The internet is the fastest growing medium in the world, and the number of people using it is almost unbelievable. A recent survey showed that across the globe, over 41% of the population already has access to the internet (compared to less than 1% in 1999), and that percentage is growing every day. The internet is as versatile as it is innovative, managing to not only bring the world closer together but also allowed for creating new ways for people to communicate and share ideas. The internet can be used in an almost infinite number of different ways, such as uploading, sharing and storing data; connecting with friends and family around the world, gaming with friends and strangers alike from every corner of the planet; researching and learning; listening to podcasts and music; watching television shows and live broadcasts; getting the latest news direct from source, and a host of other ways too long to list. With the ever-expanding scope of the internet, broadband companies are offering better and more affordable deals in order to encourage consumers to switch to their services. If you are thinking jumping online yourself for the very first time or swapping your Internet Service Provider (ISP), you will want to know what great UK deals are available. To help you out, we have listed ways to reduce the cost of your internet, as well as put together a comprehensive list of the top UK broadband deals – and what you get for your money – so you can make an informed choice.
Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is the most typically available type of broadband available in the United Kingdom. ADSL utilises pre-existing phone lines to transmit and receive the signals it requires for the internet. DSL-based broadband has speeds that range from a few hundred Kbps to millions of Mbps. The speed of your ADSL will depend on the distance that your property is to the telephone company’s exchange box. Business to the closest telephone company facility. ADSL is very commonly used by residential customers as well as smaller businesses where data is received in large quantities, but lower levels of data are sent out. (ADLS is faster when moving in a downstream direction rather than upstream, which is why you will always see upload speeds measured a far less than download speeds). Since the evolution of ADSL, people have been able to use the same telephone line to simultaneously make phone calls, while using the internet. This is in contrast to old dial-up internet where someone would get a screeching sound in their ear if they tried to use the phone if another person was online at the time.
Because of the fact that ADSL is so common in the United Kingdom, it’s a good solution for those who might have struggled to get internet in the past, as it’s the most regularly updated and improved internet type. It is also the only way you can get internet if you can’t get access to fibre optic broadband and don’t want to use mobile broadband. The upside is that you don’t have to have anything special done to your phone line as long as it was installed within the last 30 years (and sometimes it’s okay if it’s even older), you can get some really great speeds, and because it’s the most common type of broadband, lots of companies provide it and by extension drive the price down through competition. The downside is that because ADSL requires a phone line, you have to pay line rental on top of the cost of the broadband, and no matter who you your ISP is, if BT’s lines go down or are damaged, you’ll lose service.
The technology for fibre optic broadband works by converting electrical signals carrying data to light and then transmitting the light through transparent glass fibres no thicker than a strand of human hair. The speed you’ll get is dependent on a few elements, such as how close the fibre runs towards your computer, as well as the way that the provider configures the service, and whether or not the bandwidth is capped. As fibre technology is capable of simultaneously delivering voice (VoIP) and video services, (such as video-on-demand), it is often offered with bundles that include digital television services and phone calls. The main benefit of fibre is its speed – it is capable of transmitting data at rates far exceeding current ADSL or cable modem speeds by up to hundreds of Mbps, (depending on the country where you’re getting it). One downside, however, is that due to its powerful speed fibre optic broadband can sometimes be unstable, with its download speeds altering by over 50Mbps depending on the time of day. It is important to note that as the demand for fibre optic increases, so the steadier it is becoming as it continues to be worked on. Its benefits far outweigh its negatives.
Mobile broadband connects an individual or company to the internet using a wireless radio link between the destination location and the service provider’s source facility (usually the same towers that provide mobile phone coverage). If it is for a computer, then the provider will send the customer a dongle that is designed to be plugged into a USB and will activate shortly afterwards providing internet services. Current technology in the UK allows mobile broadband speeds of up to 4G. 3G will deliver data at slower speeds, whilst 4G can often be as fast as home broadband.
Mobile wireless broadband services are fantastic for customers who are always on the move, and require constant internet access, (such as travelling business men and women). This is due to there always being a signal as long as there is a mobile tower within the area (which there invariably will be), so the customer can get online whether they’re in a taxi, train, airport or another area where it might usually prove more difficult. This makes mobile internet more versatile than ADSL and fibre, which require you to be static in order to be able to get online. The downside is that mobile internet is often far more expensive than its alternatives, and you can’t guarantee that you will get fast speeds as its fully dependant on the telephone mast in that area, and the number of people using it.
One of the very best ways to save money on your broadband is to speak to the retentions department after your contract and inform the company that you wish to leave and join another internet service provider. In nearly all cases the company representative will try and convince you to leave by offering you fantastic deals that you wouldn’t normally be able to get access to. This can include faster speeds for the same price, a reduced monthly payment, or more services for your money, such as extra channels on the bundled digital TV service. If you are good enough at haggling, you might even be able to get all three!
Haggle with a new Internet Service Provider. When you are looking at new broadband deals, don’t just accept the prices that you see quoted. You’ll need to contact the company anyway if you’re serious about using them to get online, so you might as well see if you can get a better deal. It might be that the company has new special deals that they can give you special early access to, or there might be a way to shave some pennies of the price – such as knocking off the setup cost, or offering you a better speed for the same price. Speak to your old service provider first and have the deal they offered to hand when trying to keep you, that way you’ll have some fuel when trying to get a better offer from the company you’re thinking of joining. Don’t be afraid to be cheeky and ask for as much as you can get, using every bit of charm and persuasion you can. More often than not the companies will try and do you a great deal anyway to get you away from their competition – but if the person on the other end of the line likes you, then you’ll be much more likely to get a brilliant deal.
If you want to get a little something extra on top too, then use a cashback site such as Quidco. These sites are genuinely legitimate and simple to use. All you do is sign up and then purchase something through their links (in this case broadband services). The site charges a commission to the company you purchased through, which they give back to you in the form of a cashback monetary amount. Depending on what you buy, this can often be up to several hundred pounds. If you are going to get broadband anyway, it definitely pays to do it through a site that will give you a little something extra on top.
There are a host of options available when it comes to buying UK broadband. All the top companies have a variety of different competitive packages that you can choose from, and in all cases you’ll be able to check your postcode on their site to see whether or not they can provide your property service. You can also choose from different contract lengths, from rolling one-month contracts, all the way up to 24 (which will usually provide you with the cheapest option, due to the length of time you’ll have to stay with that internet service provider). Below is an exhaustive list of what the top companies currently offer.
The entry level ADSL option for Sky Broadband Unlimited offers an average (wired) speed of 9Mb for a 12-month contract that comes without their TV packages. This includes line rental and Sky Talk service (free evening and weekend calls). The setup fee for this option is £9.95 and it costs £17.40 a month.
The entry level fibre optic option for Sky Fibre offers an average UK download speeds of 34Mb for £27.40. As a reward to existing customers, this same package is available as an upgrade for those who want to make the switch from ADSL contracts, and costs £20 (if you have Sky TV with them). If you don’t then its £27.40 again. Both are 18 month contracts, and there is a 25gb per month usage limit. The package also includes Sky Talk and a £19.95 setup fee.
The Sky Fibre Unlimited option gives the same benefits as the above option, whilst meaning that there is no monthly usage limit. The download speeds are 34Mb (wired) for £30 a month including line rental, or £37.40 if you don’t have Sky TV. Again it’s an 18-month contract, and includes line rental and Sky Talk. A one off £19.95 set-up fee is applicable.
Sky’s top broadband only deal is their Sky Fibre Unlimited Max option. The UK download speeds are up to 60Mb (wired) for £35 a month including line rental, or £42.40 if you don’t have Sky TV. There are no monthly usage limits, but the minimum term is 18 months and a set-up fee of £19.95 is applicable. This option includes line rental and Sky Talk.
In terms of bundle deals, the best option is the Sky Original package. You’ll get their TV service which includes 30 channels (such as Sky Atlantic, Sky 1 and FOX), catch-up TV, the Sky Q app (which allows you to stream Sky on tablets and phones remotely), and a reward worth £75. It costs £22 a month. On top of this, you can add their fibre for £20, making a total cost of £42. This cost also includes rental and Sky Talk included, but there is a £19.95 set-up fee, and it’s an 18-month contract.
BT’s basic broadband package is currently 30% off. It will allow users to get up to 17mb (wired) connection and has a 12GB monthly usage limit. It also comes with 5GB of free cloud storage as part of the package, as well as BT Virus Protect for two devices as well as BT Parent Controls. Up until July 31st of this month, you can also add BT Sport for free on BT TV. It also comes with the UK Anytime phone service, which benefits from Call Protect to stop you getting nuisance phone calls. The online deal also includes a £50 MasterCard Reward Card that is preloaded with the money and can be used at any retailer sporting the logo. The entire package is £22.99 and includes line rental for a 12-month contract and £9.99 upfront cost.
BT Broadband Unlimited is the next step up in terms of basic broadband from BT. It gives users up to 17mb (wired) connection and has no monthly user limit. It comes with a much bigger 100GB of online cloud storage and BT Virus Protect on two devices, as well as BT Parent Controls. Along with the other package, you can add BT Sport for free until July 31st. Bizarrely, this option doesn’t appear to come with the Anytime calls, but rather just free weekend calls. If it is for a computer, then the provider will send the customer a dongle that is designed to be plugged into a USB and will activate shortly afterwards providing internet services. This option is available to buy for an extra £5 a month rather than the usual £8.50. It could be that the website has made an error here, and the Anytime service is applicable to the Unlimited broadband package, rather than the basic one, but you should check before committing. It also comes with the £50 preloaded MasterCard card, as well as Call Protect with free nuisance call prevention. Again it’s a 12-month contract for £32.99 a month, along with an upfront cost of £9.99.
The first fibre optic option that BT have is called Unlimited Infinity 1 and also has 30% off at the moment. It allows for speeds up to 52Mbps (up this year from 38Mbps) and has a 25GB monthly usage limit. It comes with 5GB BT Cloud storage and BT Virus Protect and BT Parent Controls for two devices. Like with its ADSL options you can also add BT Sport for free up until July 31st. It comes with Smart Hub which BT refers to as the UK’s most powerful Wi-Fi signal vs major broadband providers.’ It has the UK Anytime calls with Call Protect and comes with a £100 MasterCard pre-loaded money card. It’s £26.99 for a 12-month contract and has a £59.99 setup fee.
The second fibre option from BT is Unlimited Infinity 2. If also has speeds of up to 52Mbps but no monthly user limit. 100GB of BT Cloud storage and BT Virus Protect with BT Parent Controls are available with this option, and also has the BT Sports addition for free until July 31st. Like the first tier option, it also comes with the super-powerful Smart Hub, and £100 MasterCard preloaded money card. (Plus the phone with free weekend calls). It will set you back £39.99 for a 12-month contract and has a setup fee of £59.99.
BT’s most powerful broadband option is the Unlimited Infinity 3. It has speeds of up to76Mbps (wired) and a whopping 500GB of BT Cloud Storage. Everything else is the same as the other options, except for the fact that its £49.99 a month and you’ll only have to pay £9.99 for the setup cost.
There are three options available if you want to get BT TV along with your internet. Depending on which option you choose (Entertainment Starter, Entertainment Plus or Total Entertainment Plus), you’ll pay £3 (plus an activation fee), £10, or £12. The lowest tier gives you 100 channels to choose from and a Youview box to watch them on. The middle tier gives you 110 channels and a Youview + box that can record up to 300 hours of television. Finally, the top tier gives you 141 channels (of which 21 are HD) and an Ultra HD Youview box which can record up to 600 hours of live television. These all have 12-month contracts and are in addition to the cost of the broadband.
SuperFibre 50 broadband is £22 a month for 12 months and then £32.25 a month for the final six months. It also has a £14.99 activation fee. For that, you’ll get up to 50Mbps (wired) unlimited broadband with Virgin’s fastest ever Wi-Fi hub.’ There is no phone line needed.
The VIVID 100 package allows up to 100Mbps and is the next generation of fibre optic technology. It's unlimited for data usage and costs £27 a month for 12 months and then 37.25 for the next 6, along with a £14.99 activation fee. Again no phone line is necessary.
The VIVID 200 package gives up to a massive 200Mbps, which is over twice as fast as BT and Sky’s current top fibre optic packages. Of course, you also get unlimited download usage, and it can handle over ten devices without skipping a beat. For all that speed you’ll need to pay £35 a month for 12 months and then £45.25 a month after with a £14.99 activation fee. Again no phone line is necessary.
If you want to add TV and phone into the mix, then there are five main options. They only vary slightly in benefits so rather than breaking them all down here, we have selected the best one in terms of value for money (The Fun TV VIVID 100 Broadband Package). With this package, you’ll get all the benefits of the 100Mbps broadband as well as a 500GB TiVo box that lets you pause, rewind and record live TV, 190+ channels, and unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and Virgin Mobile phone numbers. It’ll cost you £49 a month for 12 months and then £60 a month for the next 6. There’s still that pesky £14.99 activation fee, though.
Bear in mind, however, that although Virgin is streets ahead of its competition regarding speed, it is also not available in quite a few areas in the UK. Whilst Virgin is always working hard to expand their coverage, you will definitely want to make sure that you check either on their website or by giving them a call, so that you know for sure.
So there you have it. Hopefully, now that you’ve read this, you’ll be able to buy with confidence, knowing exactly what type of broadband will suit you and where you can snag the very best deals from the very best providers on the market. Whatever you go for, make sure that you try and find ways to save money, and try every trick that you can to ensure that the ISP’s you contact give you the very best deal. After all, they want your custom so they will be more willing than you might think to give a deal. Plus, if you don’t ask then you don’t get!
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