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The Pros and Cons of a Short Broadband Deal

Posted by Andy Betts on in FeaturesVirgin MediaHyperopticNOW BroadbandCuckoo

When you're shopping for a new broadband deal one of the main things you will need to decide is what length of contract you want to sign up for. In most cases this means a choice between a 12 month, 18 month or a maximum two year deal. But there is another option: the short-term plan.

Some broadband suppliers offer 30-day deals that come without a contract. They work more like a subscription service - it automatically renews each month, then when you no longer need it you just cancel and move on.

Not every provider offers these kinds of deals. In fact, most don't. But they aren't just limited to niche suppliers and you can find them at a whole range of speeds.

They aren't right for everyone, so let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of short-term and no-contract broadband.

Benefits of no-contract broadband

The main benefit to no-contract broadband is that it gives you the ultimate flexibility - no strings, no long-term commitment.

This makes it ideal for anyone who is not in a position to sign up for a long contract, such as those living in a short-term let or student housing. Students, for instance, will only be living in their digs for nine or ten months, so even a 12 month deal might not be ideal, let alone anything longer.

The same applies if you're planning to move house. While it's easy enough to take your broadband with you when you move, you do still have to move somewhere where your broadband provider is both available and delivers good performance. If either of those things aren't true, too bad. So if you're moving soon and your current broadband is coming to an end, you might be better off taking a 30-day deal for now, and then buying a new plan from scratch when you settle in to your new home.

Because there's no contract with a short-term broadband deal, there are no penalties when you decide to cancel and switch providers. You can do it any time you like.

No-contract deals also make it easier to upgrade if your needs change, or if better services become available in your area. While providers will be happy to let you upgrade to a faster plan before your contract is up - if you sign a new deal - you can't switch to a different provider without paying a penalty.

If you're waiting for faster technologies to be rolled out where you live, a short-term deal could be just the thing in the meantime. And to make sure you're fully up to date with what broadband services are available in your area, sign up to our free Broadband Autopilot service. It constantly scans for the best and fastest deals you can get, so you'll never miss out.

One final thing to note about short-term broadband is that even though the contracts are different, the performance isn't. Whether you're choosing a basic fibre-to-the-cabinet deal or a cutting edge full fibre service, the speed and everything else will be exactly the same as it would be if you'd signed up for two years.

Downsides to short-term broadband

There are some downsides to choosing broadband without a contract, the main one being that you will have to pay a little more than you would for a comparable long-term deal. Typically, you can expect to pay around £5 to £10 a month extra compared to the lowest price alternatives. And while this can add up over time, remember that most short-term deals aren't really intended for long-term use anyway.

You'll also have to pay a higher setup fee, sometimes as much as £60. This covers the activation fee and the router that you'll be sent to get online.

The best thing you can do before you sign up is to ignore the monthly price and calculate the total price you'll pay instead. So, if you want the service for nine months, work out how much that will cost, factoring in the monthly payments and the setup fees. Then compare it to the total price you'd pay on a 12-month contract. This can easily cancel out a lot of the price difference.

Other downsides to short-term broadband? You get less choice, inevitably, although there are some big name providers and even gigabit options that you can choose from. And you also miss out on any introductory offers like free gifts, bill credit, shopping vouchers and so on.

Which providers offer short-term deals?

There are a number of providers that offer broadband on one month deals. They include NOW Broadband and Virgin Media, while Cuckoo is a new provider that only offers a single, contract-free plan. Some full fibre providers like Hyperoptic also let you sign up to a rolling 30-day service, if it's available where you are.

If you think no-contract broadband might be right for you, or you want to see what else is available, use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals you can get right now where you live.

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Openreach engineer

Full fibre rollout across the UK set to speed up

Posted by Andy Betts on in News

The rollout of full fibre broadband across the UK is set to be ramped up following a series of major new announcements. They form part of the Government's ambition to bring gigabit-capable broadband to the whole of the UK over the next few years.

This biggest announcement is from industry watchdog Ofcom. They've decided that they won't impose price caps on full fibre connections from Openreach, the BT-owned company that runs the bulk of the UK's broadband infrastructure.

While the prices they can charge to their customers - broadband suppliers like Sky and TalkTalk, as well as BT - have traditionally been capped (and often reduced) by Ofcom for slower fibre connections, there was a concern that doing so for the new fibre-to-the-home network would discourage investment. So they've decided to allow Openreach to set their own prices.

BT responded by confirming their commitment to invest £12 billion into the full fibre infrastructure, with a plan to bring faster broadband to 20 million homes by the end of the decade.

However, if Openreach can charge the broadband providers more for connections, some worry that those ISPs will have no choice but to pass on the costs to us, the users. And it is possible that full fibre will be more expensive, at least in the short term. Ofcom have introduced a number of measures to try and minimise the impact.

  • First, they will maintain price caps for the slower fibre connections with speeds up to 40Mb. This will ensure users can always access a cheaper option.
  • Second, they will allow Openreach to shut down the copper network in areas where full fibre has been installed so they don't have to maintain two networks simultaneously.
  • Third, providers will be given better access to Openreach's underground ducts and telegraph poles, to potentially half the cost of connecting new customers.
  • Fourth, Ofcom expect that around 70% of the UK will have a choice of full fibre networks, and they'll intervene if necessary to stop Openreach stifling investment from other companies, like Virgin Media, Hyperoptic and Gigaclear.

Full fibre for rural areas

While the BT investment will help to accelerate the rollout of full fibre broadband across the UK, it will only cover around three million homes in rural and more remote areas, where broadband infrastructure is already lacking. These hard to reach areas, which are not commercially viable, will be covered instead by public funding.

The Government pledged to spend £5 billion in the 2019 election campaign, and they've announced that the first £1.2 billion of this will be spent by 2024. The areas that will benefit from this money initially are Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley. Work will get under way next year.

After that, the next regions in line are expected to be Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk and Worcestershire.

And on top of all that, the Government has also announced that they're revamping an existing voucher scheme that enables some households in rural areas to get subsidies to install full fibre broadband. Worth £210 million, it will be targeted at the most hard to reach areas, along with a further £110 million to help bring full fibre to GP surgeries, schools and libraries in the same sorts of areas.

As of the end of last year, 18% of the UK - around 5.1 million premises - had access to full fibre broadband, an increase from 10% a year earlier. The growth has seen the emergence of some new, regional broadband providers, like Community Fibre in London, or TrueSpeed in the South West, alongside the national players.

To see if you can get full fibre, or to compare the best broadband deals, use our postcode checker to see what's available where you live.

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NOW Broadband

EXPIRED: Brighten up your lockdown with a NOW Broadband package

Posted by Fiona Conner on in OffersExpiredNOW Broadband

Like many of us, you're probably still working from home, or you've got kids doing the online learning thing, and you're relying on a solid broadband connection to get things done. If your connection hasn't been up to the task, it might be time to consider an upgrade, and NOW Broadband could have the package for you.

If you're looking for a boost in speed, consider getting Super Fibre Broadband for just £24 a month, which comes with free Anytime calls, average speeds of 63Mb, unlimited downloads and is available on both 1 month and 12 month contracts.

Sadly, not everyone can get Super Fibre just yet, but don't worry, NOW have some other great offers on. You can get Fab Fibre with Anytime calls and average speeds of 36Mb for £23 a month, and Brilliant Broadband with Anytime calls and average speeds of 11Mb for just £18 a month. Again, you'll get unlimited downloads and both packages are available on 1 month and 12 month contracts.

Work isn't the only thing that matters during a lockdown. You've got to keep yourself entertained the rest of the time, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to settle down on the sofa and watch a movie or binge a good TV series. NOW have got you covered there, too. You've got a choice of different TV Memberships that you can mix and match with your broadband deal. The Fab Fibre broadband with Entertainment Membership bundle is £23.99 for the first 6 months, and then £27.99 a month for the remainder of the 12 month contract. Meanwhile, the Sky Cinema Membership is £9.99 extra a month or you can get the Sky Sports Membership for £25.99 extra a month.

 


All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Free activation on 12 month contracts, £60 activation fee applies to 1 month contracts. £5 post and packaging fee applies. Actual speeds offered subject to a line check and will be displayed on checkout. Only available in NOW Fibre areas. Offer ends midnight on 18/03/2021.

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How to understand your broadband contract

How to understand your broadband contract

Posted by Andy Betts on in Features

When you sign up to a new broadband deal, either because you're switching to a new provider or renewing with your current one, you will have to sign a contract.

This contract sets out all the terms you're agreeing to - not just your obligations, but those of your ISP as well.

And while it's tempting to just give it a quick glance over before you sign, that's not a great idea. Not every provider has the same terms, so if you're committing for as long as two years, you need to know what you're agreeing to.

Here are a few of the things you should look out for in your broadband contract.

Basic terms

The main gist of a contract is to set out the basics of your deal: what service you're getting, the length of the initial contract period and the start and end dates, the price, the availability of support, and so on.

Although you should obviously read the contract before you sign it, you do get a 14-day cooling-off period should you change your mind afterwards. We wouldn't recommend treating it like a try-before-you-buy scheme, but it does at least give you immediate protection against buyer's remorse.

Price and price rises

When you're looking for a new broadband deal, the headline price is likely to be the main figure you'll focus on to see how much a plan will cost. But there are other charges that you may have to pay as well. And while Ofcom rules state that they should all be made clear, and not hidden in the small print, you can still overlook them.

The main thing to look out for is information on mid-contract price rises. Annual increases in line with the consumer price index are allowed; anything above that, and not specified in your contract, means you can potentially walk away from your deal without penalty.

Recently, BT, Plusnet, EE and John Lewis have all introduced a policy of annual rises equal to the CPI inflation rate plus 3.9%. This will be in your contract, so you won't be able to complain when it happens.

In addition, installation, activation and postage fees are all pretty common, and they can range anywhere from £5 to £50. It's important that you know which end of the scale your deal sits.

And be aware of any other additional costs that you might not be expecting. Among other things, they might include:

  • extra charges for choosing to pay by a method other than direct debit
  • late payment penalties
  • paper billing costs
  • fees for moving house

Equipment and installation

Your broadband contract will outline important information about the equipment you'll get, and any installation process involved in setting up your new connection.

Every provider will give you a new router when you take out one of their packages, and sometimes it'll be yours to keep and other times it'll just be a loan. In the latter case the contract will tell you how to return it when your deal ends, whether you need to keep the box, and any other relevant details. Warranty info should also be included here.

Most broadband services don't need any specific installation, you can just plug in your router and get on with your day. But if you're going with Virgin Media or a full fibre provider like Hyperoptic, then the install is often a lot more involved, with an engineer needing to visit your house.

Speed and performance

When you sign up to a new broadband deal the provider will give you a speed estimate so you know exactly what level of performance you can expect. Make a note of this figure because it might not be the same as the average speed that they advertise.

Make sure you're happy with estimate before you sign up, especially if it's a lot lower than the advertised rate. It will also enable you to make a claim for compensation in future if the performance drops below what you've agreed to.

Other than that, keep an eye out for:

  • details of any speed guarantee, and what you can do if it isn't met
  • usage restrictions like data caps, fair use policies and so on, although these are fortunately quite rare now
  • an acceptable use policy, standard across all providers, that bans you from doing anything illegal on the network
  • whether or not you can use your own router - you probably can, but you might not get any support for it

Special offers

A lot of broadband suppliers entice new customers with special offers including vouchers and assorted gifts. In most cases, these won't be delivered to you automatically. You have to claim them, and do so within a specified time frame.

Read more on how to claim your broadband rewards.

The end of your contract

Broadband contracts last between 30 days and two years. Your contract will outline what you can do if you want quit early. In the case of the short term deals you usually just have to give a month's notice. For longer plans, you'll have to pay a termination fee, which will be a proportion of whatever is left on your contract.

But do remember that you are legally allowed to quit your contract if the service you're getting isn't up to scratch.

Once your contract period has ended, your broadband service will continue as normal. However, many of the protections specified in the deal will no longer apply. This is especially true of the price, which is very likely to go up, and which is why you should never stay on an out-of-contract deal for long.

Are you ready to start shopping for better broadband? Use our postcode checker to find the best deals available where you live.

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Broadband without a phone line

How to get broadband without a phone line

Posted by Andy Betts on in FeaturesVirgin MediaDirect SaveBTGigaclearEE

How often do you make calls on your landline these days? Chances are, it's not often at all.

The number of landline calls has been slashed by well over a half over the last few years. Millions of us now only have landlines because we need them for our broadband. But that's about to change.

A new wave of standalone, broadband-only services are on their way, spearheaded by BT and EE. And it's not just a passing trend. Within five years this will be the norm.

So why is this happening now? Simple answer: the days of the landline are numbered. The UK's ageing phone network is set to be switched off in 2025, to be replaced by a combination of mobile and internet calls. The transition is already under way.

What's happened is that Openreach, the BT-owned company that runs the network, has effectively split the phone service out from the copper wire network that it works on. So where you'd normally automatically get a phone sevice whenever you signed up to a broadband package that uses the copper network (which is most of them), now you won't.

Most fibre services still need to use the copper lines, but increasingly you won't get a phone number or dial tone unless you really need one.

Broadband-only

This is leading to the launch of new broadband-only packages (the technical name for these is SOGEA broadband, but you don't need to worry about that). Our newly updated guide to Broadband Without a Phone Line has got all the details you need.

Leading the way in this new generation are BT and EE.

  • BT are offering their Fibre Essential, Fibre 1 and Fibre 2 deals as broadband-only packages, on two-year contracts and priced at the same rate as the equivalent with-landline deals.
  • EE offer as standard all their regular fibre packages as broadband-only on 18-month contracts. If you do want to keep your landline you have to add it during checkout, and also pay a little extra for a call package.

This is awesome news for those of us whose landlines attract cold callers and scammers and nothing else. But you do need to be slightly cautious before you sign up. When you take on broadband-only you will give up your phone line and lose your number. If you later have second thoughts, you'll be able to get a new line, but you won't get your number back.

If you're in any doubt, a simple compromise solution is to stick with what you've got for now and just unplug your phone. There's no real cost difference either way, at the moment.

These new services aren't your only options for landline-free internet. The biggest provider that can give you this is Virgin Media, who offer all their broadband deals with or without a phone connection. Either way, you don't need a BT line installed to get them.

There's also the small but growing band of full fibre providers, like Gigaclear and Direct Save. They have limited coverage, which is expanding all the time, and come with the added benefit of delivering the fastest broadband in the UK. You can get top speeds averaging around 900Mb - around 13 times faster than the most popular fibre deals.

If you're keen to switch to broadband-only, or want to find out what your options are, use our postcode checker to see the best broadband deals available in your area today.

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Christmas Broadband and TV

Missed the deadline for broadband or TV installation? You can still upgrade for Xmas!

Posted by Andy Betts on in FeaturesExpiredO2EE MobileVodafoneThreeNOW Broadband

Were you planning to upgrade your broadband or TV in time for the holidays? It's now the middle of December, so it's probably too late, right? Oh no it isn't!

We can still save your Christmas with faster broadband and more TV than you could ever possibly watch. Here's what you can do.

Broadband

If you aren't sure your current broadband will hold up under the strain of endless Zoom chats, Netflix bingeing and PS5 gaming, you still have options.

Although it is too late to get a new fibre deal connected in time for Christmas, mobile broadband can still give a decent internet boost.

There are 4G home broadband plans that offer you unlimited data at speeds on a par with a basic fibre deal. And if you're lucky enough to live in a 5G area, you can switch to something that is potentially a whole lot faster than the broadband you've currently got.

What makes it better is that you don't even need to make the switch permanent, since providers like Three and Vodafone let you sign up on 30-day plans. So if you just want to add a bit more bandwidth alongside your existing service for a few weeks, or are visiting family and need to take a decent internet connection with you, then this could work a treat.

Among the best deals available:

  • Three have unlimited 4G on deals up to two years long. You can get a 30-day plan for £30, plus £49 for a wireless hub (which you'll be able to continue using in future, too). They also do 5G in select areas, with unlimited data and speeds up to an impressive 200Mb. Prices start at £29 a month.
  • Vodafone have a range of mobile broadband plans, including some with the very highly rated GigaCube wireless router, for both 4G and 5G. You can pick up both on 30-day deals with unlimited 5G data, or up to 300GB on 4G.

EE and O2 also offer mobile broadband, albeit with lower usage allowances or on longer deals. And don't forget that your phone also offers a tethering feature, where you can make it function as a wireless router. Just be careful that you've got a big enough data allowance, as you can burn through it pretty quickly and don't want to be hit with any excess charges.

To unwrap the best festive offers, check out the best mobile broadband deals available today.

TV

Parties might be off the agenda this Christmas, so we'll all be relying on boxsets, movies and Premier League football to keep ourselves entertained.

You can access Sky TV without a dish, installation or commitment through NOW TV. This streaming service lets you choose which bundle of channels you want through a range of TV Passes. Among the best offers are:

  • Entertainment Pass with NOW TV Boost gives you all the Sky entertainment channels including Sky One and Sky Atlantic, while the Boost add-on lets you watch in full HD on up to three TVs at the same time.
  • Cinema Pass with NOW TV Boost gives you over a thousand movies to watch on demand. You can also get Entertainment and Cinema in a single bundle.
  • Sky Sports Day Pass with Mobile Month Pass lets you watch Sky Sports for 24 hours for a one-off fee of £9.98. It's ideal if you want to enjoy specific football matches.
  • Sky Sports Month Pass with Boost gives you the full Sky Sports experience for a full month.
  • Kids Pass is the perfect way to keep the kids quiet, with ad-free shows. This no longer includes the Disney channels, though, which have switched over to Disney+.

All the monthly deals auto-renew, so make sure you cancel if you only want them for a month. You can cancel early so that you don't forget, and you'll still be able to watch until your month ends.

Better yet, the Entertainment and Cinema Passes come with a seven day free trial. If you haven't signed up before (or if you've got a different email address and payment card you can use), and you're feeling particularly sneaky, you can time your signup so that you get your free week over Christmas - and then cancel before you pay anything.

In fact, you can get a few nice Christmas treats by making good use of free trials on a few other streaming services. Amazon Prime offers 30 days, and Apple TV and BritBox both give you a free week.

Sadly, Netflix and Disney+ no longer do free trials. But you can spend around £15 in total for a month of the two, more than enough time to binge through the latest series' of The Crown and The Mandalorian while troughing the last of the Quality Street.

And if you're ready to upgrade your broadband in 2021, use our postcode checker to find the best Christmas and New Year broadband deals in your area today.

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Christmas Broadband

Upgrade your broadband and TV in time for Christmas

Posted by Andy Betts on in NewsFeaturesExpiredNOW BroadbandTalkTalkSkyBTVirgin MediaPlusnet

Christmas is going to be a bit different this year.

Even with the hope of relaxed restrictions, it's likely that for many of us, large family gatherings will be replaced by virtual get-togethers, and nights out at pubs and parties will be swapped for nights in with a boxset.

And what does this mean? Our internet connections are going to be more important than ever.

So why not treat yourself to an early Christmas present by upgrading to a fantastic new broadband deal? If your current contract is coming to an end - or maybe it ran out a while back and you haven't got round to sorting it yet - now is the perfect time to start shopping.

There's loads of festive offers on right now, and if you act quickly there's still time to get connected before the holiday season kicks off.

You can even sign up to a premium TV service, so you can catch the latest movies, the hottest new shows, and enjoy the Premier League's hectic Christmas schedule.

  • Sign up to Virgin Media by 9th December for guaranteed installation by Christmas. You can get both broadband and TV, and activation is free - saving you £35!
  • You can still get Sky TV bundles up and running in time for Christmas.
  • For other TV and broadband bundles, check out the latest deals from BT and TalkTalk - TalkTalk packages still come with the promise of no mid-contract price rises.
  • Plusnet have seasonal offers available until 16th December.
  • You can get NOW Broadband with a range of TV Passes, covering your choice of entertainment, movies and sports.

When choosing a new broadband deal, always make sure you pick the right speed for your household. Put simply, the more people in it, the faster you need. So while one person making a video call or watching Netflix can get away with a relatively low speed, a few people all doing the same together will need much faster.

And keep in mind any large downloads you need to make. For example, games for the Playstation 5 or new Xbox consoles typically start at around 50GB, and can be double that. To make things a little easier, schedule these downloads to happen overnight, so they're ready and waiting the following morning.

You'll have to hurry if you want to get your broadband set up in time for Christmas. Use our postcode checker to find the best broadband bargains available where you live right now.

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NOW Broadband

Grab a Black Friday bargain with a deal from NOW Broadband

Posted by Edd Dawson on in OffersExpiredNOW Broadband

Looking for a great broadband deal this Black Friday? Take a look at the fab deals that NOW Broadband have on offer. You can get their fastest speeds at their lowest ever price for just £24 a month. The Super Fibre Broadband package comes with free Anytime calls, has average speeds of 63Mb, unlimited downloads, and comes on a 12 month contract with free connection. If you want a shorter contract, the offer also applies to the 1 month contract with a £60 up front fee.

If you can't get Super Fibre in your area, NOW have some other great offers on. You can get Fab Fibre with Anytime calls and average speeds of 36Mb for just £22 a month, and Brilliant Broadband with Anytime calls and average speeds of 11Mb for £18 a month. Both packages come with unlimited downloads and are available on 1 month and 12 month contracts.

Of course, NOW are well known for their excellent TV streaming service, so why not throw in one of their Passes on top of these offers? These are also reduced price for 12 months, and you can mix and match with your chosen broadband deal. You can get the Fab Fibre broadband with Entertainment Pass bundle for just £27.99 a month. You also have option of the Sky Cinema Pass for £9.99 extra a month or the Sky Sports Pass for £25 extra a month.

 


All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Actual speeds offered subject to a line check and will be displayed on checkout. Only available in NOW Fibre areas. Offer ends midnight on 10/12/2020.

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BT Group logos

BT, EE, Plusnet and John Lewis announce mid-contract price hikes - what can you do?

Posted by Andy Betts on in NewsFeaturesEEBTJohn LewisPlusnet

Make sure you read the terms carefully when you take out a new broadband deal: there's a growing trend for some providers to sneak in new clauses promising significant mid-contract price rises.

The four BT Group brands - BT, EE, Plusnet and John Lewis - have now all announced new policies to allow bigger price hikes on their deals. They will see annual increases equal to the consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate - plus an extra 3.9% on top.

Previously, ISPs would typically peg their rises to the CPI, or in some cases promise none at all.

Plusnet, for example, have effectively replaced their heralded fixed price guarantee with the guarantee of at least one - and potentially two - price rises over the course of a broadband deal.

BT, meanwhile, no longer offer contracts shorter than the two-year maximum that Ofcom allows. That means you'll be paying at least 7.95% more at the end of your deal than you were at the start.

Here's what they've announced:

  • BT and EE are using the CPI published every January. The price rises go into effect from 31st March each year, and apply to customers who signed up after 1st September 2020.
  • For the 2021 increase, Plusnet and John Lewis are using the CPI published in April and applying the increase from 1st June. After that, they're using the CPI published every January, and adding the increase to bills from 1st March. It affects customers who signed up from 7th October.

If you're on an older deal and still within your initial contract period you won't be affected by these changes until the time comes for you to renew. If you're out of contract you will be affected, although you should never stay on an out-of-contract deal for long.

So how much more will you be paying? For reference, the CPI rate for December 2019 was 1.3%, so that's the rate by which your price would have gone up on most deals. Under the new policy, that increase would have been a hefty 5.2%.

The Bank of England's target for the CPI is even higher at 2%. Of course, with the uncertainty that comes from the UK being in the middle of the biggest economic slump in 300 years, it's hard to predict what that rate will be in future. Needless to say, negative inflation won't result in a discount as that 3.9% will stay in place regardless.

What can you do?

Ofcom rules state that you can quit your contract without penalty if your broadband provider introduces "unexpected" mid-contract increases. But by announcing these plans, and writing them into your contract, they won't be classed as unexpected, so there's no escape.

What you can do instead is ensure you factor in the changes in your monthly charges when you're comparing broadband deals. And also keep in mind the date you sign up. If you take out one of these deals in February or March you'll be hit by an immediate price hike.

This move makes genuine fixed price guarantees more valuable than ever, especially if you're signing up for longer than 12 months. TalkTalk, italk and SSE are among the suppliers still offering them, so if you want clarity over what your bills will look like over the next couple of years they're worth checking out.

If you're ready to find a better deal on your broadband, use our postcode checker to see what's available in your area.

 
 

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Person using a tablet

These are the places with the best and worst broadband in the UK

Posted by Andy Betts on in News

What are your broadband options like where you live?

If you live in places like Hull, Birmingham or Milton Keynes (or at least the right parts of these places), chances are you're pretty happy. But if you're in rural Scotland or Northern Ireland, or in the West Country, your internet coverage might be seriously lacking.

Comprehensive data released by industry watchdog Ofcom breaks down the level of broadband coverage in every area, and reveals massive differences across the UK.

It shows that while some parts have almost blanket full fibre coverage, others have a small but significant number of premises that cannot even get a 2Mb fixed-line connection.

Let's take a look at the numbers to find the best and worst places for broadband in the UK.

The best broadband coverage in the UK

Ofcom's data is split into multiple groups of varying sizes, from local authority right down to postcode level. It shows both the percentage and exact number of premises in each area that can access broadband of certain speeds. The data was collected in May this year.

It's all presented in a series of fairly unwieldy spreadsheets and PDF files, but you can check it all out if you want see how your area fares.

Using the data for each parliamentary constituency - which splits the country in 650 regions - we can see that in 49 areas, 99% of premises have access to at least 30Mb broadband. In 30 areas, 90% of premises can get at least 300Mb broadband.

The 10 constituencies where the highest proportion of premises have access to superfast broadband (30Mb or over) and ultrafast broadband (300Mb or above) are:

Rank Superfast availability (30-300Mb) %
1 Gosport 99.8
2 Luton North 99.8
3 Glasgow North West 99.6
4 Gedling 99.6
5 Bootle 99.5
6 Leicester West 99.5
7 Nottingham North 99.5
8 Birmingham, Hodge Hill 99.5
9 Liverpool, West Derby 99.5
10 Swansea West 99.5
Rank Ultrafast availability (over 300Mb) %
1 Kingston upon Hull North 98.8
2 Kingston upon Hull West & Hessle 97.6
3 Kingston upon Hull East 97.4
4 Birmingham, Yardley 97.0
5 Birmingham, Hodge Hill 96.8
6 Bristol South 95.5
7 Luton North 94.8
8 Birmingham, Perry Barr 94.4
9 Worsley & Eccles South 94.1
10 Leeds North East 93.9

 

The figures for full fibre are inevitably a lot less impressive. In total there are 17 constituencies where two-thirds of premises can get gigabit broadband. Here's the top 10:

Rank Full fibre availability %
1 Kingston upon Hull North 98.8
2 Kingston upon Hull West & Hessle 97.6
3 Kingston upon Hull East 97.4
4 Coventry North West 78.0
5 Milton Keynes South 77.7
6 Wallasey 77.1
7 Birmingham, Yardley 76.1
8 Worsley & Eccles South 73.9
9 Belfast North 73.5
10 Haltemprice & Howden 72.5

 

It's no surprise that Hull comes out on top in these figures, since the city has a unique broadband setup. For historical reasons Hull has no BT presence at all - not even landlines - and there's just one broadband provider in the form of KCOM. The company has invested a large amount of money in the region's infrastructure.

The worst broadband coverage in the UK

It's not all good news. The data also highlights the areas where fixed line broadband coverage is woefully lacking. Never mind full fibre broadband, homes in some parts of the country don't have access to even a basic broadband service.

Nationwide, there are around 7500 postcodes where no premises at all can access faster than 2Mb broadband. Most of these are rural areas, and are found in all four countries of the UK. Some of these areas will be targeted under the Government's plan to fund investment in broadband over the next few years. These are the parts that are not financially viable enough for competition to drive the market on its own.

In addition, the Government's universal service obligation guarantees all properties should be able to get 10Mb broadband. If not, they will pay up to £3400 to upgrade the infrastructure and get it connected.

The constituencies with the highest proportion of properties unable to get 2Mb broadband are:

Rank Unable to get 2Mb %
1 West Tyrone 6.7
2 Fermanagh & South Tyrone 6.6
3 Penrith & The Border 4.0
4 South Down 3.6
5 Brecon & Radnorshire 3.6
6 Orkney & Shetland 3.6
7 Ross, Skye & Lochaber 3.5
8 Montgomeryshire 3.3
9 Argyll & Bute 3.2
10 Mid Ulster 3.1

 

On top this of this, there are many parts of the country that are under-served when it comes to faster broadband. Over a quarter of properties in some regions are unable to access 30Mb internet, while full fibre is essentially in non-existent in others.

Rank Unable to get 30Mb %
1 Orkney & Shetland 29.6
2 Fermanagh & South Tyrone 27.6
3 West Tyrone 23.5
4 Brecon & Radnorshire 22.9
5 Cities of London & Westminster 22.4
6 Mid Ulster 21.8
7 Central Devon 21.7
8 Ross, Skye & Lochaber 21.6
9 Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross 21.6
10 Carmarthen East & Dinefwr 20.5
Rank Full fibre availability %
1 Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport 0.1
2 Great Grimsby 0.2
3 Hazel Grove 0.3
4 Norwich South 0.3
5 Washington & Sunderland West 0.3
6 Rhondda 0.3
7 Blackpool North & Cleveleys 0.4
8 Hartlepool 0.5
9 Stourbridge 0.5
10 West Dunbartonshire 0.5

 

Of course, we do need to point out that some of these areas could possibly have access to high speed internet that's not been counted in these results, due to local initiatives from companies such as B4RN or Call Flow or wireless broadband services via a local mast. Many of these places are also able to get faster internet speeds with comparable prices and services to fixed-line broadband over the mobile network with 4G and 5G home routers from the bigger networks, like EE and Three.

Want to see how you measure up? Give our speed test a whirl to find out how fast your current broadband service is, then use our postcode checker to discover the best broadband deals in your area right now.

 

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