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  • BT Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls

    BT
    • Up to 17Mbps broadband
    • Unlimited usage, 100GB BT Cloud
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    £50 Cashback (Cable.co.uk exclusive), £100 BT Reward Card & £10.50 off for 12 months
    £7.50
    £18 after 12 mths See Deal
  • Sky Broadband Unlimited

    Sky
    • Up to 17Mb download speed
    • Unlimited usage
    • Pay for calls you make
    £5 p/m unlimited broadband for a year & £75 Prepaid Mastercard
    £5
    £10 after 12 mths See Deal
  • BT Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls

    BT
    • Up to 52Mbps fibre broadband
    • Unlimited downloads & free BT Wi-Fi
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    £50 Cashback (Cable.co.uk exclusive), £150 BT Reward Card & £10.50 off for 12 months
    £12.50
    £23 after 12 mths See Deal

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Why you should consider a cheap broadband deal

There's a lot more to choosing the cheapest broadband deal than just clicking on the one with the smallest number next to it. Cheap is cheap, but finding a deal that presents value for money? Well, that's another trick altogether...

by Dan Howdle

It's a good way to lower your monthly bills

You can’t change the price of your water or your council tax, but most people in the UK are paying far too much for their broadband, and you could be among them.

Here are five reasons this is often the case. It may be that...

  1. You’re reluctant to switch because you perceive it as a hassle
  2. You’re happy with your existing provider
  3. You’re not aware you could be paying less
  4. You’re paying for more speed and usage than you need
  5. You think cheaper deals are inferior

And here’s the reality…

  1. Switching has never been easier – you don’t even need to call your existing provider
  2. You’ll likely be equally happy with a provider who also charges you less
  3. Well, you are now!
  4. Do you really need unlimited, superfast fibre? Perhaps it’s time to take stock
  5. Cheaper doesn’t mean worse – in a general sense, broadband is broadband

How to identify a cheap broadband internet deal

Broadband deals can be far more confusing than they need to be. After all, just take a look at the length of this guide. There really is that much to find out about.

Look at the first-year cost

Broadband providers love confusion. No, really. Otherwise, why would they advertise a headline monthly cost for your broadband and phone, only to then add layer upon layer of complexity: Free for six months then a small fortune thereafter, line rental, one-off installation costs, postage for your router, optional internet security packages automatically added to your shopping basket, multiple call plans and add-ons – the list goes on.

Broadband deals by first-year cost

What is certain is that you will be paying more than the price most providers advertise, and the only way to get a really good idea of what you’ll be paying in the long run is to look at the first-year cost.

Happily, first-year cost is something we calculate for you. Just don’t forget to hit the ‘Include line rental costs’ button to see the true picture. We don’t have this toggled on as standard. That’s so that if you see a deal you like the look of elsewhere (on the telly, say), you can easily find it.

Beware hidden costs

Most broadband providers like to hide costs behind the headline price. Things like line rental, installation, postage and mysteriously titled stealth charges like ‘Connection fee’ are common.

Again, avoid them completely by looking at the first-year cost, just below the monthly price on our comparison tables.

Related links

Ten quick and dirty tips for getting a cheaper broadband deal

We’ll be going into more detail about why these things are particularly important further down this guide. But, if patience is not your strong point and you just want the highlights, they are…

1. Beware line rental, consider a saver

Providers don’t like to talk about line rental. It makes their cheap broadband deals suddenly look rather expensive. However, line rental is a fact of life that there are few ways around.

One of those ways is to opt for a ‘line rental saver’. These plans invite you to pay a year up-front, but offer you savings in return, typically between 10% and 30% of the total annual cost, had you paid monthly.

2. Always look at the first-year cost

Knowing what you’re paying across the first year, including line rental and stealth connection charges makes it easy to see who’s really cheap, and who’s a headline-price pretender.

Our broadband comparison pages (one of which you are on right now) allow you to include line rental (with the button at the top of the page), and to sort the entire list by first-year cost, cheapest first. For your convenience, they are listed in this order by default.

3. Think about contract length

What you ultimately pay is as much about how much you pay each month as it is about how long you’re tied into your contract.

Unlike your gas or electricity, you can’t just switch provider on a whim while still within the period of your contract. Some broadband providers will charge you a fee for leaving. Some will charge you the entire remainder of the lifetime cost of your contract. Some will even layer an early exit penalty on top of all that.

Depending on what you have and how much time is left on your contract, that can be a huge sum.

Long and short of it is, you need to be sure you’re going to want the deal you choose for the period of the contract. Even moving house won’t let you escape for free (unless you can’t get the service where you move to).

4. Establish your needs and budget

We’ve written a mini-guide within this guide, covering how to establish what you need. Scroll down to have a look if you’re not sure. In essence, though, the more people and devices in your household, the faster a broadband deal you’ll need, especially if those people stream or download movies, TV and/or games. Now think about your budget, but remember, you don’t have to spend it all. The very point of this buyer’s guide is, in fact, to help you save money on your broadband. That means spending less than you thought you’d have to. Otherwise, we’ve failed.

5. Opt for a usage cap if you're not a heavy user

If there’s only one or two of you in the house and you don’t spend night after night streaming box-sets like Game Of Thrones from Now TV, Netflix, Apple TV or Amazon Instant Video, you could be saving money by opting for a broadband deal with a usage cap.

Usage caps put a limit on the amount of data you can download, but reset each month. Deals with caps tend to cost less. But you need to be sure you won’t exceed it or you could end up paying more than any unlimited package is likely to cost you.

6. Look for rewards and freebies

Cheap broadband deals, especially those from the ‘prime’ UK providers (BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk) often come with enticing rewards to tempt you in. Some of these are substantial.

For example, there are many deals that come with £100 of shopping vouchers from Marks & Spencer or Sainsbury’s, say. That could annihilate half the cost of a monthly family food shop and so should not be sniffed at. You can filter by offers by clicking ‘offers’ at the top of the page.

7. Don't dawdle

What was it they said about good things coming to those who wait? Forget that. It simply doesn’t apply to getting a cheap broadband deal. That’s because the cheapest deals tend not to hang around for long. Take it from us – we have to manually change the deals we display as they commence and expire. It’s not happening every now and then, it’s happening every day, every day.

If you see a deal you like, get it immediately because it might not be there tomorrow.

8. Check if you can get cheap broadband from your mobile provider

Both EE and Vodafone provide fixed-line broadband for your home. While the deals they offer certainly aren’t the cheapest on the market, they can get pretty close if you’re already with them as a mobile customer.

And, there is the added advantage that, unlike many ‘budget’ broadband providers, EE and Vodafone won’t skimp on the quality of the equipment. Bundling up with your mobile provider is a great way to save money, keep your billing simple and ensure you don’t sacrifice quality for budget.

9. Bundle up if you also want telly

If there’s even a slight chance you might want a TV deal to go with your budget broadband (you can add TV with Sky, Virgin, BT and TalkTalk), you should consider bundling the two together.

You’ll pay less for both services that way and keep all your bills in one place.

10. Choose the most basic call plan if you mainly use your mobile

Landlines, for most of us, are becoming somewhat surplus to requirements.

That’s because, according to Deloitte, 76% of the UK public own a smartphone, and more than half (56%) check their phone within five minutes of waking up.

Do that with a landline and people will think you’re nuts. That’s because landlines only do one thing, while for smartphones, that one thing is one of a thousand others it also does.

Whatever you choose broadband-wise, a landline is all but compulsory bar one or two (definitely not cheap) broadband-only options from Virgin Media. If you mainly use your mobile, you can save money on your broadband and phone by choosing the most basic landline package available.

 

How to make sure your broadband deal is as cheap as possible

Compare the first-year cost of the contract, including line rental

On our comparison table above, pay close attention to the first-year cost. Closer attention, in fact, than the ‘headline’ monthly price.

Broadband providers love offering deals that seem so cheap they’re almost too good to be true. That’s because, more often than not, they are – stealth fees concealed beneath every stone.

Lucky for you we’ve gone to the trouble of reading through the small print and have included literally every penny you’ll pay in the first year cost (found below the headline price in our listings).

Just make sure you click (or thumb) the ‘include line rental’ button at the top of the page to include that too.

Broadband is sometimes cheaper when you bundle it

Taking out additional services will sometimes reduce the cost you pay each month for your broadband. In fact, with the right wind behind you (deals change all the time) you might even find a broadband deal that’s completely free. You just have to add TV or a mobile SIM.

The rarest beast of all is free broadband that doesn’t require you to take out some sort of bundle. Sky sometimes does this and before you think it’s gone stark raving mad, there is some method in its madness.

Cable.co.uk’s own customer research shows that about half of UK broadband customers have never switched provider. Shame on them – they’re definitely going to be paying more than they have to – but, what that also shows is that if you can get the customer in the door, at least half of the time they become customers for life.

Standard broadband is sometimes cheaper than fibre, though not always

Both standard broadband (sometimes referred to as ADSL, or ‘copper’) and fibre broadband (often called ‘superfast’ or fibre optic) can be found at the core of cheap broadband packages.

As little as a year ago, maybe two, there existed a marked difference between the cost of standard broadband and the cost of fibre broadband. If you averaged the cost out across all packages on the UK market today you’d likely see a difference, but it would be slight.

And, on a package-to-package basis it’s not at all uncommon to see some fibre deals out-cheaping some standard broadband deals. That’s why it’s so important to figure out your needs before you get start looking for the cheapest deals that suit them.

Look for cheap introductory (often called 'new customer') broadband deals

Whether you’re switching or taking up broadband anew, as a ‘new customer’ you have the world at your feet. Every broadband provider out there wants you as their customer and they’re willing to offer you the moon and the stars to tempt you.

Consider a usage limit if you don't use the internet all that much

Living alone? As a couple? Just use the internet for surfing and Facebook? Then you’re precisely the sort of person who can make do with a ‘limited’ broadband deal. It’ll absolutely save you money, just so long as you’re certain you’re not going to go over the limit.

If it looks even a little bit likely that you will, go for a broadband deal with a higher usage limit or opt for an unlimited broadband deal instead. While you’ll pay a little more for unlimited broadband, it’s not a lot more, especially when you consider the peace of mind this will offer.

Pay less for line rental with a line rental saver deal

Except the (not cheaper as one might expect) broadband-only deals from Virgin Media, all broadband deals, cheap or otherwise, in the UK, require you to have a working landline. And, many UK broadband providers also require that your landline contract also goes through them.

That’s because broadband, even so-called ‘fibre’ (which is fibre as far as those green little cabinets on street corners and copper the rest of the way) arrives in your living room through your old BT (Openreach) phone line.

Most providers offer what’s called a ‘line rental saver’ plan. These plans allow you to pay for a year’s worth of line rental up front, but offer substantial savings in return.

Additional savings can be made by choosing a deal with free shopping vouchers

Get a cheap deal from one of the UK’s ‘big four’ broadband providers (BT, Virgin Media, Sky or TalkTalk) and you’ll find that many offer cashback, shopping vouchers and other rewards to new customers.

Some even offer free TVs and tablets if that’s your thing. These rewards are free in the truest sense of the word. Do look for these because it makes no sense at all not to opt for a deal that offers something for nothing.

Understanding the introductory period of your broadband internet contract

Cheap broadband might not be so cheap after 6 or 12 months

It’s almost the standard these days for broadband deals to be advertised as cheaper than they actually are. The providers get around what are otherwise strict laws in other industries by advertising these prices, then adding in teeny-tiny small print ‘For the first six months’ or wording to that effect.

This is especially important because it means that what looks affordable now may not be so affordable in six or 12 months’ time when you’re paying full whack. Prices post-honeymoon period often don’t merely go up a little bit – sometimes they double.

Sometimes they even quadruple.

Check how soon after the introductory period you can switch

Pay attention now, 007, because we’re going to do a little broadband deal maths. We assure you, it’s simple and well worth your time.

Basically, you should take a look at when the introductory (low price) period ends, then deduct that from the total length of your contract. That’s how long you’re going to be stuck with it paying full price.

This is important, because if it’s a short period (low price for 12 months, full price for six) you only have six months paying top dollar, after which point you’re free again to switch, and to take advantage of another new customer deal from someone else.

Sky recently offered a – somewhat brave! – broadband deal that was free for 12 months, while the term of the contract was also 12 months. That means, technically, you could take out free broadband for a year, then switch to another provider the moment Sky asks you to pay something.

Of course, Sky – or any other provider offering this type of deal – hopes that by that time you’ll be so happy with the service you receive you’ll want to keep it, and with Sky’s reliability and service record, it’s probably right.

Keep in mind that you'll only ever be offered introductory pricing once

Another thing to bear in mind is that if you do become a frequent switcher and at some point return to a provider you have already been with, you’re no longer a new customer in their eyes.

Returning customers are generally not offered the same cheap ‘new customer’ broadband deals. Providers argue that’s because you’ve already had them and, well, you kind of have.

 

How much you could save by switching to a cheaper broadband deal

Switching to a cheap broadband deal could save you up to £336 per year

Why such a ludicrously high figure? You could buy a new telly for that. Or a new dog. Switch to a cheap broadband deal and at the end of the year treat yourself to a new dog? Yes.

Joking aside, the reason you could save so much is simple. It’s because so many of us are in the same broadband contract we’ve had for years. Broadband has gotten cheaper, and by not switching we’re failing to reap the benefit.

Switch now. Get a free dog.

  • Direct Save Broadband Unlimited + Eve & Weekend Calls

    Direct Save
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • Unlimited monthly usage
    • Evening & weekend calls
    £1.95
    per month See Deal
  • TalkTalk SimplyBroadband

    TalkTalk
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • Unlimited usage
    • Pay for calls you make
    18 months half price unlimited broadband, Free connection, £50 Love2Shop Voucher - online only & Free F-Secure Security anti virus
    £3.75
    £7.50 after 18 mths See Deal
  • Post Office Broadband Premium + Weekend Calls

    Post Office
    • Up to 8Mb broadband
    • Unlimited download allowance
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    Free unlimited broadband for 12 months
    Free
    £8 after 12 mths See Deal
  • Plusnet Unlimited Broadband

    Plusnet
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • Unlimited usage allowance
    • Pay only for the calls you make
    Online exclusive £50 cashback, Free broadband for 12 months & Free activation worth £25
    Free
    £9.99 after 12 mths See Deal
  • Sky Broadband Unlimited

    Sky
    • Up to 17Mb download speed
    • Unlimited usage
    • Pay for calls you make
    £5 p/m unlimited broadband for a year & £75 Prepaid Mastercard
    £5
    £10 after 12 mths See Deal

Most people in the UK are paying more than they have to

Back in May of 2015, Cable.co.uk conducted a survey among 2,000 UK broadband customers. The aim was to find out how many of us had switched broadband provider. The (somewhat shocking) findings were that more than half of us had never switched provider.

That means that there are literally millions of customers out there paying far, far more than they need to for their broadband, while at the same time missing out on exclusive offers, rewards and freebies.

Nothing beats a cheap 'new customer' broadband internet deal

If there is one rule that never changes in the UK broadband market it’s that the best deals are always for new customers.

True, you can always haggle with your provider at the end of your contract to see what they will offer you to stay, but some providers (naming no names, BT) are known for being mean in this respect, while others (naming no names, Virgin Media) would offer you the earth if you will but stay.

 

Cheap broadband deals make sense for first-time broadband buyers

Because everything about them screams 'welcome' to first-time broadband customers

Cheap introductory rates, free gifts, cashback, shopping vouchers, free installation, free equipment. If you’re coming to broadband for the first time (and presumably, then, reading this on a friend’s tablet, phone or computer), you probably plump for the cheapest deal irrespective of limits, speeds and other factors.

Of course, that won’t be true if, as a first-timer, your very intention is to get a cheap broadband deal so you can stream Game Of Thrones on Now TV or download the latest Call Of Duty from Playstation Network or Xbox Live. But, chances are, if you’ve never had broadband before, those things are going to be completely alien to you.

If you’ve never had broadband before, you probably just want to join Facebook and buy the odd bit or bob off Amazon. In which case, our advice stands.

Cheap broadband deals are therefore particularly good for

Students

One thing students are not known for is their fluid finances. That’s why every penny should count. Cheap broadband deals then, especially in shared households, keep everyone plugged in while collectively costing almost nothing. Just be sure you get one fast enough for everyone if you don’t like the sight of blood.

Light users

A light user is just someone for whom the first order of business each day is not to fire up Netflix and binge-watch. A light user probably spends a fair bit of time on social media and surfs about a bit, but doesn’t download or stream videos or games.

People who are away a lot

Some people just spend too much time away from home for work or study to justify much more than the bare minimum. If you’re barely ever at home, take advantage and get the cheapest deal you can find. Don’t be tempted by bankroll-busting premium deals, no matter how good they look on the telly.

 

Who offers cheap broadband deals in the UK?

Almost everyone. If the range of providers revealed to you in our comparison table is baffling to you, here’s some help with the general gist of what each can offer you.

Cheap internet deals from premium UK providers

Just because they’re premium providers doesn’t mean they don’t have broadband packages aimed at the more frugal end of the market.

Cheap Sky broadband

Sky is actually known for releasing frankly insane broadband deals onto an unsuspecting public. At certain times of the year you can almost certainly get a deal or bundle that is tantamount to ‘free broadband’.

  • Sky Broadband Unlimited

    Sky
    • Up to 17Mb download speed
    • Unlimited usage
    • Pay for calls you make
    £5 p/m unlimited broadband for a year & £75 Prepaid Mastercard
    £5
    £10 after 12 mths See Deal
  • Sky Fibre Broadband - Upgrade

    Sky
    • Up to 38Mb fibre broadband
    • 25GB monthly usage
    • Existing Sky customers only
    £5 a month for 12 months
    £5
    £10 after 12 mths See Deal

Sky offers a line rental saver plan, too, and is not at all averse to taking on some customers with poor credit history (unless your poor credit was obtained by not paying your Sky bill).

The other main advantage with Sky is, of course, that it has hands-down the best TV offering in the UK (Virgin TV is a close second). If you’re looking for the cheapest broadband deal you probably don’t want that, but who knows how you might feel about it in the future.

If you go with Sky, it’ll always be there, should you want it.

Compare Sky broadband

Cheap BT broadband

BT offers plenty of cheap deals, including ‘BT Basic’: a bare-bones call package onto which you can bolt bare-bones broadband for almost nothing. It also offers BT TV and BT Sport, should you want to add it – the latter now being the only place to watch Champions League Football.

  • BT Broadband + Calls

    BT
    • Up to 17Mbps broadband
    • 12GB usage, 5GB BT Cloud
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    £50 Cashback (Cable.co.uk exclusive), £100 BT Reward Card & £10 off for 12 months
    £5
    £15 after 12 mths See Deal
  • BT Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls

    BT
    • Up to 17Mbps broadband
    • Unlimited usage, 100GB BT Cloud
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    £50 Cashback (Cable.co.uk exclusive), £100 BT Reward Card & £10.50 off for 12 months
    £7.50
    £18 after 12 mths See Deal

One negative we feel we should remark upon when it comes to BT is its pricing structure. It pulls all the same tricks as anyone else, but as anyone who’s been through the purchase process will probably tell you, a cheap broadband deal from BT can easily turn into something rather less competitive by the time you reach the checkout.

Cheap Virgin Media broadband

When it comes to broadband, no one out there is more ‘premium’ than Virgin Media. And, if you’re here reading this, ‘premium’ sounds very much like the precise opposite of what you’re looking for. Virgin Media offers the fastest broadband widely available in the UK by miles.

  • Virgin Super 50 Fibre Broadband + Calls

    Virgin
    • Up to 5x faster than regular broadband
    • Great for small households with 1-4 devices
    • Unlimited downloads & weekend calls
    Save £63 over 9 months, Free set up worth £40 & Free wireless speaker worth £99
    £12
    £19 after 9 mths See Deal
  • Virgin Vivid 100 Fibre Broadband + Calls

    Virgin
    • On average 8x faster than regular broadband
    • Great for busy households with 4-10 devices
    • Unlimited monthly usage & weekend calls
    Save £63 over 9 months, Free set up worth £40 & Free wireless speaker worth £99
    £17
    £24 after 9 mths See Deal

That’s because, unlike pretty much all other UK broadband providers (which operate on BT’s Openreach network), it exists on its own network, and so can set its own speed agenda. But, Virgin Media does offer some very cheap, and also very quick, broadband deals. And, like Sky, you also have the option to add some great telly somewhere down the line.

Cheap TalkTalk broadband

Although considered a ‘premium’ or ‘prime’ UK broadband provider – in that it owns a big share of the UK market, and offers TV and mobile – TalkTalk has also long been considered a ‘budget’ provider when set against Virgin Media, Sky and BT.

  • TalkTalk SimplyBroadband

    TalkTalk
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • Unlimited usage
    • Pay for calls you make
    18 months half price unlimited broadband, Free connection, £50 Love2Shop Voucher - online only & Free F-Secure Security anti virus
    £3.75
    £7.50 after 18 mths See Deal
  • TalkTalk Fibre Broadband Medium - Upgrade

    TalkTalk
    • Existing TalkTalk customers only
    • Price excludes any existing TalkTalk costs
    • Up to 38Mb broadband
    • Totally unlimited monthly usage
    £10
    per month See Deal

That’s by the bye, however. TalkTalk has always had a poor customer service history, and the data leak at the end of 2015, in which TalkTalk ‘lost’ customer data to malicious hackers, really prevents us from recommending TalkTalk to anyone.

No, really. Avoid.

Cheap Plusnet broadband

In almost perfect contrast to TalkTalk, Plusnet is truly loved by its customers. At the end of 2015, Cable.co.uk (that’s us, don’t you know) interviewed 6,000 UK broadband customers to establish which provider or providers offered the best customer service, reliability, hardware, value for money and from that who was the overall best provider.

  • Plusnet Unlimited Broadband

    Plusnet
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • Unlimited usage allowance
    • Pay only for the calls you make
    Online exclusive £50 cashback, Free broadband for 12 months & Free activation worth £25
    Free
    £9.99 after 12 mths See Deal
  • Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Broadband

    Plusnet
    • Up to 38Mb fibre broadband
    • Unlimited usage allowance
    • Pay only for the calls you make
    Free activation worth £50 & Free broadband for 6 months
    Free
    £14.99 after 6 mths See Deal

Plusnet, voted by its customers, walked away with no less than four out of five of those awards, including best broadband provider. Plusnet also offers some extremely cheap deals as well as industry-leading call plans (for which it won another of our awards).

Cheap internet deals from dedicated budget broadband providers

These providers aim primarily to serve one aim: to be the cheapest. And, largely, they spend much of the year jostling with one another for best position in the budget broadband market.

You will get ‘cheap’ with these providers (oh, yes), but here also lies a metaphorical desert when it comes to offers and rewards.

Fuel Broadband

Formerly known as Primus Saver, Fuel (or Fuel Broadband, depending on who you ask) Fuel has just one broadband package to offer, with a choice of two home phone plans to bolt on.

Value-for-money-wise, Fuel is fantastic, but if you need fibre (or anything faster than 17Mbps) you’re out of luck. Fuel doesn’t offer it.

Origin Broadband

Origin is a small provider with big dreams. It offers one of the best line rental saver plans in the UK. It also offers you the option of a static IP address – and if you don’t know what that is, you don’t need it.

It’s cheap, sure, and also bases its customer service centre in Yorkshire, if that means anything to you.

Direct Save Telecom

There are no credit checks at Direct Save Telecom. You can literally be the person with the worst credit history in the UK and you’ll still get a cheap broadband deal from this provider.

  • Direct Save Broadband Unlimited + Eve & Weekend Calls

    Direct Save
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • Unlimited monthly usage
    • Evening & weekend calls
    £1.95
    per month See Deal
  • Direct Save Broadband Basic + Calls

    Direct Save
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • 20GB monthly usage
    • No calls included, pay for what you use
    £11.95
    per month See Deal

So it’s cheap? Yes. And extremely basic, but it does the job. Do beware, though, that DST has particularly stern penalties for switching mid-contract. That’s because its deals are so cheap they’re barely profitable. Leavers would otherwise make DST a loss.

POP Telecom

POP is cheap. Of course it is – that’s why it’s in this section. No, we mean POP is really cheap. For example, at the end of 2015, POP started offering ‘Free broadband for life’. While not absolutely free – it gets around this by charging a few pounds per month for its inclusive call package – it’s pretty close.

It’s bare bones, but by God is it cheap!

SSE

Formerly Scottish and Southern Energy, SSE is still an energy provider, but during 2015 it moved into supplying broadband too. It’s a crowded market, but SSE managed to make an impact with its excruciatingly cheap broadband deals.

It was, in fact, provider of the cheapest broadband deal in the UK for a goodly number of months. One to consider, certainly.

Bare bones? Yes. Cheap? Oh, yes.

Post Office Broadband

Post Office Broadband is the only provider in the UK to offer its customers speeds that are slower than the standard (for ADSL non-fibre) 17Mbps.

  • Post Office Broadband Premium + Weekend Calls

    Post Office
    • Up to 8Mb broadband
    • Unlimited download allowance
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    Free unlimited broadband for 12 months
    Free
    £8 after 12 mths See Deal

It’s on BT’s Openreach network the same as any other provider besides Virgin Media, so we assume the reason it does this is so it can pay BT less. The best thing about Post Office Broadband, then, is that while cheap, it ploughs network savings into excellent customer service.

Tentel

Tentel’s main hook is that it’s aimed primarily at tenants and other sorts of folk who move around a lot. It appeals to them by offering deals that don’t tie you into a contract.

  • TenTel Hello Broadband 5

    TenTel
    • Up to 17Mb download speed
    • 5GB monthly usage. PAYG calls
    • No credit check when you apply
    £2.99
    per month See Deal
  • TenTel Hello Broadband 5

    TenTel
    • Up to 17Mb download speed
    • 5GB monthly usage. PAYG calls
    • No credit check when you apply
    £2.99
    per month See Deal

Because there’s no contract, Tentel’s broadband deals are a little more expensive than those of some of the providers we’ve already talked about. However, if you only need broadband for a few months, you’ll end up paying a fraction of what you’d pay for a typical 12 or 18-month broadband deal. So Tentel is cheap, just in a different way.

Cheap broadband deals from your mobile phone provider If you’re with EE or Vodafone, good news! You can also get your broadband from them, potentially saving you money compared to similar packages from other providers.

Cheap EE broadband

It used to be the case that the only way to get EE broadband was to first become an EE mobile customer. Thankfully, EE has realised this sort of limits its potential customer base.

  • EE Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls

    EE
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • Unlimited download usage
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    90% off for 18 months & Free Norton Security
    £1
    £10 after 18 mths See Deal
  • EE Fibre Broadband Unlimited + Weekend Calls

    EE
    • Up to 38Mb fibre broadband
    • Unlimited downloads
    • Inclusive weekend calls
    £6 off for 18 months, Half price connection & Free Norton Security
    £10
    £16 after 18 mths See Deal

At base level, EE has neither the cheapest broadband nor the cheapest mobile deals. Put the two together, however, and a sort of deal symbiosis occurs where you can get money off each. This is not the case all of the time, so you’ll need to check what’s available on the day you’re ready to buy.

Cheap Vodafone broadband

Vodafone is incredibly new to the UK broadband market and as such availability is pretty limited for fibre. It does, however, offer an impressively specced router, discounts for Vodafone mobile customers, and a year’s free subscription to Netflix.

Vodafone is yet to prove its customer service worth when it comes to broadband, but has a good record in mobile.

Internet service providers to avoid if you want a cheap broadband deal

If ‘cheap’ is your primary motivator, there are some providers you might want to avoid. We have nothing against them, though. In fact, two out of three of the following offer frankly legendary levels of customer service and decent broadband.

It’s just that it doesn’t come cheap.

John Lewis Broadband

John Lewis broadband is really aimed at the same sort of market as its department stores and supermarkets (Waitrose). That is, it puts quality above all else.

  • John Lewis Unlimited Broadband + Eve & Weekend Calls

    John Lewis
    • Up to 17Mb broadband
    • Unlimited monthly usage
    • Inclusive evening & weekend calls
    Free broadband for 6 months
    Free
    £11 after 6 mths See Deal
  • John Lewis Fibre Broadband + Eve & Weekend Calls

    John Lewis
    • Up to 38Mb broadband
    • Unlimited monthly usage
    • Inclusive evening & weekend calls
    Free fibre broadband for 3 months
    Free
    £22.50 after 3 mths See Deal

To give you some idea of who it’s aimed at, right now, in 2015, you can apply to join John Lewis Broadband by writing them a letter, for heaven’s sake. With a pen!

John Lewis is a great broadband provider. It just doesn’t do budget.

KC

If you haven’t heard of KC broadband, we don’t blame you. It exists only in the East Riding of Yorkshire, primarily in and around Hull.

Unlike the rest of the country, that particular part of the UK was never monopolised by BT, and so is now monopolised by KC. If you live in KC’s coverage area, you have almost no other options. That’s why KC broadband deals are all limited, and are all rather expensive when compared alongside the rest of the UK.

Zen Internet

Another one for the ‘amazing customer service’ pile, we could sing Zen’s praises all day long.

Primarily a business broadband provider, it also offers standard and fibre broadband to homes up and down the UK. And, like John Lewis Broadband, the exceptional service comes at a price. It’s not super-expensive – it’s just not ‘cheap’.

Buying cheap broadband depends on where you live

The UK is still a bit of a patchwork quilt when it comes to broadband coverage. While there are very few places you can’t get a BT landline – and so standard broadband via Openreach – great uncertainties still remain as to whether you can get anything else.

Virgin Media, though increasing its coverage all the time, only covers around half of UK households. Some providers also install their own equipment at the exchange and so are not necessarily available everywhere. It’s for these reasons you should always check what you can get using the postcode checker at the top of this page.

How to find the cheapest broadband deals where you live

After entering your postcode you’ll be presented with a list of providers who can supply you at your address. Apart from the ‘featured deal’ (which is usually the most popular deal at any given time) the available deals are then listed by first-year cost, cheapest first.

If you’re unsure about which provider suits you best, have a quick read of our guide to cheap broadband providers a little further up this page.

Why your neighbours might be able to get a better or cheaper broadband deal than you

This situation, believe it or not, is not uncommon. As both BT Openreach and Virgin Media continue to roll out cheap fibre broadband for the majority, the rollout always comes with borders. That is, a place where the fibre stops.

As such, some people find that they are unable to get cheap fibre broadband, even though the folks across the street absolutely can. The only course of action available to you if you find yourself in this situation is to contact either Virgin Media or BT to try to ascertain when they will be extending fibre to your side of the tracks.

Sometimes the information they are able to supply is a little wishy-washy and imprecise, but both will at least allow you to register your interest. If you can persuade your neighbours to do the same, it may make a difference.

 

Why it's almost always 'broadband and phone'

While scouting about looking for a cheap broadband deal you may have noticed that pretty much every single cheap broadband deal comes with a phone line, and thus with the additional sting of line rental.

Sadly, it’s unavoidable. If you’re getting broadband from anyone other than Virgin Media, it’s going through a phone line. If it’s going through a phone line, you’re going to need to pay rental on that, and since you’re paying the rental you might as well have a home phone attached to the line as well.

“Ah,” you say, “but Virgin Media offers ‘broadband-only’ deals, so why don’t I just go with them and so avoid line rental?”

An excellent idea in theory, but actually Virgin Media charges through the nose for its broadband-only deals. You won’t end up saving any money by not having a phone line with them.

Equally, while some other providers (Plusnet, Origin, one or two others) also claim to offer broadband-only deals, they only do so on the basis that you have an operational landline for which you’re paying the line rental to someone else.

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How usage caps can make your broadband cheaper

On some deals, you may notice a number, followed by ‘GB’ in the spot where ‘unlimited’ is written for certain others. This denotes a ‘limited’ broadband deal, and what that limit exactly is.

A limit is basically a cap on the amount of data you can use in a month. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether your household’s usage will come in under the bar by the end of the month. As a rough guide, though, a 20GB limit will provide all the surfing, social media and emailing you could possibly achieve in a month, while a 40GB limit will also allow you to stream the odd movie or TV show here and there.

Those who stream or download a lot across the month should simply steer clear of limited deals altogether.

Less usage means paying less money

Limited broadband deals are cheaper on average than unlimited ones. However, that is not always the case at an individual package level.

Sometimes providers offer cheap unlimited broadband deals to new customers that blow pretty much everything else out of the water, so keep your eyes peeled for the best deals available right now, and be prepared to jump without hesitation.

If you go over the limit, cheap limited broadband deals are a false economy

If you do opt for a cheap, capped broadband deal, just be sure you’re in no danger of going over the limit. Providers, like banks, tend to charge an arm and a leg for exceeding your limits – some even charge you per extra gigabyte used. Yikes!

Be aware, though, that providers will always notify you if you’re approaching your limit. BT, for example, will send you an email when you’ve used up 15GB of a 20GB limit. You can then plan how you intend to economise until the limit resets at the end of the month.

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Voucher codes: What they are and whether you need to worry about them

You’ve probably heard of voucher codes and maybe you’re wondering if they can help you to get an even cheaper broadband deal. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but voucher codes are extremely rare in the UK broadband market.

What are voucher codes?

Voucher codes are codes supplied by third-party websites that can be typed into a special box at the point you buy your product to provide you with additional savings.

Can you get them for cheap broadband deals?

Sadly, it is almost impossible to find voucher codes for cheap broadband deals. Though still extremely rare you can sometimes find them for big, expensive bundles. That’s because cheap broadband tends already to be as cheap as a provider can make it without taking a loss.

Can I get one from Cable.co.uk?

No. Cable.co.uk does not provide voucher codes. Primarily, this is because they are rarer than a rainbow-coloured snow leopard, but also because Cable.co.uk sometimes, though not always, makes a small commission if we manage to help you find a cheap deal.

It’s these commissions that keep us up and running and able to continue to provide you with the best, most up-to-date broadband comparison tools in the business.

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Do budget broadband deals offer rewards like cashback, vouchers and other freebies?

The short answer is they tend not to. Specifically, budget providers also tend to be smaller, and hence struggle to strike up long-running relationships with supermarkets and other outlets who could provide them with vouchers at a discount.

Budget broadband providers also have very low profit margins – that’s why the cheapest broadband deals tend to offer just the bare bones.

Choose a deal from a 'prime' provider

You can still get a really cheap broadband deal with cashback rewards, shopping vouchers or even free hardware, but if that’s what you want, you’re going to pretty much have to stick to Virgin Media, Sky, BT or TalkTalk, and we do not recommend TalkTalk due to their appalling record in both customer service and customer data loss.

TalkTalk deals are nevertheless included because we respect your right to choose.

Use our comparison tools to instantly see what offers are available

Once you’ve entered your postcode and been presented with a list of cheap broadband deals where you live, just click the word ‘Offers’ at the head of the page. This will re-sort the list to favour deals that have vouchers, cashback and other types of reward.

Cheap broadband deals and offers

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How cheap can I go? – Establishing what speed and/or limits will be enough

This is a question we are asked frequently at Cable.co.uk. Even so, you’d be surprised how many folk end up buying far more broadband than they need. Hopefully, once you’ve followed this mini-guide, you’ll have a better idea of what speed you need and whether your household can cope with a really cheap broadband deal.

To determine what speed you need, ask yourself the following questions:

How many people are there with internet needs in the house? On average, you should allow for 3Mbps per person in your household. If one or more people in your household are known internet fiends and spend all their spare time streaming, downloading and gaming, you should probably multiply this by ten.

How many devices do they have?

Taking that average of 3Mbps, add one megabit (Mb) to each device that person has that might be used at the same time. So, for example, if your son or daughter has a games console, a smartphone and a tablet, add two megabits. You needn’t add three since it is unlikely they will be using their phone and tablet at the same time. However, lots of folk fiddle with their phones while streaming TV or movies.

What do they tend to do online?

If no one in the household streams from services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer, or downloads games to their console, tablet or smartphone, speed is not going to be an issue for you.

Standard, non-fibre broadband deals all come in at 17Mbps, which is plenty for people who mainly use the internet for browsing, and only stream one programme or movie at a time.

If, on the other hand, two or more people in your household like to stream video and/or download movies and games, you’ll need to think about getting yourself a cheap fibre broadband deal.

Will they ever want to use it all at once?

There will always be the odd time when the whole family wants to do something online all at the same time. So long as these times are rare you shouldn’t worry too much and stick with standard broadband if it saves you money. However, if it’s likely there will be a 6-9pm internet traffic jam when everyone gets home from work or school, you should absolutely be looking at unlimited fibre.

Does anyone stream TV?

It might be that no one in your household streams TV and movies from the internet. In fact, the TV offerings from providers like Sky and Virgin Media are so comprehensive there’s often no need to.

And that’s another way to save money on your broadband. If you have 200+ channels of live TV from Sky or Virgin Media, you probably won’t need to invest quite so much in broadband speed, saving you money (on your broadband, at least).

Does anyone play games?

This is important, especially if anyone in your household owns a games console. The days of buying games on shiny discs from brick and mortar shops are coming to an end. You can still do that, sure, but games are moving in a similar direction to movies and music.

Not only can you download them straight from Xbox Live, PlayStation Store, Nintendo Shop or Steam, but you can also stream them the same way you can stream movies.

With the average retail game clocking in at a whopping 40GB and game streaming needing even more speed (and therefore data) than streaming HD movies, gaming is becoming increasingly reliant on a fast internet connection.

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You can still get cheap broadband if you have a poor credit rating

Perhaps surprisingly, such is the value of new, potential lifetime customers in the fiercely competitive UK broadband market, many providers will offer you a deal no matter how poor your credit rating is.

Policies vary and change over time, but there’s no reason to assume you won’t get a cheap deal from the provider you most desire. If you have a poor credit rating and need a nice, cheap broadband deal, you should choose the deal you want.

But you might have to try a few providers before you succeed

Of course, there is still some chance you might be turned down, but fret not. UK broadband providers only ever conduct what’s called a ‘soft search’ of your credit profile. That means that no matter how many providers you apply to, your credit rating will not be affected.

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