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21 October 2020

Best cheap fibre and broadband deals

Each month, Which? searches for the cheapest broadband provider and the best value superfast and ultrafast broadband deals.
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Hamse Yusuf

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 2020, based on our in-depth customer survey.

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.

Plusnet Unlimited Broadband  

  • Average Speed: 10Mbps
  • Contract Length: 12 months 
  • Price: £18.99 per month 
  • Upfront costs: £10

Total cost over contract: £187.88

Effective cost per month: £15.66

Plusnet is no stranger to a great broadband deal and this package is no exception, offering standard broadband for just £17.99 with no setup costs.

Also, until the 15th July, new Plusnet customers can also take advantage of a £70 prepaid reward card to spend however they like.

Plusnet customers also get a fixed price for the entire 18-month contract and UK-based customer service.

Check out Plusnet's deal and read our Plusnet Broadband review to see how it fares in our survey.

NOW Broadband Brilliant Broadband 

  • Average Speed: 11Mbps
  • Contract Length: 12 months 
  • Price: £18 per month 
  • Upfront costs: £9.99

Total cost over contract: £225.99

Effective cost per month: £18.83

As a relatively new provider, NOW Broadband has introduced itself with some of the lowest prices for broadband in the UK in an attempt to compete with more established names like Sky and TalkTalk. 

This standard broadband deal is no exception, and costs just £18 per month, which is the joint-cheapest priced package available right now from a major provider.

As well as broadband, this package also comes with free anytime calls for the duration of the short 12-month contract, great for those of us who are finding themselves more reliant on a landline while working from home.

NOW Broadband may have some good deals, but some customers weren't impressed with its service. Read our NOW Broadband review to see how it fares in our survey, or head straight to NOW Broadband's deal.

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.

SSE Unlimited Fibre

  • Average Speed: 35Mbps
  • Contract Length: 18 months
  • Price: £23 per month
  • Upfront costs: £0

Total cost over contract: £414

Effective cost per month: £23

SSE continues to offer competitive superfast fibre broadband packages at a price cheaper than many standard broadband packages.

Currently, new customers get average speeds of 35Mbps on an 18-month contact with no price rises and a 60-day Happiness Guarantee.

Check out SSE Unlimited Fibre deal and read our SSE review to see how it fares in our survey.

Vodafone Superfast 2

  • Average Speed: 63Mbps
  • Contract Length: 24 months
  • Price: £22.95 per month
  • Upfront costs: £0

Total cost over contract: £552

Effective cost per month: £23

Vodafone's Superfast packages have had a recent price cut to once again become one of the cheapest fibre providers in the UK.

At £23, you can get average speeds of 63Mbps on an 18-month contract. New Vodafone customers also get 6 months free F-Secure Anti-Virus and its Ultimate Broadband Guarantee, which offers you money off your bill if the download speed to the router is less than 55Mbps.

One thing to note is that the contract length is 24 months so may not be responsible 

Check out Vodafone's Superfast 2 deal and read our Vodafone review to see how it fares in our survey.

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 in 4K, ultrafast is for you.

Virgin Media M100

  • Average Speed: 108Mbps
  • Contract Length: 18 months
  • Price: £34 per month
  • Upfront costs: £35

Total cost over contract: £647

Effective cost per month: £35.94

Virgin Media is offering a compelling deal, offering average speeds of 108Mbps for £34 a month.

M100 customers also get weekend calls at no extra cost with Talk Weekends.

After the initial contract, the price rises to £51 a month, a 50% increase in price so be sure to recontract or switch at the end of the 12-month term.

Check out Virgin's M100 deal but bear in mind that price isn't everything – in our Virgin Media broadband review some customers in our survey weren't impressed with aspects of the service. 

Virgin Media M200

  • Average Speed: 213Mbps
  • Contract Length: 18 months
  • Price: £38 per month
  • Upfront costs: £35

Total cost over contract: £491

Effective cost per month: £41.94

Although slightly increasing the price of its M200 broadband package, Virgin Media is still offering a great deal with average speeds of 213Mbps for £6 more a month.

After the initial contract, the price rises to £57 a month, a 43% increase in price.

Virgin Media may have a good deal on offer here, but it fell down in some areas in our customer satisfaction survey. Read our review of Virgin Media broadband to weigh up your options, or head straight to Virgin's M200 deal.

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