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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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 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.
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 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!
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.