With up to 800,000 Britons per month expected to switch their broadband provider, competition between the UK's broadband suppliers for our custom continues to intensify. Such competition is good news as it brings with it plenty of new broadband deals to choose from and some significant savings to be made.
However, with so much choice available, you can find yourself getting confused about which is the best broadband deal in my area. You may be asking yourself whether you should go for just a broadband only deal or one of the attractive broadband, phone and TV deals. Either way, there's no need to worry, as we're here to help you find the right broadband deal in your area that suits your requirements.
In this monthly article, we provide some handy advice and tips on getting the best broadband deal for you whilst also picking out some of the best buys that are currently available on the market.
How To Choose The Best Broadband Deals In Your Area
There are a range of factors you need to take into account to ensure you choose the right broadband deal for you. Here's four you really should consider before you decide.
1. Cheapest Monthly Deals Are Not Always What They Appear
Don't get drawn into opting straight away for a deal that is the cheapest per month as the monthly costs could be for an initial period of time only. Take your time to understand all the costs. There may be potential one-off set up costs like installation, hardware costs like a wireless router and router delivery costs, so its worth looking at the first year costs to get a real understanding. If you're switching supplier, you also need to check your contract with your existing provider as you may have to pay a cancellation fee if you're not at the end of your contract period with them.
There's a chance your monthly cost may also increase if you choose a deal with a monthly download usage limit and you go over that limit during the month. If so, you may be charged for the additional kilobytes that you have downloaded, so bear that in mind.
2. Broadband Speed - Is Fastest The Best For You?
Broadband speed is measured in megabytes per second using terms such as 'up to xMb,' where 'x' is a number that refers to the maximum download speed of the broadband package. With suppliers now offering increasingly higher download speeds, don't assume that the fastest deal is the best one for you. Higher speeds will in most cases mean higher monthly costs for you so consider how you'll be using your broadband. If you'll be just browsing the web, sending emails and downloading the occasional music or video file, a standard ADSL copper package up to 17Mb could be all you'll need, which will cost you less.
Also, if you're a heavy downloader or streamer of music, videos and on-demand TV, be aware of a traffic shaping or throttling tactic used by some of the providers. This is when they reduce the speed of your broadband connection during peak times or periods of heavy traffic.
Don't forget, you can find out more information on broadband speeds in our broadband buyers guide.
3. How Much Will You Use Your Broadband?
In most cases, ISP's base their charges on the volume of data used and in doing so, apply a monthly download usage limit or cap to a package. This is usually measured in gigabytes (GB), so you may see, for example, a deal with a 20GB download limit. It's worth considering how much you will use your broadband as some of the cheap broadband deals with smaller download limits could cost you more in the long run if you go over the limit. In such a situation, you could be charged for the additional kilobytes you've used, or your provider could switch you to a more expensive deal. In some cases, they may also shape or throttle your connection speed as mentioned earlier, thus making downloads much slower.
As a general rule, a 20GB monthly limit equates to viewing around 500,000 web pages a month, so if you're just surfing and sending emails, there's no need to worry.
However, if you're a regular downloader and streamer of videos, music and TV, or a gamer, usage limits do need to be considered as you'll be using the data up much faster. You may be best going for deal with unlimited usage, though make sure you read the suppliers fair usage policy before you sign up.
4. Will Broadband, Phone & TV Bundles Generate Good Value For You?
According to a recent research report from Ofcom, bundling is now the second most important factor influencing our choice of provider. For those of you who don't know, a bundle is an offering of two or more products for one attractive monthly charge that is cheaper than buying them separately. Many of the suppliers like BT and Sky now offer a single price per month for Broadband, Calls and TV. Some like Virgin Media and TalkTalk have become quad-play providers, offering Broadband, Calls, TV and a Mobile SIM for an attractive cost per month and all on one bill.
A bundle deal will only be good value for you if you use all the products it includes and use them often. For example, if you're considering a broadband, phone and TV bundle, make sure you're going to watch most of the TV channels. If not, you might be better off going for a broadband and phone bundle on its own and then watch Freeview TV. Programmes missed can be watched on your laptop, tablet or smarphone using the many free catch-up players like the BBCiPlayer and 4oD.
Broadband Deals - Best Buys Currently Available
Each month we feature here what we think are best broadband deals on the market based on variables such as 1st year costs, download limits and special incentives. These are not based on customer service as with each ISP we hear many good and bad experiences. The best buys we pick out may be just broadband deals or bundle deals comprising various combinations of broadband, phone, TV and sometimes mobile.
1. Broadband Only Package - TalkTalk Broadband
TalkTalk's fixed price Fast Broadband package with download speeds up to 17Mb and now including phone line rental, is just £22.95 a month for the duration of the 18 month contract. It comes with an unlimited monthly download usage allowance, plus free setup and free mobile SIM.
2. Broadband & Phone Bundle - Plusnet Broadband
The Plusnet Unlimited Broadband package with up to 17Mb speeds and inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and UK mobiles is currently £4 a month for the length of the 12 month contract and includes FREE activation. Plusnet phone line rental at £17.99 a month is also required.
3. Broadband, Phone & TV Bundle - TalkTalk TV With Fast Broadband
TalkTalk's TV with Fast Broadband bundle brings together up to 17Mb unlimited broadband speeds, pay as you go calls, phone line rental and over 75 Freeview channels for just £22.95 a month for the length of the 18 month contract. The bundle also includes a FREE TalkTalk box to pause and rewind live TV, while extra channels like Sky Sports and Sky Cinema can be added on flexible 30 day contracts. There's also pay-per-view on-demand access to the latest DVD film releases on TalkTalk Box Office.
What Do I Do Next?
Now you're up to speed with some tips and advice on how to choose the best broadband deal for you, the next step is to compare the best broadband deals by postcode. You'll be able to compare speeds, download limits, contract lengths, costs per month and first year costs for all of the providers deals and bundles.
Also, don't forget to visit our latest broadband deals where we update all the latest changes in provider packages, bundles and deals as soon as we hear about them.