Watching video online? Which ISP should you use?

With more and more "events" from football matches to concerts happening online, and the BBC's iPlayer continually gaining popularity, making sure you have a fast internet connection from your ISP at home is going to be your number one goal if you don't want to play the buffer race game or experience stuttering playback.

With so many ISPs touting their services as the best, how do you know what really is the best one to sign up for? We sat down with Tom Leathes, director at top10-broadband.co.uk to get his opinion on who are the best performers right now.

The best ISP for video

Top choice for watching any video content on the internet is Virgin Media's XXL Cable package that runs on a fibre-optic cable and delivers a 50MB/sec connection into your home. Currently available in about 70% of the UK, there are no load sharing issues associated with ADSL (ie you get all 50MB rather than sharing it with others on your street) and the 50MB/sec speed is fast, damn fast. The catch is that you'll have to pay for it, prices start at around £18 a month plus your phone line bring it up to around the £30 a month marker.

A good ISP for video

If you can't get Virgin's top of the range package, Leathes suggests another, the slower Virgin Media Cable offering. It offers connections speeds of 20MB/sec and has the benefit of being available in 80% of UK homes. It won't help you, however, if you're not in a Virgin Media area at all.

A good ISP that isn't Virgin Media then, is ADSL. Decent performers, says Leathes, are BT, Be and O2 in that order, offering a range of packages that will all be fast enough to stream football, concerts and anything else for that matter into your house (read porn).

Broadband on a budget

Of course we haven't all got £360 for a year's subscription for the best package available, but that doesn't mean you've got to suffer. Those on a budget should look at Plusnet's 8MB/sec offering. It will give you an average speed of around 3 to 4MB/sec download speeds and cost £5.99 a month. At the moment Plusnet are also offering the first 3 months free making the first year a rather more price friendly £53.91.

Look for triple play deals

"When looking for value, a triple play package that bundles broadband with TV and telephony will always provide the best value at whatever speed you opt for", recommends Julian Clover at Broadbandtv.com

One final tip

A word of warning though, if you are looking to stream HD, this package isn't cut out for it. For that you will need a download speed of at least 8MB/sec to be comfortable. You can do it for less of course, but you won't get the best experience. 



>