With broadband providers raising prices year-over-year, it’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ your provider will raise its prices but when. The easiest way to avoid overpaying for broadband is to switch providers — which you can do penalty-free whenever providers increase prices. Read on to find out how you can switch and save.
Whether it’s increases to line rental charges or broadband prices themselves, consumers’ monthly broadband bills are going higher and higher. So far in 2017, both BT and Sky have announced price hikes, and more providers are sure to follow before the year’s up — but you still have a way to cut your bills and avoid paying more.
Switch to save
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The easiest way to save on your broadband bill is to switch providers, especially if you’re out of contract. Broadband providers save their best deals for new customers, which means that those who are out of contract are spending more.
According to our data, out-of-contract prices for ADSL broadband have increased by 38% in five years. That translates into overpaying by roughly £105 per year.
Out-of-contract fibre broadband prices have only increased by 19% in the same timeframe — but that’s still £79 per year that you could be saving.
Most contracts are 12 or 18 months long, so if you’ve been with your provider for longer than that, chances are that you could be getting a better deal by switching to a new provider.
What if I’m mid-contract?
Although switching mid-contract can cost you, there’s a loophole that allows you to leave without paying extra.
Under Ofcom regulations, you can leave your contract, penalty-free, if your provider increases your monthly subscription fee — whether the increase is for line rental or broadband — from what was agreed upon at the point of sale.
Providers are required to notify you in writing of price increases, and once you receive this written notice, you have 30 days to switch providers without paying any fees.
How can I switch?
Although changing providers used to be a chore, relatively new regulations from Ofcom have made the process much easier for consumers. Gone are the days of needing MAC codes; switching is now as easy as calling up your new provider.
If you’re switching between companies on the Openreach network — for example, switching from BT to TalkTalk — all you need to do is phone your new provider and they’ll handle the switching process for you from start to finish.
Switching between cable networks — typically switching to or from Virgin Media — requires two calls: one to the company you’re switching to and one to the company you’re leaving.
For more information on switching, read our guide to switching broadband.
What package should I choose?
The simple answer to this question is: The one that meets your needs.
Most broadband providers offer a range of packages to suit every household and user. Before signing up, consider:
- Data allowances: Do you stream or download a lot? You’ll likely need a deal with unlimited data. Check out some unlimited broadband packages to see what’s available in your area.
- Speed: Fast speeds are critical for streaming media across multiple devices or online gaming. Although you can get fast speeds on ADSL broadband, fibre-optic broadband is the fastest connection available.
- Type of connection: The three main types of broadband connection in the UK are ADSL, fibre and mobile. ADSL is the most widely available, but fibre offers greater reliability — along with higher prices — and mobile gives you anywhere, anytime internet access. If you’re not sure which one suits you, check out cheap ADSL broadband deals, fibre broadband deals, and mobile broadband deals to compare each.
Before switching, review your actual usage
Even if you switch, you could still be overpaying on your bills if you’re paying for more than you’re actually using.
Yes, the broadband and TV package with the fastest speeds and the highest channel count might seem appealing, but if you’re not watching all those extra channels or only use the internet for basic tasks and occasional streaming, you could probably switch to a more limited, cheaper package that meets your actual needs.
Although you only have 30 days to switch, it’s worth thinking about your typical internet and TV habits to make sure you’re not needlessly overspending with your next provider. Look through your previous recordings on your set-top box and see what channels you spend your time watching, or skim your old bills to see if you’ve ever been charged for going over your data allowance.
Keep in mind that if you do switch broadband and start with a cheaper plan but find it doesn’t meet your needs, most providers will be more than happy to upgrade you to a more expensive plan — but few, if any, will let you downgrade to a cheaper plan if you’ve locked into one that exceeds your actual usage.
Switching from BT
If you’re a BT customer and are looking to switch providers after the price rise announcement, here are some comparable packages from other providers.
Similar broadband and phone deals
If you get ADSL broadband through BT, whether you’re on a 17Mbps or 38Mbps broadband deal, almost all other providers offer these speeds at comparable or cheaper prices, so you can compare all broadband providers in your area to find the best deal.
For Infinity broadband customers, your options are a touch more limited — but not by much. Whereas BT used to be one of a handful of providers offering fibre-optic broadband, most providers offer it nowadays, so you have lots of options if you’re switching to another fibre broadband deal.
If it’s speed you’re after, Virgin Media is one of the fastest networks around, and for new customers, its Superfast 50, VIVID 100 and VIVID 200 packages are comparable to BT’s prices while offering higher speeds.
Broadband and TV deals similar to BT’s Entertainment Starter
BT’s Entertainment Starter package offers 80 channels with 52Mbps broadband. If you’re switching from this package, check out:
- Virgin Media Player Bundle: Gives you access to 70 channels and offers broadband speeds of up to 50Mbps.
- TalkTalk TV, Faster Fibre and Phone: With this bundle, you can get 80 channels and up to 38Mbps broadband speeds.
Broadband and TV deals similar to BT’s TV Entertainment Plus
The Entertainment Plus package gives you 108 channels and broadband speeds of up to 52Mbps. Consider switching to:
- Now TV Combo with Unlimited Fibre Broadband: Now TV offers a fibre broadband, TV and phone deal that gives you 97 channels — including Sky Atlantic — and up to 38Mbps broadband speeds, either on a rolling monthly contract or a yearly contract.
- TalkTalk TV Plus, Faster Fibre and Phone: This is similar to the above deal, but instead of 80 channels, you get 110 channels.
Broadband and TV deals similar to BT’s Total Entertainment
BT’s top-tier package comes with 135 channels and broadband speeds of up to 52Mbps. You might want to switch to:
- Virgin Media Mix Bundle: This package offers broadband speeds of up to 50Mbps and gives you access to 150 channels.
- Virgin Media Fun Bundle: For a little bit more per month, you can upgrade to 190 channels and broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps.
- TalkTalk TV Plus, Faster Fibre and Phone: Although this package offers less channels — 110 — you can add on a TV Boost for £12 that gives you an additional 32 channels.
Switching from Sky
While it’s easy to match Sky’s broadband speeds, it’s much harder to match their TV packages. Simply put, Sky offers more channels on their most basic TV package than other providers offer on their top-tier packages.
Virgin Media offers three similar packages with less channels but faster broadband speeds:
- Virgin Media VIP Bundle: This package gives you Sky Sports and Sky Cinema on top of 245 channels, plus you’ll get broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps.
- Virgin Media Full House Bundle: The Full House package offers 245 channels — although you can still add Sky Cinema or Sky Cinema to this package, too — and speeds of up to 200Mbps.
- Virgin Fun Bundle: This package is a bit more of a step down in terms of channel count, giving you 190 channels, but still offering broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps, which Sky can’t match. This package can also be supplemented with Sky Cinema and Sky Sports.
If you make the most of your package with Sky and watch a wealth of exclusive content, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal. But if you’re just watching a handful of channels — especially those offered on Freeview — you could likely switch providers and get Sky content through Now TV passes.
If you watch Sky Atlantic…
You can still get this channel and 11 other pay TV channels through Now TV’s Entertainment Pass, which is £6.99 per month as a standalone, or you can switch to Now TV’s Unlimited Fibre Broadband with TV and Phone combo deal — available on a rolling monthly contract or a yearly contract — and get access to 97 channels and broadband speeds of up to 38Mbps.
If you watch Sky Sports…
Most other TV providers — including TalkTalk and Virgin Media — offer add-ons to their packages to give you access to these channels. You can also get a Sky Sports TV pass from Now TV on a daily (£6.99), weekly (£10.99) or monthly (£33.99) basis, or subscribe to their monthly Sky Sports pass with unlimited fibre broadband, which is also available on a yearly contract.
If you watch Sky Cinema…
Similar to Sky Sports, most TV providers offer Sky Cinema channels — which can be bundled with Sky Sports — for an additional fee per month. Again, Now TV also offers a Sky Cinema pass for only £9.99 per month, which you can bundle with their fibre broadband on a monthly or yearly basis.