Don't be fooled: as much as they try and disguise it, broadband is a big annual cost once you add in obligatory line rental. New advertising rules that'll be firmly in place from Nov should make it all clearer, but for now, add up what you truly pay a year, eg, here are the big firms' current standard unlimited broadband & line costs.- BT £432 a year (£17.99/mth line rental and £18/mth broadband)
- Sky £330 a year (£17.40/mth line rental and £10/mth broadband)
- TalkTalk £300 a year (£17.70/mth line rental and £7.50/mth broadband)
- Virgin (fibre) £440 a year (£17.99/mth line rental and £19/mth broadband)
Once you know the cost, you can see the savings from promo deals. As Ross tweeted us, "Changed from BT £55/mth to Sky £27/mth. No drop in net speed, only in price." That's a £330/yr saving. Here are today's hot promos but don't stop there - read on for ways to cut the cost further.
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Cheap standard broadband & line rental bundle deals
Cut-price offers, should do for most normal usage.
1. Ends Thu. A stonkingly good deal, but it's from TalkTalk - just £198 for 1yr and many get a £120 Argos/Boots etc voucher. If you're eligible for the voucher (to get it you must be switching from Sky, BT or Plusnet), on price it's unbeatable, as if you'd spend £120 anyway in one of these shops, factor it in and it's just £78 for 1yr (before calls), equivalent to £6.50/mth.
Yet it's TalkTalk, which has a pretty dire reputation. It scored just 20% great, 47% poor in our Jan poll (though some of that is likely a remnant of its much-publicised hack last year). So is it worth it? You need to make your own mind up on price vs service. Here's how the cost breaks down...
1. Sign up by 11.59pm Thu 12 May. To get this 1yr contract deal, you need to go via this specific TalkTalk link*.
2. Paying a year's line rent upfront is cheapest. It's £191.16 (equiv £16/mth), which you opt for once signed up (this is what we base our calcs on). If not, it's £17.70 monthly. No calls included - for call prices, see TalkTalk costs.
3. Broadband's 'free' for the year's contract. It's unltd download up-to-17Mb (avail to 97% of the UK), though you pay a one-off £6.75p&p for a compulsory router. After the contract the b'band's £7.50/mth.
4. Switch from Sky, Plusnet or BT and you get a £120 Love2Shop vch. If you're switching from elsewhere, I wouldn't bother with this deal. The voucher's automatically sent within 28 days of activation & can be used in Debenhams, Boots, Argos, etc - see a full list. It's worth noting if you've ad or cookie blocking software, turn it off or it mightn't track.
- No line/switching from cable? Don't bother with this, installation's £25 and you DON'T get the vch. There are better deals below.
2. Sky is £216 for a year plus you get a £100 M&S voucher. If you'd spend the £100 at M&S anyway, factor it in and it's just £116 for 1yr (before calls), equivalent to £9.65/mth. And customer service is OK. In our Jan poll (for phone & broadband) it scored 37% great, 24% poor. Here's the breakdown..
1. Sign up by 30 Jun. To qualify for this 1yr contract, visit this Sky link*. Not avail to existing custs or if you've had Sky in past 12mths.
2. Pay line rental monthly. Here you must pay £17.40/mth (so over the year it's £209). No calls are included - for prices, see Sky costs.
3. B'band's 'free' for the 1yr contract. It's unltd download up-to-17Mb (avail to 90% of the UK), though you pay a one-off £6.95p&p for the compulsory router. After the contract the b'band's £10/mth.
4. You must CLAIM your £100 M&S voucher within 90 days of broadband activation. Sadly it's not automatic - go to the Sky website and log in using your account details. The voucher should be emailed within 5-10 days.
- No line/switching from cable? Installation's £20 (you do get the vch).
- Pay by direct debit. You won't be able to get this deal otherwise.
Cheap FAST fibre broadband & line rental bundle deals
Useful for lots of downloading, streaming, heavy gaming, or if many people use the connection at the same time.
3. Ends Thu. Pay £401 for year's 52Mb fibre with BT and get £155 back. If you've a need for speed, this is strong, but you can't get it if you currently have BT broadband (fine if you've its phone or had its broadband before).
Add up activation, line & b'band (not calls) & it's £401 for 1yr. Factor in the £155 back (see below), and it's £246 for 1yr (before calls), equivalent to £21/mth. It's a well-known name, and many rate it, though it's not too high in our service poll at 27% great, 36% poor. Here's the cost breakdown.
1. Sign up by 11.59pm Thu 12 May. To get this 1yr contract deal, you'll need to go via this specific BT link*.
2. Paying a year's line rent upfront is cheapest. It's £194.28 (equiv £16/mth) which you opt for in the sign-up process (this is what we base our calcs on). If not, it's £17.99 monthly (£18.99/mth from 3 July). Weekend calls to UK landlines are included - see BT call costs.
3. Pay £12.50/mth for broadband. This is an unlimited up-to-52Mb broadband deal (avail to 83% of the UK) and the price is locked in for the year (£26/mth after). There's also a £49 activation fee, plus you pay £7.95p&p for a compulsory 'free' BT Infinity Hub router.
4. You must CLAIM the £125 Mastercard and £30 cashback. Both sadly aren't automatic - they need claiming after your broadband's active, and it WON'T remind you.
a) You get £125 on a prepaid Mastercard, which you can spend like any plastic. Bookmark this Claim £125 Mastercard form to get it.
b) Via the link above you also get a £30 cheque via this £30 cashback form. This & the Mastercard should arrive within 30 days.
- No line/switching from cable? Installation's free (and you get the Mastercard and cashback).
- BT Sport Lite's included. Or see more on getting all BT Sport.
4. SSE has up to 76Mb fibre for £378 over 18mths, good service rating, anytime landline calls. Hear SSE and most think energy, not broadband. Yet it's been branching out and its max speed is a fast 'up to' 76Mb. It's a straightforward £21/mth deal (before calls), but you're locked in for an 18mth contract. Here's the cost breakdown...
It's not just strong on price, it's also good for service too with 65% great, 17% poor in our Jan poll (though far fewer votes as it's newish).
1. Sign up to the deal on the firm's website. This deal's available via SSE* - and it's currently due to be available until November.
2. Pay line rental monthly and you must get its 'anytime UK calls' package. Here you can only pay by the month - it's fixed at £16/mth for 18mths (£21/mth after). Yet you must get its £5/mth 'anytime UK calls to landlines' package (max 70 mins, so put the phone down and redial then). See SSE call costs.
3. Broadband is 'free' for the 18mth contract. It's an unltd up-to-76Mb fibre deal (avail to 83% of the UK) - after the contract it's £25/mth.
- Existing SSE b'band cust? You may pay a termination fee to get it.
- No line/switching from cable? Installation's free.
5. Member of a cashback site? Check if much bigger cashback is possible. Some of these deals are more lucrative via cashback sites (you can join them free). Yet the amounts can change regularly, so you'll need to check. Do ensure you're comparing like-for-like, eg, check the prices and contract lengths are the same - you may find you get more cashback but are locked in longer, meaning it's not worth it. For more help and the pros & cons of cashback sites, read our Top Cashback Sites guide.
6. Warning: BT customers, there's an up-to-£54 price hike coming, yet act now to beat it. Tell 'em you want to leave & haggle based on one of the above deals. We published our Beat BT price hikes last week - Tim followed it & tweeted: "Thanks for the BT advice. Just sorted half price for 12mths."
7. Don't want to leave? Haggle. If you’re happy with your current service but paying too much, use the deals above as a benchmark to negotiate the cost down. See my Haggling with BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk & Virgin guides.
8. How fast is your current b'band & how fast will the new one be? It's worth doing a 2-min speed test* to see how speedy your broadband actually is (try at different times of day for the best picture).
As for the new provider, it's tricky to know how quick it'll be. Firms only have to list 'up to' speeds and, outrageously, the rules say only 10% of customers need to get that speed for them to make that claim. Yet most major providers give you a minimum speed at sign-up, and if you're getting speeds 'significantly below' that, you've a right to leave penalty-free.
To find out your rights and what speed you're actually getting, see our new guide to 4 ways to see how fast your broadband will be.
9. 14 tricks to boost your CURRENT broadband speed. There's lots you can do, from good router positioning to free signal-boosting widgets, or using your home's electricity circuit to increase Wi-Fi range. See our 14 Broadband Speed Boosting Tricks.
10. Don’t want to pay line rental? Sorry. I know how much this annoys people. Our ‘Is the landline dead?’ poll showed 73% of under-65s don't have a home phone or rarely use it. Yet while there are some b'band-only deals, grrrrrr, they usually cost more than bundles with lines - so just get those and don't plug the phone in.
11. What does “available to xx% of UK" mean? Firms tend to be only able to give the really cheap prices if they have their own kit in exchanges (I'm oversimplifying, it's called 'unbundled exchanges'). Otherwise it's usually either not available, or is at a much higher price - I've listed the percentage of homes that can get them.
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