How to get cheap broadband

Do you need fibre? How to switch & much more

how to get cheap broadband

Way too many people stick blindly with their broadband and landline provider – and therefore overpay vastly. People on non-promo deals typically pay anything from £350/year to £600+/year for the big boys such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, so the deals below can save you big money.

To benchmark, those out-of-contract typically pay BT £52/mth and Virgin £42/mth for fibre.

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.

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

    • Fast fibre-optic broadband – average speeds of 35-36Mb (though some offer 50Mb). This is delivered through more sophisticated glass or plastic wires before connecting to your home.

    • Superfast fibre-optic – with average speeds around 63Mb. Uses the same fibre wires, it's just faster.

    • Ultrafast fibre-optic broadband – with average speeds usually above 100Mb. This requires more sophisticated wiring usually direct to your home, and is only available from a limited number of suppliers. 

    See our Broadband Unbundled tool for more ultrafast deals. 

    Do I really need fibre-optic 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 an average of 11Mb speed should be fine.

    Quick Questions

  • 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, though over 90% should now be able to get it. Most big cities have access but some rural areas may not. Ultrafast fibre with top speeds of 350Mb is only available to roughly 50% of the UK, while faster speeds are currently only available to a small number.

  • 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

    • Since you'll likely be signing a 12-month or 18-month contract, it's worth checking feedback before diving in. We include the results of our latest broadband customer satisfaction poll in all our best buys, 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 ThinkBroadband and ISP Review.

    • You won't face extra costs if no longer under contract though you may need to give at least 14-30 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 charge up to £30 if you're cancelling your broadband and not moving to another firm immediately or if you're moving to cable (although we've heard that some will waive this if contested). Your provider may also ask you to return its router or you risk incurring a penalty charge.

    • Under rules from regulator Ofcom, if the contract was taken out after 23 Jan 2014, if 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&C's as providers may state in there that they reserve the right to hike prices in line with inflation, which would count as a warning. 

      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.

  • Maybe. 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 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.

  • 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, 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.

  • Almost all deals come with unlimited data now, particularly the deals we feature below and on our Broadband Unbundled tool. 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.

    Though most new deals offer unlimited data, some legacy packages would still charge for exceeding your allowance, plus we've heard of some retention deals (offered direct from a provider if you try and haggle a new deal) still with a data cap - so always check the details when signing up.

    Quick Questions

  • 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 5,900+ MoneySavers, more than 80% who tried had success with Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin. For top tips, see our Haggle With Service Providers guide.

Best buys: Cheapest standard speed broadband & line rental

We've got our pick of the best deals 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.

Broadband and line rental: equiv £12.84/mth

Until Thu 21 Feb 

New customers to TalkTalk* can get this standard speed deal, plus can claim a £50 voucher for Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster. Though note that TalkTalk is the lowest ranked of the biggies for customer service in our polls.

You'll pay £17/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new-line costs, so  £204 over the 12-month contract. If you'd have spent £50 at the retailers above, factor the voucher in and it's an equiv £12.84/mth.

Speed: Average 11Mb with unlimited downloads
Contract length: 12 months
Monthly payment: £17/mth for the 12-month contract, then £27/mth
Upfront costs: Nothing upfront. If you need a new line installed (ie, you're moving from cable) it's free with this offer
Rewards: £50 voucher. See 'Rewards' tab for how to claim it
Calls: No calls included 
Who can get it? New customers. It also depends on your area. See Broadband Unbundled which shows deals only available in your postcode

How to claim: This deal offers a £50 voucher to spend at  Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster but you MUST claim it.

Enter your email address when prompted before sign-up and within 90 days of your order you'll be sent instructions on how to redeem your voucher. You've then three months to activate it. 

What if I have difficulties? The best bet is to get in touch with TalkTalk via this email address. After contacting the firm, if you still have difficulties, please let us know and we will do our best to help.

  • An additional 20p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls, alongside these per-minute charges:

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    15p/min 15p/min 13.5p/min 15p/min

    Direct debit is the only way to pay. This is compulsory – there's no alternative.

  • TALKTALK BROADBAND CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great 26%
    OK 35%
    Poor 38%
    Aug 2018 | Voters: 885
  • Sadly telecoms firms often do, but TalkTalk says its prices are fixed for the duration of the contract.

    Read more about TalkTalk.

  • 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.

Best buys: Cheapest fast fibre broadband & line rental

We've got our pick of the best fibre broadband deals 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.

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. 

Fibre broadband & line rent: equiv £17.12/mth 

Until Thu 21 Feb

Via our link, this fibre deal with average speeds of 35Mb from Vodafone* is open to anyone who doesn't currently have its broadband, plus you can claim a £70 voucher from Amazon, Currys PC World, Marks & Spencer or Ticketmaster.

You'll pay £378 over the 18-month contract before call costs, but if you'd have spent £70 at one of the above retailers anyway, factor it in and it's an equivalent £17.12/mth. Vodafone also promises that your router speed will never drop below 25Mb. If it does, you can report it via its app and claim a 15% discount off your bill until it's fixed.

Speed: Average 35Mb with unlimited downloads
Contract length: 18 months
Monthly payment: £21/mth. After the 18mth contract it rises to £24/mth
Upfront costs: Nothing upfront. If you need a new line - i.e. you're switching from cable - installation costs £60. You'll be told if you need to pay this before you commit 
Rewards: £70 voucher which you must claim. See 'Rewards' tab for how 
Calls: No calls are included
Who can get it? New customers to Vodafone Broadband. It also depends on your area. See our Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode

How to claim. With this deal you can claim a £70 voucher from Amazon, Currys PC World, Marks & Spencer or Ticketmaster if you sign up via our link online.

Enter your name and email address when asked, before you go through to Vodafone to sign up and select the voucher you'd like. You'll then be sent claim instructions within 120 days of your order. Once received, you've then three months in which to claim and activate it.

What if I have difficulties? It's best to get in touch with Vodafone first by using this email address: uk-vodafonevouchers@awin.com. If after contacting the firm you still have difficulties, please let us know and we will do our best to help.

  • What are Vodafone's call charges? A 19p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls.

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    11.5p/min 11.5p/min 11.5p/min 13p/min

    What if I want calls? You can pay an additional £4/mth for free evening and weekend calls, £5/mth gets you 300 minutes of calls per month to international numbers in some countries, and £8/mth gets you anytime UK landline and mobile calls.

  • VODAFONE BROADBAND CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great 43%
    OK 28%
    Poor 29%
    Aug 2018 | Voters: 244
  • Sadly, telecom firms often do. Technically the price isn't fixed during the contract, but if Vodafone does raise prices, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

    It's worth noting that that after the 18 month contract period your monthly charge goes up by £3/mth.

  • If you don't have a line, or you're switching from cable, you'll need to pay for a new line - installation's £60.

    If you have a BT line but are with another provider, eg, Sky or TalkTalk, you may also have to pay but you'll be told this during the sign-up process before you commit to the deal.

  • 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.

Fibre broadband & line rent: equiv £17.18/mth

Until Thu 21 Feb

This TalkTalk* fibre broadband deal – with average speeds of 36Mb – is open to new customers (not currently with TalkTalk) signing up to an 18-month contract. It's worth noting that in our last customer service poll, 38% scored it 'poor'.

You'll pay £19.95/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new line costs, so you pay £359.10 over the 18-month contract. Yet claim and spend a £50 voucher and it's an equivalent £17.18/mth.

Speed: Average 36Mb with unlimited downloads
Contract length: 18 months
Monthly payment: £19.95/mth for the 18mth contract, then £33.50/mth
Upfront costs: Nothing upfront. If you need a new line installed (ie, you're moving from cable), it's 'free' with this deal
Rewards: A £50 voucher for Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster that you must claim. See Rewards tab for how
Calls: No calls are included
Who can get it? New customers. It also depends on your area. See our Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode

What can I claim? This deal offers a £50 voucher for either Amazon, Argos, Tesco, or Ticketmaster, though you must claim it.

Enter your email address when prompted on the giftcloud page and you'll receive instructions on how to choose your reward within 90 daysYou've then 3 months to claim it.

What if I have problems? The best bet is to get in touch with TalkTalk first using this email address: uk-talktalkvouchers@awin.com. If you still have difficulties after contacting the firm, please let us know and we will do our best to help.  

  • What are TalkTalk's call charges? An additional 20p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls, alongside these per-minute charges:

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    15p/min 15p/min 13.5p/min 15p/min
  • TALKTALK BROADBAND CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great 26%
    OK 35%
    Poor 38%
    August 2018 | Voters: 885
  • Telecoms firms often do, but TalkTalk says its broadband and line rental prices are fixed for the duration of the contract – though that doesn't extend to other services, such as the cost of calls or optional 'boosts'.

  • 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.

Best buys: Cheapest superfast fibre broadband & line rental

If you're happy to pay more, you can get fibre with max speeds of 100Mb and above. 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 pick of the top superfast fibre deals 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.

Fibre broadband & line rent: equiv £20.56/mth

Until Thu 21 Feb

Via our link, this fibre deal with average speeds of 63Mb from Vodafone Broadband* is open to anyone who doesn't currently have its broadband, plus you can claim an £80 voucher from Amazon, Currys PC World, Marks & Spencer or Ticketmaster.

You''ll pay £450 over the 18-month contract before call costs, but if you'd have spent £80 at one of the above retailers anyway, factor it in and it's an equivalent £20.56/mth. Vodafone also promises that your router speed will never drop below 55Mb. If it does, you can report it via its app and claim a 15% discount off your bill until it's fixed.

Speed: Average 63Mb with unlimited downloads
Contract length: 18 months
Monthly payment: £25/mth. After the 18mth contract it rises to £28/mth
Upfront costs: Nothing upfront. If you need a new line - i.e. you're switching from cable - installation costs £60. You'll be told if you need to pay this before you commit
Rewards:
 £80 voucher which you must claim. See 'Rewards' tab for how 
Calls: No calls are included 
Who can get it? New customers. It also depends on your area. See our Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode

How to claim. With this deal you can claim an £80 voucher from Amazon, Currys PC World, Marks & Spencer or Ticketmaster if you sign up via our link online

Enter your name and email address when asked, before you go through to Vodafone to sign up and select the voucher you'd like. You'll then be sent claim instructions within 120 days of your order. Once received, you've then three months in which to claim and activate it.

What if I have difficulties? It's best to get in touch with Vodafone first using this email address: uk-vodafonevouchers@awin.com. If after contacting the firm you still have difficulties, please let us know and we will do our best to help.

  • What are Vodafone's call charges? A 19p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls.

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    11.5p/min 11.5p/min 11.5p/min 13p/min
  • VODAFONE BROADBAND CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great
    43%
    OK
    28%
    Poor 29%
    Aug 2018 | Voters: 244
  • Sadly, telecom firms often do. Technically the price isn't fixed during the contract, but if Vodafone does raise prices, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

    It's worth noting that that after the 18-month contract period ends your monthly charge goes up to £27.

  • If you don't have a line, or you're switching from cable, you'll need to pay for a new line - installation's £60.

    If you have a BT line but are with another provider, eg, Sky or TalkTalk, you may also have to pay but you'll be told this during the sign-up process before you commit to the deal.

     

  • Vodafone also guarantees that the speed to your router won't drop below 55Mb. You can check it by downloading the Vodafone Broadband app and running a speed test.

    If it's lower than 55Mb 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 55Mb.

    Note: The guarantee covers the speed to your router, not to your devices.

Fibre broadband & line rent equiv: £22.45/mth

This TalkTalk* fibre broadband deal - with average speeds of 63Mb - is open to new customers only (not currently with TalkTalk) signing up to a 18-month contract.  It's worth noting that in our last customer service poll, 38% scored it 'poor'.

You'll pay £22.45/mth for broadband and line rental before any call or new line costs, so you pay £404.10 over the 18-month contract.

Speed: Average 63Mb with unlimited downloads
Contract length: 18 months
Monthly payment: £22.45/mth, then £38.50/mth once the 18 months ends. 
Upfront costs: Nothing upfront
Other costs: If you need a new line installed it will be installed for free - you'll be told if you need a new line before signing up. 
Calls: No calls are included
Who can get it? New customers. It also depends on your area. See our Broadband Unbundled which only shows deals available in your postcode. 

  • An additional 20p set-up fee applies to all chargeable calls. TalkTalk also applies a £100 unbilled calls limit – this means if you make more than £100 worth of phone calls, further outgoing calls will be stopped until the amount you owe on calls is reduced to under £100. Calls over 60 mins are charged so hang up and call back.

    LANDLINE – DAYTIME LANDLINE – EVENING LANDLINE – WEEKEND MOBILE – ANYTIME
    13.5p/min 13.5p/min 13.5p/min 13.5p/min
  • TALKTALK BROADBAND CUSTOMER SERVICE POLL RESULTS
    Great 26%
    OK 35%
    Poor 38%
    Aug 2018 | Voters: 885
  • Telecoms firms often do, but TalkTalk says its prices are fixed for the duration of the contract.

    Once the 18-month period is up your monthly charge goes up to £38.50.

  • 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.

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, use 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, 80% 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, live in student accommodation or want the freedom to leave with a short, no-penalty notice period, the deals below allow 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.

Rolling 28-day contract, equiv £30.03/mth for first 12 mths

 

Newbies to Direct Save Telecom* can get its unlimited broadband with average speeds of 11Mb and line rental on a rolling basis, so you're not tied in to a long contract.

If you decide to keep it a year, you'll pay a total of £360.35, equiv to £30.03/mth.

Speed: Average 11Mb with unlimited downloads
Contract length: One month
Monthly payment: £27.95/mth
Upfront costs: £24.95
Calls: No calls are included
Who can get it? New customers. It also depends on your area. Enter your postcode on the Direct Save website and it will tell you if you can get it

  • A 22p call set-up fee applies for all chargeable calls, in addition to the below per minute costs.

    LANDLINE  MOBILE 
    13p/min 16p/min
  • Direct Save Telecom is a low-cost broadband and home phone provider. It isn't as big as other providers so we don't have feedback on its customer service, but it's been around since 1995 and has been providing line rental since 2004.

    It offers 24-hour UK-based customer service.

  • Sadly telecom firms often do, but as this is a 28-day rolling agreement, if Direct Save Telecom increases its prices you're free to leave without any exit fees.

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

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.

How to complain about your broadband provider

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 that we work with it to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver can escalate it to the free CISAS  or Ombudsman Services, depending on the company you're complaining about.

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.

SPOTTED OUT OF DATE INFO/BROKEN LINKS? EMAIL: BROKENLINK@MONEYSAVINGEXPERT.COM