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

Posted on 2020-11-13 18:10 in News Features John Lewis EE BT Plusnet

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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Broadband complaints

Vodafone still the worst large provider for broadband complaints, say Ofcom

Posted on 2020-09-02 11:37 in News Post Office EE Vodafone Plusnet TalkTalk Sky Virgin Media BT

For the third successive quarter, Vodafone have been named as the 'big eight' broadband provider that generates the most complaints.

The unwanted title comes from Ofcom's latest complaints report for the last quarter of 2019. They show what while the industry average improved from 14 to 12 complaints per hundred thousand customers, Vodafone's number rose slightly to 27. That's around a quarter more than the next worst 'big eight' performers, Plusnet and TalkTalk.

Once again, the standout suppliers were EE and Sky with just five customers having cause to moan. They, along with BT, were the only companies to achieve below average grievance levels. Virgin Media made the biggest improvement, with their level of disgruntled users dropping from 20 in the previous quarter, to 14.

The data covers the UK's eight largest broadband suppliers, which all have at least 1.5% market share. Here's how they rank:

  Complaints per 100,000 customers Compared to previous quarter
EE 5 -
Sky 5 -
BT 10 -3
Industry Average 12 -2
Post Office 13 +3
Virgin Media 14 -6
TalkTalk 19 -3
Plusnet 20 -2
Vodafone 27 +1

 

The report covers October to December 2019. Its publication was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, and it also means that the data doesn't take into account the massive surge in broadband use during the lockdown. We'll have to wait and see what impact that had on customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction

Speaking of which, Ofcom have also released their latest annual Customer Satisfaction survey. The report, for the whole of 2019, shows that an overall 85% of users are happy with the broadband service they get.

Of the 'big eight', Plusnet came out on top with an impressive 93% satisfaction rate. This is in spite of them performing pretty badly in a couple of areas. Over the year they had the second highest number of complaints, at 100 per hundred thousand customers. They also had the second longest call waiting time. Anyone phoning Plusnet for support would have to wait an average three minutes 48 for the call to be answered. By comparison, TalkTalk would answer in just 39 seconds.

This was a rare win for TalkTalk, who came out bottom of the satisfaction chart at just 78%. Only 44% of their users were happy with how complaints were handled, too.

The Customer Satisfaction report ranks the leading broadband providers across a range of categories. Here are the winners and losers:

  Average Best Worst
Overall satisfaction 85% Plusnet - 93% TalkTalk - 78%
Customers with a reason to complain 12% BT, Post Office - 10% EE - 15%
Satisfaction with complaint handling 53% EE - 66% TalkTalk - 44%
Average call waiting time 2:10 EE - 0:26 Virgin Media - 4:26
Ofcom complaints per hundred thousand 52 Sky - 21 Vodafone - 115

 

Your broadband rights

You don't have to settle for poor service from your broadband provider. If you aren't happy with what you're getting, or you don't think you're getting what you're paying for, take a look at our guide to your rights as a broadband customer to find out what you can do. We've got some advice on how to complain to your broadband provider, too.

And, of course, when your contract is up, you don't need to stick around if your provider is not up to scratch. Check out the best broadband deals available today to see what your options are.

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Out of contract customers

Out of contract broadband users to save £270 million a year

Posted on 2020-07-31 12:08 in News Sky BT Plusnet EE Virgin Media TalkTalk

Coming to the end of your broadband contract? You could be set to take your share of a £270 million saving following a new agreement between Ofcom and some of the industry's biggest brands.

The deal will see EE, Plusnet and Sky join BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media in cutting prices for vulnerable customers when their contract ends.

On top of that, EE, Plusnet, Sky, BT and TalkTalk have also all agreed to make New Customer pricing available to their existing users when they upgrade. It guarantees them access to the most attractive deals.

The changes will result in price cuts worth £270 million each year for the UK's nearly nine million out-of-contract customers, slashing the half a billion pound excess they normally pay.

The measures are the latest part of the industry watchdog's ongoing plan to ensure that everyone gets the best deal on their broadband by avoiding the often hefty price rises that follow when a user's initial contract period ends.

The benefits of signing a new deal or switching providers are well known. Yet as many as 40% of all users are still on an out-of-contract deal, paying an average of £56 a year more than they should be.

Ofcom found that Virgin Media have the highest proportion of out-of-contract users, at a massive 61%. Sky and Plusnet are also above average, with 42% still on old deals.

But EE's out-of-contract customers pay the most, at an average of £7.90 extra each month - or nearly £95 per year.

Research shows that older and vulnerable users are the least likely to switch, so they've been a large focus of Ofcom's campaign. Only last week they called on the industry to treat vulnerable people - including those with disabilities, health or financial problems - more fairly, to identify them more quickly, and to increase staff training.

Ofcom say that around a million vulnerable customers should save as much as £70 each per year as a result of these new rules.

Don't pay more than you need to

Other Ofcom rules came into force in February that require your broadband supplier to contact you when your deal ends. They now need to tell you how much you'll be paying if you remain on the same deal, compared to what you could pay if you took on a new contract. But you still need to act on it.

Even if you're happy with your current supplier, you shouldn't simply remain on your old deal. Do that, and the price will go up. If you're willing to sign a new contract with them you'll be able to get a much better price. You might even get other perks, too, like a new router, a speed guarantee, extra data on your mobile plan, and so on.

If you're open minded about switching, use our postcode checker to see what broadband deals are available in your area. Prices rise by as much as 50% when your contract ends, so you should be able to find a far better price than what you would pay if you did nothing.

Make sure you factor in the value of rewards like cashback. And remember that this is also your chance to bring several services together in a single bundle. Getting TV, mobile and landline calls from one provider will often bag you a better deal than if you get them all from different companies.

Sound like a plan? Then compare then best broadband deals now.

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How to claim your free broadband rewards

How to claim your free broadband rewards

Posted on 2020-07-17 16:26 in Features BT John Lewis Plusnet EE Virgin Media Sky NOW Broadband TalkTalk

A lot of broadband suppliers offer freebies to tempt you to sign up, and some of them are really worth having. They can range from cashback and bill credit, to shopping vouchers, and sometimes even tech gadgets. They change all the time, so if you're on the hunt for a new deal it's worth keeping an eye out for what's around.

But the important thing to remember is that you very often have to claim your reward separately. And you normally only get a short window in which to do so - miss it and you'll miss out!

We've got a full guide to broadband rewards and free gifts if you want to know more. Or if you just want to know how to claim your swag for many of the main providers, here's what you need to do.

How to claim Plusnet rewards

Plusnet regularly offer cashback, gift cards and reward cards to new customers. They'll send you an email within 10 days of your signing up with a link to claim your reward. You then need to claim it within two months, and should get it around 10 days later.

How to claim BT rewards

A lot of BT Broadband deals include a BT Reward Card as their special offer. This is preloaded with a cash sum that you can spend in most places that accept Mastercard payments. You can claim up to three months after your broadband is activated, and it should arrive within 30 days. Visit https://www.bt.com/manage/bt-reward-card/ to start your claim.

How to claim Sky Broadband rewards

Sky Broadband offer a range of sweeteners at various times, including a pre-paid Mastercard and high street vouchers. You get 90 days to claim your reward. If you're eligible, head over to sky.com/claim and log in with your Sky ID to start the process.

How to claim John Lewis Broadband rewards

Rewards from John Lewis Broadband include e-gift cards that can be spent at John Lewis or Waitrose. You don't need to claim this one - it should be sent via email within 60 days of the activation of your broadband service, so keep an eye on your inbox.

How to claim NOW Broadband rewards

NOW Broadband don't offer as many extra perks as other providers, but when they do have them they'll send the info on how to claim via email. You should get this within two weeks of your service being activated.

How to claim EE rewards

EE Broadband regularly offer cashback or Amazon gift cards as a reward for signing up. If you're eligible for one of the gift cards you'll be sent an email with instructions on how to claim it after your broadband goes live.

How to claim TalkTalk rewards

When TalkTalk offer rewards, they're normally either e-gift cards for specific stores or vouchers to be spent on the high street. Look out for an email with all the details, and you should receive your reward within 90 days of activation.

How to claim Virgin Media rewards

Virgin Media rewards can include bill credit, tech products or even wine, and you don't normally have to claim. The credit will be applied to your bill automatically, and any free gift will be sent out within 28 days of installation of your Virgin service.

To see what free gifts are available right now, take a look at the best broadband deals available today.

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The best broadband for older people

The best broadband for older users

Posted on 2020-05-12 16:56 in Features EE Sky BT Zen

For lots of us, the internet is a major source of entertainment, or a tool that enables us to work from home. For millions of older people it's a lifeline, the main way to keep in touch with the family, and interact with the outside world at a time when this is otherwise not possible. A good broadband service is vital.

So whether you're shopping for yourself, or seeking out broadband for an elderly parent, what are the priorities you need to look out for?

Reliability and support

We're all a lot more reliant on online shopping at the moment, especially snagging those all too scarce supermarket delivery slots. For a lot of older people renewing prescriptions, managing state pensions, paying the TV license, and lots of other things are important online activities, too.

For this reason, reliability is perhaps the most important point to consider. You need a broadband service that works whenever you need it, and also one that won't cut you off when you hit a data limit. These limits are fortunately quite scarce now, though if you're shopping at the budget end of the market you might still encounter them.

Customer service is also important. If you do experience any problems you need to be confident that your provider will fix them as quickly as possible.

Our Customer Reviews page contains feedback and ratings from thousands of broadband users. It's an ideal way to find out what kind of service each provider offers, and what problems you might face with them. Right now, Zen Broadband top the list for customer satisfaction, although if you'd be more comfortable with a mainstream brand EE rate well, gaining the lowest level of complaints according to a recent Ofcom study.

Speed

Speed might be less important for a lot of older users, but it really depends on what they want to do online.

There's no one-size-fits-all solution. For every older person who is a reluctant technology user, you'll find others who are enthusiastic online shoppers and Facebook posters, alongside those happily working their way through the Netflix catalogue.

There are options for all groups. Anyone who receives pension credit and has minimal internet needs can apply for the BT Basic + Broadband plan. It's cheap, but comes with a very low data allowance so isn't suitable for anything more than the absolute basics.

Beyond that, a basic standard broadband package - which uses a BT phone line - will usually work out the cheapest. It's fine for simple things like email, browsing and shopping, as well as for video calls with the family. It's worth considering if you're in a one computer household. A basic fibre deal, which is faster and allows for a wider range of uses including watching TV, as well as more simultaneous users, typically starts at around £5 a month extra.

Phone calls and TV

The extras you can take with a broadband deal are also important to consider. Most broadband services need a phone line - with line rental included in the price - and many providers give the option to buy a call plan as part of the deal. The plans on offer usually allow a choice of either unlimited calls during evenings and weekends, or unlimited calls anytime.

These can be tempting during a time when staying in touch with family is so important, but don't assume it's a must-have. If you don't take a call plan you'll still be able to make calls. You just pay for them at a rate of a few pence per minute, just like we always used to.

Some providers, especially Sky, also offer pay TV as well, include sports and movie channels. In some cases, though you might be able to get these channels cheaper elsewhere.

Price and contract length

And then there's the price and contract length, and the two often go hand in hand: sign up to a longer deal and you can shave a few pounds off your monthly bill. Anything shorter than 12 months is likely to cost you quite a bit more, while longer than that leaves you at risk of being stuck with a service you're not totally happy with.

Our price comparison guide will help you find the best broadband prices, and identify those deals that are within your budget. Make sure you check the 1st Year Cost column to see how much you'll pay in the initial 12 months - this includes those easy to overlook extras like postage or a setup fee.

Ready to start shopping for broadband? Use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals available in your area today.

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Working From Home

UK broadband has more than enough capacity to handle the surge in home workers

Posted on 2020-03-23 18:17 in News Vodafone Plusnet BT Virgin Media Sky EE

With millions of people now having to work from home there's been a lot of speculation about whether the UK's broadband infrastructure will be able to handle a massive surge in demand.

Well don't worry, because the expectation is that it can. That's the word from BT, who say they've got "more than enough capacity…to handle mass-scale home-working in response to COVID-19".

Last week, the company shared some data to demonstrate just how well their network was able to cope with higher levels of usage. They showed that in the previous week a couple of major video game releases and Champions League football had combined to hit new record levels of traffic for BT - to the tune of 17.5 terabits per second (Tbps) - without the network buckling under the strain.

The increase in home working meanwhile, has seen daytime traffic increase by as much as 60%, but still remains well below the record at around 7.5Tbps. Of course, with schools now closed, it's likely that traffic will go up further during the day, but the industry is confident that it will be able to handle it.

Our own speed test data, compiled from thousands of speed tests each month, supports the view that broadband connections aren't slowing down as well. We pulled the average home broadband speed results from the middle of February, and they were 44Mbps. The period between the 8th and the 14th of March saw average speeds of 43.9Mbps, while between the 15th to the 23rd of March, average speeds were 44.7Mbps. The speed differences displayed are of no real significance, and we're happy that people shouldn't be seeing any negative impact on their connection, despite the current change in UK working arrangements.

Are you working from home? Check out our tips on how to minimise disruption to your broadband service, and make sure it's good enough for what you need.

To help things along, TV streaming companies have agreed temporary measures to slash the amount of data they use by as much as a quarter. Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ are streaming their content at a lower bitrate, while YouTube now defaults to an SD stream - although you can still manually set videos to play at a higher resolution if you want to. The BBC also seems likely to make a change in the not too distant future.

Will you notice the difference? Possibly not, although it depends what you're watching. Streaming at a lower bitrate means that the video is more heavily compressed. With the way video compression works it's more noticeable in busy scenes with lots of fast movement, where the image may become blocky or distorted. In slower scenes, you'll have to look pretty closely to see any effect.

As for streaming in SD, as with YouTube, that might not look great if you watch on a massive 4K telly, but for viewing on a smaller screen like a tablet it should be just fine.

How to pause your Sky Sports and BT Sport subscriptions

In other news, Sky and BT have taken the decision to allow customers to pause their sports channel subscriptions for as long as there's no actual sport taking place. You can do this at sky.com/pausesport or at bt.com/tv. Unfortunately, you can't pause these channels if you've got them through Virgin Media.

BT have removed data caps on all their broadband products. This won't affect most people, since most of their plans are already unlimited. But if you're on an older deal you'll no longer have to worry about managing your usage.

And lots of broadband providers have issued statements to explain their COVID-19 plans, including what happens if you need a callout from a technician to solve a problem. You should have received this via email, but if you haven't you can read them online from BT, Sky, Virgin Media, EE, Vodafone and Plusnet.

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Frustrated man stares at laptop

Vodafone tops broadband complaints table for second quarter

Posted on 2020-01-31 17:15 in News Vodafone EE Sky

Vodafone home broadband have once again topped industry watchdog Ofcom's list of shame as the most complained about of the 8 biggest broadband suppliers. By contrast, EE and Sky have shared the glory as the least complained-about providers.

Ofcom complaint figures for the 3rd quarter of last year show that Vodafone garnered 26 complaints per every 100,000 customers between July and September 2019. This was an improvement on the 30 per 100,000 they hit in the previous quarter, but was still close to double the industry average. Almost 4 in 10 of the grievances related to faults and service issues.

In a difficult period, Vodafone also topped the chart for the most landline complaints (18 per 100,000) and were joint top for mobile (7 per 100,000, with Virgin Mobile).

Of the rest of the Big Eight, Plusnet, TalkTalk and Virgin Media also generated an above average number of complaints. At the end of 2018 Plusnet were by far the most complained about provider with a whopping 43 complaits per 100,000 subscribers, but they have improved every quarter since and are now equal to TalkTalk. Meanwhile Virgin Media saw the biggest rise in complaints across 2019, having started at 10 per 100,000 in the first quarter. Across the board, the main causes of the gripes were complaints handling (32%), faults and service issues (31%), and billing problems (20%).

Meanwhile, EE and Sky were shown to be the Big Eight providers that left their users feeling happiest. Their 5 complaints each per 100,000 customers was nearly two-thirds less than the overall industry average and less than a fifth of the complaint levels received by Vodafone Home Broadband.

Here's the full rundown of the Big Eight's broadband complaints per every 100,000 customers:

Ofcom's Telecoms and Pay TV Complaints report is released quarterly, and covers providers with a market share of over 1.5%. It counts complaints received by the regulator, but doesn't include those sent directly to the provider or any other body.

The report also covers landline (worst performer: Vodafone; best performer: EE), mobile (worst: Vodafone and Virgin Media; best: Tesco Mobile), and pay TV services (worst: Virgin Media; best: Sky).

How to compare smaller broadband providers

Ofcom's research comes in very handy when you're shopping for a new broadband provider, as it gives you a good overview of the general performance of each company. But it does exclude the smaller providers who often offer interesting services, such as the no-contract deals from NOW Broadband or the near-gigabit internet from Hyperoptic.

So what can you do if you're considering one of these companies? Our broadband listings measure overall user satisfaction levels for each provider, as well as their performance on customer service, speed and reliability issues. You can see their most recent ratings or a historic figure for all time, allowing you to judge whether their performance has worsened over time. Zen Broadband currently top our rankings.

Along with the ratings we've got over 20,000 user reviews across all the providers. It gives you an unmatched insight into the kind of experience you'll get with each company, and what issues you may or may not have with them.

You can see all the scores on our Broadband Reviews page, and just click through to read the feedback for each broadband. We'd also encourage you to leave a rating and review of your own, even if you have no complaints. The more information we share, the easier it becomes to choose the right broadband provider.

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Football on TV

The cheapest way to watch Premier League football this season

Posted on 2019-08-08 17:18 in Features EE Virgin Media BT Sky TalkTalk NOW Broadband

The Premier League is back, and there are more ways than ever to catch the action. Pick the wrong ones, though, and you could end up paying the best part of a grand for the privilege. Shop around, and there are savings to be had.

Let's look at the cheapest ways to watch the new Premier League season.

Sky Sports

Sky Sports is the self-styled home of football, and Sky have the rights to by far the most games. They'll show 128 in the 2019/20 season, across Friday nights, Saturday evenings, Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. They get the first pick from all the games from each round, so this is where you'll catch the big derbies and the title deciders.

But Sky Sports isn't cheap. Although it actually only costs £18 a month, you can't get it from Sky TV as a standalone service. You need to take Sky Entertainment, too, which bumps up the price to over £40. Plus you need a dish, and a Sky Q box (with optional UHD viewing), and have to pay any installation and setup fees. And it all comes with an 18-month contract.

If you want the best service and are happy to make the commitment, your best bet for a good deal might to get Sky Sports and the rest along with Sky Broadband as part of a bundle. Check out the latest Sky TV with Broadband deals.

The same goes for Virgin Media customers, you can't just sign up for Sky Sports Premier League, it has to be taken as part of an expensive bundle along with all the other Sports channels and a variety of other premium Entertainment channels. However, if you're already with Virgin Media, this could still make sense for you. Check out the latest Virgin Media Sports offers.

NOW TV - the cheapest way to get Sky Sports

The cheapest way to get Sky Sports on your TV and tablet is through NOW TV's Sky Sports Football Season Ticket. Right now, they've got a 10 month season ticket available for just £199, offer ends on the 26th of August.

Alternatively, if you just want to watch on your phone, you can get the Sky Sports Mobile Month Pass for only £5.99 per month - you're limited to only one smartphone viewing at a time, but that's otherwise an unbeatably cheap way to access Sky Sports Premier League, and 4 other Sky Sports channels!

You can also get a cheap deal on the full Sky Sports Pass when you take it as part of a great value bundle with NOW Broadband. Just choose your preferred broadband plan and you can add the full Sky Sports package for only £20 a month for a year. That's 40% less than the full price. Even better, there's no contract on the TV side of the deal, so you can cancel whenever you want.

The NOW Broadband plans are very competitvely priced, ranking among the cheapest in the UK. They start at just £18 a month for the Brilliant Broadband service, with average speeds of 11Mb. Or if you'd prefer fibre you can get it for £25 or £30 depending on what speed you need. They're all on 12 month contracts as standard, or you can switch to a rolling contract by paying extra £60 upfront. Choose your NOW Broadband and Sky Sports Pass deal here.

If you don't fancy a broadband bundle and don't want to pay for a season ticket pass, you can take a standalone NOW TV Sky Sports Pass and get access to all 11 Sky Sports channels for £33.99 a month on a 30 day rolling deal. This undercuts the Sky Sports + Entertainment deal for Sky TV, and you can save more money by cancelling in June and July when there are no games.

Although the content's the same, the NOW TV experience isn't quite as good as what you get from Sky. There's no UHD, and HD resolution is currently pegged to 720p. You also can't record shows, though you can pause, rewind and watch on demand. For most, though, it should more than satisfy your hunger for the beautiful game.

As a streaming service you'll need to make sure your internet is fast enough to handle it. 4 to 5Mb should be enough for one device to stream 720p HD. If you need to upgrade, use our postcode checker to find the best and fastest broadband deals in your area.

Save on Sky Sports with TalkTalk TV

The other way to get a good saving on Sky's Premier League football coverage is through TalkTalk TV. If you're already a customer of TalkTalk's broadband and TV bundle - or are keen to sign up - you can add the full Sky Sports package to your deal at the half price rate of just £18.99 a month for six months. NOTE: This offer has now ended. That'll save you over £100 against what you'd normally have to pay if you went direct with Sky or Virgin. You can also add BT Sport for £25 a month for 12 months, if you sign up via BT.

This offer is available to new and existing customers. Take a look at the latest TalkTalk TV offers to see what takes your fancy.

Want BT Sport?

BT Sport have the rights to 32 matches on Saturday lunchtimes. BT get second pick of the games for 20 rounds, and fifth pick for the rest, so you might be more likely to get Watford's trip to Burnley than Liverpool vs Man City. They've also got all 20 games from two midweek rounds, and you get the Champions League and FA Cup among other things, too.

You can add BT Sport to your TV package for only £25 a month for 12 months if you're already a Sky TV or TalkTalk TV customer, and you can get a BT/Sky Sports bundle through Virgin Media. EE also offer a three month BT Sport trial through Apple TV 4K, followed by a cheap subscription for mobile users via the app.

But for the most part, BT Sport is for BT Broadband users, when it's included for free via app or included in all BT TV packages. Thinking about switching? Take a look at the latest TV bundle deals on BT Broadband.

Amazon Prime enters the field

The big new signing for the season is Amazon, who'll be showing games through their Prime Video service. They've got the rights to an impressive 20 matches spread over a rather less impressive two rounds played on Boxing Day and another as yet unspecified bank holiday. With staggered kick off times you might be able to catch more three or four games in total, if you want. But on the whole we'd regard this as a nice addition to the whole Prime package rather than a reason to sign up on its own.

If you're not on Prime Video yet, Amazon will often offer free trials of Prime that can be easily cancelled. If there's a particular Prime Video exlusive game or games that you have to watch, your cheapest option may be strategically timing when you begin your trial membership in order to cover the most matches.

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Laptop and phone

Are broadband bundles or standalone deals right for you?

Posted on 2019-04-11 14:01 in Features EE Hyperoptic TalkTalk NOW Broadband BT Sky Virgin Media

Is it better to get your broadband, TV and phone services as part of a single bundle from the same provider, or should you shop around for the best standalone deals?

Is it simply a question of convenience versus flexibility? And does one work out cheaper than the other?

Let's take a look.

What kind of bundles can you get?

There are three types of broadband bundle. Where providers offer more than one you might see them described as triple or quad-play providers.

Broadband and call bundles

Most broadband services need you to have a traditional phone line, the price of which will be included in your broadband bill. Many providers - even some of the smaller ones - make the most of this requirement by offering you a call plan as part of a bundle. You can add off-peak, Anytime or International calls for a few extra pounds a month. If you don't add a plan the price for any calls you make just gets added to your bill.

Even some providers who don't require a landline will still offer you call bundles, and that can work out cheaper even if you don't intend to use them. For example, Virgin Media's broadband with phone options are cheaper than just standalone broadband for the offer introductory period of. After this, it goes up by £2 a month, but you always have the option of ditching the phone portion at the end of your minumum contract, or some people might consider the extra £2 worth it for extra piece of mind in an emergency. Of course, this isn't always the case, as with Hyperoptic who charge more for a phone bundle than they do for a standalone product. But it's worth investigating to see whether a potential provider requires a landline or not, and if you can make a saving by getting calls bundled in.

Broadband and TV bundles

Broadband and TV bundles are the next most common types of deal. These are generally restricted to the bigger name providers like Sky or BT, and can give you access to premium TV channels that show Premier League football or the latest movies. But beware, they aren't all like this. Some TV bundles, such as the basic TalkTalk or Virgin TV deals, don't offer many more channels than you can get with Freeview. You get a set-top box that lets you record or pause shows, but doesn't include any pay TV channels unless you choose to upgrade. Take a look at our guide on the cheapest ways to get pay TV for the full lowdown.

Broadband and mobile bundles

The other type of deal you can get is a broadband and mobile bundle. Again, these are rarer. Your options are split into two groups: either money off your bill, or a bonus added to your mobile plan, usually in the form of a bigger data allowance. The good thing about the latter is that you can add it to an existing plan if you're already a customer, without needing to take out a new deal.

How do the prices compare?

So how do the prices of bundles compare to buying all your services separately? And do they work out cheaper? Well, it's complicated. When you compare like-for-like services, bundles will usually give you a decent saving. But if you're willing to make compromises on what you need, they might not be the best option.

Here's an example. Let's say you want to sign up to Sky TV.

As of April 2019 you can get Sky Entertainment with 63Mb Fibre in a bundle from Sky for £42 a month. By contrast, if you took the cheapest fibre deal with an average 63Mb speed, from TalkTalk, plus the same Sky Entertainment package from Sky it would cost you a total of £47 a month. It's the same story for different speed broadband, and when you add more TV channels the gap increases further.

Bundles are cheaper when you compare like-for-like services. But - and there's always a but - it isn't quite as simple as that.

If you take that 63Mb TalkTalk Fibre plan and add a NOW TV Entertainment Pass instead of the Sky subscription, the monthly price plummets to just £33. In fact, add the NOW TV plan to Sky Fibre and it works out £7 a month less than the Sky bundle.

What gives? The important thing here is to compare the small differences in the services you're getting. NOW TV is cheaper and gives you the same channels you get through Sky, but it's also a far less premium service. You can't use it to record shows, access red button services, watch 4K broadcasts, or plenty of other things.

In summary: if you want the full monty, a bundle will almost always be cheaper. But if you're willing to shave off some of the extras, you might be able to make savings by buying separately.

Are bundles right for you?

Money aside, the big selling point of bundles is convenience. A bundle gives you one contract, one bill, and one customer service department to deal with. In most cases you'll be able to renew at the same time, too. And you could argue that getting all your services from the same provider will give you more leverage when it comes to negotiating the best deal. The more you pay, the keener they'll be to keep you.

But buying standalone deals has its merits, too. You get more choice, for a start, since there aren't many triple or quad-play broadband providers. And more flexibility, which lets you pick up a faster broadband package than your chosen TV provider can offer, for example. Plus, there's the possibility of taking shorter deals. Sky TV comes with an 18 month contract, Virgin 12 months, and NOW TV just 30 days.

Call plan bundles are the easiest to decide upon. Lots of us don't even have phones plugged into our landlines anymore, so don't need them. But if you make a lot of landline calls - especially international calls - then go for it.

For TV, make sure you know what you want before you sign up. For the full pay-TV experience a Sky or Virgin Media bundle will work out cheaper. If you just want a few extra channels, like from NOW TV or the handful of premium channels offered by BT, a standalone deal might actually work out better.

And as for mobile, keep an eye out for indirect savings. Sky TV customers, for instance, are automatically eligible for unlimited free calls and texts, which means they only need to pay for a data plan. The cheapest they offer is just £6 a month - almost certainly less than you're paying at the moment. EE give 5GB of mobile data to their broadband customers each month. This won't show as a saving on your broadband bill, but is likely to enable you to switch to a much cheaper mobile plan and make your savings there instead.

The main thing is to know what you need and how much it will cost you separately. The you can compare it to how much an equivalent bundle will set you back. Use our comparison tool to find your perfect broadband bundle to get started.

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Broadband compensation

Automatic compensation for loss of broadband service goes live from today

Posted on 2019-04-01 16:56 in News TalkTalk Zen Plusnet BT EE Sky Vodafone Virgin Media Hyperoptic

A new voluntary code introduced by Ofcom goes into effect today. This scheme means that the broadband providers who have signed up will have to reimburse customers in the event of their broadband or landline phone service being down for longer than two days. Here's what you need to know.

The compensation you can expect

  • Delayed repair following loss of service - if a fault takes longer than two days to fix, you can expect £8 for each day after that period that your broadband is not repaired
  • Missed appointments - if the engineer does not turn up or your appointment is cancelled with less than 24 hours of notice, you can expect £25 per missed appointment
  • Delays with the start of a new service - if your broadband does not go live on the agreed date, you can expect £5 for each day of delay, including the missed start date

Homes and small to medium businesses who choose to use residential broadband are eligible for compensation on this scheme, and you should only need to report the fault for compensation to be paid out automatically.

To qualify for compensation, faults must not be of your own making (for example, your problem is down to your own wiring and equipment, you shove a spade through a vital cable on your property, or you're not at home for an engineer visit). You're also due compensation in the event of extreme weather causing problems and third-party incidents that contribute to the delay of repairs.

The providers taking part

Originally BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen signed up to the agreement back when it was proposed in 2017. Since then EE, Hyperoptic, Plusnet and Vodafone have also signed up, accounting for more than 95% of broadband and landline customers in the UK. While most of these providers will be participating in this scheme from today, Hyperoptic and Vodafone will start automatic compensation later this year, and EE should be ready to do so next year.

Find more information in Ofcom's press release.

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