15 Best Broadband Deals In 2019

15 Best Broadband Deals In 2019

Looking to save a little money? Or are you fed up with terribly slow internet speeds?

In this guide, we’ll review the top 15 best broadband deals available in the UK in 2019.

We’ll also discuss some key things to consider when choosing a plan, helping you find the perfect provider for you and your family.

Contents

Our Top 3 Picks

In a hurry to find a new plan? Use this handy table to quickly compare the 3 best broadband deals we’ve reviewed.

Provider

BT ISP logo.

Plan

Superfast Fibre

What we like

  • Plenty of flexible phone & TV add-ons.
  • Good speeds considering what it costs.
  • Comes with a top-quality router.

  • Provider

    TalkTalk logo.

    Plan

    Faster Fibre

    What we like

  • Great value.
  • No mid-contract price rises.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • Provider

    Virgin Media logo.

    Plan

    M100, M200, or M350

    What we like

  • Awesome speeds available UK-wide.
  • Not on Openreach – better evening connectivity.
  • Excellent customer service.

  • Best Broadband Deals

    A red telephone box in London.

    First, we’ll take a look at the best overall broadband deals on the market right now.

    1. TalkTalk Faster Fibre

    TalkTalk essentially have two broadband tiers: “Fast” and “Faster Fibre”.

    We really like the value proposition of Faster Fibre. The speeds are pretty good considering the price, at 38Mbps. Compared to the “Fast” plan, it’s barely more expensive.

    It’s also easy to add whatever call plans you’d like to have, and there is a TV deal available if that’s what you’re after.

    Although the contract isn’t incredibly flexible (at 18 months), you do have the option of leaving within the first 30 days if you’re not satisfied with the speeds, which is great.

    Also, TalkTalk guarantees no mid-contract price rises, unlike quite a few other providers.

    Provider

    TalkTalk logo.

    Pros

  • Good value for money.
  • Call plans are very flexible.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • No mid-contract price rises.
  • Cons

  • Only available with an 18-month contract.
  • Overall value

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    2. BT Superfast Fibre

    BT is a little more expensive than TalkTalk at the moment. But you definitely get what you pay for.

    For starters, their Superfast Fibre plan is faster than TalkTalk’s Faster Fibre, at 50Mbps on average. However, they do have a slightly slower 36Mbps option for a lower price.

    Each of these deals comes with a “Stay Fast” guarantee, and normally includes some sort of free gift, like an Xbox or FitBit. You also get BT’s Smart Hub, which is a really nice router, and the setup fee is quite reasonable on this particular deal.

    What BT does that most others don’t is give you the ability to guarantee superb WiFi signal in every inch of your home.

    Although this feature costs more, you can get your bundle with “WiFi Discs” to extend your router’s signal. This is especially useful if you’re prone to dropouts in far-flung corners of your house. BT guarantees strong signal, or you get your money back.

    Provider

    BT ISP logo.

    Pros

  • Possible to guarantee WiFi signal strength.
  • Included freebie is always nice to have.
  • Comes with a great router.
  • Plenty of plan choices on offer.
  • Cons

  • Slightly expensive.
  • Overall value

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    3. Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Broadband

    Looking for a broadband deal with excellent contract flexibility?

    With their Unlimited Fibre plan, Plusnet gives you the choice to sign either a 12-month contract, or put pen to paper for 18 months and save ¬£4 on each bill (and they’ll take ¬£20 off the activation fee). This longer contract is excellent value for money, especially considering you get a 36Mbps average speed plus a free WiFi router.

    Another good thing about Plusnet is their awesome customer service. Their contact centre is UK-based, and is open to enquiries every single day of the year.

    Since they’re on the Openreach network, switching is easy, and the ISP promises no mid-contract price hikes.

    Provider



    Pros

  • Unlimited usage and plenty of speed.
  • Plusnet is renowned for their customer service.
  • Good price (on the 18-month contract at least).
  • Cons

  • ¬£25 activation fee on the 12-month contract.
  • Overall value

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    Best Broadband and TV Deals

    Woman watching TV eating popcorn.

    In this part, we’ll look at some awesome broadband deals which also come with a sweet TV package.

    4. Virgin Media Bigger Bundle

    230 channels and 108Mbps download speed – what more could you want?

    Virgin Media’s “Bigger” broadband/TV bundle has pretty much everything you’d ever need in terms of home entertainment. It comes with an awesome array of channels, including BT Sport – meaning you can watch the Premier League and Champions League, live and in HD.

    There’s also plenty of other choices, including Cartoon Network for the kids, National Geographic, and the History Channel.

    Unfortunately, the setup fee is pretty hefty.

    However, because Virgin have their own fibre infrastructure, you might notice better evening speeds with them than you get currently with Sky/EE/BT or any other Openreach provider.

    The contract is only 12 months, and considering what you get, the price is pretty great. Overall, this is an excellent-value bundle for TV-hungry families.

    Provider

    Virgin Media logo.

    Pros

  • Reasonable price.
  • Superfast 100Mbps+ broadband.
  • Massive range of channels – 230 to choose from.
  • 12-month contract.
  • Cons

  • Setup fee.
  • Overall value

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    5. BT TV Classic Bundle

    These days, YouTube, Netflix and Hulu do a great job keeping the kids happy. Some families just don’t see the need to pay for 300+ cable TV channels in this day and age.

    However, there’s one thing that isn’t readily available online: sport, including UFC, the Premier League, and the NBA.

    The great thing about this deal from BT is that you get all the sport you need (plus every Freeview channel), without having to pay for a heap of cable stations you’re never gonna watch. It comes with 36Mbps broadband too, which is plenty of speed for most families.

    However, there is a slight issue with this package: it has a quite significant setup fee.

    To sweeten the deal a little, BT normally throws in a “free gift” such as a tech gadget or a gift card, which normally has a retail value of around ¬£120. You should be able to put it on eBay and recoup the setup fee at the very least, unless you want to use it.

    You also get the set-top box thrown in for free, and it’s a good bit of kit – capable of storing up to 300 hours of footage.

    Provider

    BT ISP logo.

    Pros

  • Excellent value for money.
  • Has everything you need – BT Sport & 36Mbps down.
  • Normally comes with a freebie thrown in.
  • Includes a 300-hour storage capacity TV box.
  • Cons

  • Hefty setup fee.
  • Overall value

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    6. Sky Broadband Essential + Entertainment

    While you can get Sky Sports with Virgin, it’s a paid add-on. So if you’re looking for channels that only Sky can offer, it’s normally a better idea to deal with them directly.

    Sky really are the TV kings, so if you’re want television, they’re a great option to deal with.

    Essentially, you get to build your own package. This is great, because you can pay for only what you need. Kids channels are ¬£5 per month for example – so it’s really easy to chuck them in if you need them, or save the money if you don’t have children.

    Plus, you can choose what broadband package you want. Meaning, no need to pay for bandwidth you probably won’t use.

    The downside of Sky is their price point – their setup fee is higher than Virgin (but not as high as BT), and unless you just pick one or two TV channel packages, their broadband/TV deals aren’t exactly cheap.

    Provider

    Sky broadband logo.

    Pros

  • Super-flexible.
  • Heaps of package choices on offer.
  • No need to pay for what you don’t need.
  • Cons

  • On the expensive side.
  • Overall value

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    Best Broadband and Phone Deals

    Landline home phone.

    In this part, we’ll look at the best broadband deals which also come with an excellent home phone plan.

    7. John Lewis Fibre + Calls

    John Lewis has a pretty simple approach to broadband. You simply pick one of three speeds, choose a call package (if you want one) and checkout – no freebies/gimmicks. Line rental is always included, there are no activation fees, and every plan comes with a 12-month contract.

    Their mid-level broadband package offers 36Mbps down, but it also comes with included calls to UK landlines in the evening (7pm-7am) and anytime at the weekend. However, you’ll be charged if the call lasts for over 60 minutes.

    If you’re looking for a little extra, you can add one of two call plan upgrades:

    1. Anytime –¬†calls to UK landlines, for¬†¬£5 a month.
    2. Anytime + international Рunlimited anytime calls to UK landlines + 300 international minutes to 30 different countries, for £7 a month.

    If you get anytime + international you can also add unlimited anytime calls to UK mobiles for another £5 per month.

    Also, if 36Mbps isn’t quite enough speed for your needs, you can also get these call packs with John Lewis’s Fibre Extra broadband, which offers average speeds of 66Mbps.

    Provider



    Pros

  • No setup fees.
  • Good call plan flexibility.
  • Reasonable prices.
  • Available with 3 different broadband speeds.
  • Cons

  • You’ll be charged for calls over 60 minutes long on the included call plan.
  • Overall value

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    8. Post Office Unlimited Fibre

    The Post Office offers one of the best-value broadband deals out there. With their “Unlimited Fibre” plan, you get 38Mbps on a 12-month contract – all for a very reasonable price (and no setup fee). And unlike quite a few other providers, the Post Office commit to no mid-contract broadband price rises.

    But what makes them great for heavy callers is the sheer number of call packages on offer. There are currently 7 available – they’re well-hidden on the website for some reason, so to view them you may need to add the broadband to your basket and try to select some add-ons.

    Note that you get the “Anytime” package thrown in with broadband (which offers good basic level coverage). However, this only lasts for the first 3 months of the deal.

    The good thing is, if you happen to make a call or two outside of the package you’ve chosen (or you’d prefer not to lock in to specific packages), the Post Office has quite reasonable per-minute fees for different types of calls made.

    Provider



    Pros

  • Great value for money.
  • Tons of call package options.
  • No upfront fee.
  • Only a 12-month committment.
  • Cons

  • Calls are only thrown in for the first 3 months.
  • Overall value

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    9. Sky Fibre + Calls

    Sky is another company with pretty flexible calling options. Like John Lewis, they have a number of excellent-value packages. However, their deals are a bit more mobile-friendly.

    But first, you’ll need to choose your broadband speed:

    1. Unlimited – around 15Mbps dependent on area.
    2. Superfast – 59Mbps. A bit more expensive, but probably the better deal. Unfortunately, Sky aren’t offering a middle-of-the-road option at the moment.

    By default, you pay for any additional calls you make, so you’ll then need to add one of three call packages:

    1. Evenings and weekend extra: included calls to UK landlines and mobiles on evenings (7pm-7am) and weekends. Once you go over an hour though, calls are charged at regular rates. £5 per month.
    2. Anytime extra: included calls to UK landlines and mobiles at any time. £8 per month.
    3. International extra: unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobiles and international landlines in 50 different countries. £12 per month.

    As always, line rental is included in the price of the broadband plan. Unfortunately, Sky’s contracts are 18 months long, and they do have a setup fee.

    Provider

    Sky broadband logo.

    Pros

  • Great value call packages available.
  • Good speed (if you opt for Superfast).
  • Easy setup – Openreach network, and Sky know what they’re doing.
  • Cons

  • 18-month contract + setup fee.
  • Overall value

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    Best Fibre Broadband Deals

    Fibre optic cable.

    Got that need for speed?

    In this section, we’ll review some blazing-fast fibre broadband deals.

    10. Virgin Media M350

    This is basically the fastest broadband commonly available to consumers in the UK. Since Virgin Media has its own separate fibre network, they’re able to offer faster speeds than what you can get on Openreach.

    As we’ve mentioned before, it might be a bit of a hassle to switch if you’re currently with a company other than Virgin. It’s by no means the end of the world though – you’ll just need to contact your old provider to cancel the connection rather than having Virgin do it for you.

    There’s a ¬£35 setup fee, but the contract is only 12 months, which is pretty good. You can choose a more expensive month-to-month plan if you want to avoid entering a long-term contract. It’s also possible to save a few pounds by going for “only” 108Mbps or 213Mbps (rather than 362Mbps) with Virgin’s slightly cheaper M100/M200 plans.

    Apart from blazing-fast fibre, you also get unlimited calls to UK landlines and Virgin mobiles on weekends. They also chuck in their Hub 3 router free of charge – you’ll need it to take advantage of the speeds on offer from Virgin Fibre.

    Provider

    Virgin Media logo.

    Pros

  • Incredibly fast.
  • Few different options on offer (including broadband-only) if you’re looking to save a bit of cash.
  • 12-month contract.
  • Free calls and a Hub 3 thrown in.
  • Cons

  • Not on Openreach – this can actually mean faster speeds though.
  • Overall value

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    11. Hyperoptic Fibre

    Hyperoptic are a newer provider, specialising in extremely fast fibre-to-the-premises broadband. Basically, the fastest-possible cable is used all the way to your house (they have their own network), delivering some of the best speeds available to consumers in the UK.

    They offer a fairly tame 30Mbps option, a 150Mbps plan, and an incredibly quick 900Mbps deal, all for pretty reasonable prices.

    However, the issue with Hyperoptic is that their coverage isn’t incredibly expansive, at the moment at least. You can check what’s available at your postcode on their homepage.

    If you are covered though, their deals are definitely worth checking out. You get a free router, 24/7 phone support, and the contract is only 12 months long. Plus, their speeds are symmetric – meaning your download speed will be (roughly) matched by your upload speed.

    Provider

    Hyperoptic logo.

    Pros

  • Insane speeds (up to 900Mbps) on offer.
  • Very reasonable prices (considering what you’re getting).
  • Comes with a router.
  • 24/7 phone support.
  • Cons

  • Not available everywhere.
  • Overall value

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    12. BT Superfast Fibre 2

    Looking for plain old Openreach fibre at a reasonable price?

    BT’s broadband plans essentially come in three different tiers:

    1. Superfast Fibre Essential: 36Mbps average download speed.
    2. Superfast Fibre: 50Mbps average download speed.
    3. Superfast Fibre 2: 67Mbps average download speed.

    You obviously pay more for higher speeds. However, the activation fee falls the more you pay per month.

    As we mentioned before, BT often includes a bonus gift (like a BT reward card, which you can use at most places that accept Mastercard). If the deal isn’t a cash-back card at the time you buy, you should still be able to sell it and get your activation charge back (and then some).

    Essentially, these are great all-round broadband plans. If you don’t need insane speeds (like what Hyperoptic offer) then the freebies BT throw in make these deals excellent value for money.

    Provider

    BT ISP logo.

    Pros

  • Good speeds on offer.
  • Normally comes with a decent-value freebie.
  • Activation fee isn’t too much for the two faster plans.
  • Cons

  • Not the cheapest (especially considering the 24-month minimum contract).
  • Overall value

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    Best Broadband Only Deals

    An ethernet cable.

    Now we’ll look at some of the best-value plans for those only looking for broadband connectivity.

    13. Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Extra

    If you’re looking for the cheapest-possible broadband-only deal, Plusnet is a great place to start.

    They’re one of the few Openreach providers who offer broadband without forcing you to pay for their line rental. However, you’ll need to get it from another provider – unless you’re with Virgin Media, it’s not possible to get hooked up to broadband in the UK without paying for line rental.

    There are three speed packages available – 10, 36 or 66Mbps down, meaning you can get exactly what you need. All of these plans come with unlimited data, and you choose the contract length, which is a nice touch, especially if you might be moving house soon.

    Another thing we like about Plusnet is their customer service. You’re able to get in contact with their UK-based team 365 days a year, and their contact centre staff are generally quite helpful.

    The only issue with Plusnet is their activation fees – they’re quite high compared to most other vendors.

    Provider



    Pros

  • Great price.
  • Top-notch customer service.
  • Excellent contract length flexibility.
  • Few different speed options on offer.
  • Cons

  • Relatively high activation fee.
  • Overall value

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    14. Virgin Media M100

    Virgin Media is pretty much the only major telco to actually offer a true broadband-only deal. This is one of the few plans out there that doesn’t require you to pay line rental to BT – Virgin uses a separate network to most other providers.

    However, there is a bit of an issue with their broadband-only offerings. For new customers, it’s actually¬†more expensive¬†to buy a broadband-only plan than the same-speed broadband + phone deal.

    Why on Earth would you go broadband-only then? Well, with broadband + phone, the price jumps quite significantly once the 12-month contract expires. Past this point, broadband-only is cheaper.

    Therefore, you’re probably better off going with broadband + phone for the first 12 months and then switching off your unused phone connection.

    So what else makes M100 such a good broadband-only deal? Firstly, the speed is awesome – you’ll have an average download rate of 108Mbps. There are also two even faster deals available – M200 offers 213Mbps and M350 provides 362Mbps.

    For heavy internet users, speed and reliability is what you want. Although Virgin Media may have to dig up your driveway to install their hardware, it’s a price worth paying for some of Britain’s fastest broadband.

    Provider

    Virgin Media logo.

    Pros

  • Excellent speeds on offer.
  • Reasonable price.
  • Massive range of plans available.
  • 12-month contract.
  • Cons

  • It’s actually cheaper to buy broadband + phone for the first 12 months for new customers.
  • Overall value

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    15. EE Unlimited Broadband

    EE is one of the few companies out there who don’t include any call minutes with their broadband plan. Although you still have to pay a line rental charge (which is included in the listed price), this is as close as you can get to broadband-only on the Openreach network.

    On their website, EE lets you put in your postcode and then displays the exact speed packages you can get. For most locations, the offering looks something like this:

    • Standard: 10Mbps.
    • Fibre:¬†36Mbps.
    • Fibre Plus:¬†67Mbps.

    There are also Fibre Max (145Mbps) and Fibre Max 2 (300Mbps) deals available in certain areas.

    Each deal comes with an 18-month contract, and EE waive the setup fee if you buy the Fibre Plus or better plan. You also get bonus EE mobile data with each plan, which is nice to have.

    However, EE do hike the price a fair bit once the initial contract is over.

    Provider



    Pros

  • Comes with 5-20GB of bonus EE mobile data.
  • You’re not paying for any call minutes, just line rental.
  • Reasonably-priced plans.
  • Cons

  • 18-month contact, after which the price is hiked.
  • Overall value

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    What You Need To Know

    Person working on laptop.

    In this part, we’ll discuss some things you need to know before changing broadband provider.

    Broadband vs fibre: what’s the difference?

    As we’ve discussed previously, the terms “broadband” and “fibre” can be quite confusing, as they’re used to mean different things by different people.

    • Broadband¬†refers to a home internet connection. Normally it’s used to market connections with a download speed of between 5-36Mbps.
    • Fibre¬†is a special type of home internet connection which uses fibre-optic cable to deliver data much faster than traditional copper cables can. If you see this term, it normally means that the package will offer a speed of 36Mbps or more.

    Confusingly, many ISPs use the term “fibre broadband” to describe some of their plans. If you see this term, just know that it refers to a fibre connection.

    Will my speed reflect what’s advertised?

    The short answer is: it depends.

    Most ISPs will give you an average speed you can expect on their plan. But what on Earth does this actually mean?

    The truth is, you could face significantly lower speeds than this average, especially in the evening.

    Your best bet is to go with an ISP who has¬†awesome customer service.¬†If you do eventually run into issues, you’ll want to be with a company who’ll actually listen to your concerns. It’s a good idea to do extensive research on how each supplier handles situations where customers complain of drop-offs in their evening speeds.

    Since March 2019, new Ofcom guidelines have come into play requiring telecommunications companies to advertise a guaranteed minimum speed – not just an “average”. Unfortunately this is only a voluntary standard – but most major ISPs (including Sky, BT and Virgin Media) have signed up to the guidelines.

    Internet speed: explained

    Car speedometer.

    Comparing different advertised internet speeds is actually pretty simple.

    The headline figure that most companies will give you is the download speed their plan offers. This is how fast you will (in theory) be able to retrieve data (like video streams) from the internet.

    Separate to your download speed is your upload speed. As the name implies, this is the speed at which you can transfer data to the internet (for example, sharing a video on Snapchat).

    Both of these figures are normally given in megabits per second (Mbps). A megabit is an eighth of a megabyte.

    But what exactly is a fast internet speed?

    What do I actually need?

    Every household is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all broadband deal that’s going to be perfect for every family.

    You’ve got to consider exactly how you use your internet. From this, you can choose an ideal download speed.

    Here are some rough guidelines:

    • For¬†general web browsing¬†(for just 1-3 people), you probably only need 10-25Mbps.
    • But if you’ve got heavy internet users in the family, who are always on social media, gaming, and watching YouTube, you’ll want at least 50Mbps, and at least 100-200Mbps for households with 4+ highly-active internet users.
    • If you’re uploading/downloading massive amounts of data from the internet almost 24/7 (like movies), or you’re doing some other sort of highly-intensive activity (like hosting files for other people, or hosting game servers), you’ll want at least 500Mbps and maybe even up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps).

    Obviously, if in doubt, it’s better to get more speed than you think you need. Upgrading contract with certain providers can be pretty expensive.

    These days though, it’s not just speed you’ve got to consider. Broadband plans come with a heap of addons – it’s up to you to figure out exactly what you want, and what you don’t, out of the following options:

    • Sport packages (like Sky or BT Sport, which has the Champions League).
    • Cable TV channels.
    • Domestic/international call minutes.
    • Extra mobile plan data (with EE for example).

    If your home entertainment needs are pretty much satisfied by Netflix/Amazon Prime/other streaming services, it’s probably worth prioritising bandwidth and going with an internet-only plan to save a few pounds.

    Why do I need more speed the more people in the house?

    Family playing on a sand dune.

    In simple terms, you can think of your broadband connection like a tunnel.

    The more data packets travelling down the tunnel, the more clogged up it gets. This will reduce the overall speed of your connection for everyone using it.

    To avoid issues whereby your ping spikes (causing lag when gaming) or your download speed drops when others are online, you’ll need to have enough bandwidth to handle all the traffic in your household.

    Note that if you’re having speed issues but don’t feel like upgrading your home connection at present, there are a few potential¬†ways to fix slow speeds.

    Are usage caps still a thing?

    For the most part, no.

    In the olden days, ISPs would put a cap on the amount of data you were allowed to use per month. If you hit it, you’d either be charged more or have your speed slowed to a crawl.

    Nowadays, only dongle/mobile internet plans have any sort of usage caps. If you’re getting a cheaper broadband deal though, it’s still worth reading the terms and conditions and confirming that you do in fact get unlimited internet usage.

    What else defines the speeds I can get?

    speedtest.net result.

    There are three other things which could impact the speeds available on your home internet connection:

    1. Your local infrastructure

    Some areas in the UK still don’t have access to fibre internet – the old copper infrastructure is still in place. This is a particular problem in rural areas.

    Fortunately, you can check what speeds are on offer before buying – most ISPs have an app on their website where you type in your postcode and it’ll tell you the plans that are available in your area.

    2. Your property’s cabling

    If you live in an older house/flat, it’s possible that the cabling which carries internet data from the node to your house could have deteriorated to the point where your speeds are affected.

    There’s no way of knowing what the state of your cables are for certain – but if you’re experiencing poor speeds on your current plan, this could be an indication that something’s wrong.

    Good ISPs will send out a technician to inspect your lines if you show them evidence of a problem.

    3. Your distance from the cabinet/box

    BT Openreach broadband cabinet.
    This is what a broadband cabinet looks like.

    A lot of residential areas in the UK still use fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology or pure ADSL. What this means is that the actual connection from this cabinet in your street to your house uses copper cabling.

    Using this type of cable, much of the speed can drop off over long distances. So if you’re a long way away from the box, your speeds will suffer.

    The only way around this is to try switching to Virgin Media (more on this a bit further down the page). They use a different type of cable which isn’t so prone to speed drop-offs.

    What if the worst comes to worst?

    If your ISP simply won’t provide what you paid for, and won’t do anything about it, what can you do?

    Sadly, Ofcom won’t handle individual complaints. Their guidelines basically state that if you’ve got a problem with your ISP, you should first go through¬†their official complaints department and lodge your case.

    Failing this, you can escalate your complaint to an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Scheme. There are two Ofcom-approved ADR schemes – the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) and Ombudsman Services – all telcos must be a member of one of these schemes.

    Once you’ve submitted your case, the ADR will take a look at the case (this normally takes around six weeks – but can take longer for complex cases) and decide on an outcome. They may force the provider to offer compensation, cancel your contract, or fix the problem you’re having. No legal representation is required, but the ADR’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.

    What’s the Openreach network?

    A BT Openreach van.

    When comparing different ISPs, you’ll probably hear about this thing called Openreach.

    Openreach is a division of BT which owns and maintains the entire phone/broadband network in the UK.

    As a result, most ISPs are customers of BT, because they use the Openreach network. Virgin Media is the only major telco which isn’t – they have their own fibre network.

    What does this mean for you as a consumer?

    The main thing to note is it’s an easier process to transfer broadband plan between providers on the Openreach network (like Sky to EE, or Plusnet to TalkTalk) than it is to change to/from Virgin Media to/from an Openreach provider (more on this below).

    What’s actually involved in changing provider?

    If you’ve never switched ISP before, here’s what happens. Fortunately, it’s generally pretty hassle-free.

    For those on the¬†Openreach¬†network switching to another Openreach provider (ie, you’re not moving from/to Virgin Media or Hyperoptic), you only need to worry about dealing with the new provider.

    • Go to their website and order your new plan.
    • You’ll soon get written confirmation from both the old and new ISPs confirming that the switch is in motion. The one from your current provider will notify you of any early cancellation charges you’re obligated to pay. The one from your new provider will tell you the terms of the contract (including any potential setup charges) and exactly when your new plan will start.
    • Once the new plan is ready, you should receive a shiny new router in the mail. In most cases, you won’t have any downtime, but this depends on the providers you’re dealing with.

    If the transition involves Virgin Media and another company on the Openreach network, the process is a little more complex:

    • Order your new internet plan.
    • Call up your old provider and explain that you’re leaving/cancelling your contract.
    • The rest of the process is the same – you’ll still get two letters (and hopefully a router!) in the mail. However, your old provider will cut off your connection at some point – there won’t be a seamless switch, unless you get the date exactly right.

    What else is different about Virgin Media?

    Virgin Media logo.

    For one, they might have to dig up your front garden or driveway if you’ve never used their services before. They do offer to send out an engineer pre-purchase to check exactly what needs to be done before you sign anything.

    The main difference though is that they use a thicker, insulated cable rather than the copper stuff most other provider employ. This technology has much less speed drop-off over long distances.

    Essentially, if you’re a long way away from the cabinet in your street, and you get terrible speeds on the Openreach providers, it might be worth giving Virgin Media a shot.

    Do I need to pay line rental?

    Unless you go with Virgin Media or Hyperoptic, your home internet is going to be delivered through your phone lines. Therefore, you must pay a line rental charge (normally included as a part of your monthly payment) in order to access the internet.

    Unfortunately, this charge still applies even if you don’t have a home phone in your house. There’s no way around it.

    Even if you do go with Virgin, their broadband-only package is only on offer in certain areas – it’s not yet available UK-wide.

    How do I ensure I keep my number?

    A home phone handset.

    Again, the Openreach stuff makes a difference here. You can keep your number either way, but it’s a bit harder when you’re switching between different networks.

    • If you’re staying within Openreach, there’ll be an option to keep your number (or a field where you can type it in). Your new provider will deal with the rest.
    • If you’re moving from/to the Openreach network, you’ll need to tell your new provider who your old provider was. They’ll still deal with everything for you, but it might require calling them. Recently, most ISPs have begun adding options on their site when signing up to accommodate those switching between networks.

    As you can see, it’s pretty simple to keep your existing number – as long as you’re staying at the same address, there’s no reason you’d need to change your home phone number.

    How do broadband contracts work? Can I get out easily?

    When you sign up to broadband, you’re entering into a legally-binding contract with an ISP. The contract basically states that you’ll be provided with internet connectivity (bound by certain terms, like download speed), and you’ll provide a certain amount of cash per month for this service.

    However, it’s not as simple as just paying the bill every month and then deciding not to pay if you don’t want the service, like you could potentially do if you wanted to stop using Netflix.

    Nearly all broadband contracts have a minimum term. If you cancel the contract (by switching provider for example) before this period is up, you’ll likely be slugged with a¬†cancellation fee.¬†This can be a pretty hefty charge – it’s definitely worth checking the terms of the contract to find out what this fee actually is before signing a new deal or cancelling an old one.

    What sort of contract (if any) should I sign?

    Person signing a contract with a broadband provider.

    You normally get some sort of choice regarding what you can sign when beginning a new plan. Providers might offer:

    • No contract – pay on a month-by-month basis. Generally much more expensive.
    • A 12-month contract.
    • An 18-month contract.
    • A 24-month contract.

    Obviously, the longer the contract the cheaper your monthly payments are going to be. However, you’ll have less freedom in case you need to switch plan.

    What you go for really depends on the following factors:

    • How confident are you that the ISP will provide awesome customer service in case things go wrong?
    • What sort of discount is available for a longer-term contract?
    • How much is the contract cancellation fee?
    • What are the other terms and conditions associated with a long-term contract?
    • Are there any other reasons you might want to change your contract? Will you be moving house for example?

    Should I go with a big or small provider?

    There are upsides and downsides to each.

    Big providers generally have better infrastructure, and more technicians on-hand. Plus, if something goes really wrong, they’ll have potentially hundreds of thousands of customers complaining, meaning they’re bound to do something about it quickly. The issue is, if it’s only you who’s got a problem, it’s possible your issue won’t be a big priority.

    Small providers might not have the capital of their bigger competitors, but they often try to differentiate themselves based on their customer service. If you pick the right provider, you should be able to find a company that’ll be trying its hardest to keep you happy. But they might not be able to provide a deal as competitive as what major telcos can offer.

    Ultimately there’s no clear winner. Assess each plan on its merits to find the best possible deal. Also, be sure to check out how existing customers rate each company’s customer service.

    Who actually provides the best service?

    Woman making a phone call.

    Apart from looking at customer reviews, there are also industry surveys out there which can provide some insight into what different ISPs are good/bad at.

    Ofcom’s recent report had a number of interesting findings:

    • Virgin Media¬†customers are more likely to recommend their broadband services to a friend.
    • TalkTalk¬†has lower-than-average customer satisfaction.
    • PlusNet¬†customers wait the longest to get connected to their phone support, while¬†EE¬†users only spend around 48 seconds waiting to speak to an agent – the shortest ISP hold time.

    Again, there’s no clear winner. But certain companies definitely excel in certain areas.

    What about my email address?

    Person checking their emails.

    Still using an @sky.co.uk email address?

    Depending on your current provider, this could be a problem. Some of them will delete your stored emails when you switch (or soon after you switch), forcing you to export anything you want to keep.

    • Sky and BT let you access your inbox and keep your emails indefinitely.
    • Post Office Telephony deletes your account immediately.
    • Plusnet tries to charge you¬†¬£1.06 per month to maintain your inbox.

    Have a look at your provider’s website to see exactly what their email account policy is to avoid a nasty surprise when you switch.

    If your account is likely to be deleted, you’re going to have to switch to another service, like GMail. Using a provider other than your ISP is a good idea in case you ever have to change your plan again.

    This new platform should have an import function if you’d like to keep your contacts and old messages. If you’re lucky, there’ll also be an option to forward any old messages onto the new email address (you’ll have to set this up with your old provider).

    It’s a good idea to do this at least a few weeks before switching, especially if your old ISP is going to delete your account immediately. This gives you some time to log into any social media/other accounts you have and change the associated email address.

    Conclusion

    You’ve reached the end of our mammoth guide on switching broadband plan in the UK!

    Whatever you go for, remember to read the fine print. Find out exactly what the cancellation fee is, what the cost will be once the contract is over, and whether or not you’ll be charged extra for calls which last over a certain number of seconds. There’s nothing worse than grabbing a sweet broadband deal, getting hit with a massive first bill, and then being unable to cancel the contract.

    If you’ve still got any questions at all, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. We’ll get back to you within 12-24 hours. ūüėČ

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