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How to choose broadband for aSecond home

For those who love escaping to a rural idyll, unshackled from the pressures and crowds of towns and cities, having a second home can quite literally be a breath of fresh air.

But while a getaway is all well and good, naturally we need to check what’s going on back home through Instagram or Facebook and, of course, catch up on our favourite Netflix shows.

So what’s the best way to be online in your holiday home? In this guide, we’ll walk you through the various options, from short-term contracts and mobile broadband to specific providers you might want to consider.

What are my broadband options for a holiday home?

It depends on your individual circumstances, but there are three main options to access the internet in your holiday home:

Mobile broadband

If you like to escape solo this is a viable option, but not great for a family getaway with several internet-hungry souls. If you only need to use a minimal amount of WiFi, you could invest in a portable hotspot (MiFi device), which you can turn on and off as you see fit.

See mobile broadband deals

Basic broadband

It could well work out cheaper to invest in a standard broadband package on a long-term contract.

See broadband deals

Short-term contracts

NOW TV supplies broadband contract-free, so you can cancel or reactivate when it suits. Or you could pick Virgin Media's 30-day rolling contract, so you pay monthly and cancel with 30 days' notice.

My second home is in a remote rural area – can I even get online?

Getting a decent internet connection in the countryside can feel like you're chasing a tantalising but short-lived technicolour rainbow. Don't despair, though, there're still plenty of broadband options to try:
 
  • ADSL broadband: the most commonly available connection is delivered through copper phone wires and is available across the UK and in even some of the furthest reaching parts of the country.
 
  • Mobile broadband: runs via the 3G and 4G mobile data networks. You'll access the internet through a wireless router, dongle or a data-only SIM card that you pop into your laptop or tablet. This relies on having the same signal that your phone uses for internet, so if you're offline on your phone, this won't be an option for you.
 
  • Firewall: delivered through fibre-optic cables, this type of broadband offers the fastest connection, though isn't available everywhere. It's best to check eligibility in your area using our postcode checker tool, or by heading to Virgin's website.
 
  • Satellite broadband: you'll need to install a satellite dish in your home for this type of connection.
 
  • Local networks: sometimes, villages band together and get a private company to install a local network, delivered through a transmitter on a high point such as a building. Subscribers then need to buy their own aerials in order to connect.
 
  • Bonded broadband: two or more standard phone lines are combined to form a single aggregated connection providing much faster speeds.
 

To help you decide what's best, check what's available in your area first using our comparison tool.

I only spend a few months a year at my holiday home, which type of broadband should I get?

The type of broadband you pick depends on whether you rent out your second home or if you leave it empty when you're not there. 

If you leave it uninhabited, get a rolling 30-day contract every time you're planning to visit. Simply order a few weeks before you go and then cancel it once you leave. Or if you're only going to use the internet occasionally, then perhaps a MiFi device is best for you. 

If, on the other hand, you rent out your property for some of the year, you can either choose short-term broadband from NOW TV or Virgin Media whenever you're staying and let your tenants sort out broadband the rest of the time. Or you could invest in a long-term contract and include the cost in the rent.

I split my time equally between two homes – what do you suggest?

You need to work out whether it's cheaper to have a long-term contract or flit between rolling monthly contracts. 

Launching a new broadband contract may well come with new setup fees every time. And bear in mind that short-term, contract-free broadband usually has higher connection fees as well as higher monthly bills.

If you spend a regular chunk of time in each home – say six months in one, followed by six months in another – then no-contract broadband might be the better option. Order from NOW TV or Virgin Media several weeks before you switch homes and remember to cancel the rolling contract for the home you're vacating.

Alternatively, if you tend to spend a few days here, a few days there whenever the fancy takes you, then it could work out as less bother and expense to invest in two long-term contracts, as if you were living in your two homes full time. It could be a similar cost overall to regularly taking out new short-term contracts, and it'll be far less hassle. Time is money, after all.

Which broadband providers are best for a second home?

We always recommend first checking what's available in your area but here're a few options to get you started:

Now TV

Get unlimited, rapid broadband on a rolling 30-day basis with access to more than 250 box sets and more movies than you can shake a stick at.

Virgin Media

This provider also offers a rolling monthly contract on its broadband, home phone and TV packages, plus some of the fastest speeds available – up to 300Mbps.

TalkTalk

Great for unlimited budget broadband, this is one of the best-value providers, giving you the option to add extra TV channels or unlimited calls.

Post Office

Another excellent broadband choice for low-cost internet, you'll have the same price fixed for 18 months, plus a free router.

What about mobile broadband deals?

Again, make sure you check your chosen mobile provider offers enough coverage where your second home is.

EE offers plenty of choice, from pay-as-you-go WiFi hotspot plans to 30-day MiFi plans and longer 12 or 24-month plans. Vodafone also provides monthly, annual and two-year MiFi plans.