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Best cheap fibre and broadband deals

By Hamse Yusuf

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Best cheap fibre and broadband deals

Which? rounds up the best-value fibre and broadband deals to help you choose the perfect package

Finding the right broadband provider can be a daunting prospect. With so many deals to choose from, many of which tie you to a provider for 18 months or longer, you’ll need to make sure you choose one who is reliable and best serves your needs. 

We've chosen what we believe to be the best-value broadband deals today, including standard (also known as ADSL), superfast and ultrafast (also known as fibre), to help you decide what type of broadband is best for you.

Find out more about the best and worst broadband providers for 2018, based on our in-depth customer survey.

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What broadband speed is right for me?

The first thing you need to decide when shopping for broadband is the right kind of package.

Broadband providers will either offer standard, superfast or ultrafast 'fibre' broadband, and often it can be difficult to figure out which one you need.

On the one hand, you do not want to be overpaying for speeds that you don't need, but on the other you do not want too low a speed so that your internet connection does not function properly.

Our quiz below takes all the guesswork out of figuring out what speed is right for you and gives you a result based on how you use the internet.

Best standard broadband deals 

These deals typically have an average speed of 10-11Mbps (megabits per second) and are suited for people who do not have many internet-enabled devices and/or who do not use the internet frequently. These speeds should still be fine for browsing or light streaming on services such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

Post Office Unlimited Broadband 

  • Average Speed: 11Mbps
  • Contract Length: 18 months 
  • Price: £18 per month 
  • Upfront costs: £7 

    Total cost over contract: £331 
    Effective cost per month: £18.39 

Post Office’s move into telecoms has seen it offer one of the cheapest broadband deals around, at £18 per month with an upfront cost of £7. The package also comes with a fixed-price guarantee, meaning the price won’t go up during your contract. 

It also includes free UK support and unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines (01, 02 and 03 numbers) and 0845/0870 numbers (Post Office defines the weekend as between 6pm on Friday and 6am on Monday). 

Read our Post Office broadband review.

John Lewis Standard Broadband

  • Average Speed: 10Mbps
  • Contract Length: 12 months
  • Price: £20 per month
  • Upfront costs: £0

Total cost over contract: £240
Effective cost per month: £20

The department store is known for selling a variety of items, and that now includes broadband. 

The John Lewis broadband package comes with unlimited usage and no upfront costs, for £20 a month. The short 12-month contract may also appeal to those who don't want to tie themselves into a long-standing commitment.

Read our John Lewis broadband review.

Best superfast broadband deals 

These deals typically have average speeds ranging from 35 to 67Mbps and are suited for people who share their connection with others and/or who frequently use the internet, whether you browse all the time or stream a lot of on-demand content.

Vodafone Superfast 1

  • Average Speed: 35Mbps
  • Contract Length: 18 months
  • Price: £23 per month
  • Upfront costs: £9.99

Total cost over contract: £423.99
Effective cost per month: £23.56

Although Vodafone has only been offering broadband packages since 2015, its prices have become increasingly competitive, with the cheapest fibre package currently available at £23 per month.

If you are a Vodafone Mobile customer, you also receive a £2 discount, making the price £21 per month.

Vodafone also offers an ultimate speed guarantee via the Vodafone Broadband app, so if your speed drops below 25Mbps at any time, you can claim a 15% discount on that month's bill (effectively making your bill £19.10 for that month).

Read our Vodafone broadband review.

EE Fibre

  • Average Speed: 36Mbps
  • Contract Length: 18 months
  • Price: £26 per month
  • Upfront costs: £0
     
    Total cost over contract: £468
    Effective cost per month: £26

Similar to its standard package, EE Fibre is also extremely competitive in terms of price, offering unlimited usage and an average speed of 36Mbps for just £26 per month. As with standard packages, EE mobile customers also get a 5GB data boost to their data plan, worth £12.99 a month.

Read our EE broadband review.

Best ultrafast broadband deals 

These deals are for the heavy internet user and/or very large families, who need lots of bandwidth in order for everyone to be satisfied. If you have kids who love gaming or you're set on watching Netflix or BBC iPlayer unless in 4K, these deals are for you.

Virgin Media VIVID 100 (usually VIVID 50) 

  • Average Speed: 108Mbps
  • Contract Length: 12 months
  • Price: £29 per month
  • Upfront costs: £20

Total cost over contract: £368.00
Effective cost per month: £30.67

Virgin Media is well established as a broadband provider, although it may not be the first one you think of if you want a cheap broadband deal.

It's currently offering to double the speed of its VIVID 50 plan at no extra cost, giving ultrafast speeds for the price of superfast. Alongside the free speed boost, Virgin Media is offering Talk Weekends at no extra cost, which allows you to call UK landlines (01, 02 and 03 numbers) and 0845/0870 numbers (Virgin Media defines the weekend as all day Saturday and Sunday).

While this deal is very good, one thing to keep on top of is that after the contract ends, the price jumps up to £45 – that's a 55% price increase.

Read our Virgin Media broadband review.

Virgin Media VIVID 350

  • Average Speed: 362Mbps
  • Contract Length: 12 months 
  • Price: £44 per month
  • Upfront costs: £20

Total cost over contract: £548.00
Effective cost per month: £45.67

Although some may balk at the £44 a month asking price, this deal is still worth mentioning as it offers the fastest speed currently widely available for a price lower than some providers’ superfast fibre speed deals.

As with VIVID 100, Virgin Media is offering Talk Weekends at no extra cost, which allows you to call UK landlines (01, 02 and 03 numbers) and 0845/0870 numbers (Virgin Media defines the weekend as all day Saturday and Sunday).

Read our Virgin Media broadband review.

Thinking of switching provider? It doesn’t need to be difficult. We asked almost 1,000 switchers how they found it, and 77% agree the process was easy. Read our guide on how to switch your broadband provider for essential help and advice.

What else should I consider when buying broadband?

I rarely use my home phone (landline) – can I save money on a broadband-only deal?

Many broadband-only deals still require you to also have line rental with the provider or from elsewhere. Often, it is cheaper to buy both from the same place rather than sourcing line rental with another provider.

However, other plans (such as Vodafone’s Superfast plans) also come with no cost for line rental and a landline, using a pay-as-you-go model for calls by charging a price per minute. As long as you don't plan to use your home phone much, these plans may appeal to you as a way to save money by not paying for a landline you don't use.

Do I need unlimited broadband?

The question of whether to get a limited or unlimited package is far less important than it used to be.

Limited broadband packages would set a fair-usage policy or ‘cap’, which if exceeded may have resulted in additional charges, a slowed-down internet connection or no connection at all. The benefit of these limited deals is that they would usually be cheaper.

Most modern packages are unlimited, which means you don’t have to worry how much data you use. If you do encounter a limited data deal, think carefully about whether this will be enough to get you through the month, and check to see what happens if you exceed it.

Is unlimited broadband truly unlimited?

Fair-usage caps (a set amount of monthly data that if exceeded may result in you being charged) used to be fairly common, essentially turning ‘unlimited’ plans into limited plans with a high data cap.

Today, most providers offer a truly unlimited service, but some smaller providers do still have traffic management policies in place. These slow down certain kinds of internet activities that require a lot of bandwidth once you hit a preset limit.

For example, some providers slow down the speed of certain internet activities (such as peer-to-peer downloads) in order for other activities which are time-sensitive (such as online gaming and video calls) to not be interrupted.

It’s always worth checking whether any speed-limiting or traffic management takes place if you’re considering switching provider.

Are there any upfront or hidden costs?

Broadband plans often come with upfront costs, which can take various forms. Common examples include paying for a router to be delivered, set-up fees, connection charges and new line fees. You might also be expected to pay an upfront fee for a PVR (set-top box) if a TV package is included, which may or may not be optional. It is important to factor in these costs when deciding what broadband deal is right for you. Our reviews include an ‘effective cost’ for this reason.

You might also want to consider the telephone package. If you’re used to free evening and weekend or free anytime calls and want to keep these benefits, chances are you’ll be paying extra on top of the advertised fee on a new broadband package.

What contract length is right for me?

Contract lengths are also an important consideration. Some deals might seem cheaper on the surface, offering lower monthly prices. But long contract terms mean that you may end up paying more than you wanted to over that period of time. Conversely, some providers have price guarantees, and a longer contract can offer reassurance that this won’t go up until it expires.

Our deals include the total cost over contract, and the effective cost per month.

What if I’m still in a contract with my provider and want to switch?

If you’re still in contract with your provider, you may have to pay off the remainder of your contract if you leave.

However, Ofcom rules state that if you experience price increases mid-contract, you have 30 days from when you are officially notified of the increase when you can switch without paying a penalty. Read more about your rights if a broadband provider increases prices.

In some circumstances, such as when you’re coming to the end of a contract and see a particularly good limited-time offer elsewhere, it might be worth paying off the contract. You might also consider this if the service you’re getting is poor, and you feel you might get a better service with a different provider.

But generally it’s a good idea to wait until your contract expires before you consider moving. It’s important to know exactly when this will be, since in many cases your monthly cost will rise when your contract expires, so you may be paying more than you need to.

In these situations you could switch, or haggle. In the latter case, information such as the deals we’ve listed above can be very useful, since rival prices are great ammunition to try and get a discount. Read our guide on how to haggle for the best broadband deal

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