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What you need to know

  • Prices last checked and verified 27th June 2017
  • Broadband speeds may vary
  • Monthly costs include line rental
  • All prices are inclusive of VAT except business packages
  • You should have the right to cancel without penalty if your provider increases charges during the minimum term of your contract
  • Some providers offer line rental reduced prices when an upfront payment is made for 12 months

SSE has a broadband and phone deal for (almost) everyone

SSE doesn’t offer you the ability to add mobile SIMs, it doesn’t offer TV packages or bundles, and it can’t offer you the kind of download speeds Virgin Media does. What SSE can offer, however, is some of – it not the – best-value broadband in the UK right now.

How to choose an SSE broadband and phone deal

If you have your heart already set on a broadband and phone deal from SSE, you’re already 90% of the way there to getting yourself online. Choosing SSE means you’ll have already whittled it down to just a few speed and bundled phone options.

How to choose which broadband speed to go for from SSE

SSE offers broadband in three download speeds: 17Mbps, 38Mbps, and 76Mbps. The speed of your broadband connection affects how fast access to the internet will feel while browsing around (page load times), how long it takes to download files, and whether or not you run into problems when doing anything at all that requires a high consistent speed (streaming movies in HD or UHD would be one example).

What you can and can’t do with 17Mbps Everyday Broadband from SSE

17Mbps is the standard ‘up to’ speed advertised by any provider in the UK offering non-fibre services. What we mean by that is that any provider that will bring your broadband through your home phone line (called ADSL), 17Mbps is the maximum speed you can hope to achieve.

Just because it’s the lowest, however, doesn’t make it unsuitable. Most people we talk to are very surprised to hear that 17Mbps is perfectly adequate to stream movies and TV in high definition (HD) or even 3D, and will serve perfectly well in a household with 1–4 members, just so long as everyone isn’t trying to stream or download stuff all at once. For your convenience, here is a quick – albeit far from exhaustive – list of things you can and can’t do with 17Mbps.

With 17Mbps, you can…
  • Browse the internet
  • Use social media
  • Download apps
  • Stream movies and TV in standard definition (SD)
  • Stream movies and TV in high definition (HD)
With 17Mbps, you can’t…
  • Run a home office
  • Stream movies and TV in ultra-high definition (UHD)
  • Meet the needs of multiple high-usage household members
  • Guarantee it’ll cope with times of day when everyone wants to get online at the same time

What you can and can’t do with 38Mbps Superfast Fibre Broadband from SSE

38Mbps currently represents the point-of-entry speed for fibre optic broadband packages in the UK. Similarly to the other speeds in SSE’s line-up, 38Mbps is a common speed found across all providers who operate on BT’s Openreach network (that’s everyone except Virgin Media), the exception being BT itself, which has recently upped its entry-level speed to 52Mbps, with no other providers currently following its lead.

38Mbps may be the slowest fibre in the UK, but it’s still more than enough for most households. In fact, the only circumstances under which you might want to consider going faster are if you have a family of heavy streamers and downloaders who predominantly do so around the same time of day, or if you live distantly from your nearest fibre cabinet (see more detailed explanation of why that’s important at the end of this section).

Here’s a quick rundown of what you can and can’t do with 38Mbps.

With 38Mbps, you can…
  • Browse the internet
  • Use social media
  • Download apps
  • Stream movies and TV in standard definition (SD)
  • Stream movies and TV in high definition (HD)
  • Stream movies and TV in ultra-high definition (UHD)
  • Run a home office
  • Meet the needs of multiple moderate users during busy times
With 38Mbps, you can’t…

  • Stream more than one piece of ultra-high definition (UHD) content at once (no one does this anyway – yet)
  • Meet the needs of several heavy users at busy times

What you can and can’t do with 76Mbps Superfast Fibre Broadband from SSE

Frankly, there simply isn’t much you can’t do with a 76Mbps connection either from SSE or any other provider on BT’s Openreach network (everyone except Virgin Media). Moreover, you’re going to need either a tremendously strong case, or a tremendously weak one to justify it. A weird thing to say, but bear with us a moment…

The strong case would be that you live in a household with a large number of occupants or family members, they all have their own TVs and streaming devices and phones and tablets and they all like to use the internet for heavy-duty tasks at similar times of the day. The weak case is that it’s the fastest package out there (that’s not from Virgin Media), and you want the top speed because it’s not much more money and why the hell not?

Either way, there is nothing you cannot currently accomplish with a 76Mbps internet connection, provided you’re getting something actually approaching that.

With 76Mbps, you can…
  • Browse the internet
  • Use social media
  • Download apps
  • Stream movies and TV in standard definition (SD)
  • Stream movies and TV in high definition (HD)
  • Stream movies and TV in ultra-high definition (UHD)
  • Stream more than one piece of ultra-high definition (UHD) content at once
  • Run a home office
  • Meet the needs of multiple moderate users during busy times
  • Meet the needs of several heavy users at busy times
With 76Mbps, you can’t…

  • There is nothing you cannot do with 76Mbps

A final note on speeds available from SSE

Do bear in mind, when choosing the 17Mbps option (or to a lesser extent any other speed option), that the speed you’re likely to get is not always going to be the one advertised. That’s because speed reduces over distance. The closer you live to your local cabinet (those green boxes found on street corners), the closer to the advertised speed you will get.

To get an idea of your estimates speed, you can enter your postcode at the top of this page. Also providing your phone number (bear in mind we neither store this data or pass it on) allows our database to get better fix on how far you are from your cabinet and therefore a more accurate idea of the speed you will get on various packages.

How to choose which inclusive phone plan to go for from SSE

Because SSE operates on BT’s Openreach network, the service arrives at your home through your existing phone line. This is the case even if you choose a fibre package – BT’s Openreach network (on which SSE operates) is only fibre optic as far as the cabinet on the street, the rest of the way, or ‘last mile’, is over bi-wire copper telephone lines already connected to your property.

What this means is that if you want broadband from SSE, you’re going to also need to get a call plan. There’s no way around it – you need the phone line active to get the broadband, so you need to pay line rental, so you might as well have a phone number and a home phone connected to that line as well. Of course, you can just opt out and not connect a phone if you really don’t want a landline – and lots of people don’t these days. That’s your prerogative.

While you think about that, here’s a quick rundown of the ins and outs of inclusive calling packages offered by SSE.

SSE Talk Weekend

This is SSE’s entry-level call package. It has the distinction of offering the least, while also costing the least. At the time of writing, Talk Weekend will only add £13.49 per month to your bill, and that includes line rental, making it one of the cheapest line rental options in the country right now.

Talk Weekend allows free calls of durations up to 70 minutes for the entire weekend period. Inclusions and exclusions are detailed at the bottom of this section.

SSE Talk Evening and Weekend

As the title suggests, free calling – with the conditions listed at the bottom of this section – applies to evenings and weekends, though it is officially impossible to discover when the term ‘evening exactly applies’ thanks to a dearth of specific information on SSE’s own website (see our criticisms of SSE’s website further down this page in the section on pros and cons).

BT’s evening and weekend packages define evenings as between 7pm and 7am the following morning – which is stretching the definition a bit – and we’ll stick our neck out and say SSE’s offering is almost certainly the same. SSE Talk Evening and Weekend currently costs £2 per month in addition to £16 per month line rental.

SSE Talk Anytime

Free calling, with the terms and conditions outlined at the bottom of this section, is extended to anytime with this package. SSE Talk Anytime costs £5 per month in addition to £16 per month line rental.

SSE Talk Anytime Plus

Same as Talk Anytime, but adds 20 foreign countries you can call under the same terms. Thos countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Portugal Madeira, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA and Vatican City (perfect if you’re a Cardinal by vocation).

Special conditions you should be aware of on all SSE calling packages

Inclusive calls are standard voice calls, lasting up to 70 minutes, to local and national numbers, which are those numbers that begin with 01, 02 & 03. Calls to numbers beginning with 0845 & 0870, up to 70 minutes, are also free during the same inclusive periods of your call package for local and national calls. This excludes indirect access numbers and dial-up internet access.

Pros and cons of SSE broadband packages

SSE is a relative newcomer to the UK broadband market, only offering its services since mid–2015. Formerly, SSE (or Scottish and Southern Energy as is was once known), only offered gas and electricity. Being new and arriving in a crowded UK marketplace has meant that SSE has had to try to find its own niche.

Arguably, it hasn’t achieved that in the way most might understand the term ‘niche’. It has aimed for the equally crowded budget end of the broadband market, opting to provide reliable broadband for as little as possible, and it does nothing that is totally unique even at this end.

One may remark on how superbly cheap its lowest line rental is, for example, but there are others that will run you equivalent money. You can talk of its propensity to offer ‘free broadband’ (which obviously isn’t free when you factor in line rental, call bundle charges and up-front costs) but lots of providers are about the same trick.

However, we’re not at all down on SSE as a provider. It offers a good balance of super-low pricing and some premium features. It also has the distinction of being one of the few providers that, on its own website, advertises its pricing with everything included rather than stinging its customers with additional charges further towards the checkout.

Here are the main pros and cons, along with more detailed explanations of each point directly afterward.

Pros

  • It’s really, really cheap
  • Basic Talk Weekend package has among lowest line rental fees in the country
  • Very reliable, if you don’t factor the somewhat poor range of the router
  • SSE has a well-established customer service record as an energy provider
  • Clear, all-in pricing

Cons

  • SSE website is lacking easily available information and is hard to navigate
  • Router reportedly has comparatively poor wireless range, doesn’t support 5GHz frequency
  • SSE tends not to offer any free gifts, vouchers, cashback etc.
  • 18-month contracts are beginning to look unusually long

What we like about SSE broadband

It’s really, really cheap

There are a number of budget providers in the UK: SSE, Direct Save Telecom, Fuel, others. Generally they do little to differentiate themselves, offering cheap, flimsy, will-just-about-do hardware, no frills, no TV and no bundles. If SSE does anything to distinguish itself it’s that it offers all of this albeit with the added relative safety of being a pre-existingly large company – less likely to fail and with more capable service infrastructure.

Basic Talk Weekend package has among lowest line rental fees in the country

So long as you stick to the Talk Weekend package, you can enjoy a £13.49 per month line rental fee. Most providers charge around £17–18, and across the 18 months of an SSE contract, that adds up to a not-insubstantial amount of money.

However, do be worry that if you’re likely to make calls in the evenings and at weekends, this saving could become a false economy. Make sure you take account of when you’re most likely to make calls on your home phone before jumping on this.

Very reliable, if you don’t factor the somewhat poor range of the router

One of the prime benefits of simple, no-frills broadband that piggybacks on existing telecoms infrastructure and uses the most basic of equipment is there’s ultimately less that can go wrong. Though fit for purpose, since the router supplied by SSE is somewhat underwhelming, you may want to consider what sort of range you’re going to need wi-fi to extend over. Saving a few quid on broadband by going with SSE is going to feel like a rather daft move if you have to spend £100 on range extenders.

SSE has a well-established customer service record as an energy provider

SSE announced this year that it has been judged by Ofgem (the independent energy regulator) to have the best complaint handling service of any of the UK’s energy providers. Some feat. But surely the best thing about that is that the staff, systems and centres SSE uses for its energy customer handling are also available to its broadband customers. Award-winning customer service on the horizon for SSE broadband? Quite possibly.

Clear, all-in pricing

Anyone who’s ever bought a broadband package in the past can attest to the unnecessarily complex pricing structures adopted by providers in order to make things appear cheaper than they are. Providers will advertise ‘£5 per month broadband’, say, but by the time you’ve got to the checkout, they’ve layered on line rental, security packages, calling plans and enough upfront costs to make the advertised price appear comically mythical.

By 31 October 2016 the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that telecoms providers must condense all of these extras into one headline price, that being the only one they’re allowed to advertise. But, you know, it’s all very well being forced to. SSE has always advertised their prices including line rental and call package extras. And that makes them kind of a good egg.

What we don’t like about SSE broadband

SSE website is lacking easily available information and is hard to navigate

This tends to be the same for all new providers, but in our estimation the SSE website is particularly bad. It demands you enter your postcode and landline number to access any information at all (what if you don’t have a landline?) or find a tiny little link that circumvents it only to be presented with very minimal information.

Persistent types will find more detailed info tucked away in some extremely long-winded documents, hidden in expandable slivers of the page, printed in tiny fonts and for all the world looking as if they don’t want to be read. We expect SSE to improve the situation at some point in the future, but for now it’s simply not good enough.

Router reportedly has comparatively poor wireless range, doesn’t support 5GHz frequency

The Thomson Technicolour TG582n is one of the worst-reviewed routers on Amazon.co.uk. While it’s worth stating that the sort of person who buys and reviews routers outside of those offered in their broadband package is more discerning, and therefore more scathing, than the average broadband customer, they frequently cite poor range, flimsy build and its inability to output on the 5GHz frequency.

That last thing can be important if you live in a particularly built up or crowded area (in a block of flats or tightly spaced housing estate), as the 2.4GHz frequency range offered by the Thomson Technicolour TG582n is therefore likely to encounter a lot of interference from others struggling to use the same frequencies as you are. Interference means things will slow down over wi-fi. Only you can decide how much this is likely to affect you, and indeed how much it matters.

SSE tends not to offer any free gifts, vouchers, cashback etc.

We did say SSE is a no-frills provider, right? Right. And this is where the lack of frills really starts to look a little stark in contrast to some of the premium providers like BT, Sky or Virgin Media. Most of them offer cashback, shopping vouchers, even gifts like a free TV when you sign up. Don’t expect any of that from SSE. You get broadband. You get phone. And that’s your lot.

18-month contracts are beginning to look unusually long

18-month contracts were once pretty common in the UK. Virgin Media once offered them as standard and Sky still has them on their TV bundles. But still, 12 months is far more common. A full year and a half stuck in a contract with a provider you might or might not be getting along with is a big ask, especially when you factor in what it might cost you if you want to leave early.

Most broadband providers, including SSE, will charge leavers and switchers a large chunk of whatever remains to pay over the final months of your contract. You should ask yourself how sure you are you aren’t going to want to switch before jumping in.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the SSE broadband router?

SSE supplies all its broadband customers with a free Technicolour TG582n wireless (wi-fi) router. It features three useable Ethernet ports for wired connectivity and 802.11n wi-fi for connecting mobile devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets) wirelessly throughout your home.

Can I use my own router?

Yes but this may make it harder for SSE to diagnose and fix faults if they arise. If you need advice on connecting your router, you can contact SSE on 0345 071 9886 or email them via the SSE website.

What’s the SSE broadband contact number?

If you have a general enquiry you can contact SSE on 0345 071 9886. To file a complaint, call 0345 071 9890.

What is the SSE traffic management policy?

The SSE broadband network prioritises time-critical activity such as video calling (e.g. Skype or FaceTime) and online gaming to help maintain performance.

Large file downloads – such as those linked to software updates or peer-to-peer file sharing – are given the lowest priority, which means SSE may actively slow down (throttle) customers engaged in such activities, particularly during evenings and weekends (peak times).

Can I get SSE broadband only?

No. While SSE’s phone service can be taken as a standalone product its broadband services are only available as part of a broadband and phone bundle.

How wide is SSE broadband coverage?

SSE uses the Openreach network, so UK coverage is relatively good. Nevertheless you should check specific availability in your postcode before comparing packages.

Can I get an SSE broadband email address?

No, SSE doesn’t offer an email service.

Is there an installation fee?

Installation is currently free unless you require a new phone line or need an existing one reactivated, in which case you’ll be charged £60 upfront.

How long will installation take?

If you already have a BT landline it takes around 23 days to get set up. If you need a landline installed, it may take longer. SSE will confirm your installation date once you’ve signed up.

Does SSE offer new line installation?

If you don’t already have a compatible BT line, SSE will arrange to have one installed for you at an added cost of £60.