How to find cheap broadband deals

Do you need fibre?, top picks, how to switch & much more

Millions blindly overpay for broadband and line rent as costs rocket when promo deals end. So if you're out of contract, check now if you can save £100s/year by switching to our top picks below, or try our Broadband Unbundled tool to compare broadband, line and TV deals available in your area.

To benchmark, those out of contract typically pay BT £52/mth and Virgin Media £44/mth for fibre.

11 broadband need-to-knows

These are the golden rules to give you chapter and verse, but if you just want a quick comparison, try our Broadband Unbundled tool.

  • Broadband is the standard way to connect to the internet, but the key differentiator is speed, measured in megabits per second (Mb) – and the faster the speed, generally the pricier it gets.

    • Standard – with average speeds of 10-11Mb. This is the basic level, sometimes called ADSL.

    • Fibre broadband – average speeds of around 30Mb to 99Mb. This is mostly delivered through more sophisticated glass or plastic wires before connecting to your home. See fibre deals.

    • Fast Fibre – with average speeds of 100Mb+. This requires more sophisticated wiring usually direct to your home. See our Fibre to the premises guide for more info.

    • Superfast fibre – with average speeds above 500Mb. Uses the same wiring, it's just faster.

    See our Broadband Unbundled tool for the top deals across all speeds.

    Do I need fast fibre broadband?

    Fast fibre is best for heavy users – if you do loads of streaming, online gaming, downloading or have multiple users in your home – as doing lots at the same time slows you down.

    Anything faster is very much a luxury – best if you've a large household with many devices, you stream 4K content or 'normal' fibre isn't fast enough for you.

    If you just use the web for basic tasks, such as emails and the odd bit of browsing, then standard or some of the slower fibre broadband packages should be enough.

    Quick questions

    • At peak times or when a lot of people are using the internet at the same time, some providers will prioritise certain traffic, meaning your connection may slow down to ensure everyone receives decent speeds. This is called traffic management.

    • There are a number of free speed tests online to find what speed you're actually getting, such as Broadband Genie's Speed Test and Ookla's Speedtest.net. Try it at different times of the day to get a range of speeds, as it can vary.

      Regulator Ofcom also has a Coverage Checker, which shows the maximum speeds capable down the line at any postcode, though it won't be precise enough to check your home.

    • There are a number of simple checks and fixes if you are struggling speed-wise. There's a full checklist of tips and tricks to get quicker in Broadband Speed Boosting.

  • To help you navigate this postcode lottery, our Broadband Unbundled tool shows which best buys are available where you live. Standard fibre speed broadband (30Mb+) is available in the vast majority of the UK, but there are still odd pockets where you can't get it.

    Fast fibre (100Mb+) is still being rolled out across the UK, though around 80% should now be able to get it. Most big cities have access, but some rural areas may not.

  • To switch, it's best to allow for about 10 working days, though if you need an engineer it's partly down to availability.

    On the day itself, you're only likely to be offline for a few hours, or maybe hardly at all. If you have enough mobile data allowance, you can use this to cover any outage until you get back online.

    Here are some more key details:

    • Often, there's no need for an engineer to come round. Only if you need a new line or on some fibre installations. Otherwise, just plug in any new kit you're sent.

      Switching to Virgin Media? 60% of eligible Virgin Media customers won't need an engineer sent round – if you're in that group, it'll tell you BEFORE you sign up. If you're one of the 40% that do, an engineer may need to come into your home or just go to a nearby exchange, but you won't be told which in advance.

    • You don't usually need to tell your current provider. The new firm usually does the communication work unless you're switching to or from Virgin Media – here, you must tell your old provider.

    • Many firms insist you pay to receive their router. Though the cost isn't usually prohibitive and we include router costs (where applicable) in all the deals below.

    More switching FAQs

    • Mostly no, but it doesn't hurt just to be sure. Moving to or from Virgin Media can be slightly different – see below.

      Switching broadband to and from companies other than Virgin Media: Every major provider except Virgin Media (200+ in total, including BT, Sky and TalkTalk) is on the BT Openreach network. If you're switching between them, when you sign up for a new deal it's the new supplier's job to notify your existing one and cancel the contract. You don't need to do anything else.

      Moving broadband to or from Virgin Media: As Virgin Media runs its own network, the switching process is a little more complicated. You'll need to contact your existing supplier yourself to cancel. It should then give you a termination date, so try to coordinate this with your Virgin Media start date to avoid loss of service. This is a standard process and you should be able to do it without much hassle.

      Switching TV (whether as part of a package or a separate deal): If you're switching broadband, it works as above. If you're switching a TV deal – whether or not it's with the same provider as your broadband – you'll need to call up and cancel the package yourself. Typically you'll need to give 30 days' notice. If you're still in contract, you're also likely to have to pay the remainder of the contract to get out of it. As you have to cancel the old TV deal and sign up to the new one, you'll need to ensure you time it right to avoid paying two TV providers in one month.

    • Since you'll likely be signing a 12-month, 18-month or even two-year contract, it's worth checking feedback before diving in. We include the results of our latest broadband customer satisfaction poll in our Broadband Unbundled tool, so you can see how each provider ranked with other MoneySavers. For the full results, see our latest broadband customer service poll results.

      Our forum's Broadband board also includes a wealth of feedback, as do sites such as Broadband.co.ukThinkBroadband and ISP Review.

    • You won't face extra costs if you're no longer under contract (except with Shell – see below), though you usually need to give at least 30 days' notice depending on your provider.

      If you're still within the minimum term of your contract, you usually have to pay 'early termination fees' to leave. Each provider calculates these differently, but it generally depends on the amount of time left on your contract. They should always be less than the cost of the remaining charges on the contract.

      Some providers may also charge you if you don't return equipment. As an example, BT charges £50 if you don't return it's Smart Hub 2, but it charges a whopping £140 if you fail to return one of its TV boxes.

  • It's important to understand that these advertised speeds are based on the average speed received by at least 50% of a provider's current customer base between 8pm and 10pm – when most people are online.

    Most have signed up to a code of practice committing to give a personalised estimate and a minimum guaranteed speed before you sign up. So since 1 March 2019, if your speeds drop below this minimum for three consecutive days, you can ask your provider to check for a fault – and get it fixed if so. See our Boost Broadband Speed guide for how to check your speed.

    If it remains unresolved for 30 days, you should be able to exit your contract penalty-free. This applies both to broadband-only deals AND packaged deals that include TV and a landline phone, provided you bought them at the same time as the broadband. If you're unhappy with your provider, try free complaints handling tool Resolver.

  • In total, 11 providers – BT, EE, Hyperoptic, Plusnet, Sky (including Now Broadband), TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Vodafone, Utility Warehouse and Zen – have signed up to regulator Ofcom's automatic compensation scheme, which means customers could get money back from their broadband/landline provider when certain things go wrong. Ofcom says it covers 90% of broadband users.

    • If your landline or broadband stops working and is not repaired within two working days of reporting it, you'll receive £9.76, and then £9.76 for each day it remains unfixed.

    • If your new landline or broadband service is not up and running on the day promised, you'll receive £6.10 for each calendar day it's delayed, including the missed start date. There's no limit on this, so you'll keep accruing the compensation until it's sorted.
       
    • If an engineer doesn't arrive for an appointment as scheduled, or it's cancelled with less than 24 hours' notice, you'll receive £30.49.

    Note: Figures correct as of April 2024.

    If you are due compensation, it's automatically paid as bill credit within 30 working days of the issue. If you choose to leave your provider while you still have bill credit to spend or before you get it, this will be refunded to the bank account you use to pay your direct debit or sent as a cheque.

    Quick questions

    • So far, only the biggies are signed up to the scheme (which covers 90% of customers), but the biggies aren't always the cheapest. This opens up the question of whether to stick with a compensation scheme provider. Here's Martin's view...

      "There is a huge price difference between the very cheapest providers and what most people pay. Someone on an ongoing BT standard broadband contract can save £400/year switching to the cheapest.

      "Provided that company has a decent service record, I wouldn't pay a big premium for the compensation. Especially as I hope that quite soon most competitive providers will join it. Yet if a compensation scheme member is cheap, pounce on it."

    • Whether or not your provider has signed up to the code, you should still complain if you have issues. A company can't try to fix problems if you don't report them.
      To help, there's a free tool offered by a firm called Resolver that can draft your complaint and manage it too. If the complaint isn't sorted, Resolver can escalate it to the free Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) or Ombudsman Services, depending on the company you're complaining about.
  • Most broadband packages require you to have a line as the broadband is ultimately delivered down it. However, most providers still make you take out a standard line rental deal as if you'd use the phone rather than a discounted price for broadband only.

    There are a limited number of broadband-only deals, mainly from Virgin Media and BT, but these are usually expensive (though when it has a hot deal, we'll feature it below) so it's almost always cheaper to get a broadband and landline package. Of course, you could just get the line and simply not use it.

  • Switching usually nets you the cheapest prices, but if you are out of contract – or nearing the end of your contract – you could try to haggle your price.

    As there's stiff competition, companies are frantic to keep hold of customers. That is why in our polls on haggling with service companies, communication providers are frequently among the easiest to haggle with.

    In our December 2023 survey of 4,000+ MoneySavers, more than 75% who tried had success with BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. For top tips, see our Haggle with Service Providers guide.

  • It's worth speaking to your broadband provider as soon as possible if you're going to have trouble meeting your monthly bill. Some of the large providers have schemes in place to help customers who've encountered financial problems.

    A number of providers, including BT, Sky and Vodafone, have told us they'll help those who are struggling to pay their bills, such as manageable payment or by giving you more time to pay. 

    If you feel you'll struggle to pay your broadband bill, contact your provider as soon as possible to discuss your options.

  • Social tariffs are discounted broadband and mobile deals for people on universal credit and other benefits.

    Currently, more than 10 major broadband providers offer social tariffs for those on certain benefits. However, according to regulator Ofcom, while they are available to an estimated 4.3 million households, only 220,000 (5%) have signed up to one. Ofcom says this means millions are missing out on an average annual saving of £200 each.

    We've a round-up of all the social tariffs below and full qualifying criteria (plus info on a different scheme for jobseekers from TalkTalk). 

    You can also find them in our Broadband Comparison tool if you select 'show social tariffs' and add your postcode.

    Compare social tariffs

  • Under rules from regulator Ofcom, if the contract was taken out after 23 January 2014, and your landline, broadband or mobile (but not TV) firm raises prices without warning you before you signed up, then you are allowed to leave penalty-free.

    But do check the T&Cs, as providers may state in there that they reserve the right to hike prices, which would count as a warning.

    Price changes are usually made in line with inflation between February and April each year, using either the Retail Prices Index (RPI) or Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation. Many firms now raise their prices by inflation PLUS a percentage amount on top. Several big players, including BT, EE, Plusnet, Shell Energy, TalkTalk and Vodafone, have recently announced their increases for this year.

    Communications services regulator, Ofcom has proposed a ban on inflation-linked price hikes and is instead proposing providers either fixed the price for the entirety of the contract, or force providers to outline any mid-contract increase at the point of sale by a "pounds and pence" amount. Any changes as a result of the consultation will likely take place in summer of 2024, at the earliest.

    If a provider hikes your monthly bill and its T&Cs don't allow this, then you can leave your contract penalty-free.

    If it happens without warning, all you have to do is tell your provider within 30 days of getting notification from it, and you can then leave penalty-free. That said, only do so if you can find a better price.

  • Openreach –  the UK’s main broadband network, which many of largest providers use (eg, BT, Sky, Vodafone) – is retiring its old copper telephone wires and replacing them with fibre.

    It’s doing this gradually, region-by-region, between now and 2025. If yours is upgraded, it means your landline will start to use your internet connection to make phone calls - known Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or by its branded name, Digital Voice.

    Openreach says this will offer improved call quality and better connectivity as technology continues to advance – but there are downsides, including being unable to make calls if there's a power cut.

    It's currently being rolled out, but not for all...

    Digital Voice is currently being rolled out on a region-by-region basis and if you're in an area that's being upgraded, you'll likely be contacted by your internet provider to inform you of the next steps.

    However, some customers won't be switched just yet, these include:

    • Customers with a healthcare pendant (personal alarm)
    • Customers who only use landlines
    • Customers with no mobile signal
    • Customers who have disclosed any additional needs

    If you fall into any of these categories, you'll need to let your provider know so it's aware of your additional needs.

    If you don't, but prefer to stick with your existing landline phone service, you may not need to transition to a digital phone service immediately. Traditional phone services will remain operational for a few more years. However, new customers or those renewing their contracts may loose the option to subscribe to traditional phone services.

    If you switch, you could lose your landline and phone number

    Right now, not all providers offer Digital Voice, including Shell Energy, Plusnet and Now Broadband. This means if you're in an area where Digital Voice is being rolled out and you want to switch to these providers, you'll likely be offered a broadband only package (no landline). This'll mean you'll lose your landline and along with it, your home phone number.

    • Traditionally, one of the main advantages of copper based landlines was that they work during power cuts. But whether your telephone will work with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) during a power cut depends on what equipment you have.

      Some providers offer battery backup solutions that can keep your phone operational during a power outage. These batteries can provide power to your router for around an hour, allowing you to make and receive calls.

    • Most cordless digital phones are compatible with VoIP and the phone’s base unit can be connected directly to your router. If you don’t want to have your phone near your router or have multiple phones around your house, you can use an adaptor. An adaptor is also needed if you have an older or corded phone.

Top deals: Standard speed broadband with line rental

We've got our pick of the best deals for new customers of each firm below, but to find out what's available in your area – and to compare more options – try Broadband Unbundled, our broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Important. Most firms have yearly price rises written into their contracts. We'll highlight upcoming hikes where we know the details, but be aware 18-month or 24-month deals will likely see multiple rises during the contract.

Standard speed broadband (10-29Mb) – what we'd go for

Right now, there aren't too many providers offering deals at this speed, but our top pick is Shell Energy. It's £10.55 upfront, then £19.99 a month. If you factor in the upfront cost it's equivalent to £20.58 a month over the 18-month contract. But beware, its customer service rating isn't great. 

At the end of last year, Shell Energy sold its home energy and broadband business to Octopus Energy. Octopus Energy has now agreed to sell the broadband business to TalkTalk. Shell broadband customers will be contacted about the move soon.

Top standard broadband deals

PROVIDER & AVG SPEED EQUIV COST (1) HOW IT WORKS

Shell Energy*

11Mb

 

£20.58/month Cheap standard broadband. Via this Shell Energy* link, it's £10.55 upfront, then £19.99/month. Factor in the upfront cost and it's equivalent to £20.58/month over the 18-month contract.

Now Broadband*

11Mb

£20.84/month Cheap standard broadband with 'good' service. Via this Now Broadband* link, you pay a £10 delivery fee, then £20/month. Factor that in and it's equivalent to £20.84/month over the 12-month contract.
Note: Some firms increase prices in line with inflation annually, so prices could change mid-contract. (1) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' – adding all fixed costs, deducting any promo cash/vouchers and averaging over the contract.

Top deals: Fibre broadband with line rental

We've got our pick of the best fibre broadband deals for new customers of each firm below, but to find out what's available in your area and compare further options, try Broadband Unbundled, our broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Important. Most firms have yearly price rises written into their contracts. We'll highlight upcoming hikes where we know the details, but be aware 18-month or 24-month deals will likely see multiple rises during the contract.

Fibre broadband (30-99Mb) – what we'd go for

Our top pick, is this Vodafone 67Mb deal via Broadband Genie. It's £26 a month, but you can claim (don't forget) a £100 Amazon, Tesco, Sainsbury's or M&S voucher within four months. If you'd have spent there anyway, factor it in and it's equivalent to £21.84 a month over the 24-month contract. Vodafone was rated 'Good' in our most recent customer service poll.

Top fibre broadband deals

PROVIDER & AVG SPEED EQUIV COST (1) HOW IT WORKS

Vodafone*

67Mb

Top pick

'£21.84/month'

Cheapest fibre with 'good' service. Via this Broadband Genie Vodafone* link, you pay £26/month, then claim (don't forget) a £100 Amazon, Tesco, Sainsbury's or M&S voucher within four months. Factor that in, it's equivalent to £21.84/mth over the 24-month contract.

Ends 11.59am Thu 25 April.

Now Broadband*

63Mb

'£23.84/month'

Cheapest fibre with no voucher to claim. Via this Broadbandchoices Now Broadband* link, you pay £10 upfront, then £23/month. Factor in the upfront, it's equivalent to £23.84/mth over the 12-month contract. 

Right now, you can get its faster, 100Mb deal for slightly less in the table below.

Zen
31Mb
'£32.84/month'

Not the cheapest, but scores 9/10 in our customer service poll. Go via this Zen link and it's £15 upfront, then £32/month, Factor in the upfront, and it's equivalent to £32.84/month over the 18-month contract
Note: Some firms increase prices in line with inflation annually, so prices could change mid-contract. (1) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' – adding all fixed costs, deducting any promo cash/vouchers and averaging over the contract.

Top deals: Fast fibre broadband

Fast fibre broadband, commonly referred to as 'fibre to the premises' (FTTP) or accessible through cable networks like Virgin Media, is available to most households now. If you've never had it before, you might need an engineer to look at the externals of your home.

We've got our pick of the top fast fibre deals for new customers of each firm below, but to find out what's available in your area and compare other options, try Broadband Unbundled, our broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Important. Most firms have yearly price rises written into their contracts. We'll highlight upcoming hikes where we know the details, but be aware 18-month or 24-month deals will likely see multiple rises during the contract.

Fast fibre broadband (100Mb - 499Mb) – what we'd go for

Our top pick is this blagged 132Mb Virgin Media deal (around 60% of households can get it). It's £26.50 a month for broadband and line (including weekend calls), but you'll automatically get an £100 bill credit added to your first bill. Factor that in and it's equivalent to £20.95 a month over the 18-month contract.

If you can't get Virgin Media in your area, then there's this 100Mb Now Broadband deal. If you claim the £25 reward, it's equivalent to £23.62/month over the 18-month contract.

Top fast fibre broadband deals

PROVIDER & AVG SPEED EQUIV COST (1) HOW IT WORKS

Virgin Media*

132Mb

Top pick

'£20.95/month'

MSE Blagged

Cheapest fast fibre with 'OK' service. Via this Virgin Media* link, you pay £26.50/month for broadband & line (including weekend calls). But you'll automatically get an £100 bill credit added to your first bill. Factor that in, it's equivalent to £20.95/mth over the 18-month contract.

Ends 11.59pm Thu 2 May.

Now Broadband* (FTTP)

100Mb

Top pick

'£23.62/month'

Cheap fast fibre with 'OK' service. Go via this Broadbandchoices Now Broadband* link and you'll pay £25/month for broadband & digital line. But you can claim a £25 prepaid Mastercard, Tesco, Sainsbury's, M&S or John Lewis voucher within four months. Factor it in and it's equivalent to £23.62/month over the 18-month contract.

Ends 11.59pm Wed 24 April.

Vodafone* (FTTP)

100Mb

'£25.63/month'

Cheap fast fibre with 'good' service. Via this Broadbandchoices Vodafone* link, you pay £30/month, then claim (don't forget) a £105 Amazon, M&S, Tesco or Sainsbury's voucher. Factor that in, it's equivalent to £25.63/mth over the 24-month contract.
Ends 11.59pm Mon 29 April.
Note: Some firms increase prices in line with inflation annually, so prices could change mid-contract. (1) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' – adding all fixed costs, deducting any promo cash/vouchers and averaging over the contract.

Top deals: Superfast fibre broadband

Like fast fibre, superfast fibre broadband is also delivered through 'fibre to the premises' (FTTP)  or accessible through cable networks like Virgin Media, is available to most households now. If you've never had it before, you might need an engineer to look at the externals of your home.

We've got our pick of the top superfast fibre deals for new customers of each firm below, but to find out what's available in your area and compare other options, try Broadband Unbundled, our broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Important. Most firms have yearly price rises written into their contracts. We'll highlight upcoming hikes where we know the details, but be aware 18-month or 24-month deals will likely see multiple rises during the contract.

Superfast fibre broadband (500Mb+) – what we'd go for

Our top pick is this 500Mb Sky deal. It's £32 a month but you can claim (don't forget) a £100 prepaid Mastercard or shopping voucher. Factor that in and it's £26.45 a month over the 18-month contract.

If you can only get Virgin in your area, then there's this 516Mb Virgin Media deal (around 60% of households can get it) via Broadband Genie. It's £38.50 a month for broadband and line (including weekend calls), but you'll automatically get a £95 bill credit added to your first bill. Factor that in, it's equivalent to £33.23 a month over the 18-month contract.

Top superfast fibre broadband deals

PROVIDER & AVG SPEED EQUIV COST (1) HOW IT WORKS

Sky* (FTTP)

500Mb

Top pick

'£26.45/month' Cheapest 500Mb+ with 'OK' service. Via this Broadbandchoices Sky* link, you pay £32/month, then claim (don't forget) a £100 prepaid Mastercard or shopping voucher. Factor that in, it's equivalent to £26.45/mth over the 18-month contract.
Ends 11.59pm Thu 25 April.

Vodafone* (FTTP)

500Mb

'£28.63/month' Cheap 500Mb+ with 'Good' service. Via this Broadbandchoices Vodafone* link, you pay £33/month, then claim (don't forget) a £105 Amazon, M&S, Tesco or Sainsbury's voucher. Factor that in, it's equivalent to £28.63/mth over the 24-month contract.
Ends 11.59pm Mon 29 April.

Virgin Media*

516Mb

'£33.23/month'

Cheap superfast fibre with 'OK' service. Via this Broadband Genie Virgin Media* link, you pay £38.50/month for broadband and line (including weekend calls). But you'll automatically get an £95 bill credit added to your first bill. Factor that in, it's equivalent to £33.23/mth over the 18-month contract.

Ends 11.59pm Thu 25 April.

Note: Some firms increase prices in line with inflation annually, so prices could change mid-contract. (1) To compare, we use 'equivalent prices' – adding all fixed costs, deducting any promo cash/vouchers and averaging over the contract.

Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

It's often possible to grab extra cashback on top when you sign up for a broadband contract. To get it, you need to sign up via a specialist cashback website rather than directly with the provider. Cashback websites use affiliate links to generate revenue, so if they get paid when you sign up, you'll get paid.

Unfortunately, this cash is never guaranteed, as sometimes cashback sites don't track deals in progress, and they don't pay out on top of other offers that might be available (such as our Blagged deals). So if there are no cheaper deals about elsewhere, it's generally best to pick the right package first and view any cashback as an added extra. To find out more about how these sites can pay you, and how you can make the most of them, read our Top Cashback Sites guide.

How to complain about your broadband provider

The broadband industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include installation dates not being met, limited service or slow speeds, incorrect billing and more. 

It's always worth trying to call your provider to sort the issue first, but if not then you can use free complaints tool Resolver. The tool helps you manage your complaint, and if the company doesn't play ball, it also helps you escalate your complaint to the free Ombudsman (or CISAS if you're complaining about Vodafone or Sky).

Broadband FAQs

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