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How to get cheap broadband

Do you need fibre? How to switch & much more

Martin and Consumer Team | Edited by Steve N

Updated Weekly

Wifi router

Way too many people blindly stick with their broadband and landline provider – and therefore vastly overpay. If that's you, it's likely you can massively slice your bills by £100s/year and possibly get a better package too.

So check your broadband and line rental cost now – people on non-promo deals typically pay anything from £350/yr to £600+/yr for the big boys such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin, yet the deals below can save you £100s/yr off those eye-watering prices.

To benchmark, those on standard out-of-contract pricing typically pay BT £43/mth and Virgin £40/mth.

Seven 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.

  • What are the different broadband types?

    Broadband is the standard way to connect to the internet but the key differentiator is speed, measured in megabits per second (Mb). There are four main categories:

    • Standard speed – up to 17Mb. This is the basic level, sometimes called ADSL.
    • Fast fibre-optic broadband – up to 52Mb (though some only go up to 38Mb). This is delivered through more sophisticated glass or plastic wires.
    • Superfast fibre-optic – up to 76Mb. Uses the same fibre wires, it's just faster.
    • Ultrafast fibre-optic broadband – up to 300Mb. This requires more sophisticated wiring and is only available from limited suppliers. We don't usually feature them here but Virgin Media currently has a cracking up-to-100Mb deal. It involves taking Virgin Media TV but it works out cheaper than many slower speed deals without TV. See our Broadband Unbundled tool for more ultrafast deals as .
    Do I really need fibre-optic broadband?Fibre optic cable

    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 basic up-to-17Mb speed should be fine.

    Quick questions

    If there's a lot of demand can they slow my speed?

    How do I check my broadband speed?

    How do I boost my broadband speed?

  • Not all deals are available nationwide... but our comparison tool finds the best deals in YOUR area

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

    With fibre, it's still still being rolled out across the UK as only about 80% can get it. Most big cities have access but some rural areas may not. Ultrafast up-to-300Mb fibre is only available in roughly 50% of the UK.

  • How long does it take to switch broadband? Or to get it for the first time? Fibre optic cable

    It varies, but plan for about 10 working days, though if you need an engineer it is partly down to your availability.

    And on the day itself don't worry if you fear Facebook withdrawal, you're only likely to be offline for a few hours, or maybe hardly at all – if you're at work you may not even notice it. 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 any new kit you're sent in.
    • You don't usually need to tell your current provider. The new firm usually does the communication work unless if switching to or from Virgin – 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.
    Quick questions

    Before switching, how do I find out what customer service is like?

    Do I pay any exit penalties to switch broadband?

    What are my rights if my provider hikes prices?

  • Will I get the maximum advertised speed?Internet speed dial

    These are 'up to' speeds. So if you see up to 52Mb, you won't necessarily get the full whack as providers only need to give the top speed to a paltry 10% of customers.

    Most have signed up to a code of practice committing to give a personalised estimate before you sign-up. If you get 'significantly under-performing' speeds ask your provider to check for a fault – and get it fixed if so.

    If unresolved you may be able to exit your contract penalty-free. But the definition of 'significantly under performing' is where speed is slower than that received by 90% of the provider's customers on similar lines, so only the firm knows. If unhappy with your provider try free complaints handling tool Resolver.

  • Can I get broadband without a phone line?

    Most broadband packages require you to have a line as the broadband is ultimately delivered down it. However, providers mostly 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, 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.

  • Aim for unlimited data or it'll cost youInternet speed dial

    We only tend to feature unlimited data deals below as hot promos almost always come with unlimited browsing. The fact the best deals have no restriction is good news given our data use has rocketed with catch-up TV, box sets and movie streaming gobbling it up – downloading an episode of Game of Thrones in HD uses up roughly 1GB.

    The other reason for cheer at the competitiveness of unlimited data deals is packages with download limits tend to have costly charges if you go over – BT charges £1.80/GB when you breach the limit.

    If you're unlucky enough not to find a hot promo deal, consider if it's worth paying a little extra for unlimited data to be safe. Our Broadband Unbundled lets you filter deals by the amount of data you require.

    Quick question

    How do I track my broadband data usage?

  • Don't want to switch? Broadband and phone firms are among the easiest to haggle with

    Switching usually nets you the cheapest prices, but if you are out of contract – or nearing the end – 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 most recent survey of 4,000+ MoneySavers, more than 76% who tried had success with Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin. For top tips, see our Haggle With Service Providers guide.

Best buys: Cheapest up-to-17Mb broadband & line rental

We've got all the best deals below, but to find out which are available in your area try Broadband Unbundled, our new broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Plusnet

Broadband & line rental equiv £10.24/mth*

Pay £198 over 12mth contract & get £75 back

Until Tue 24 April, new Plusnet customers, or those who've not been with it in the last month, can get a 12-month contract with BT-owned Plusnet*, which includes line rental and unlimited downloads with up-to-17Mb speed broadband. It was a strong performer in our latest customer service poll – 58% rated it 'great', only 16% 'poor'.

The deal's available to 90% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying if you can't get it (or use our new tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode), though you can't get it if you're already a Plusnet customer (or left in the last month). Here's how it works...

  1. If you can afford to, choose to pay line rental for 1yr upfront. You pay £197.88 for a year (you must opt for this at sign-up), it's then £18.99/mth. No calls are included – See Plusnet charges.
  2. Broadband is 'free' for 12mths. After the contract, it rises to £10.99/mth. If you don't live in a low-cost area, you'll pay more, but this is won't apply to most.
  3. Get £75 cashback but you MUST claim it. Annoyingly Plusnet makes you claim your cashback. You'll get an email within 10 days of activation explaining how, and you must do it within two months. Your cheque should then arrive within 30 days.
  4. Nothing to pay upfront. Activation & router delivery are 'free' with this deal.

- Cost analysis: If you pay a year's line rental upfront and factor in the £75 cashback, over the 12mth contract it's £122.88 before calls or new line costs, equivalent to £10.24/mth. If you pay line rental monthly, then it's equiv £12.74/mth.

Anything else?

- Could Plusnet hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do, but you should be able to leave penalty-free if it happens while you're in contract.

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (eg, you've cable-only), it's £49.99 – you'll be told before you commit.

- Don't live in a low cost area? You'll be told if you live in a low cost area while applying, rural areas are sometimes more expensive. If you don't, broadband's £8.50/mth during the contract on top of line rental. Broadband and phone will rise to £37.48/mth after the contract ends.

Read more about Plusnet.

Full Plusnet call charges, tips & customer service ratings

Best buys: Cheapest up-to-52Mb fast fibre broadband & line rental

We've got all the best deals below, but to find out which are available in your area try Broadband Unbundled, our new broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Though remember, as we've said earlier, think carefully if you really need fibre as if you simply use the internet for basic browsing and emails, standard speed may be fine.

Vodafone logo

New. Fibre broadband & line rental equiv £18.23/mth*

Pay £378 over 18mth contract & get a £50 Amazon vch

Until Mon 30 April via this link, new Vodafone customers can get an 18-month contract with Vodafone Broadband*, which includes line rental and unlimited downloads with up-to-38Mb speed broadband.

Vodafone also guarantees that the speed to your router won't drop below 25Mb. You can check it by downloading the Vodafone Broadband app and running a speed test. If it's lower than 25Mb then you can apply for an instant 15% discount which will be applied to your next monthly bill, and will remain until your min speed is above that 25Mb. Note: The guarantee covers the speed to your router, not to your devices.

The deal's available to 94% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying if you can't get it (or use our new tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode).

  1. Broadband's £21/mth. After the 18 month contract, this will increase to £23/mth unless you're also a pay-monthly Vodafone mobile customer.
  2. Vodafone doesn't charge line rental on its fibre productsSo line rental is 'free' with this package. No calls are included, see Vodafone call charges.
  3. Nothing to pay upfront. Usually £9.99, there's no cost with this deal for activation and router delivery.
  4. Get a £50 Amazon voucher but you MUST claim it. After 120 days of your order you'll be sent instructions of how to get your voucher emailed or sent to your phone. Once you're sent the instructions you'll have 3 months to claim.

- Cost analysis: It's £21/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new line costs, so you pay £378 over the 18-month contract. But if you'd spend £50 at Amazon anyway, factor it in and it's an equiv £18.23/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (eg, you've cable only), installation's £60. You'll know if you need to pay it before committing.

- Is the price fixed during the contract? Technically no, but if it does raise prices, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

Full Vodafone call charges, tips & customer service ratings

Talk Talk logo

Fibre & line rent equiv £20.84/mth*

Pay £450 over 18mth contract, get £75 Amazon vch

Available until Sun 22 April, this TalkTalk up-to-38Mb Fibre Broadband* deal is open to new customers (not currently with TalkTalk) signing up to a 18-month contract. It's worth noting that in our last customer service poll 45% scored it 'poor'.

The deal's available to 83% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying if you can't get it (or use our new tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode). Here's how to get it:

  1. Unlimited fibre broadband and line rent's £25/mth for 18 months. It's then £32/mth after the contract ends. You get a 'free' compulsory router. No calls are included, see TalkTalk call charges.

  2. Nothing to pay upfront. Usually £60, delivery costs and setup fees have been waived for this offer.

  3. You're automatically sent a £75 Amazon voucher. Fill in the form after you click the link and you'll be emailed your voucher within 90 days of signing up.

- Cost analysis: You'll pay £459 over the 18-month contract for broadband and line rental before any call costs, but if you'd spend the £75 Amazon voucher, then it's equivalent to £384, which works out as equiv £20.84/mth

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line or only have a cable one (or in a few cases other lines), installation's free with this offer.

- Could TalkTalk hike prices? Telecoms firms often do, but TalkTalk says its prices are fixed for the duration of the contract.

Read more about TalkTalk.

Full TalkTalk tips & call charges

Best buys: Cheapest up-to-100Mb superfast fibre broadband & line rental

If you're happy to pay more, you can get up-to-100Mb fibre. Let's make no bones about it, this is the luxury end of the market, and isn't MoneySaving, but if you've a large family with many devices, or you're into streaming 4K content, or you're just impatient, this could be for you.

We've got our top deal below, but to find out if it's available in your area, or other options, try Broadband Unbundled, our new broadband, phone line and TV comparison tool.

Vodafone logo

New. Fibre & line rent equiv £23.23/mth*

Pay £468 over 18mth contract & get a £50 Amazon vch

Until Mon 30 April via this link, new customers can get an 18-month contract with Vodafone Broadband*, which includes line rental and unlimited downloads with up-to-76Mb speed broadband.

Vodafone also guarantees that the speed to your router won't drop below 25Mb. You can check it by downloading the Vodafone Broadband app and running a speed test. If it's lower than 25Mb then you can apply for an instant 15% discount which will be applied to your next monthly bill, and will remain until your min speed is above that 25Mb. Note: The guarantee covers the speed to your router, not to your devices.

The deal's available to 94% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying if you can't get it (or use our new tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode).

  1. Broadband's £26/mth. After the 18 month contract, this will increase to £28/mth unless you are also a pay-monthly Vodafone mobile customer.
  2. Vodafone doesn't charge line rental on its fibre productsSo line rental is 'free' with this package. No calls are included, see Vodafone call charges.
  3. Nothing to pay upfront. Usually £9.99, there's no cost with this deal for activation and router delivery.
  4. Get a £50 Amazon voucher but you MUST claim it. After 120 days of your order you'll be sent instructions of how to get your voucher emailed or sent to your phone. Once you're sent the instructions you'll have 3 months to claim.

- Cost analysis: It's £26/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new line costs, so you pay £468 over the 18-month contract. But if you'd spend £50 at Amazon anyway, factor it in and it's an equiv £23.23/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (eg, you've cable only), installation's £60. You'll know before committing.

- Is the price fixed during the contract? Technically no, but if it does raise prices, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

Full Vodafone call charges, tips & customer service ratings

Are you desperate to get or stay with BT?

BT often isn't the cheapest provider but we know a lot of you like the security of being with a big name, so if that's you, check the deals above in case BT appears or use the filters in our Broadband Unbundled tool to find the best BT package for you.

If you're already a customer, it's worth using the tips above to benchmark the best deal and then try to haggle to knock down your price. BT is one of the easiest firms to haggle with. In our most recent haggling poll, 78% of its customers who tried to haggle had some success. For top tips on how to do it, see our Haggle With Service Providers guide.

Best buys: Short-term contract broadband

If you're planning to move home soon, living in student accommodation or you want the freedom to leave with a short, no-penalty notice period, the deals below allows you to sign up on a monthly rolling contract, which although more expensive, can be cheaper than paying penalty charges to get out of a standard 12 or 18-month contract.

However, if you are planning to move, first check if your new contract's 'portable', meaning you can take it with you. Some providers will let you do this, but it's on a case-by-case basis.

Sky

B'band & line rent from £21/mth on a 1mth rolling contract*

Pay £21-£30/mth & £30 upfront (free for SSE energy custs)

New and existing customers can get any of SSE's unlimited broadband packages* on a one-month rolling contract. You have the choice of up-to-17Mb standard broadband, up-to-38Mb or up-to-76Mb fibre broadband.

Standard speed is available to 90% and fibre options are available to 83% of the UK based on postcode – you're told when applying whether you can get the deal (or use our new tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode).

  1. Unlimited up-to-17Mb broadband and line rent's £21/mth. It'll then rise to £30/mth after 12 months unless you're an SSE energy customer whose broadband prices are frozen for 3 years. No calls are included, see SSE call charges.
    • - Up-to-38Mb fibre broadband costs £24/mth (£33/mth after 12mths for non-SSE custs).
    • - Up-to-76Mb fibre broadband costs £30/mth (£39/mth after 12mths for non-SSE custs).
  2. £30 set-up costs. This covers activation and router delivery. There's no charge if you're an existing SSE energy customer.

- Cost Analysis: It's £21/mth for up-to-17Mb broadband and line rental before any call costs, so including upfront costs you pay £282 for the first year, equivalent to £23.50/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you're switching from a provider not on BT Openreach, or if you need a new line entirely, it's £60 .

Full SSE call charges, tips & customer service ratings

DirectSave

Rolling 28-day contract, equiv £32.03/mth for first 12 mths*

Cancel with 28 days' notice, £24.95 upfront

Newbies to Direct Save Telecom's* can get its unlimited up-to-17Mb broadband and line rental on a 28-day rolling contract (its standard contract length is 24 months) for an equiv £32.03/mth. It's available to 90% of the UK. It depends on your postcode – you're told when applying

Not heard of Direct Save Telecom before? Read on for more.

  1. Sign up directly. Go via Direct Save Telecom*
  2. Broadband and line rent's £29.95/mth. Direct Save Telecom could increase prices at any time, but as you're not tied into a long contract, you're free to leave by giving 28 days' notice. No calls are included – see DirectSave call costs.
  3. You need its router. It's 'free' but you'll need to pay £24.95 for activation.

- Cost analysis: The total for unlimited broadband, line rent, router p&p and activation cost for the first year is £384.35, equivalent to £32.03/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (eg, you've cable only), it's £29.95 – you'll be told before you commit.

Full Direct Save Telecom info and call charges

Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account. 

Full help to take advantage of this and pros and cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

Problems with getting an MSE Blagged deal?

If you signed up to an MSE Blagged deal – a best-in-market offer we've negotiated exclusively – which involves you being sent a voucher, we'll always do our best to ensure you get the voucher.

But as we warn above, there can occasionally be problems with the deal tracking. In particular, if you were running ad-blocking software or cookie blockers when you signed up for the deal, or exited your browser while in the process of signing up, this can stop it tracking correctly.

Key tips

  • Many vouchers are supposed to arrive within three months of installation (see each deal for specific details). If it hasn't been that long yet, please be patient.

  • If you're waiting for an email voucher, please do check your spam folder regularly in case it's been diverted there.

Below we've listed the main past blagged deals, so you can check what you're due.

Warning: This is an archive so these deals may no longer be available.

BT: Broadband and line rent deals

EE: Broadband and line rent deals

Plusnet: Broadband and line rent deals

TalkTalk: Broadband and line rent deals

Sky: Broadband and line rent deals

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 first, but if not then…

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver can escalate it to the free Ombudsman Services (or CISAS if you're complaining about Virgin Media).

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com as that's usually quicker.

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