The Government has announced new plans to cut broadband bills for millions of low-income households, by encouraging suppliers to offer new “social tariffs”.
Even if you do not qualify for these cheap deals, which start from as little as £15 a month, you can still save money while staying connected.
Next week, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will launch a new service that allows internet service providers to check whether customers receive a state benefit that makes them eligible for extra financial support, and target a discounted tariff at them.
Social tariffs offer discounted broadband and mobile deals for people on benefits, yet only 1.2 percent of those eligible have taken advantage.
Cost of living business tsar David Buttress said: “We’re making it easier for companies to reduce phone and broadband bills for struggling families.”
BT, Sky, Virgin Media and others offer social tariffs from £15 a month, which regulator Ofcom calculates could save you as much as £140 per year.
Anybody who is thinking of switching broadband supplier must first check they are no longer under contract, otherwise they could incur early exit penalties.
Most broadband contracts run for 12, 18 or 24 months. Thereafter you are free to switch.
Millions are out of contract without even realising it, leaving them free to hunt around for a better deal, said Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch.com: “Out-of-contract broadband customers could save an average of £162 a year by switching, our figures show.”
There is plenty of competition out there, with big names such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone competing against smaller rivals like Hyperoptic, NOW Broadband and Plusnet.
“You might even be able to get faster, full-fibre broadband for less than you are paying today,” Baker said.
First, decide how fast you need your broadband to be. “A speed of 30 megabytes-per-second (Mbps) will be fine for basic activities like streaming, but larger households or those doing online gaming should upgrade to 60-100Mbps.”
Do not just buy the fastest you can get, or you could end up paying for speed you don’t need, Baker added.
Google the phrase “broadband speed checker” to run a fast and free online test to see how fast your current connection is.
Ava Kelly, money-saving expert at Love Energy Savings, highlights two market-leading deals: “Onestream Fibre 55 costs £18.95 a month or upgrade to Onestream Fibre 80 for just £1 more. NOW Super Fibre Broadband charges £22 for 63Mbps.”
Compare deals online but remember not every broadband supplier will operate in your area. Check by entering your postcode on their website.
As well as download speeds, you should check whether there is an activation or delivery fee, a cap on maximum downloads or an extra charge for line rental.
Do not be afraid to haggle down the price of your broadband contract, as two in five succeed, said Abigail Yearley at TopCashback.co.uk.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get,” she added.