Ultimate Guide to Cheaper Broadband

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You love your internet. And broadband gets pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. According to Broadbandchoices.co.uk, you could save £350 a year just by switching providers.

In this guide, we’ll show you how you can analyse your service and needs, how to find the contract that’s right for your budget, and how you can save even more beyond your contract signing.

What type of broadband do you need?

How Do You Use Your Broadband?

First, have a quick think about what you have done on the internet in the last week. Have you downloaded any music, movies, or do you mostly use it for browsing facebook, news sites, etc. Have you upload any files to the internet such videos or photos? If you have download any big files ask yourself has it been a slow process would you like it to be quicker or it’s been fine.

There are three elements to consider:

  1. Browsing speed – how long a web page takes to appear
  2. Download speed – how long it takes for a file to be downloaded, e.g. mp3 file, podcast, movie, etc
  3. Upload speed – how long it takes to upload a file, e.g. a photo from your computer to the internet, e.g. facebook

If you don’t upload or download lots of large files i would suggest that speeds between 1 to 2 mbps would do you just fine. Once you have broadband a webpage won’t load any faster. This is because the speed a webpage takes to appear is based on how it’s designed and coded, and the server they use, not just your broadband speed.

Key point: Many people think that faster is better when it comes to their internet connection. But beyond 1mbps, the net isn’t faster, unless you download or stream movies.

A lower megabit per second does means that your entertainment is slower. That doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to suffer freezes amidst your Netflix movie fest. Or that your music download must consume an hour of your time. It means you need shop for speeds that suit what you use the internet for and your budget.

Alternatively, if you upload lots of files for school or work, or videos to YouTube, a lower connection speed means wasted time.

So the first step in your strategy is to determine how much speed you really need.

Do you need superfast broadband?

People that spend large chunks of time online for work and school and download lots images, files, music, or watch TV and movies need around 30Mbps. A question to ask yourself, though, “Do I NEED to spend so much time online?” If your answer is no, then rethinking the way you use the internet can lower your mbps needs and lower your tariff.

Ofcom recently reported that 8% of UK homes now have super-fast broadband, defined as speeds of 30Mbps or higher, a rise in speeds from last May’s average of 6.8Mbps. Do you only jump online to check email or social media very briefly? If you don’t spend much time on the net or do heavy tasks like downloading or uploading, then you need less mbps…don’t pay for more than you need. The goal is to save, right?

According to Sebastien Lahtinen, founder of broadband news site ThinkBroadband said superfast broadband costs an extra £10 a month. So if you don’t need superfast, then don’t opt for it and save your £120 a year.

However, just because you’re paying for a 30mbps connection, doesn’t mean you’re getting it. They sell the connections per the capacity they can carry, but distance from providers and multiple users on a single cable, it means lower speeds, unless you’re paying for an uncontended line which can cost upwards of around £400 to £1,000 a month for a 2Mbps per leased line.

So what does superfast and not-so superfast look like? Broadband speed specifics look like this:

Speed Average download speed Average upload speed Use
512 Kbps – 2 Mbps 460 Kbps 200-400 Kbps Minimum requirement for gaming; checking email; shopping; searching; reading news; downloading music
8 Mbps 7000 Kbps 400-750 Kbps Minimum requirement for watching HD youtube without some lag; watching streaming movies
16 Mbps 15000 Kbps 750 Kbps – 1.5 Mbps HD movie / tv streaming without any lag

When you’re shopping around make sure to check for speed ranges below 8Mbps if you do little more than check your email. And even YouTubers will find medium speeds (8Mbps) are sufficient, but HD movie watchers will need a faster connection so they can get the most out of it. After all, HD isn’t much fun if you have to continuously wait on the computer to buffer.

To keep your pounds in your pocked, don’t pay for speeds you don’t need.

Broadband speed check

To find out what your current speed is. Broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk is one of many sources out there that test your speed for you. Compare your current use to the speeds you’re getting.

Are you satisfied with your current speed? What are you currently paying for? Are you paying for 8Mbps and not getting a good enough service with it? You may need to up your mbps. If you’re paying for superfast and not getting it make a complaint and ask for a discount.

Check the speed of different providers at your postcode

Broadband speeds vary a LOT from area to area, so its vital that you check the speed at your specific postcode. uSwitch have a very handy tool that shows the speed of different providers at your postcode, it’s free and easy to use, just type in your postcode and click “update map”

Data limits

Some providers limit the amount of data you can download per month, for example Sky has a 2mb limit per month  Not sure what that means? HD films require somewhere between 3-5GB to stream, but regular streaming only demands 1-2GB. Heavy movie watcher? Go for a unlimited package. Not sure? Talk to your provider before changing.

Check your speed to know how it stacks up against what you’re paying for and decide if you need to change your package.

To give you a more detailed look at data delivery and what you get, take a look at this:

10 gb 20 bg 40 gb
Social networking / web browsing 6 hours per day 12 hours a day 24 hours per day
Software updates 6 hours per month 12 hours per month 24 hours per month
Email 375 per day 750 per day 1500 per day
Music downloads per month 85 tracks 170 tracks 340 tracks
Video downloads per month 2.25 hours 4.5 hours 9 hours

With that in mind, let’s dig into our research, shall we?

Buying guide

Finding the best deals

Now that we know what we want from our service, we can shop smarter.

We want speed that allow us to do what we want to do, whether it’s check email or play games, at a price we can afford. Maybe you want to lump all your services together and pay for bundled services if you have a landline, and TV?

Let’s take a look at some of the unbundled deals out there first.

Company Download limit Contract length Total first year cost
Talk Talk unlimited 12 months £213
BT** 10gb 10 months £363.15
Plusnet 10 gb 12 months £322.25
AOL 10 gb 18 months £323.61
Virgin* 100 mb 12 months £468.00
O2 unlimited 12 months £468.00
Sky unlimited 12 months £266.18
Orange (EE) unlimited 12 months £388.20
BE unlimited 12 months £307.20

*Virgin listed the speed of downloads at 100mb instead of the speed of broadband.
**BT plans all included at least a phone landline, whereas the other plans were unbundled.

Is a bundled deal better?

Now, let’s look at the bundled packages and compare the prices.

Company Includes Download limit Contract length Total first year
Talk Talk Broadband / TV / phone unlimited 12 months £304.50
BT Broadband / TV / phone 10 gb 18 months £459.15
Virgin Broadband / TV / phone unlimited 18 months £538.80
Sky Broadband / TV / phone 2 gb 12 months £434.18

In both cases, with and without TV, phone and broadband, TalkTalk has the cheapest deal available here http://sales.talktalk.co.uk/product/broadband/essentials.

A word of warning, researching these tariffs revealed TalkTalk’s customer service left a bit to be desired.

So in this case, you want to weigh how much customer service means to you. Is it worth the savings to have to constantly call in about charge issues and sit on hold? Or is dealing with a representative that doesn’t know how to talk to you well worth saving this bit each month?

And keep in mind, when comparing the bundled package deals, you’ll need to total the cost of the separate fees, plus what you pay now for phone and TV. Then, you can compare the prices with the bundled packages to know if bundled actually comes out cheaper.

Would mobile broadband be better?

Maybe an installed broadband line isn’t what you need. What if you don’t own your home and just have a short term lease? Perhaps you move around a lot and need coverage that you can take with you. Then you need mobile broadband instead.

It’s broadband that goes wherever you go! Popping your USB Dongle into your laptop lets you jump online via the mobile network. It’s easy. It’s dependable. But best of all, it’s convenient.

Prices vary according to your needs, of course, but one thing we like the best? Free Laptops! Well, almost free. You know “Free” translates into “hidden price tag”.

But, you can get a contract that is usually between 18 − 24 months and you can get a free laptop for your mobile networking. The prices for these beauties range from £30 and £55 per month for the service.

Below are a few representative prices we found for mobile broadband:

Provider Speed Usage Yearly cost Contract length
3 7.2 mbps 15 gb £204 24 months
Virgin 7.2 mbps 1 gb £123 18 months
Orange 7.2 mbps 1 gb £181 18 months

**Packages displayed are all Dongle packages that will also incur a one off charge for the Dongle.

A Pay-As-You-Go dongle is an excellent way to not pay for more than you need, especially if you don’t get online much. Also, there are some great services that offer free WiFi connectivity that doesn’t nip away at your data usage, so if you like to pop over to the cafe and surf, it will actually save you money – well, minus the coffee and tarts you’ll buy.

For around £10 you can top up your Dongle with most any service, but keep your eyes open for those free WiFi deals to really maximise your pound.

Which comparison sites to use?

Whether you opt to stay wired or to go wireless, your next step’s the same…choose carefully.

Use several comparison shopping sites to compare prices for each package you’re looking at so you can get a clear picture of all the prices available to you.

Here are three dedicated comparison shopping sites to help you.

  1. BroadbandChoices.co.uk
  2. Broadbandgenie.co.uk
  3. Uswitch.com

Each service will help you decide on a plan that’s right for you.

So your saving roadmap is:
1. Decide on what speeds you need
2. Decide on your package needs
3. Make the comparisons

But what if…you already have a contract?

Other factors to consider

Are you already locked into a contract?

Many people find better prices for their broadband after they’ve been locked into their contract. So what should you do? Should you put it in the back of your mind until your contract finishes? You can.

Or you can fight for your wallet.

In some cases, you can call your provider and negotiate your way to a better tariff. But you should be armed with the right information before you do that.

Know the competitive prices and contract terms. Know what you’ll need to pay to get out and be prepared to pay it – just in case.

Ask to speak to the disconnection department and let them know you’ve found a better offer, but would like to stay with them, as they offer great service. However, you can’t afford to continue to pay such a large difference.

In some cases, you can save as much as 25% a year on a negotiated contract. It’s worth it to give it go.

Special offers

All over the net you’ll find deals upon deals for broadband. Here are a few interesting ones:

  • Sky digital – get 6 months of free unlimited broadband for new and existing customers.
  • Orange – unlimited broadband for only £5 per month, plus £40 M&S voucher
  • Virginmedia.com/offer3

Don’t miss these deals!


Vouchers are a super way to save money, whether they are used for the product itself or for a service or product that you normally use. Don’t opt for a voucher promotion if you don’t normally use the company the voucher is for. So don’t forget to check the voucher codes websites to see if they have voucher for provider that you opt to sign up with before signing your new contract.


Topcashback.co.uk continues to be a site leader for cashback info on the products you use most. Notice the cashback on SKY for a year: £166.65!

Make the most of your cashback and use it. Don’t collect it and hold it until it expires.

Read Between the Lines

Before signing that super deal, make sure you get the details on one off costs and hidden fees. If you know you’re going to have to move, and they are going to charge an outrageous fee to move your service with you, then your “value” package may not be that at all.

Read your contract and talk to your customer service representative before signing yourself into a more expensive tariff.

Direct Debit, extra saving

Convenience can be costly, especially when you add up that £5 a month for Direct Debit to pay your broadband bill. Save £60 a year by paying your bill yourself. Not exactly a drop in the bucket, eh?

Broadband is a bill that you can’t avoid. But you can avoid high tariffs.

Use this guide to determine your broadband needs, find your best deals, and make sure you’re not paying more than you have to.

Have your internet and watch it, too.


These days, broadband is a necessity and if you’re going to pay for it, make sure you’re paying the right price.

  1. Asses what you use the net for and pay only for what you need.
  2. Find out what you’re already getting before you decide if you need a change in speed.
  3. Look for providers with the best deals on comparison sites like BillMonitor.
  4. Negotiate a better price and read between the lines before committing.
  5. Use Voucher Codes from around the net to help you save.
  6. Use Cashback to maximise your earnings.

Save More Become Happier!

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