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EE now claiming to offer Britain's cheapest broadband deal, but is it?

Tuesday, August 15th 2017 by Dan Howdle
They're coming thick and fast now. On Friday it was Vodafone, the week before it was First Utility and so on back. You can thank the UK's vibrant marketplace for that, but with each new claimant to the 'Britain's cheapest broadband deal' throne, do the literal pennies saved start to mean less than the quality of equipment or service? Telecoms expert Dan Howdle investigates…

£18.50 per month, in total, including line rental. That's how much EE wants for its up to 17Mb ADSL broadband service in a deal available for this week only. To put that in perspective, that's 50p per month less than Virgin Media's line rental on its own – without broadband, and 49p per month cheaper than Sky and BT's.

The deal is fairly bare bones as you might expect, but it does include free weekend calls from your landline, which is fairly surprising as most bare bones deals offer only pay as you go. Activation is free, though you will be asked to pay £7 for delivery of your router.

So, I have two questions about this deal: 1) If there are other, similar deals out there for £18.99 per month, but with no £7 router delivery fee, is this actually the cheapest at all? 2) When we're down to talking about literally pennies saved across an 18-month period, does price cease to be the most important factor?

So, is it actually the cheapest? Yes… and no

Yes, the monthly premium is the cheapest in the country at £18.50 per month, but that becomes £18.89 per month if you split the router delivery fee across the 18-month contract and add it on.

No, because this deal from First Utility that started yesterday and is available until 31 August is £18.99 per month for 18 months, but has no router delivery fee and includes a £25 Amazon gift voucher. Technically, then, you could say this deal is £17.60 per month net.

Ditto, last week Vodafone made its play for the 'UK's cheapest broadband deal' title – fibre this time – offering a £199 Sonos speaker free with the deal. At £25 per month (staggeringly cheap for 38Mb fibre), by these offer-chipping maths, you could say it's only £13.95 per month. For fibre.

As you can see, then, the question 'Who has the cheapest deal?' is subjective. It all comes down to how a specific individual sees the extras, both in terms of gifts and/or in terms of sneaky little hidden costs like a £7 broadband router delivery fee. Here's how those three deals compare…

  • EE Unlimited Broadband

    • Pay nothing today
    • Free wireless router
    Includes EE Mobile 5GB Data Boost
    £21 .50
    £10 set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • First Utility First Broadband

    First Utility
    • Pay nothing today
    • Free wireless router
    £18 .99
    Zero set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • Vodafone Unlimited Fibre 38

    • Pay nothing today
    • Free Vodafone Connect router
    Zero set-up cost includes line rental See Deal

If it comes down to pennies, other factors become more important

Would anyone really miss 10p a month for the next 18? Okay, don't answer that, a person living in a third-world country might, but here in the UK? Not really. So you've got to make a decision based on other factors.

You can argue all day long about which of these three deals is actually the cheapest – that's exactly what we've done here in the office, in fact. But, what nobody is arguing with is that these are the cheapest deals available in the UK right now.

That being the case, you'll need to determine if you need fibre or not (you have a large household with multiple people using the internet at one time), because if you do, it's going to have to be the Vodafone deal.

Do you care about free weekend calls? Because if you do, the First Utility deal doesn't offer them. Are you with EE with your mobile? That should be an easy choice as signing up for EE broadband will offer the additional benefit of an extra 5GB of free mobile data.

Or maybe you're after something none of these deals offer

None of these offer the 450-odd channels of TV that Sky does, none offer broadband in the super-super quick catgory, such as Virgin Media's 300Mb VIVID service. Ultimately, if your needs are more important than your pennies, you might just want to stick your postcode in below and find out everything you can get where you live. I shall leave that up to you...

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Dan Howdle, Cable.co.uk

Dan Howdle is Cable.co.uk’s resident telecoms expert. Dan appears regularly in the UK press to talk about issues faced by UK consumers on matters of broadband, TV and mobile, and has appeared on BBC Breakfast, ITV News, Sky News, and on a number of BBC and non-BBC UK radio stations. If you have a question for Dan, you can email him at expert@cable.co.uk.

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