Broadband was a vital utility even before 2020 came along and upended everything; now, it’s more important than ever before.
It’s something we all need or want, but things aren’t always straightforward when it comes to choosing a deal. With a massive range of providers and packages and no shortage of technical terminology to contend with, how do you make sure you’re making the right choice?
In this guide we made in collaboration with Broadband Genie, we’ll offer up a few top tips to help you get the best broadband deal.
What should you look for when comparing broadband deals?
Getting the best broadband deal isn’t as simple as just finding the cheapest broadband deal. If it’s too slow or doesn’t have the features you need, then it’s not delivering the best value for your money.
When selecting a broadband provider, there are a few things to consider to make sure you’re getting the right kind of service.
The speed of a connection directly impacts how you use the broadband, so it’s essential to get this right; you don’t want something too slow, but you also don’t want to pay for a high-speed connection that isn’t being used to its full potential.
Fibre optic broadband is the best choice for most homes. A majority of the cheapest fibre deals offer an average speed of around 35Mb. Individuals with very light usage requirements (web browsing, email, social media) can get by with something slower, but only consider this if you’re simply looking for the cheapest possible deal. Fibre is a must for homes where two or more people share the broadband.
As a rough guide, allow a speed of 10Mb per person, plus another 10Mb for every person who will regularly use the connection for demanding activities like video streaming and online gaming.
A phone line is required for most broadband services. Some providers do offer broadband without a phone line, but it’s not necessarily cheaper.
If you use the landline phone regularly, select a broadband deal that includes an inclusive calling bundle, so you’re not paying for every call. Otherwise, this aspect of a package is irrelevant – it might be included anyway, but make sure you’re not being charged extra for a feature you’re never going to use.
TV and broadband bundles may save money compared to the cost of purchasing each service by itself. But premium TV packages can get pricey so cutting back here is an easy win. Don’t get broadband and TV unless you’re going to get lots of value out of it. If you don’t care about live TV, you can switch to streaming instead (and this doesn’t require a TV licence unless you use iPlayer).
Free gifts and rewards
Plenty of deals include free gifts like shopping vouchers and prepaid credit cards, and these are well worth hunting down because they can add a significant amount of value. When comparing deals, look for an effective monthly price comparison that takes these offers into account (or do it yourself by multiplying the monthly price by the length of the contract and deducting the gift’s value).
Be sure to read the terms of any offer to know exactly what you need to do to claim a freebie.
The best value deals will tie you into a contract for at least 12 months, and there will almost always be a cancellation fee if you leave early. Short term – or no contract – deals are out there, but you’ll pay more for setup and they can have higher monthly fees.
Monthly cost and setup cost
The monthly price can stay fixed for the length of the contract, but mid-contract price rises are possible unless you choose a provider which offers a fixed-price guarantee.
Setup fees are usually relatively cheap but can be higher if you get a TV bundle (as there’s often a fee for the TV box) or need a new phone line (including reactivation of an existing line). Many deals are available with free setup, but it’s important to note a new phone line will still incur costs in that situation.
Switch or stay: what happens at the end of your contract?
Many broadband providers will tempt you with a low price for the initial contract term, but once that period is over, you can face much higher costs as the monthly price increases. So, in the interests of keeping your expenses as low as possible, you’ll want to either switch providers or renegotiate the deal at the end of each contract term.
Switching broadband is often the simplest way to save money because you can take advantage of the generous offers used to lure in new customers.
And switching is often effortless. The majority of ISPs use the Openreach (BT telephone line) network, so in many cases, you barely have to do anything beyond choosing a new deal because, when you move between Openreach providers, the new service will handle the switch.
Even if you are moving to a different network (from BT to Virgin Media, for example), there isn’t a great deal to do except contact the old provider to cancel. Though you will need to make sure that you get the date of cancellation lined up with the activation of your new broadband to make sure you’re not left without internet access for an extended period. Enter your postcode into a broadband checker to find what deals are available.
Renegotiating your current broadband deal
Even if you’re otherwise happy with your current broadband provider, don’t just let your contract continue without speaking to them because you’ll probably end up paying a lot more for the privilege.
Once the initial term is coming to an end, give them a call and discuss what they can offer you to stay. Come to the conversation armed with examples of deals from other providers so you can compare their offer to the rest of the market and make it clear that you’re willing to switch if they don’t make it worth your while to stay.