What's the best broadband and phone package?

Published:
24 February 2011
Topic:
News,Broadband

With so many different deals to choose from, finding the best broadband and home phone package to suit your needs at the right cost can seem daunting.

But it's essential to keep a close eye on the cost of your current service and to regularly check if you can save money by switching. This is especially important for O2 customers, as the provider is hiking broadband costs in April by up to nearly £50 a year. Price rises will depend on the package you are on and some customers will only see costs increase by between 33p and 58p a month, but it's still worth seeing if moving can reduce your bills.

The good news is that O2 will let people leave their contracts without paying any penalty, providing you let them know with 30 days of receiving a letter or e-mail notifying you of the price changes.

More than 18 million homes across the UK have broadband, and an even bigger number have phone landlines, but many people stay with the same providers year after year because they are worried they will lose their connection for several days or weeks if they transfer to another service.

But the switching process is improving all the time, and you should be able to transfer without any break in your connection at all.

Comparing deals has got more straightforward too. Moneysupermarket.com's broadband channel, for example, enables you to compare the cost of standalone broadband packages, combined broadband and home phone deals, as well as bundled offers, where you get your broadband, home phone and TV services from the same provider, so you can find the right package for you. You can even see what broadband speeds your neighbours are getting, watch our video 'How to test your broadband speed' for more information.

Don't let fear or apathy put you off - there is no point forking out more than you need to for your broadband, home phone and TV services, especially when there are so many good deals around.

New offers

Providers are busy revamping their offerings, so that prices are more competitive than ever.

Talk Talk, for example, has launched a half-price offer on its 'Essentials' and 'Plus' home phone and broadband packages, which it claims makes it better value than BT, Sky, Virgin, Plusnet, Tesco, O2 or Orange.

The 'Essentials' offer limits broadband usage to 40GB and includes evening and weekend calls to UK landlines, while the 'Plus' deal gives you unlimited internet usage and anytime calls to UK landlines.
  
The 50% discount means 'Essentials' customers will pay just £3.49 a month for their phone and broadband, while 'Plus' customers will pay £7.49 a month. For both packages this offer is available on a 12 month contract.
  
However, remember that you will have to pay line rental on top of this, which costs £12.30 a month, but the connection fee, which usually costs £29.99, is free. You must sign up online before March 7 to take advantage of this offer.

BT is also attempting to entice new customers with its Winter Deal. This offers three months free internet and home phone services to new Broadband and Anytime Calls subscribers. BT's broadband element of this deal comes with speeds of up to 20Mb broadband and a 10GB monthly download allowance and you can make unlimited anytime phone calls for the first three months.

After this, the Broadband and Anytime Calls package will cost you £16 a month, with BT's standard £13.60 a month line rental on top.

If you sign-up for the deal online, you will also be able to get a free connection worth up to £130 if you need to have a new landline installed. Until 14 March, you will also get £75 to spend at internet retailer dabs.com which sells computers, cameras and other electrical products.

Bundle your TV too

Although combined broadband and home phone packages are coming down in price and offer great value, you may find there are even greater savings to be had if you opt to receive your TV services through the same provider too.

For example, according to research by moneysupermarket.com, someone with the Post Office's Broadband Standard package which has a download cap of 5GB and a maximum speed of 8Mbps would pay an average monthly cost of £15.95.

If they then had Sky's Variety Pack TV deal which provides over 200 channels, they'd be paying a further £19.50 a month, and, if they had BT's Unlimited Weekend Plan, they'd be paying £13.60 a month for their phone. All this adds up to a monthly total for all three services of £49.05.

If, however, the same person opted for a bundled deal with Virgin Media costing £16.67 a month for their TV, broadband and telephone, and with line rental costing £12.99 a month, the monthly cost would be £29.66 - a saving of £232.68 over the year. Broadband usage is unlimited and you also get unlimited UK weekend landline calls with this package, as well as over 65 digital TV channels.

What you should know before switching

Before moving internet providers, read the small print of your current contract first - if you are locked in for several months, then you won't be able to switch immediately. To switch broadband services you may need what is known as a 'MAC' code, which identifies your phone line so the new company can take over.

Your provider is legally obliged to give it to you so keep chasing them if they seem reluctant to give it to you. Once you have a MAC code you need to give it to your new provider within 30 days or it will expire.

Think about how you will use each element of your bundled package before signing up. For example, you don't want a deal which promises very high speeds and unlimited downloads if you only tend to use the internet infrequently and for small amounts of data.

You should also consider the opening hours and costs of the customer support and technical support lines too, as these can quickly mount up if you run into problems.

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