Best broadband deals in the UK
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What types of broadband deals are there?
Depending on where you live, you may be able to choose from a range of broadband suppliers and types of deals. It’s always worth doing your research to see which firm can offer you the best price for your Internet plan.
There are 3 main types of broadband connection, and different providers offer a range of packages based on these connection methods. Where you live will affect which types you can access.
Firstly, there is standard ADSL broadband, which uses the existing telephone network and offers speeds of up to 11Mbps. This connection used to be the most common for household customers, but over time, consumers have increasingly opted for fibre-optic broadband, which delivers higher speeds through fibre-optic cables.
Finally, households that can’t access fibre-optic broadband but still want a fast connection may be able to get mobile broadband. This method uses the same 4G network that your smartphone uses. This type of connection is increasing in popularity as consumers move away from getting fixed-line connections.
Regularly shopping around pays off: When we checked in July 2021, the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive basic 36Mbps fibre connection was around £5 a month, but this can be higher at different times of the year.
While it’s possible to get a standalone Internet plan, major providers typically offer bundles combining several services such as broadband, landline calls, mobile contracts and TV.
Larger suppliers like Sky, BT and Virgin Media regularly market package deals. If you find the right deal, you can save a decent amount when compared to the cost of getting the services separately.
According to the industry watchdog Ofcom, 80% of UK households buy bundled services from telecom firms as opposed to buying each service separately.
Broadband jargon explained
Before you start reading, it might be a good idea to get your head around some of the terminology used when talking about broadband.
- Mbps stands for megabits per second (Mbps), which is the speed at which your Internet downloads or uploads information. The higher the Mbps, the faster your connection. The fastest connections available offer speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). 1 Gbps is equivalent to 1,000 Mbps.
- Full fibre or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) is a type of high-speed Internet connection that links directly to your home instead of relying on copper cables from a network cabinet operated by BT Openreach near your home.
- Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) is a type of connection that is brought to a customer’s home by fibre-optic cables that connect to a roadside cabinet. A copper wire then carries the connection from the cabinet to the home. This is the most common connection for home broadband users and is slower than full fibre or fibre-to-the-premises.
- Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) broadband is the most basic broadband connection, which uses the existing telephone to provide an Internet connection and offers speeds of up to 10-11 Mbps.
- Openreach is the name of a BT-owned company that owns all of the pipes and telephone lines that connect nearly all of the UK to the Internet.
- Download speed is the speed at which your connection downloads information from the Internet, whether that’s web pages, images or videos for example.
How to choose the right broadband plan
- Shop around just before your contract ends. Your power as a customer is strongest just as your existing broadband contract comes to an end. Your current supplier will be keen to keep your business and may be willing to offer a discounted deal to keep you on board. Switching is likely to get you big savings, so if your current supplier isn’t up to scratch, vote with your feet.
- Check what speeds you can reasonably expect where you live. Ofcom has a handy online tool to show you what kind of download speeds you can expect in your area. Knowing what kinds of speeds you can expect will help you narrow down your search from all the available suppliers.
- Make sure your comparison search covers your area. When doing an online comparison search, you may find a package that offers great value, but it may not be available in your area. So make sure to type in your postcode before you hit “search” to avoid disappointment.
- Check the total minimum cost. While most customers shopping around are likely to look at the monthly cost of any new Internet plan, it’s important to understand how much you’re likely to pay over the life of the whole contract. This may include any upfront postage or set-up costs.
- Look out for bundle discounts. Larger providers like BT, Virgin Media and Sky offer Internet plans as part of larger bundles that can include pay TV packages, landline and mobile services. These can represent good value if you’re happy for all these services to be provided together.
Cheapest standard broadband deal we found in July 2021 (11 Mbps)
- Monthly payment = £17.99
- Upfront cost = £0
- Full contract cost (18 months) = £323.82
- Price per month overall = £17.99
Most costly standard broadband deal we found in July 2021 (10Mbps)
- Monthly payment = £27.99
- Upfront cost = £10
- Full contract cost (24 months) = £681.76
- Price per month overall = £28.41
How to switch broadband
Once you’ve decided to switch broadband suppliers, your best bet is to use an online comparison site, as they can show you a range of deals from different firms in one place.
Before making the switch, make sure you’re able to move without paying any hefty penalty charges. Suppliers can make it difficult to switch away before the end of a contract by levying an extra charge to let you out of your contract early.
Once you’ve decided which package you want and you’ve read all the conditions attached to it, make your purchase and give your details to your new supplier. Most providers make it easy to switch to them when you buy online.
Switching from an Openreach service
If the supplier you’re switching away from uses the Openreach phone network, then you won’t need to tell that firm that you’re leaving – this is all arranged automatically by your new supplier.
You should then automatically receive letters from both your current supplier and your new supplier, which have to include certain pieces of information, including the services you’re switching, any early contract termination charges you may have to pay and how your switch may affect other services you may have with the firm you’re switching your Internet plan away from.
Your new provider will need to give you an expected date for your switch over to be completed. This typically takes around 2 weeks.
Switching from a non-Openreach service
If you’re switching to, or from, a fibre-to-the-premise or “full-fibre” service or a provider that doesn’t use the Openreach network, such as Virgin Media’s cable service, you will need to stop your service with your current provider and start a new service with a new provider. You should contact both providers.
Your old provider will confirm that your contract is ending, and explain any charges that might apply, while your new provider will let you know when your new contract will start.
If you use a bundle of services with a provider, like home phone and broadband, you’ll usually be switched in one of the ways outlined above, but your landline will probably need to be cancelled at the same time.
Home broadband came under the spotlight during lockdown, with 60% of the UK’s adult population working from home at the peak.”
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