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Thanks to new ad rules, the days of signing up for 'free' broadband and getting slapped with hidden line rental charges are gone.
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Until recently, broadband providers were able to lure potential customers with offers of 'free broadband' — without mentioning that this was for a limited time only or that customers would still have to pay line rental or other hidden costs.
Following a study that showed most consumers couldn't work out what their monthly broadband contract would actually cost, the ASA ruled that broadband providers must instead show 'all-in pricing' when displaying their contract prices, meaning that consumers need to be shown their monthly cost inclusive of any additional fees.
When talking about 'free broadband', it shouldn't come as a surprise that a good deal of scepticism as to how free it really was existed among some consumer groups and industry experts.
The hook used to be that 'free broadband' was only free when you sign up for other services such as home phone or TV, and even then, it was only free for the initial period of a contract, and consumers were still responsible for paying line rental charges, which clearly led to confusion.
TalkTalk spearheaded the move to free broadband with its international calling packages, which combined free broadband with competitive landline deals. Even prior to the ASA ruling, TalkTalk moved away from its 'free broadband' messaging as it led to a lot of confusion and frustration among their customers.
Similarly, broadband providers have moved away from 'free line rental' deals as, again, all pricing must be inclusive of all monthly costs.
Although the phrase 'free broadband' has gone extinct, that doesn't mean the deals have. Most of the prices of the above packages are identical to those previously offered as 'free broadband'; it's just that now, you can find out the entire cost without any hidden or additional fees.
We list a range of cheap broadband services above, allowing you to compare the differences and work out which is the best option for you. Alternatively, for a broader range of broadband services, you can compare all broadband packages on our main broadband comparison page — or you may want to check your availability on our postcode checker.
Free gifts with broadband — such as laptops, netbooks and MP3 players — were commonplace not too long ago. However, they have since become much less available and have been replaced by other types of broadband and free gift deals.
That's not to say that free gifts with your broadband have totally disappeared. BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Sky all give away free set-top boxes with their TV bundles, and many broadband providers also include free wireless routers on their top-tier packages.
Meanwhile, many providers periodically include free vouchers for Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's when you sign up.
To compare all the free gifts you can get with your broadband package see our broadband and free gifts
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