12 month broadband deals explained
By Phil Wilkinson-Jones | Tuesday, August 1st 2017
In this guide
- What are they?
- Best providers
- Is it right for me?
- How to choose
- Types of deals
- Frequently asked questions
Broadband deals lasting 12 months used to be the norm but they’re no longer offered by every provider. Some, such as BT and Sky, only offer their broadband services on 18-month contracts but there arel providers with 12 month deals and some of them are among the cheapest broadband deals to be found anywhere on the market.
What is 12 month broadband?
You can’t get broadband without signing some sort of contract, whether it’s a lengthy one that ties you in for a long time or a monthly rolling one that gives you a bit more freedom.
When we talk about a 12 month contract, we’re talking about the minimum term of the contract. This is the period during which you probably won’t be able to leave without paying some sort of early termination fee. At the end of the 12 months, your provider will still keep supplying you with broadband and billing you each month, but you’ll be free to leave whenever you like.
12 month broadband providers
Not all broadband providers offer 12 month deals, so let’s have a look at the providers that do.
- Direct Save Telecom – Direct Save is a budget provider that offers no-frills broadband packages. There are no TV bundles or fancy extras to be found here but Direct Save is cheap and doesn’t run credit checks.
- John Lewis Broadband – John Lewis is best known for its high street shops but also has a broadband service provided by Plusnet. John Lewis Broadband’s 12 month deals often come with evening and weekend calls included.
- NOW Broadband – NOW Broadband has a range of reasonably-priced broadband plans that can often be combined with NOW TV passes to form TV bundles.
- Plusnet – Plusnet fixes the price of your broadband for the length of your contract and likes to shout about its UK-based customer support.
- Post Office Broadband – The Post Office consistently offers some of the UK’s cheapest broadband deals, although it’s only its ADSL package that is available on a 12 month contract.
- TalkTalk – TalkTalk is the UK’s biggest budget broadband provider and offers fixed prices for the length of its broadband contracts. It also does TV bundles.
- Virgin Media – Virgin Media is more of a premium provider than most on this list, offering the UK’s fastest widely available broadband speeds and a TV service that’s up there with the best of them.
Who is a 12 month broadband deal for?
It sounds obvious to say but a 12 month contract is less of a commitment than an 18-month one. But it’s also a much bigger commitment than a one-month rolling contract. So it’s the middle ground of broadband contract lengths, but who does that suit?
The big benefit is that you can leave after 12 months – and switching to another provider means saving money. If you make a habit of switching providers every 12 months then you should never get caught in the trap of paying too much for your broadband.
Providers often charge a premium for monthly rolling contracts, too, for the exact reason that they offer so much freedom. But 12 month contracts tend to be very competitive, as providers targeting pro-active consumers compete to offer the best deals.
If you’re moving in to student accommodation then you’re going to want broadband. It’s a must. But you also don’t want to be tied in for more than a year because you simply don’t know whether you’ll be living in the same place in 12 months’ time.
Some providers offer specific packages just for students, but it’s also worth checking out the general market for 12 month contracts as you may find something that suits your needs and manages to beat a student deal on price.
Choosing the best deal
Everybody wants to get the best possible deal, but what makes something the best? This will be different for different people. What you really need to do is decide what’s most important to you. These are the things you should look out for.
- Download speed – This is what providers put at the front and centre of their advertising and is what affects how quickly you’ll be able to download things, how smoothly you’ll be able to stream and how easily you’ll be able to browse the web.
- Upload speed – Providers don’t always make it obvious what upload speed they’re offering, but it is important – especially if you email or upload a lot of large files or do a lot of gaming.
- Monthly download limit – Almost all broadband packages are unlimited nowadays, but there are the odd one or two that limit the amount of data you can use each month so it’s worth checking before you sign up.
- Price – A simple one but often the most important for a lot of people. How much do you want/can you afford to spend each month? Decide on a budget and look for the best deal within your price range.
- Special offers – Broadband providers often try to entice new customers with special offers, whether it’s the promise of cashback, a free piece of tech or a discount on other products like TV services. Time your switch right and you can save money on your monthly bill and bag a freebie, too.
- Inclusive calls – Line rental is included as standard in the price of broadband packages these days, but call packages often aren’t. The default is generally a pay as you go-type set up, in which you simply pay for the calls you make. If you use the phone a lot then you might want to look at which providers are including free anytime calls or evening and weekend calls with their broadband deals.
- Reputation – The providers featured in our comparison tend to be household names and you’ve probably come across most of them before. But it doesn’t hurt to read up on a company before taking the plunge and signing a contract. Our broadband reviews are a good place to start.
What type of deal should I get?
The answer to this really depends on what your needs are. Let’s have a look at the types of 12 month broadband deal you can get.
ADSL, also called standard broadband, is delivered to your home using traditional copper phone lines. It tends to offer average download speeds of about 10 or 11Mbps and it generally costs quite a bit less than fibre.
If yours is a small household that just does the basics online and doesn’t have more than one or two devices connecting to the internet at the same time, then you’ll probably be ok with ADSL. Similarly, if you’re on a strict budget and are looking to get broadband for as little as possible, this is the right place to look.
Fibre offers faster speeds than ADSL and a more reliable connection. Most providers offer two fibre packages, offering average download speeds in the region of 36 and 63Mbps. Fibre deals are generally more expensive than ADSL, but not always.
If yours is a larger household, or if you have multiple devices connecting to the internet simultaneously, then you should be looking at fibre deals as ADSL probably isn’t going to cut it.
Not many providers offer true broadband-only deals, by which we mean broadband without a phone line. Most come with a phone line because in the majority of cases, your broadband is delivered via your phone line. You may as well have the ability to make calls over it as it’s got to be there anyway.
The exception is Virgin Media, which supplies broadband, phone and TV services over its own network of coaxial cables. You can get broadband-only deals from Virgin, although they tend to cost more than the equivalent deals that include a landline.
Broadband and TV deals
Providers that offer TV as well as broadband typically bundle the two together, along with a phone line, and this can be a cost-effective way of having all of these services. If you’re looking for a 12 month broadband deal that includes TV, it really comes down to a choice of three – Virgin Media, TalkTalk and NOW TV.
Plusnet offers a basic TV service but you have to sign up as a broadband customer and call them up to activate it. Sky, BT and EE all offer broadband and TV bundles but these all come with 18-month contracts.
Frequently asked questions
Can I get broadband on a monthly rolling basis?
Yes, there are a number of providers that offer broadband on rolling monthly contracts, although you often have to pay a premium to be afforded the freedom of not being tied in to a longer-term deal. We can help you compare no contract broadband deals.
Why are broadband speeds listed as average?
A ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) means that providers can no longer advertise broadband speeds that not many customers can get. The average speeds you see listed have to be available to at least 50% of customers, so they give you a better idea of what you can expect. Providers will give you a more accurate estimate of the speeds you’re likely to get once you’ve given them your address details.
Can I keep my phone number when I switch providers?
Yes, most of the time you will be able to keep your phone number. Just let your new provider know that you want to keep your number and they should sort everything for you.
What is unlimited broadband?
Unlimited broadband is broadband that has no data usage limit. Most broadband packages are unlimited.
Do I need a MAC code to switch broadband?
No. MAC codes used to be essential when switching broadband providers but this isn’t something you have to worry about any more. Unless you’re switching to or from Virgin Media, all you need to do is talk to your new provider and they will sort everything for you.
What is the cheapest broadband only deal?
We can help you compare the cheapest broadband only deals (these come with a phone line but not with calls packages). And if it’s genuinely broadband without a phone line you’re after, we can do that too.
Want to learn more about broadband?
Our broadband guides contain a wealth of information on just about every aspect of current broadband packages.