How to choose broadband for a second home
By Claire Nottage | Wednesday, July 28th 2021
Whether you have a holiday home in the UK, or a second property that you visit regularly for work reasons, it is not unreasonable to expect to have a decent broadband connection when you get there.
Depending on how long you stay there, how frequently you visit, how much you want to spend and what you want to use your internet connection for, there are various options open to you. From cheap 18-month contracts to 4G home broadband, this guide looks at the choices you have for getting broadband in your second home.
Choosing broadband for a second home
If you have a second home that you like to visit a few times a year, perhaps in the school holidays, but is empty the rest of the time, then you have three options. One-month broadband that you can cancel without penalty, a long 18-month contract that means you don’t have to rearrange a service every time you visit (and may well work out cheaper), or 4G home broadband that removes the need for cabling and can easily be cancelled.
You will need to have a phone line
Unless you decide to get 4G home broadband, you will need to have an active phone line installed and pay line rental – whether you are there or not. The exception to this is Virgin Media, which operates its own network and can provide broadband without a phone line (albeit at greater cost than a broadband and phone package).
Monthly rolling-contract broadband
On the face of it, this would seem like the ideal solution if you only want to be paying for broadband while you are staying in your second home. In reality, it depends on how frequently you are there, because no-contract broadband works out more expensive on a monthly basis than an 18-month contract broadband.
If you only visit your home twice a year or enjoy an extended stay there a few months each year, then 30-day broadband is probably a good idea. If you visit several times a year, consider signing up for an 18-month contract.
Only three providers offer one-month broadband contracts – NOW Broadband, Direct Line and Virgin Media.
No-contract NOW Broadband
NOW offers both rolling one-month contracts and 12-month contracts. The monthly price is the same but there is a £60 upfront cost if you want to have the option to cancel at any time. You can choose from standard or fibre broadband packages. If you want to keep stopping and starting your service however, this may not be a good bet financially.
Virgin Media one-month broadband
Virgin offers a one-month rolling broadband contract, with a choice of speeds from 50Mbps to 500Mbps and you have to give 30 days’ notice if you want to cancel, which, if you visit several times a year, could become a hassle. You can choose speeds from 50Mbps to 500Mbps.
A one-month contract with Virgin works out very expensive. Not only is the monthly price almost double that of the comparable 18-month contract, but there is also an £80 upfront fee. If you only visit once or twice a year, a one-month broadband deal with Virgin Media is going to work out a rather expensive way of getting online. However, if you want or need Virgin’s high speeds, the option is there.
One-month broadband with Direct Line
Direct Line offers both standard and fibre broadband packages up to 63Mbps on a rolling monthly contract with an upfront cost of around £25. The monthly price is greater than that of an 18-month contract, but not prohibitively so. Plus, Direct Line carries its broadband services via the Openreach network so there is a good chance that it will be available wherever your second home is located.
Cheap 18-month broadband contracts
In most cases, a long-term broadband contract may well work out better both financially and practically for your second home. It gives you peace of mind knowing that your broadband service will be ready as soon as you arrive and removes the need to remember to arrange it before every visit – and cancel it after.
It’s well worth shopping around to see what the best broadband deals are currently available. If you have fibre at home, then you may well expect the same speeds when you are away; equally, a standard broadband service will work out cheaper if you are not there most of the time and can live without fibre for a short period.
Add in a calls package if you are there for long periods
The vast majority of broadband deals come with a pay-as-you-go calls package with line rental, so at least you won’t be paying for inclusive calls when you aren’t there. Equally, if you spend months at a time away from home, it might be worth signing up for a calls package. You can see all the latest broadband deals on our broadband comparison page.
4G or 5G mobile home broadband
Some properties might be better off with a mobile broadband connection, depending on the location and the quality of the signal. Very remote properties can suffer with slow broadband and 4G broadband could offer you a better speed than a cabled connection. You can get a 4G or 5G router, a Mifi unit or just use your phone to get online. EE, Three and Vodafone all offer 4G and 5G (where available) home broadband.
Broadband and TV bundles for your second home
Although you can of course sign up for a big broadband and TV package with the likes of Virgin Media, BT or Sky, if you have a Smart TV or a streaming stick such as Chromecast or Roku, your best bet is to sign up for Netflix and any other streaming services you want (if you don’t already have them at home).
You can sign up for a month and then cancel when you like. Unless you want to watch live TV, using streaming services removes the need to pay for a second TV licence, although if you want to watch BBC iPlayer you will still need a licence.
Watching Netflix in your second home
There is no minimum term contract with Netflix, so you can sign up and cancel when you want. If you already have Netflix at home, you can simply log in and watch it on another device wherever you want – there is no need to take out a second subscription.
Netflix offers three subscription levels. The entry level allows for watching on one device, the standard level permits two devices and includes HD, and the premium level allows for four devices and throws in access to Ultra HD. If you are likely to be leaving someone in your main property who will be watching Netflix while you are away, or if you have a large second home where you are likely to be having people watching different things on Netflix at different times, you will need a subscription level that permits more than one device.
Watching NOW TV in your second home
NOW TV offers the perfect solution to short term televisual entertainment with its TV Memberships. Choose from Entertainment, Movies, Sport, Kids and Hayu, all available in one-month Memberships. If there is a big match on while you are away, you also have the option to sign up for NOW TV Sports for just one day. The NOW TV Boost offers TV in full HD and allows you to stream on three devices rather than the standard two.
Watching Amazon Prime in your second home
If you don’t already pay for Amazon Prime at home, you can sign up for a month and then cancel. Amazon allows you to watch on up to three different devices at once as standard.
Watching Disney Plus in your second home
If you are taking the kids with you, Disney Plus may be a necessity, especially for rainy day entertainment when a trip to the beach isn’t an option. If you already have it at home, then you can simply log in while you are away. If not, you can just sign up for one month. Disney Plus allows subscribers to watch on up to four devices at once and download movies or TV shows on up to ten devices.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use my phone’s data for tethering in my second home?
Yes, but you need to check whether your provider allows tethering and whether your data allowances will be sufficient for streaming TV. Also, make sure you check what your mobile signal is like at your second home before you decide to rely on it.
Is satellite broadband any good for a remote second home?
Satellite broadband does offer a solution for properties that struggle to receive any other kind of signal, with monthly payments not so different from cabled broadband. However, there is no rolling contract option available and the initial set up cost can be pricey. Also, think about whether you really want a satellite dish on your holiday property.
Can I just get a dongle for my laptop to watch TV?
Yes, if you have a good enough mobile signal that won’t interrupt your viewing, and unlimited data on your dongle, then this is a potentially good solution. However, watching on a laptop screen is probably not very comfortable for more than a couple of people.
Do I have to have a phone line into my second home?
If you want cabled broadband, you will have to have a phone line installed, unless you are happy to use a 4G or 5G mobile signal. Virgin Media does not require a phone line, but you will still need the cables to be fed into your property.
Where can I check availability for broadband and mobile coverage?
You can use our availability checker to find out what deals are available at your second home. For mobile coverage, visit the major providers’ websites, all of which will have information on what the signal is like in your area. However, make sure you check this yourself as well in case you are in a black spot – asking the neighbours is always a good bet.