Save a bundle in the mobile and broadband jungle

We are a nation of technology addicts with more than 80 million mobile phones in use among a population of just over 60 million, and more than half of UK homes are now hooked up to broadband, according to industry regulator Ofcom. However, it seems our dedication to technology is not matched by fervour to find the best deals with millions wasting cash with packages that don’t reflect their needs.

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According to figures from moneysupermarket.com, broadband bills have fallen by 13.9% in the last 12 months, while the speed of packages has increased. However, more than two thirds of adults are missing out on the cheapest deals for these products by failing to use the same provider for different services, a process known as ‘bundling’, which means users could be wasting £26 a month by using standalone products.

Similarly, the British mobile phone industry is raking in a neat £8.45bn a year from customers on the wrong mobile phone tariff. On average, British customers use 23 voice minutes and 23 texts over their inclusive allowance – potentially costing them an extra £130 a year.

How to talk more and pay less

By paying close attention to their monthly bills, users can determine how many texts and voice minutes they typically use. If you consistently exceed your allowance, move to a deal with more minutes and texts – though it’s likely to cost more a month, it can save a significant amount in the long run. Moving to a new deal usually incorporates a free handset as part of the package.

There are a host of attractive deals available. For example, if you text more than you talk, you could move to the Orange Dolphin 35 tariff with 500 anytime minutes and 3000 texts with the Samsung G600 included for free for just £35 a month.

Alternatively, if you talk more than you text you could move to the Orange Racoon 30 deal and pick up 500 minutes and 100 texts a month for £25 a month with the Sony Ericsson W910i included as part of the deal.

Finally, if you roughly use the same number of minutes and texts each month then the 3-Mobile Mix and Match 500 plan allows you to pick up 500 free minutes or 500 free texts a month – or any combination of the two – for £27 a month with the highly sought-after Nokia N95 8 Gigabyte (GB) handset included as part of the deal.

Those who use less than their inclusive allowance should consider a SIM only or pay-as-you-go (PAYG) deal. As customers look to slash their monthly expenditure the PAYG market has become increasingly competitive with massive high street names such as Asda and Ikea now offering deals.

With a SIM-only deal the mixture of minutes and texts is invariably cheaper than being tied into a contract as you are not subsidising the cost of a new handset. So if you’re happy with the phone you own and use less than your monthly allowance, this could be a cash-saving solution.

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More speed, less waste

Dealing with different providers and organising different bills can be a painstaking process, but by having your phone (usually landline), broadband and TV package with the same provider, you not only have to deal with just one bill each month making it easier to keep an eye on expenses, but you can also save money.

One of the leading providers of bundled services in the UK is Sky, which now has more than nine million customers of its own and has tabled a takeover bid for Tiscali’s 1.8 million customers. However, at present only 12% of Sky’s customers are signed up to its “triple play” deal with TV, phone and broadband services combined. If you are an existing Sky customer you could sign up for the Sky Base broadband deal – with two megabyte (Mb) speeds and a 2GB cap for free, while you could potentially get broadband, phone and TV for as little as £17 a month.

Orange also has an enticing deal for its mobile contract customers – they can pick up the Home Starter product with 2Mb speeds, a 10GB cap and free evening and weekend calls to UK landlines with an 18month mobile contract.

Another option is mobile broadband offered by networks 3-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile. With mobile broadband you can get online without a landline - all you need is a ‘dongle’, which plugs into a laptop. Deals start from as little as £10 a month.

Whether you’re looking for a better broadband or mobile phone deal the key is to shop around and find a contract that matches your usage. Even if you don’t want to switch you could get a better deal from your existing provider if you let it know you’re considering your options.

Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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