since has been.
Wi-Fi is a radio signal that allows you to connect your internet device to your KCOM router without wires. Most modern internet devices connect to your router using this radio signal and it’s a far more convenient, practical and tidy way to use the internet than by using traditional wires (Ethernet cables). As with radio signals, the further away you are from the source, or transmitter, the less powerful or clear the signal and the greater chance of interference occurring.
Just like any radio signal, Wi-Fi operates on different frequencies. When you try to connect your device to your KCOM router, you will have the option of two frequencies: a ‘5GHz’ (5G) and ‘2.4GHz’ (2.4G):
- 5GHz uses tightly bunched wavelengths that are powerful but may not travel far, depending on what’s in their way. 2.4GHz uses long shallow wavelengths that can travel further.
- That’s why the 2.4GHz network may be available in your garden, or further away from the router, and the 5GHz isn’t.
What are the download and upload speeds?
Whenever you’re choosing a new internet package, you’ll browse information on upload and download speeds. Generally, you’ll find the more you pay for your internet, the quicker the speeds.
Both are measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The more Mbps, the quicker you’ll be able to see web pages, watch videos and download music.
Download and upload speeds do the opposite thing. The download speed indicates how quickly your device will receive data from the internet – such as videos and images, whereas the upload speed tells you the rate you can put things online.
Generally, the download speed will be higher than the upload speed – as most people won’t need to upload large amounts of data to the web. People who need a larger upload speed may be business owners or video content creators.
How do I check my broadband speed?
So, you’ve just had KCOM’s ultrafast Lightstream broadband installed and you want to check if it really is as fast as they say. How do you check what speed your broadband is running at?
It’s a simple process that will only take a few minutes.
To get the most accurate reading of your broadband speed you’ll need an Ethernet cable to plug your computer into your router. That way you’ll be able to tell what speeds are being delivered directly into your home using KCOM’s Fibre To The Premises technology.
You can run speed tests on mobile devices such as tablets, but remember the speed you get over Wi-Fi can be affected by a whole host of external factors such as the number of devices being used in your home at the same time at any one time, how old your device is, interference from other appliances and even the construction of your house.
Once your computer is plugged into the router the next step is to go online and search for one of the recognised, independent speed checkers.
A wide range of speed checkers is available, the one we recommend is https://www.speedtest.net/
When you’ve chosen a checker, the process is quick and easy. You’ll need to click on a button to start the test – your download speed will be checked first followed by your upload speed and ‘ping’.
The download speed is the rate at which your computer can download information to, for instance, stream films and download games.
The upload speed is the rate at which your computer can send information back to the internet.
A ‘ping’ is how long your computer takes to respond to a request for information from the internet. The ping time is measured in milliseconds with anything under 30 milliseconds considered excellent. A ping response over 50 milliseconds is considered slow and, while not affecting normal browsing, may affect some gaming with a noticeable ‘lag’.
After a few seconds the speed checker will reveal what speeds you are receiving, allowing you to get on with whatever online activities you enjoy doing.
KCOM’s Lightstream can offer home broadband speeds up to 900Mbps, making Hull and East Yorkshire one of the best connected and fastest cities in the UK – if not the world – so if you have one of our fastest packages your download, upload and ping speeds should all be pretty impressive.
What affects my broadband speed?
Broadband speeds are based on the length of your telephone line and the distance you live from the telephone exchange. The speed range we provide is an estimate based on these factors. Average speeds are based on actual access line speeds within your postcode area.
The actual speed you receive can be influenced by a number of factors, such as: connecting wirelessly; the wiring in your home; the device you're using; and the website or services you're connecting to.
Your service can also be affected during peak times and during major events such as TV or sporting events you may experience slower speeds.
Just like when you listen to your favourite radio station, interference can disrupt the signal between the source it’s transmitted from (in this case, your KCOM router) and your device. Although the standard KCOM router provides one of the strongest available Wi-Fi signals, interference can come from the following:
- Baby monitor
- Tree lights or string lights
You can reduce interference in a few ways:
- Router position: making sure your router is closer to your device and away from the culprits mentioned above will help.
- Ensuring you’re on the right channel. Your router works on one of 12 or 13 Wi-Fi channels. If your neighbour’s Wi-Fi is operating on the same or a nearby channel, the interference from their Wi-Fi may be affecting yours. Changing your Wi-Fi channel may reduce interference to your signal.
My speeds are slow - what can I do?
Over the past few years, streaming services like Sky On Demand, Netflix, and Amazon Prime have become more and more popular. This puts a higher demand on the internet and the speeds offered. Unlike in some areas of the country, connections have got faster here in the Hull area, and with Lightstream becoming available to many more customers, we're offering the best fibre to the home service in the country.
Unfortunately, some of us aren't getting the speeds we should be, and this can be for several reasons. Depending on how far your home is from your local telephone exchange, your internet connection might not be able to be improved. However, if our broadband speed checker says you should be getting faster than what you are (on a hardwired connection), there are a few checks you can do yourself to try and improve your internet speeds.
If you feel you’re not getting the speeds you should be you should give our Technical Support Team a call on 01482 606101. These broadband experts are specially trained to identify in-home problems and help customers get the best out of their Lightstream service.
What will happen to my existing phone/broadband service?
I'm an existing KCOM broadband customer:
On switchover day, your phone line and internet may be down temporarily, if so our engineers will make sure your line is back up and running before they leave.
I'm a KCOM phone customer but I don't currently have broadband:
On switchover day, your telephone line will be turned off for no more than a few minutes while we switch on your fibre connection.
I'm not currently a KCOM customer:
On switchover day, we'll connect both your phone and broadband so you can start enjoying your new fibre service right away.
Can I rearrange my install appointment?
Yes, you can, and it's free of charge if rearranged before the installation date. If you make an appointment and miss it without letting us know, or there's no one aged over 18 in the household on the day, we reserve the right to charge a missed appointment fee of £120.