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How to get cheap broadband

Do you need fibre? How to switch & much more

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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/yr 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 a year 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. See our Broadband Unbundled tool for ultrafast deals as we don't feature them here.
    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

B'band & line rent equiv £14.55/mth*

Pay £312 over 18mth contract & get £50 cashback

Until Tue 21 Nov, new Plusnet customers, or those who've not been with it in the last month, can get a 18-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 – 54% rated it 'great', only 17% 'poor'. The deal's available to 90% of the UK based on postcode (you're told when applying). Here's how it works...

  1. If you can afford to, choose to pay line rent for 1yr upfront. It works out as £197.88 for a year equiv to £16.49/mth, after this you can renew for another 12 months for the same price. If you can't, or don't want to, it's the standard £18.99/mth. Either way no calls are included – See Plusnet charges.
  2. Broadband 'free' 18mths. Unless you don't live in a low cost area, but most do. After the 18-month contract, it rises to £9.99/mth.
  3. Pay by direct debit. Or it's £1.50/mth extra.
  4. Get £50 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. It should then arrive within 30 days.

- Cost analysis: If you pay a year's line rent upfront, over the 18-month contract it's £311.82 before calls, equiv £17.33/mth (pay monthly, and it's £18.99/mth before calls). But claim and use the cashback then it's £261.82, equivalent to £14.55/mth. If you pay line rental monthly, then it's equivalent to £16.22/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few other cases), it's £49.99 – you'll be told before you commit.

- Could Plusnet hike prices? Technically yes, but if it rises, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

- 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 £7.50/mth during the contract on top of line rental. Broadband and phone will rise to £36.48/mth after 12 months.

Full Plusnet call charges, tips & customer service ratings

Sky

B'band and line rent equiv £15.50/mth*

Pay £236 over 12mth contract & get a £50 prepaid Mastercard

Until Thu 16 Nov, Sky newbies can apply via this Sky link* for this deal. It's a year's contract for up-to-17Mb unlimited broadband and line rental. If you've had Sky b'band, line or TV in the last 12mths you're not eligible.

It's available to 90% of the UK. It depends on your postcode – you're told when applying (or use our new tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode).

  1. Unlimited broadband and line rent's £18/mth for 12 months. It'll rise to £28.99/mth if you stay. No calls included – see Sky call costs (a touch more than BT).
  2. £19.95 set-up. There's also a £5 card verification fee, refunded on your first bill.
  3. Get £50 on a prepaid Mastercard but you MUST claim it. Annoyingly Sky won't remind you so diarise to use this Mastercard claim link within 90 days of service being activated. It should arrive within 30 days.

- Cost analysis: Assuming you don't need a new line, you pay £235.95 for the year before calls, equiv to £19.67/mth. But claim and use the Mastercard, then it's £185.95, equivalent to £15.50/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few other cases), it's £20 – you'll be told before you commit.

- Could Sky hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do, but you may be able to leave penalty-free if it raised phone prices. It tells us the broadband will always be 'free' for the year.

Full Sky tips, call charges & 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

Fibre & line rent £20 + £20 Amazon vch*

Pay £360 over 18mth contract

Until Mon 27 Nov, 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, plus you can claim a £20 Amazon voucher. The deal's available to 83% of the UK based on postcode (you're told when applying if you can't get it). Here's how it works...

  1. Line rental's 'free' for the 18-month contractVodafone doesn't charge for line rental with this package, it comes with the broadband.
  2. Broadband's £20/mth. After the 18-month contract, it's the usual £25/mth.
  3. Nothing to pay upfront. Usually £49, there's no cost with this deal for activation and router delivery.
  4. Get a £20 Amazon voucher but you MUST claim it. Within 120 days of your order you'll be sent instructions of how to claim. You'll then be emailed your voucher.

Cost analysis: It's £20/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new line costs, so you pay £360 over the 18-month contract.

- What about calls? No calls are included – call costs to other UK phones are mostly slightly lower than BT's. See Vodafone charges.

- No line/switching from cable (or in a few cases, Sky customers)? 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.

- Anything else? Cashback site users may see bigger cashback elsewhere, but sometimes on different deals.

Full Vodafone call charges, tips & customer service ratings

BT

Fibre & line rent equiv £21.16/mth*

Pay £531 over 18mths contract & get £150 back

Until Mon 27 Nov, new BT broadband customers can apply via this BT link* to get this 18-month contract for line rent and up-to-52Mb speed unlimited broadband – up to 3x faster than standard.

It's available to 83% of the UK. It depends on your postcode – you're told when applying (or use our new Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode).

  1. Choose to pay line rent upfront if you can afford to. It's cheapest to pay £208.80 upfront for the first 12mths (you must opt for this at sign-up) after it's the usual £18.99/mth, like if you chose to pay monthly. Either way, you get inclusive weekend landline calls, see BT call costs.
  2. Discounted fibre, £11/mth for the 18 months. A huge discount on the standard £31/mth.
  3. £9.99 upfront. This covers router delivery and activation.
  4. Get £100 on a prepaid Mastercard £50 cashback cheque but you MUST claim them. Annoyingly BT won't remind you, so diarise to use this Mastercard claim link and this cashback claim link. You've up to three months to claim after activation, they'll arrive and they may take up to 45 days to arrive.

- Cost analysis: You pay £530.73 over 18 months before calls if you choose to pay line rental upfront. But claim and use the cashback and Mastercard (which is as good as cash in most places) then it's £380.73, equivalent to £21.16/mth. If you pay line rental monthly, then it's equivalent to £22.22/mth.

Anything else?

You get 200GB of free online storage, and you can opt in to BT Sport free for 18 months. Also, cashback site users may see bigger cashback elsewhere, but sometimes on different deals.

- Could BT hike prices? Sadly it can, but you may be able to leave penalty-free if that happens.

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few other cases), it's free with this deal.

Full BT call charges, tips & customer service ratings

Plusnet

Fibre & line rent equiv £21.33/mth*

Pay £384 over 18mth contract

Until Tue 28 Nov, BT-owned Plusnet* is offering this 18-month fibre deal for newbies. It includes line rent and unlimited downloads with up-to-38Mb fibre broadband (up to 2x faster than standard).

It was a strong performer in our latest customer service poll – 54% rated it 'great', only 17% 'poor'. This deal's available to 83% of the UK based on postcode (you're told when applying), 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. Pay line rent upfront, if you can afford to. It works out as £197.88 for a year equiv to £16.49/mth (£18.99/mth after). If you can't, or don't want to, it's the standard £18.99/mth. No calls are included – see Plusnet charges.
  2. Broadband's £4/mth for 18mths. Unless you don't live in a low-cost area, but most do. After the 18-month contract, it rises to £14.99/mth.
  3. Nothing to pay upfront. Activation and router delivery are free with this deal.
  4. Pay by direct debit. Or it's £1.50/mth extra.

- Cost analysis: If you pay a year's line rent upfront, over the 18-month contract it's £383.82 before calls (£413.82 if you pay monthly). This works out an equivalent to £21.33/mth if you pay upfront, £22.99/mth paying monthly.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few other cases), it's £49.99 – you'll be told before you commit.

- Could Plusnet hike prices? Technically yes, but if Plusnet does raise prices, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

- 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 £7.50/mth during the contract on top of line rental. Broadband and phone will rise to £36.48/mth after 18 months.

Full Plusnet call charges, tips & customer service ratings

Sky

Fibre & line rent equiv £23.89/mth*

Pay £480 over 18mth contract

Until Thu 7 Dec, Sky newbies can apply via this Sky link* for this deal. It's an 18-month contract for up-to-38Mb unlimited fibre broadband and line rental. If you've had Sky b'band, line or TV in the last 12mths you're not eligible.

It's available to 83% of the UK. It depends on your postcode – you're told when applying (or use our new tool Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode).

  1. Unlimited fibre and line rent's £25/mth for 18 months. It'll rise to £38.99/mth if you stay. No calls included – see Sky call costs (a touch more than BT).
  2. £29.95 set-up. There's also a £5 card verification fee, refunded on your first bill.
  3. Get £50 on a prepaid Mastercard but you MUST claim it. Annoyingly Sky won't remind you so diarise to use this Mastercard claim link within 90 days of service being activated. It should arrive within 30 days.

- Cost analysis: Assuming you don't need a new line, you pay £479.95 for the 18 months before calls, equiv to £26.67/mth. But claim and use the Mastercard, then it's £429.95, equivalent to £23.89/mth.

Anything else?

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few other cases), it's £20 – you'll be told before you commit.

- Could Sky hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do, but you may be able to leave penalty-free if it raised phone prices. It tells us the broadband will always be 'free' for the year.

Full Sky tips, call charges & customer service ratings

Best buys: Cheapest up-to-76Mb superfast fibre broadband & line rental

If you’re happy to pay more, you can get up-to-76Mb 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.

If normal fibre just won’t do, try our Broadband Unbundled tool to find the best superfast deals around.

Vodafone logo

Fibre & line rent £25/mth + £20 Amazon vch*

Pay £450 over 18mth contract

  • Available to: 83% of UK
  • Speed: Up to 76Mb
  • Download limit: Unlimited
  • Traffic shaping? No
  • Contract length: 18 months
  • Deal requires line rental? Yes
  • Inclusive calls? No
  • New line installation: £60

Until Mon 27 Nov, new Vodafone customers can get an 18-month deal with Vodafone Broadband*, which includes line rental and unlimited downloads with up-to-76Mb speed broadband, plus you can claim a £20 Amazon voucher. The deal's available to 83% of the UK based on postcode (you're told when applying if you can't get it). Here's how it works...

  1. Line rental's 'free' for the 18-month contractVodafone doesn't charge separately for line rental, it comes with the broadband package.
  2. Broadband's £25/mth. After the 18-month contract, it jumps to £30/mth (this will still cover line rental too).
  3. Nothing to pay upfront. Usually £49, there's no cost with this deal for activation and router delivery.
  4. Get a £20 Amazon voucher But you MUST claim it. Within 120 days of your order you'll be sent instructions of how to claim. You'll then be emailed your voucher.

Cost analysis: It's £25/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new line costs, so you pay £450 over the 18-month contract.

- What about calls? No calls are included – call costs to other UK phones are mostly slightly lower than BT's. See Vodafone charges.

- No line/switching from cable (or in a few cases, Sky customers)? Installation's £60. You'll know before committing.

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

- Anything else? Cashback site users may see bigger cashback elsewhere, but sometimes on different deals.

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 – up-to-17Mb only

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 deal 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.

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 £33.90/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 (or for those with a cable one or, in a few other cases), 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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