Broadband, If there’s one thing that we’ve seen in recent years, what with COVID and social distancing (and the possibility of that returning this Winter), it’s that online access and a decent internet connection is a household essential – from checking your bank, or doing your weekly shop, to meeting up with friends, or watching a movie, all of this can be done online, but without a decent speed connection, it can be an exercise in frustration and a massive waste of time, electric, and money.
Back before COVID hit, in 2019, the average monthly spend (per household) on fixed voice and data (including broadband) was £37.25 (or £40.25 with mobile data and voice services), and now the broadband market directly reaches 82% of the UK population, with 86% on fixed broadband, and 15% on mobile.
But, between the cost-of-living crisis, international events (such as the war in Ukraine), and the lingering COVID pandemic – individuals and families in the UK are finding it more difficult to obtain certain items, or even get essential services at a reasonable price.
Finding a decent broadband service, at a good price, can help you to save money on a monthly basis – especially if you’ve not updated your service package in a while, and you’ve let an existing contract roll-over when the fixed term has finished. There are a lot more broadband providers out there than there used to be, which means considerably more choice – and more opportunities to save money, especially if you make use of ‘new’ or ‘first-time’ customer offers.
There are, admittedly, many different factors to take into consideration when choosing your broadband provider (such as speed, line rental, local availability), but for this article, we’re going to have a look at the cheapest providers – no bells or whistles, no promises of media packs or complimentary technologies, just the flat cost of the broadband – so you can work out whether switching provider will save you pennies or pounds.
Who is Actually the Cheapest Broadband Supplier in the UK Right Now?
If you were to think of a broadband supplier, or ask someone to recommend a service, names like Sky, Virgin, and BT dominate the landscape. They might be some of the most well-known, but surprisingly – they’re not the cheapest out there, and in fact Virgin just makes it into the Top 5 when you’re searching by price (and this is specifically for their M100 Fibre Broadband package), and although NOW TV is owned by Sky, the Sky TV Broadband service comes in quite far behind.
At present, the cheapest broadband (for new customers) comes from hyperoptic, at £17.99 per month (with average monthly costs of £14.86) – this has an average speed of 158Mb, unlimited downloads, and no set-up costs. The drawback here, is the 24-month contract for the service, and limited availability.
For new customers, the next choice by price, is from Shell Energy, at £17.99 per month (with an average monthly cost of £18.26) – and this brings with it line rental, an average speed of 11Mb and unlimited downloads. It does, however, also come with an 18-month contract, and £4.95 in set-up costs; and the £17.99 introductory price will go up to at least £27.58 per month after the 18-month contract is done.
The coverage offered by Shell Energy is considerably broader than hyperoptic, which will mean despite the slightly higher monthly average costs, it will be the cheaper option for a larger number of users, who just aren’t in an area covered by the service.
The Top 5 Broadband Suppliers for New Customers by Price:
|Supplier||Price||Average Monthly Cost||Set-Up Cost||Contract Length|
|Shell Energy||£17.99||£18.26||£4.95||18 months|
|Community Fibre||£20.00||£16.25||£0.00||24 months|
|Now Broadband||£21.00||£21.42||£5.00||12 months|
|Virgin Media||£24.00||£18.44||£0.00||18 months|
|Sky TV||£26.00||£26.00||£0.00||18 months|
These packages are subject to time-limits (although the providers periodically refresh their offers to extend the date), and generally apply to new customers only – for existing customers, who are about to finish a contract – there is the possibility that your provider will contact you with a new offer, or simply say nothing – and hope that you don’t notice that the price is going to go up once you’re on a new contract.
What’s interesting to note, is that many of these ‘smaller’ broadband suppliers are seeing higher ratings on Trustpilot than their larger competitors, for example – onestream is rated as ‘excellent’ and boasts of being better than BT, Sky, EE, TalkTalk, and Now TV.
However, there is still a high level of trust in many big brands, with customer service satisfaction for Virgin Media Broadband at 70%, BT and Sky Broadbands both rating at 86%, and TalkTalk Broadband coming in at 93%.
There are a rare few (like NOW Broadband, with their no-contract 30-day deals), that make it easy for you to move to a new supplier, or to make changes to your existing contract – but most have penalty clauses and once you’ve signed and agreed to these contracts, you’re liable for any fees they apply.
This is (one of the reasons) why you should examine your broadband contract carefully, and make note of important dates – such as renewal, when you need to notify them (if they require a certain amount of time for cancellations), and what the costs are if you do break the contract (if you’re looking at a new supplier, but the cost of breaking your existing contract outweighs what you’ll save – it might be worth putting the transfer on hold until the contract expires!)
What Should You be Looking for in Your Broadband Package to Really Save You Money?
Realistically, you’re going to need to look at more than just the price of the broadband – you need to examine your (and your household’s) use of the connection, how much you’re downloading, how many devices you’re attaching, whether they’re connected all the time – and what the impact would be if you went for a lower priced (and possibly lower speed) package, and determining whether the cost of the line rental on its own – or as part of the package will make a difference.
At the end of the day, there is plenty of money to be saved every month with a lower-priced broadband service – our advice? Keep an eye on the costs of your existing provider and compare them with new opportunities. Then you can either switch to a new service or approach your broadband supplier with your research and always get the best deal for yourself.