When you compare broadband deals you'll see that most providers sell their services based on how fast they are. When they do this they're almost always only talking about the download speed. That's fair enough - it is one of the two most important factors you need to consider, along with the price.
But there's another speed spec that providers don't shout about, and is often quite difficult to find anywhere. The upload speed.
So what exactly is this, and is it something you need to worry about? Let's take a look.
What exactly are upload speeds?
As you probably know, the download speed represents the speed at which data is transferred from the internet to your computer. Well, the upload speed is the opposite. It's how fast data moves from your computer to the network.
Broadband providers place all their emphasis on download speeds because the vast majority of the stuff you do online involves downloading. Everything from opening a simple web page to streaming 4K video on Netflix is affected by your download speed. By and large, the faster it is the better your experience will be.
But you're uploading all the time, too. Every time your computer communicates with a website or other online service it does so by uploading packets of data to those services. This is how it opens a web page or logs you in to your online bank account. However, the amount of data involved is so small that it's unaffacted by your upload speed. It all happens instantanesouly.
This means that your upload speed is irrelevant for day-to-day web use, which is just as well because it's usually a lot slower than your download speed. Broadband providers know that downloading is more important, so they configure their system to give that priority.
Where it does matter is when you're uploading large amounts of data. If you like to share your holiday photos and videos on Facebook, for instance, your upload speed will determine how quickly that will happen, and it can be a massive difference. Uploading one gigabyte of images would take around two and a half hours at a 1Mb speed, or just 14 minutes at 10Mb.
Or if you make video calls on Skype or FaceTime your upload speed dictates whether you can broadcast yourself in glorious high definition or will have to settle for a more low-res, pixellated image. Skype requires an upload speed of 1.5Mb for full HD.
So, what speed am I getting?
The easiest way to find out what upload speed you're getting is by using our Speed Test tool. You should then use this figure when you start to shop for a new broadband deal, because it's technically possible to switch to what looks like a similiar or better package, and end up with slower upload speeds in the process.
Most providers offer similar upload speeds, just as they do download speeds. For standard broadband with download speeds around 10-11Mb, uploads are usually around 1Mb. On an entry-level fibre deal - 36Mb download - it's around 9Mb, and is around 18Mb on the high-end fibre deal (typically 64-67Mb downloads). Providers that use different technolgies, such as Virgin Media or fibre to the home suppliers like Gigaclear, offer different speeds. But remember, they're always only average speeds, so you might get better or worse.
Here are the average upload speeds for the UK's biggest broadband providers:
Virgin Media: speeds are 3Mb on the slowest VIVID 50 plan, 6Mb on VIVID 100, 12Mb on VIVID 200, and 21Mb on VIVID 300.
Direct Save: mostly above average upload speeds ranging from 5Mb on the 25Mb plan to 30Mb on the 300Mb plan.
Gigaclear and Hyperoptic: these fibre to the home providers offer 'symmetric' services, meaning the upload and download speeds are the same. This results in the UK's fastest upload speeds of 900Mb on the top end plans!
Do I need to care about upload speeds?
Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere covered by Gigaclear or Hyperoptic - and that's only around half a million homes between them - your upload speeds are typically going to be limited to between 1Mb and 30Mb (on average).
So how much weight should you give this when choosing a broadband deal? It depends on how you spend your time online. We've established it doesn't matter for normal web use - browsing, social media, streaming TV, or even if you use your broadband for gaming. But there are certain tasks where you'll definitely benefit from faster upload speeds. These include:
using cloud services like Dropbox
sharing photos online to places like Instagram or Google Photos
using P2P file sharing services
making VoIP phone calls
making video calls over services like Skype or FaceTime
uploading videos to YouTube
live streaming games on services like Twitch
You might also want it if you work from home, especially if you work with large files or need to do video conferencing, etc. And a larger household with many users online together will also benefit from faster speeds.
For many, though, the upload speed is something that's good to know but not essential. In all cases the most important thing is to make sure you get the broadband speed you need based on how you use the internet.
Our broadband listings show the upload speed for all plans. If you're ready to start shopping for something faster, use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals in your area now.
It's time for another of our semi-regular rewards roundups, where we do all the hard work for you and gather the best offers of the week for you all in one handy post!
BT are back with a bountiful tech plus reward card offer on Superfast Fibre packages. The tech on offer is worth up to £149, and is a choice between a JBL Bar Studio speaker, a Hive Smart Lights pack or an Amazon Echo. If this offer appeals then you can get your choice of tech on the Superfast Fibre package for £29.99 a month along with £40 Reward Card, or Superfast Fibre 2 for £39.99 a month with a £70 Reward Card.1
If you're a light user who just wants a cheaper option, or fibre isn't available in your area yet, then BT are still showing you some love. You can get the standard BT Broadband package with average speeds of 10Mb for £24.99 a month with a £40 Reward Card. It's worth remembering that you can throw a BT TV package into all these deals for the same rewards, with prices starting at £34.99 a month.1
If you want to grab a £75 or £100 gift card with a Vodafone fibre package, then this offer is only available through the links in this blog post! Superfast Fibre 1 is £21 a month with a £75 gift card, and, if it's available in your area, Superfast Fibre 2 is £26 a month with a £100 gift card. The gift card is a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC World or Marks and Spencer.2
TalkTalk have a strong voucher offer on their fibre packages, but only if you use the links in this blog post. You can get a pre-paid Mastercard or a voucher of your choice from Amazon, Tesco or Ticketmaster! If you opt for TalkTalk's Fibre package at £24.50 a month then your reward value will be £70. If it's available in your area, then you can get the boosted Faster Fibre packagefor £27 a month and your reward value will be £80!3
Plusnet's reward card offer is available on both their fibre with phone packages. Unlimited Fibre is £23.50 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, and Unlimited Fibre Extra is £27.50 a month with a £70 reward card, provided it's available in your area.4
In a Virgin Media network area? Want the fast broadband speeds but not interested in a TV package? The VIVID 50 + Phone package might be for you. It's £27 a month with free setup, comes with a £50 bill credit and is only available through the link in this post!5
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our Use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.
1. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount plus a choice of tech between a JBL Bar Studio speaker, a Hive Smart Lights pack or an Amazon Echo. Offers end 11:59pm 23rd May.
2. Vodafone fibre products are on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the WeGift landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 29th May.
3. TalkTalk Fast Fibre products are on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 23rd May.
4. Plusnet Fibre products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 21st May.
5. Virgin Media VIVID 50 is on an 18 month contract. Credit will be applied to your first bill. Offer ends 11:59pm 5th June.
6. John Lewis Broadband products come on a 12 month contract, John Lewis will contact you before this is up to inform you of price rises from month 13. E-gift card can be redeemed at John Lewis or Waitrose. Offer ends 11:59pm 10th June.
Spring is definitely underway, the weather is (mostly) improving, and while you're probably pondering a bit of spring cleaning over the bank holiday weekend it might also be time to look at freshening up your broadband deal at the same time. We've selected some of the best broadband offers for you below.
Plusnet have reward card offers of varying amounts on all of their broadband and phone bundles this week. Unlimited Broadband is £18.99 a month in low cost areas and comes with a £65 reward card, Unlimited Fibre is currently at £23.50 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, while the Unlimited Fibre Extra package is £27.50 a month and comes with a whopping £70 reward card!1
BT's offer this week is an Amazon Echo, worth £89.99, on their Superfast Fibre 2 packages. You'll also get a £60 BT Reward Card, increasing the total value of this offer to £149.99! Superfast Fibre 2 is £39.99 a month if it's available in your area. Superfast Fibre 1 customers haven't been left out; while there's no Amazon Echo bundled in, you can get fibre broadband for £29.99 along with a £90 BT Reward Card!2
If fibre isn't available in your area, or you're a light user and just want the cheapest option, there's BT Broadband with average speeds of 10Mb for £24.99 with a £60 Reward Card. These deals are also available on BT TV packages, which start at £34.99 a month.2
SSE's Unlimited Fibre broadband package is just £23 a month on an 18 month contract and comes with a £55 reward, which is a choice between a pre-paid Mastercard or an Amazon.co.uk gift card. You'll need to hurry, this offer ends Sunday night and is only available via the link in this blog post!3
Sky's Broadband Unlimited and Fibre Max packages both come with a £50 voucher, a choice between a Tesco or Ticketmaster gift card. Broadband Unlimited is £20 a month and Fibre Max is £27 a month. This offer is also only available via the link in this blog post. 4
TalkTalk's Fast Broadband is currently only £17 per month for the 12 month contract, and you'll also receive a £50 voucher of your choice for Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster! Again, this offer isn't on our usual listings, so be sure to sign up via the link in this blog post.5
NOW Broadband's offer of 6 month Entertainment Pass and free Anytime calls on all their broadband products is still going, but you'll need to hurry as it ends early next week. If you're looking to watch the final season of Game of Thrones, then this may be the perfect deal for you. The Entertainment Pass comes with 11 pay TV entertainment channels not available on Freeview, including Sky Atlantic, FOX, Comedy Central and Discovery Channel, and over 300 Box Sets to watch On Demand. Brilliant Broadband is £18 a month, Fab Fibre£25 a month and, in areas where it's available, Super Fibre is £30 a month. If you're an existing Entertainment Pass customer taking out a new broadband contract, then you can redeem this offer in the final 30 days of your current subscription.6
Finally, a fantastic offer for people in broadband not-spots who can get a decent mobile signal. 4G home broadband from Three is just £25 a month and comes with a Huawei AI Cube, a wireless router that acts like a smart speaker and has the Alexa voice assistant built in. What's more, you also get unlimited data each month! If you're not interested in smart gadgets, then Three's basic HomeFi deal also boasts unlimited data for just £22 a month. Find out all you need to know about 4G home broadband in our dedicated help page on the subject.7
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our Use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.
1. Standard broadband products are on a 12 month contract, fibre products on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 7th May.
2. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 7th May.
3. SSE Unlimited Fibre is on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 5th May.
4. Sky deals are on an 18 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the WeGift landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 7th May.
5. TalkTalk Fast Broadband is on a 12 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 9th May.
6. NOW Broadband products come on a 12 month contract, or a 1 month contract with a £60 setup fee. Offer is also available on their 1 month contracts, though an ongoing broadband subscription is required for the 6 month pass. Pass auto-renews from month 7 at £7.99 a month, unless cancelled. You can cancel any time. Offer ends 11:59pm 7th May.
7. 24 month minimum contract. Availability and speeds vary depending on the mobile coverage in your area and level of usage on the same cell tower. Traffic prioritisation will apply so some services may be slower during peak times. Check coverage for your area on the Three website.
The obvious advice for anyone who wants to cut their broadband bill is to switch to a different provider. It's so easy to compare broadband deals, and more often than not you'll be able to find something better or cheaper than what you've currently got.
But what if you don't want to switch? What if you're happy with the service you're getting, and would just rather pay a little less for it?
Well, there are a few tried and tested ways to pay less for your broadband without switching providers. Let's take a look.
Don't stay on your old deal after it expires
The first step is a no-brainer, yet it's something that millions of us fail at. Don't stay with your old deal after the initial contract has ended.
When you sign up for a broadband deal you get a price and a minimum contract period. When that contract period ends the price will start to go up. In fact, it might go up the very next day. A recent Which? report suggest that customers who don't bother switching deals end up paying as much as £690 more each year than they otherwise would.
If you only take one thing away from this post, it's that you need to know when your deal ends. That way you can make an informed decision about what to do.
At the very least you can call your supplier and see what they can offer you if you take a new contract. That ought to be better than what you've currently got. But remember that these companies reserve their most attractive offers for new customers, so don't assume that their first offer is the best you can get.
Master the art of haggling
Haggling is not terribly British and our collective refusal to do it is costing us hundreds of pounds a year.
But it's actually easier - and less terrifying - than you'd think. Just use our comparison tool to find a better broadband deal, then call your provider armed with this information. Tell them what you can get elsewhere and see if they can match it.
If the thought of haggling brings you out in a cold sweat, don't worry. Write yourself a little script first. Try this one for size:
"My contract's ending soon and I'm looking at my options. I can get this deal from this provider for this much per month. Can you match it?"
Or this one: "My contract's come to an end and I'm trying to cut my bills. My budget is this much a month. What can you do for me?"
And then follow it up with: "Hmmm… I was hoping for something a little better than that…"
You'll speak to the regular sales team first, and they're limited on what they can offer you. If you aren't happy you can tell them that you'd switch providers instead. This will get you put through to the Retentions department. Retentions exists purely to stop customers leaving, and they have more scope for offering you better deals.
A lot of people don't want to take it this far because they're worried that they'll be forced into starting the switching process even when they don't really want to. But you don't have to make any decisions over the phone there and then. Just tell them you were hoping for a better offer, and that you'll have a think about it and will call them back tomorrow.
Don't accept mid-contract price rises
It's a lot easier to cut your broadband bill when your contract is coming to an end (or has already ended). It's a lot harder when you're still in your initial contract period, but there are a few things you can use to your advantage. One is poor performance, the other is a mid-contract price rise.
In the right circumstances, both of these can lead to you being allowed to leave your deal early without penalty. If you're getting terrible performance then you might want to switch anyway. But you can use a price rise as leverage to get a better deal. Not only might they waive the increase, but they might throw in another sweetener, too.
You have to act quickly, though. You've got 30 days from when you're informed of the price rise. After that you're regarded as having accepted the change.
Cut services you don't need
Another simple way to reduce your bill is to cut services you no longer need. This is easiest if you've got a TV bundle, as you can dump those channels that you don't watch. Or maybe you took out a call plan and now find you don't make as many calls as you thought.
You can even think about what type of internet service you've got. Do you need that ultrafast broadband package, or could you downgrade to a slower speed without noticing the difference? Our guide to what broadband speed you need explains more.
Find different ways to pay
If you've got a chunk of cash sat in your bank account just waiting to be spent, you could potentially make savings on your broadband by paying some or all of it up front. It's rare for providers to allow you to pay all your bill in one go - and we wouldn't necessarily recommend it either - by a few still offer a line rental saver option.
Plusnet and BT both let you pay the line rental part of your deal up front, which can knock as much as £30 off your annual bill. Not a huge saving, granted, but still the equivalent to a month or month and a half of free broadband, and definitely not to be sniffed at.
Paying up front protects you against price rises, but does come with a small risk. If you need to exit your contract for any reason (including something like moving house) you're unlikely to get your money back.
Seek out bundles for better value
Do you get your broadband, phone, TV and mobile from different providers? If so, there's a good chance you can make savings by bringing two or more of them under the same roof. Many broadband providers offer bundles for various services, and it often works out cheaper than buying products from lots of companies. It's more convenient, too, since you no longer have to juggle multiple bills each month.
What's good about this is that you can often do it when you're in the middle of a contract. When you ask your provider if you can give them more money each month they're unlikely to turn you away. Just make sure that your deals for these services with other providers have run out, otherwise you could be penalised for moving them.
Be willing to walk away
Okay, you don't want to change providers, but you're in a far stronger position if you're willing to do so regardless. Not only does it improve your chances of getting the best deal with your current supplier, but it also opens you up to all those incredible 'new customer' offers from everyone else.
And while it sounds like a hassle, the good news is that the process to switch broadband providers is now easier than ever. In some cases your new provider will do all the work for you!
Whether you're a fan or not, it probably hasn't escaped your attention that the final season of Game of Thrones is coming to an end after 8 years on our screens. Starting this month, the must-see event television fantasy series will go out with a bang with 6 unmissable feature length episodes.
If you're yet to visit Westeros, or just want to refresh your memory of who's still standing, now's the time to catch up with previous seasons of the show! But what's the cheapest and easiest way to do that in the UK?
If you have Sky TV, you'll already know that the final season starts on Sky Atlantic on the 15th of April and you can watch the show from the start with the on demand Box Sets service. Looking to switch to Sky? Check out our Sky Broadband Buyers Guide here.
Don't have Sky, can't commit to a long contract or put off by the satellite dish? A NOW TV Entertainment Pass may be the answer for you. There's no contract, so you can cancel at any time and the pass only costs £7.99 a month. With that you can access over 300 box sets, including big name shows like Westworld, and of course seasons 1 to 7 of Game of Thrones, plus all the new episodes once they air.
If you're a massive diehard fan and you plan to stay up all night to watch the 2am HBO simulcast live on Sky Atlantic, NOW TV will let you do that too! Along with Sky Atlantic, you'll also get 10 other pay TV channels that include Sky One, FOX, Comedy central and ABC!
Line rental required with NOW Broadband, included in the quoted price. Prices rise from month 13, see NOW Broadband site for amounts. 1 month contracts available with £60 setup fee. Offer ends 23:59 7th May 2019.
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.
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.
We've got a few broadband offers to highlight over the last few days of March, with many deals continuing into April and beyond.
BT's latest offer is a Google Home Smart Speaker that's worth £129! This handy gadget acts as an assistant to help you control your home, organise your day, play music and TV shows and much more - all with the power of your voice! It's available with BT Fibre packages and also comes with a BT Reward card increasing the total value of this offer to up to £219! Superfast Fibre is £29.99 a month and comes with Google Home and an £30 reward card. In areas that can get it, Superfast Fibre 2 is £39.99 a month with a Google Home and £90 reward card.1
For anyone looking for non-fibre options, BT's standard Broadband with Weekend Calls is only £24.99 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, but no Google Home. You can also get TV packages with these rewards.1
In a broadband not-spot? Interested in a smart speaker for your home? A 4G home broadband deal from Three might work well for you. For just £25 a month you can get a Huawei AI Cube, a wireless router that acts like a smart speaker and has the Alexa voice assistant built in. What's more, you also get unlimited data each month! If you're not interested in smart gadgets, then Three's basic HomeFi deal also boasts unlimited data for just £22 a month. You can find out more about 4G home broadband in our help page on the subject.2
If you're interested in trying out streaming and TV passes, or looking for a cheap way to watch the final season of Game of Thrones, then NOW Broadband may have an offer that appeals to you. They're offering a 6 month Entertainment Pass and free Anytime calls on all their broadband products. The Entertainment Pass comes with 11 pay TV entertainment channels not available on Freeview, including Sky Atlantic, FOX, Comedy Central and Discovery Channel, and over 300 Box Sets to watch On Demand. Brilliant Broadband is £18 a month, Fab Fibre£25 a month and, in areas where it's available, Super Fibre is £30 a month. If you're an existing Entertainment Pass customer taking out a new broadband contract, then you can redeem this offer in the final 30 days of your current subscription.3
Finally, TalkTalk's Fast Broadband package is currently only £17 per month for the 12 month contract, and you'll also receive a £50 voucher of your choice for Amazon, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster! This offer isn't on our usual listings, so be sure to sign up via the link in this blog post.5
All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. Some offers only available in provider network areas. Use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.
1. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Google Home offer ends 11:59pm 25th April. Reward card offer ends 11:59pm 4th April.
2. 24 month minimum contract. Availability and speeds vary depending on the mobile coverage in your area and level of usage on the same cell tower. Traffic prioritisation will apply so some services may be slower during peak times. Check coverage for your area on the Three website.
3. NOW Broadband products come on a 12 month contract, or a 1 month contract with a £60 setup fee. Offer is also available on their 1 month contracts, though an ongoing broadband subscription is required for the 6 month pass. Pass auto-renews from month 7 at £7.99 a month, unless cancelled. You can cancel any time. Offer ends 11:59pm 7th May.
4. Standard broadband products are on a 12 month contract, fibre products on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Customers outside Plusnet Low Cost network areas pay an additional £7.50 per month on all broadband products. Plusnet reward is a prepaid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers end 11:59pm 2nd April.
5. TalkTalk Fast Broadband is on a 12 month contract. You must enter a valid email address on the Giftcloud landing page before you sign up. Offer ends 11:59pm 11th April.
Slow broadband is bad enough at the best of times, but when slowdowns occur out of the blue it's really annoying. Especially as there isn't always an obvious reason why it has happened.
So what's the explanation? Read on to find the six things most likely to be slowing down your broadband. And when you're done, sign up to our newsletter and claim your exclusive free guide, 12 ways to boost your broadband speed.
1. Problems with your connection
One of the most common things that causes your internet to slow down is one you can't control - it's a problem with your connection. How can you tell if this is happening to you?
When you signed up for your broadband deal you should have been given a speed estimate indicating the performance level you can expect to achieve. Use our Speed Test tool to compare this estimate to what you're actually getting. We'd recommend disconnecting all other devices when you run the speed test, and standing right next to the router. Better still, connect your laptop to your router via an ethernet cable, if you've got one.
When done, compare the test result to your estimate. If it's significantly slower it may indicate the problem is with your connection. To be sure, reboot the router and try the test again, perhaps with a different device. Now give your broadband supplier a call.
Of course, if your speed test doesn't indicate service problems and you still think it's too slow, it's possible you've simply outgrown your particular broadband package. Many providers will allow you to upgrade to a faster deal mid-contract. If you're coming to the end of your contract you can start shopping round for the fastest home broadband deals.
2. Your router's in the wrong place
The position of your wi-fi router is another common cause of broadband slowdowns. Without getting into the technicalities, a wi-fi signal gets weaker the further it travels and the more physical objects it has to pass through. The weaker it is, the slower it will be.
Try and position your router somewhere central in your home, preferably raised off the floor. This will help the signal reach the furthest corners of your home. Be aware that some electronic devices, such as phone bases, can interfere with signals, as can metallic ornaments. Try and keep it in a fairly open space, not on a shelf hemmed in by other objects. And don't cover it up, either. A lot of the broadband hubs you get for free from your internet provider are designed to lay flat. It's very easy to start piling stuff on top of them without thinking.
3. Your signal doesn't cover your whole house
Even when you do find the sweet spot for your router there are still limits to how far its signal will reach. If you've converted your loft into an office, for example, the signal might have to pass through several walls, floors and doors to get there. There's no guarantee that it will. Older buildings can be a problem as well, as some of the building materials, or even just the thickness of the walls can have an effect on how far a wi-fi signal can reach.
Look into wi-fi extenders or Powerline adapters as a way to increase the wi-fi coverage in your home.
4. There's too many people downloading
What's an obvious reason why anything slows down? There's just too many people using it! That's as true of your broadband as it is of the M25 at rush hour.
A standard phoneline broadband connection in the UK has an average speed of around 10 to 11Mb, and sometimes quite a bit slower. Netflix alone needs a speed of 5Mb to play HD video - that's half of your available speed. Now, add in someone else watching YouTube videos, someone playing online games, and another person downloading large files for work. It adds up pretty quickly, and something has got to give.
This can also apply to the area you live in. The more built up the area, the more customers there are connected to your local street cabinet. This means that speeds can get slower at peak times, because everyone is home from work and school and making use of the internet. You can work around this by setting updates - such as for phone and computer operating systems and games - to download overnight when less people are using the internet.
A lot of routers are good at prioritising certain types of traffic. This means time-critical downloads like streamed video aren't interrupted, but file downloads might be slower. Not all do, though. If you've got a busy family sharing limited bandwidth, rationing your usage might be the way to go.
While it's easy to get your kids to ration their Netflix use, it's still possible that your broadband will be slowed down by other downloads that you don't know about.
These hidden downloads happen all the time. Like when your laptop automatically downloads and installs an update to Windows. Or your phone gets updated, your TV box, or pretty much anything else you've got that's connected to the internet. These updates might be a couple of gigabytes in size, and on a standard broadband connection could take an hour or more to complete.
Video games are even worse. They often have updates that run to 10 gigabytes or more, and could clog up your system for the rest of the day. The same goes for downloading boxsets from Sky or other premium TV services. Not everyone makes the connection between downloading something on a TV and slowing down their computer, but it's all part of the same thing.
6. Viruses and malware
When your internet becomes slow all of a sudden, and for no obvious reason, it's worth checking that your computer and anti-virus software are both fully up to date and working properly.
Viruses and other types of malware won't slow your internet specifically, but they will slow your hardware and make browsing and other online activities feel a lot more sluggish.
Run an anti-virus scan to try and solve the problem. Lots of broadband providers offer free security software when you sign up, so make sure you're using it if yours does. Also, keep an eye out for other warning signs. This includes your browser's home page changing unexpectedly, or your computer's fans spinning fast and loud even when you aren't using it. This can be a sign of dodgy software running in the background.
How to speed up your broadband
There's a lot more things that can slow down your broadband. Maybe your router's settings need changing, or perhaps your phone cables are the problem. Or maybe your broadband isn't slow at all - maybe your computer is.
So how do you find the answers? Start by downloading our free guide, 12 ways to boost your broadband speed. It's packed with essential tips that are easy to follow and require very little technical know-how.
It's becoming common these days for broadband providers to entice customers into buying a broadband package by offering tempting rewards, such as gift cards, shopping vouchers, bill credit and cashback, and even shiny tech like tablets, Amazon devices and TVs. All the big name providers do it and some rewards, such as BT's current offer with a choice of tech and a reward card on top, may seem too good to pass up on.
But such offers may not be the best deal for you, even if they look really good at first glance. Before you rush to take advantage of a deal with rewards, you need to stop and ask yourself a few important questions, including:
What exactly are all these different rewards and how do they work?
Will these reward deals still save you money on your broadband contract?
Is the reward on offer something you already want or even need?
Could you spend less by getting a cheaper broadband deal and buying the reward yourself?
How do you get your rewards - are you automatically given them or do you need to claim them yourself?
We've got a brand new page in our Help section all about broadband rewards for you that gives you the answers to these questions and more, so when you decide to buy a broadband deal with a reward, you'll know how much money you'll really be saving, exactly what you're getting and how to get it.
Armed with all that information, you're all set to find the best deal with rewards for your needs - use our postcode checker to find out what's available in your area right now!