Understanding no contract and rolling contract broadband
In this guide
- The best no contract broadband deals in September 2020
- The basics of no contract broadband
- Choosing a provider of no contract broadband
- Pros and cons of rolling contract broadband
- Alternative solutions for temporary broadband
- Frequently asked questions
If you're planning to move house, or you're not sure about your future circumstances, no contract broadband can help. Let's take a look at the pros and cons.
The best no contract broadband deals in September 2020
The basics of no contract broadband
A standard broadband contract usually means signing up for a year or more. Your internet connection will stay in place during that time - but if you change your mind and try to get out of the contract, you may have to pay some serious fees. These hefty penalties are the main reason why some people prefer to avoid long-term broadband contracts.
No contract broadband offers an easy solution. First things first: You will be signing a contract. That might sound a bit illogical, but even no contract internet needs some documentation. In fact, it's better to think of this as rolling contract broadband instead because it works on a monthly basis. At any time, you can give 30 days notice and cancel your contract. Unlike a regular broadband contract, there'll be no fees to pay.
Why isn't everyone rushing out to get no contract broadband? Unfortunately, there are some catches. You'll generally have to pay a much higher set-up cost than you would for a standard broadband contract. That's because all broadband, regardless of contract type, needs the same equipment: a router, a phone line, and in some cases, fibre activation. Also, the flexibility of no contract comes at a price, it’s often more expensive per month than a standard contract.
You may also find the extras and add-ons aren’t as good as what’s offered on longer contracts. Providers usually prefer the security of a long-term contract, so they're not as generous with enticing extras.
Choosing a provider of no contract broadband
Your choice could be rather limited, unfortunately. Year on year, there are fewer and fewer providers offering rolling pay-monthly broadband deals. In fact, there are only a handful in the UK at the moment:
- Virgin Media: Virgin Media leads the pack in terms of flexibility. All its current packages are available with a pay monthly broadband contract. You'll also find the fastest broadband speeds in the country, reaching an average of 362Mbps in some areas.
- Direct Save Telecom: Direct Save Telecom may not be a household name, but it’s one to keep in mind. This no-frills, budget-friendly provider has monthly rolling broadband deals available for both ADSL and fibre connections. You won't see the same speeds as Virgin (ADSL is about 11Mbps, fibre either 35 or 63Mbps, depending on the package), but you will enjoy a much lower set-up fee.
- NOW broadband: Owned by Sky, NOW Broadband offers great no contract deals with the added benefit of no credit checks. You have the option of taking on their TV bundles as part of the overall package.
Pros and cons of rolling contract broadband
A rolling contract definitely isn't for everyone, but it does have some advantages. Depending on your personal circumstances, you might find the pros outweigh the cons. Think carefully before taking on any broadband deal, and be sure to take the following into account:
- It's ideal for short-term broadband needs. If you're living somewhere temporarily, going through an uncertain time in your personal or professional life, and your circumstances are likely to change soon, it can be a good choice.
- You can leave whenever you want. For most people, this is the main advantage. You won't be tied into a long-term contract, so you can get out whenever you need to.
- There are higher upfront costs. You'll be paying more for setup. For some people, this could be worth it to avoid early exit fees. For others, it's a deal-breaker.
- No new customer benefits. Cashback, freebies, and other special offers are unlikely to be found on a rolling contract.
Is monthly rolling contract broadband worth it? A good tip is to compare the set-up fees you'll pay for a rolling contract with the early exit penalty you'd pay on a full contract. When you look at them side by side, you may have a clear picture of which option is right for you.
Alternative solutions for temporary broadband
If you know you'll only need broadband for a short time, but you're wary of those set-up costs, there are a few alternatives. Again, there's no perfect solution, and it all depends on what's right for you.
- 4G tethering — Tethering is when you create a hotspot with your phone. Your phone becomes a mini-router and you can use your data to connect other devices to the internet. If you regularly do anything gigabyte-intense, like streaming videos, you'll find that your data is soon eaten up. Connecting several devices at once can also cause hiccups, so this option is best kept as a stop-gap solution.
- Mobile broadband — Portable broadband is like tethering, but works without a phone. Instead of being able to use your existing mobile deal, you'll need to sign up for a new deal. It can work as a temporary solution but again, data is usually fairly limited.
- Free public wifi — It might feel like taking a step back in time, but you can certainly get by with free wifi. Look for cafes, coffee shops, and other establishments that offer customers a connection. The downside is that obviously you'll be unable to use it at home, and your connection time will be affected by opening hours. Remember to buy something if you're going to be sitting there all day!
Frequently asked questions
What is a rolling contract?
A rolling contract works on a month-by-month basis. You'll be able to get out at any time, simply by giving 30 days notice. There are no fees for breaking the contract.
Can I find a 6 month broadband contract?
No. Nowadays, broadband providers really only have two options: Rolling contracts, or long-term contracts of a year or more. Short-term broadband contracts of 3 to 6 months are not available.
Are there any hidden costs in a no contract broadband deal?
Use our price checker tool to see all the costs laid out clearly. You will have to pay a higher installation fee for no contract broadband, and your monthly costs will usually be higher, too. However, there should not be any hidden costs involved.
Can I get no contract broadband without a landline?
Yes, this service is offered by Virgin Media. However, as Virgin Media broadband does not cover the entire country, you will have to check to see if it is available in your area.
Should I get a rolling contract if I'm living somewhere long-term?
It's really not a good idea if you're sure that your circumstances won't change. Ultimately, rolling contracts will cost you more per month in exchange for not paying cancellation fees. This trade-off will work if you are only living somewhere for a short period. However, if you're settled in a home, then you'll just be paying more without any real benefit. You'll also find that long-term contracts usually come with some freebies and perks to sweeten the deal.
Can I get fibre optic broadband without a contract?
You can if you live in an area with Virgin Media broadband available. However, most providers reserve fibre optic and high-speed broadband for customers on long-term contracts.