Choosing an internet connection for your care home

Overview 

Find out the essential things to know before you upgrade or take out a new internet contract for your care home during Coronavirus (COVID-19).

1. Broadband speed and availability in your area

Check the speed of your current internet service and the types of internet service available in your area on Ofcom’s website

Knowing what kind of internet service you currently have will help you decide whether you need to upgrade or look for a new deal. 

2. Contracts and costs

Check you’re no longer within the minimum term of your current contract (usually between 12 and 36 months). If you are, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to swap to a new supplier without paying a penalty. 

If you want to upgrade your current contract with your existing supplier, contact them to see if it’s possible. 

When deciding on a deal, the cheapest package might not necessarily be best for your needs (if it’s not fast enough to support several video calls, for instance). 

3. Types of internet services 

When you talk to a supplier for more information about a deal, find out if it offers unlimited data. If it does not, you may:

  • be charged extra when you go over the limit
  • find your internet speed is reduced if you go over a supplier's 'fair use' policy

Standard broadband 
Speed: up to 30Mbps
Good for: Small care homes 
What you can do
You can email and browse the internet. Standard broadband is for very light users. 

Superfast broadband
Speed: between 30Mbps and 300Mbps
Good for: Small to medium care homes
What you can do
You can have more than one device connected at the same time using email and the internet.  Superfast broadband usually supports up to 10 different video calls at the same, but this depends on the available speeds in your location.

Ultrafast broadband 
Speed: greater than 300Mbps
Good for: Medium to large care homes
What you can do
You can have many devices connected at the same time and will be able to support multiple video calls and other digital services. This depends on the available speeds in your location.

Ethernet 
Speed: up to 1Gbps 
Good for: Large care homes
What you can do
This is business standard so you can run group video calls and have many devices performing multiple tasks at the same time. You may need an engineer to install it.

4. Installation

How your internet service is installed depends on what you already have in place. 

You may: 

  • decide you need to have more than one router and wifi access points on different floors, for instance, so that your signal remains strong in different rooms
  • need an engineer to carry out a site survey and install new cabling, which could increase costs

If an engineer needs to visit, they will follow social distancing rules and we advise you to discuss this with the supplier before the visit.

Depending on the needs of your care home, you can decide whether a visit from an engineer should happen during Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Your supplier will advise on what equipment you’ll need to get set up. 

More information     

View the internet connection deals for care homes.

Read our guide on using digital services in your care home.

You can contact NHS Digital by email: accesslogistics.hub@nhs.net