Update: Wednesday 29 April: At the time of publication SSE told us customers would get either a 12 or 18-month line rental contract depending on location. However it now says people get a 12 month line rental contract and an 18 month broadband contract.
It also told us at publication that it cost £8/month for the remainder of the line rental contract if you cancel between 12-18 months. But it has today told us this information is also incorrect. It actually costs £5.50/month, plus a one-off £40 termination fee if you cancel the line rental within 12 months.
If you cancel the broadband element between 12 and 18 months, you pay £4/month for the remainder of the contract.
Energy giant SSE* has taken a leap into the phone and broadband market, and its package rockets into the best buy spot.
The Everyday Broadband + Talk Weekend package is open to nearly everyone, not just SSE gas or electricity customers, and will see new users who sign up before 16 September get free broadband for two years with unlimited downloads, inclusive weekend calls and a free wireless router for £12/month.
The deal is available to 95% of the population and it runs off the BT Openreach network. Below we have a full Q&A on what you get and how it works, though see our Cheap Broadband guide for a full rundown of other best buy broadband deals.
Hold on, I thought SSE was an energy provider?
SSE is one of the big six energy providers, but it says it's been offering telecoms services for over 10 years now and that this new broadband deal is its way of "stepping up activity in the sector".
What is the deal?
Until 16 September 2015, new customers who get the SSE Everyday Broadband + Talk Weekend* get:
- Unlimited downloads with speeds of up to 17Mbps. SSE, like other broadband providers, uses traffic shaping at peak times, which means it may cut the speed of your connection when there's heavy traffic, giving different types of traffic different levels of priority.
- A free wireless router (no P&P charge) and free connection to those with an existing home phone line such as with BT. Those without an existing phone line will have to pay £37 to have one installed. In particular, this applies to those switching from cable.
- 18-month free subscription to an internet security suite, which includes antivirus, firewall and parental controls. After 18 months, the subscription costs £2/month. This will be applied automatically, so ensure you cancel it before the 18 months is up if you don't want to pay.
- Inclusive weekend calls: All calls to numbers starting 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 are included and are free for the first 70 minutes.
Oddly, while the broadband is free for two years, the line rental comes with either a 12-month or 18-month contract. Which you're offered depends on your location and will be made clear to you before you sign up.
When the initial 12- or 18-month line rental contract ends, SSE says you'll continue to get free broadband for the remainder of the 24-month period, while your line rental will also continue without you needing to sign a new contract.
We asked SSE if the line rental would still cost £12/month once the initial contract period ended, but it told us it was impossible to say. It adds that it "works hard to maintain value, quality and service so that customers will choose to stay with us beyond the offer period of two years".
However if costs do rise at this point (once the line rental contract ends), you can cancel both the line rental and the broadband deal without incurring any fees.
After the two years, if you continue on the same package, you'll pay for the line rental (currently £12/month), but you'll then also need to pay for the broadband, which costs £8/month.
Is it any good?
Sally Francis, MoneySavingExpert.com's senior consumer writer, says: "It's unusual to see two-year deals on broadband and home phone services, but when you compare the price over one year to others in the market, it's the cheapest simple deal currently available.
"So if you can get it, SSE's offering is a real contender."
Who's eligible to get the deal?
You don't need to be an SSE gas or electricity customer to get the deal. SSE says standard broadband is available to around 95% of the population though it's not available to people living in the Scottish Highlands, the Channel Islands or Hull. It adds that it will be made clear if you can get the deal when you apply.
To get the deal, you also must pay for the line rental monthly, and by direct debit. You can't pay for the full amount up front, and if you choose not to pay by direct debit, you could pay more.
Anything to watch out for?
These are the key points to watch out for when deciding whether the deal is right for you:
- While 0845 and 0870 numbers are free to call for the first 70 minutes on weekends, a "fair-use" policy applies after, which is either a maximum of 1,000 minutes or 150 calls to these numbers, whichever comes first. If you exceed this, you'll be charged extra.
- You'll be charged for calls made during the week. See below for a full breakdown.
- We asked SSE if it has an "unbilled credit limit". This means if you make more calls than a set limit, further outgoing calls will be stopped until you've got it back under the amount set. SSE says it doesn't have any hard or fast rules, but it's applied on a "case-by-case basis".
- You'll receive quarterly paper billing, but if you want to opt in for monthly paper billing, it'll cost an extra £1/month.
- In its terms and conditions, it says prices will not be subject to increases during the fixed term – which is the 12/18-month contract period, not the 24-month free broadband deal period – except in the scenario of an increase to VAT or any other relevant tax/levy.
What's the customer service like?
SSE says it has a "great customer service", but we've not had independent feedback from users on the broadband/phone service. If you're a current SSE broadband customer or if you decide to switch to it, do let us know how you get on in the forum discussion below.
It adds that any calls about broadband or phone lines are handled by its general customer service team, but for more complex broadband or phone line issues, it has a "specialist team".
How much do calls cost during the week?
- Local/national day/evening calls: 8.1p/minute
- 0845 weekday day calls: 2p/minute
- 0845 weekday evening calls: 0.5p/minute
- 0870 weekday day/evening calls: 8.1p/minute
- Calls to mobiles – day/evening rate: 11p/minute
- Set-up charge for non-inclusive calls: 13.5p/call
- International calls: 10p/minute to call USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland
- £3.25/feature or £6.75/month for four features: call barring, caller display, call diversion, ringback, call waiting, three-way calling, call sign and call reminder.
How do I get it?
You can call 0800 197 1928 or or go via the SSE website*. But check out our Cheap Broadband guide first to make sure this is the best deal for your needs.
How long will it take to set up/switch to SSE?
SSE says it quotes up to 30 days (including a cooling off period) to replace a "like-for-like" phone line plus broadband. It adds that "each customer will be checked dependent on individual circumstances and often may find it's quicker".
What if I get the deal and later want to cancel?
If you decide to cancel the line rental and the broadband within the term of the 12- or 18-month line rental contract, you'll have to pay £8/month for the remainder of the contract.
If you cancel the line rental and the broadband after the end of the 12- or 18-month contract, there are no penalty costs. See MoneySavingExpert.com's Cheap Broadband guide to cut your costs if you're planning to switch or upgrade.