Dan Howdle | January 23rd, 2024
Slower broadband is cheaper than faster broadband, broadly speaking. This is why it pays to know how much speed your household actually needs. And there's actually a lot to say when it comes to this question.
Whatever speed you're currently on, you'll have to ask yourself and other household members whether they regularly hit speed limits when it comes to things like streaming, gaming, browsing and downloading files (games, updates and so on).
If no one in your household is ever hitting any obvious limits (as evidenced by watching those little spinning buffering circles during streaming or waiting days to download the latest videogames), you can probably make do with something a little slower, and therefore a little cheaper.
However, if you don't think you can make do with slower, that's not necessarily a barrier to saving money. Quite the contrary in fact. These other factors play the largest part in whether or not you can save money:
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My goodness we love a bargain. There's just nothing quite like the satisfaction of knowing how much something broadly costs, then diligently following the steps to pay half what you expected. Admittedly, shopping around for a broadband deal is substantially less enthralling than shopping around for a new car, but there's still satisfaction to be had. Here are the mini-steps to getting a better deal:
This won't be a problem if you've been with your current provider since time immemorial, but for the rest of us we'll need to either remember or look up when we first signed up to our current broadband deal, and how long our contract is. When your contract ends, your current provider will inform you – usually accompanied by notification of a price rise. But if you're unsure, contact your provider. So long as you're out of contract, you're now free to pick a cheaper broadband deal.
Maybe you have a particular provider in mind, maybe you've no idea. Either way, taking a look at how broadband providers rate compared to one another, especially as rated by their own customers is a very good idea. And you're in the right place. Cable.co.uk has both professional broadband reviews written by yours truly (and team), as well as having surveyed thousands of providers' customers to find out what they think of them.
Here's an insider tip: Broadband providers have an annual budget that covers the amount of value they can give away each year when it comes to attracting customers. So, for example, towards the end of the financial year (March), many of these companies find themselves with more available then they thought they had, and so the best deals sometimes appear then.
That's not to make the point that it's only worth shopping around in March. Quite the opposite in fact. What we're saying is that providers tend to battle throughout the entire year to offer their most alluring deals (with cashback, gift vouchers, bill credits, free for first X months and so on). Which also means the deals available at any given time will always be different from one week to the next. Here's how to capitalise:
Is this even possible? Yes, it is. And we're going to give you more to think about here in this section than just to say 'try haggling'. So, let's talk through all the ways you can do it, and let's get that obvious one out of the way first:
You will only be able to do this if you are no longer under contract with them. Traditional (and wrong) advice you'll find on this scattered about the internet is 'sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't'. That's not true. What is true is that if you're outside of your contract and you agree to sign up to a new contract with your providers (them tying you in for another 18 months or two years), you will always be able to get a better deal. Always.
Conversely, if you're still serving out your existing contract you have zero chance of paying less money.
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This sounds completely topsy-turvy, doesn't it? How do you save money by paying for more services? Well, this is quite straightforward: Bundling saves money. Let's take a look at what a typical person or household pays for separately on a monthly basis, without bundling.
Most households subscribe to some sort of TV service. Streaming services such as Disney+, Paramount+, Amazon, Netflix and so on. But a Sky Stream TV subscription, for example, is a good stand-in for all of those, and comes with Netflix included. Bundle in your broadband with Sky too, and a SIM from Sky Mobile where you'll cheaper data and so on. You can see where this is going: It costs more to have your services from different providers.
BT, EE, Sky and Virgin Media are so-called 'quad-play' providers, which means they offer broadband, mobile, TV (witha free Netflix subscription) and home phone either bundled as one complete unit as in Virgin Media's Volt Bundles, or with benefits between mobile and broadband, TV and phone as in Sky and Sky Mobile.
This technique of adding more services by swapping out the ones you have from other providers to pay less by getting them all bundled from one can even work mid-contract. While you can't downgrade your services to make them cheaper (unfortunately) while your broadband contract is still running, providers are usually delighted if you want to add more services and are usually going to be willing to give you a good deal that will beat what you currently pay for them separately.
Just be aware that part and parcel of that deal is likely to be a renewal of your contract, meaning you'll be tied in afresh for another 18 months or two years. It's all about a bit of give and take when it comes to wangling a good deal with broadband providers.
Do follow the advice we've given here. Do switch broadband when you have to opportunity to do so if you don't want to pay a loyalty tax. just be careful not to downgrade to the point it affects your household harmony, and bear in mind you'll often get faster broadband for less by switching provider. Switching to save money and going slower are not synonymous.