Broadband.co.uk Blog: Features

Regular Broadband-related news and comment from the Broadband.co.uk team.

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Broadband-related features and articles.

ASA

Broadband providers told to include line rental in their pricing

Posted by Andy Betts on in Features

Broadband pricing is set to become a whole lot more straightforward later this year, thanks to a new ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority.

From 31 October, broadband ads will be required to clearly show the total monthly cost for the service, as well as give greater prominence to up-front costs, post-discount pricing, and contract length. The move should bring increased transparency to broadband prices, and make it easier for users to compare services from different providers.

Until now, broadband suppliers have been able to entice new customers with very low and attractive introductory rates, hiding in the small print the line rental fees that typically add an extra £15 or more to the tariff. Additional costs, including price increases after an introductory offer ends, and one-off charges for things like installation and hardware, are also frequently de-emphasised or even hidden in ads. Under the new guidelines, all of these will need to be made clear.

ASA guidelines for price claims in broadband ads:

  • Show all-inclusive up-front and monthly costs; no more separating out line rental
  • Give greater prominence for the contract length and any post-discount pricing
  • Give greater prominence for up-front costs

TalkTalk is the first major broadband provider to announce it will be adopting the changes. The company has said it will scrap separate line rental fees in favour of a new all-in pricing model.

“As long as line rental and broadband are priced separately, the temptation to advertise deals in this way will always be there," said Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk’s Consumer Managing Director. "But it’s time for providers be honest about this - it’s a bad habit we have all been guilty of, it doesn’t serve customers well and it’s time it stopped."

The action comes after a survey by the ASA and Ofcom found that less than a quarter of people could identify the monthly cost of a broadband package after a single viewing of an ad. A further 81% of those questioned were not able to calculate the total cost of a broadband contact.

However, a few concerns have been raised within the industry. Chiefly, these revolve around the requirement to combine broadband and line rental pricing, and how it will affect smaller providers that do not offer line rental, or those that allow customers to take line rental from a different provider. Virgin Media has also complained that the ASA's review of broadband advertising has not addressed claims on broadband speeds, when the quoted speeds are often only attained by 10% of users.

For most customers, the changes should be a welcome step towards bringing clarity to internet pricing. It remains to be seen what new promotions providers will offer to differentiate their products.

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Pay online

5 easy ways to slash your broadband bill

Posted by Andy Betts on in Features

In these cash conscious times we're all looking for ways to save a little on our bills each month. But how often do you check whether you're still getting a good deal on your broadband? Chances are, not often enough. A recent survey by NatWest shows that only 55% of us regularly compare broadband deals, while nearly a third never do it. Meanwhile, a massive 39% reckon they aren't getting good value for money.

These stats are not unrelated. Without taking the time to shop around, you'll be left paying over the odds for something that doesn't do the job. It need not be the case; cutting your broadband bill is easy if you know where to start.

1. Compare prices

Finding the best deals available to you is as easy as typing your postcode into our price comparison tool. We'll show you every package you can get, including standard and fibre broadband deals as well as phone and TV bundles. There'll almost certainly be something cheaper than you've already got — just decide how much you want to pay.

2. Pay for what you need

If you're not sure what speed broadband you need, it can be tempting to plump for the most high-end service just to be on the safe side. This isn't a great plan, as your perfect package can vary wildly depending on how many people there are in your household, how many internet-connected devices they've got, and what they'll be using them for. You can easily end up paying a lot more than you really need to (or, just as bad, taking a cheaper service that doesn't do what you need it to).

3. Buy bundles

Buying broadband, phone and TV services together in a single package will often work out a lot cheaper than buying them separately. It's easier to manage, too, since it'll all be included in the same bill. According to the NatWest survey, more than a third of us are already taking advantage of this.

Naturally, choosing a TV bundle will restrict you to only the largest broadband providers. And our point about only paying for what you need becomes really important here: don't subscribe to a bunch of TV channels you aren't going to watch. If you only want the movie channels, for example, you might still be better off with a smaller broadband provider and a Now TV subscription.

4. Haggle

All broadband providers offer an array of attractive deals to entice new customers. Loyal, longstanding customers, meanwhile, get short shrift. However, if you're nearing the end of your contract — or it is already up — you can often negotiate a sizeable price cut. You may need to sign a new contract, but the savings should be worth it.

Haggling isn't as scary as it sounds. Every provider has a 'retentions' team whose purpose is to prevent customers from leaving. Tell them you can get a better price from another provider and there's a good chance they'll beat it. Alternatively, they might offer add-ons or upgrades for no extra cost. It's worth trying even if you're happy with your supplier, but if you're actually willing to go through with a switch you'll be in an even stronger position to get a better deal.

5. Understand what you're paying

Those introductory offers are very appealing. Words like FREE jump off the page, and can be hard to resist. But remember that virtually all broadband deals include line rental, and there can be as much as £4 difference from one provider to another. New rules from May 2016 should bring clarity to broadband pricing. Until then, when you're comparing prices make sure you compare the total you will be paying — internet and line rental — both during the introductory period and once it has ended. Offers that appear cheaper at first might not always turn out to be so.

Shop around

The upshot is this: you can slash your broadband costs if you're willing to shop around. It's easier than ever to switch broadband suppliers, and even if you're happy with your current provider simply approaching them for a better deal can knock pounds off your monthly bill. What are you waiting for?

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Teenage Family Using Gadgets Whilst Eating Breakfast

What speed broadband do you actually need?

Posted by Andy Betts on in Features

When it comes to broadband, faster is always better, right? Actually, no. Not everyone needs the fastest speeds, or the latest technology. And while those people don't want to get sucked in to paying for a service they don't use, others really would benefit from an upgrade to something a bit quicker.

But with so many broadband deals to choose from, how do you work out which is right for you?

What speeds are available?

Most of the major broadband providers in the UK offer broadband at three speeds. Standard broadband is available in speeds up to 17Mb, and fibre broadband has two options, up to 38Mb and up to 76Mb. Virgin, along with a few specialist fibre broadband providers, have different speed tiers, the fastest currently being up to 1Gb from Hyperoptic.

Note the use of the words "up to" in all these cases. Quoted speeds represent an absolute maximum, and in reality you'll likely get somewhat less. There are numerous factors that affect the broadband speeds you can get. For standard and superfast broadband the distance you live from your nearest telephone exchange or cabinet is crucial, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. Faster services over 80Mb are more likely to be affected by the hardware you’re using, and whether your devices support the latest home networking technology.

What speed do you need?

Even so, you might be surprised to learn that slower speeds are still capable of handling most common internet tasks. The base requirements for many popular services are relatively modest.

  • Web, email, Facebook: for what we might class as light use, with general browsing and using social apps, any broadband speed will suffice
  • TV on demand: downloads using Sky On Demand require a minimum 2Mb broadband speed. BBC iPlayer recommends a minimum of 2.8Mb for HD viewing, or 1.5Mb for standard definition quality. Streaming over Netflix requires 3Mb for SD quality and 5MB for HD. All are possible on a standard broadband package
  • Ultra HD TV streaming: the exception is with Ultra HD — or 4K — streaming on Netflix. This requires superfast fibre broadband with a speed of at least 25Mb
  • Streaming music: music streaming services don't need fast speeds to function properly. The recommendation for Spotify is 512Kb; for a lossless service you'll want something closer to 2Mb
  • Gaming: speed is less important than other factors such as latency for gaming, and the requirements are quite low. For Xbox Live you need 3Mb speeds, well within the reach of most standard broadband users
  • Video chat: to make video calls with Skype you need 1.5Mb broadband speed for HD, or as low as 0.5Mb for what is classed as "high quality"
  • Downloading: it goes without saying that files will download faster on faster networks. It's possible to get a rough idea of how fast they will be: divide your internet speed (in megabits per second) by eight, to convert it into megabytes (MB) per second. You can then see how long it will take to download a file. (For example, 24Mb broadband downloads at 4MB per second, so a 1GB file will download in around four and a half minutes.) If you regularly download large files, or are a heavy user of cloud services, you will benefit from faster broadband

On the whole, fast speeds aren't all that important when it comes to just getting these services to work. Where it does become an issue is when you have several people in your household each trying to do one of these things at the same time.

If one person is watching music videos on YouTube while another is downloading a video game on a PS4, your Netflix stream may have drop down to a lower resolution, and may even start buffering. Unless your connection is fast enough to handle them all together.

Wrap-up

When trying to decide what speed broadband you need, it's really important to weigh up the needs of your entire household together. If you're a "light use" household then you should be safe in making a decision on price alone; if you're a heavy use family you'll want to compare fibre broadband deals in your area to find the one that will give you the best online experience.

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Student Broadband Guide

Looking for broadband at university? Our Student Broadband Guide tells you all you need to know!

Posted on in FeaturesOffers

With the Summer holidays coming to an end, it's time for new and returning students to head off to university. A decent broadband connection is vital for student accommodation these days, as so many aspects of university life rely on it. But many students only need to stay connected during the academic year and head back home for the summer months. This makes long contracts a waste of money as you either have to keep paying for the whole year, or incur fees for leaving your contract early. Luckily many unlimited broadband providers have 9 month offers designed just for student houseshares that also take into account your limited student budget. 

  • BT Student Broadband: Sign up with your .ac.uk student email address to take advantage nine month contracts on both BT Infinity and standard copper broadband.
  • Sky Student Broadband: You don't need to be a Sky TV customer to take advantage of their student deal - just pay for line rental, and get truly unlimited up to 17Mb broadband free for the nine month contract.
  • TalkTalk Student Broadband: TalkTalk are offering their usually 18 month contract SimplyBroadband package on a 12 month contract with 12 months free, exclusively for students. Includes a £50 Love2Shop voucher*.  Pay line rental a year up front to save even more.
  • Virgin Media Student Broadband: If you can get Virgin Media in your area, then you can benefit from their ultrafast speeds on a 9 month contract. Suitable for even the busiest student homes.

However, you don't necessarily need a student-specific package to cover your needs. Plenty of broadband providers offer short, monthly contracts that also fit the bill. We've put together a guide that gives you all the information you need to know about student broadband, with a list of all the deals that suit your requirements as a student.

Check out our Student Broadband Guide!

*Voucher only available to new customers who order online, switch from BT, Sky or Plusnet and keep their existing landline phone number.

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Student Broadband

Need a broadband package for university? Check out our Broadband Guide for Students!

Posted on in FeaturesOffers

With the new university year just around the corner, it's time for students - both new and returning - to start considering getting a broadband connection set up in their new accommodation. As so much of university life depends on the internet these days - from registering for courses, researching and submitting course work, to arranging social activities and unwinding at the weekends - you're going to be wanting decent and reliable access to the internet with a broadband package that takes into account budget, the need for a shorter-length contract, and what you as a student want out of your broadband experience.

Whether you're looking for broadband only, mobile broadband, a TV deal, or want a package ideal for gaming, our guide will help you decide what's best for you.

Check out our Student Broadband Guide

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TalkTalk

Make moving broadband easier when you move house with TalkTalk's Home Move Service

Posted on in NewsFeaturesTalkTalk

Moving house is a headache, and involves a lot of paperwork, phone calls, and stress even without needing to worry about moving your broadband with you. You could always switch your supplier...but this will subject you to extra setup and cancellation fees, and ultimately prove no less of a hassle. Thankfully, TalkTalk provide a Home Move Service to make this go a lot more smoothly for you. It's all done online, so you can do it at a time to suit you, track the status of the move, and change dates if there are delays. It's also fast, if you have all the details ready already, and if you do the installation yourself, it's free. TalkTalk Home Move Service is there to make moving house that little bit simpler.

Find out more with our handy guide below.

Moving Your Broadband When Moving House With TalkTalk's Home Move Service.

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Student Broadband

Heading off to university? Check out our Broadband Guide for Students!

Posted on in FeaturesOffers

Whether you're going to university for the first time, or heading back for the next year in your course, you're going to be wanting decent and reliable access to the internet. So much of university life depends on the internet these days, from registering for courses, researching and submitting course work, to arranging social activities and unwinding at the weekends, and it's important for students to be able get a broadband package that takes into account budget, the need for a shorter-lenghth contract, and what students want out of your broadband experience.

Whether you're looking for broadband only, a TV deal, or want a package ideal for gaming, our guide will help you decide what's best for you.

Read our Student Broadband Guide

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TalkTalk

A guide to TV options: TalkTalk TV vs Freesat Freetime vs Freeview+ HD

Posted on in NewsFeaturesTalkTalk

With so many choices for TV packages available for consumers today, it can be hard to decide just what's right for you. Options range from the minimal cost services, like Freeview, all the way up to the expensive multimedia packages with all the bells and whistles from Virgin Media and Sky. If you're looking for something with more options and flexibility than Freeview, but still cheaper than Virgin Media and Sky, then TalkTalk TV may be the solution for you. Check out our handy guide below.

TalkTalk TV vs Freesat Freetime vs Freeview+ HD

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Student Broadband

Student Broadband Buying Guide

Posted on in AnnouncementsFeatures

Students rely on Internet access. Be it registering for courses, receiving important news via email, downloading course content, researching their subject or submitting coursework, much of their work takes place online. Combine this with their usual online activity and social networking, and it becomes vital that they have a good Internet connection available in their digs.

There's a lot to consider when finding and moving into student housing. Signing up for an appropriate broadband package that's suitable for student use on a student budget can be a daunting task. We've put together a new a comprehensive guide to student broadband to help make the research and buying process easier.

The guide covers issues such as contract length, price, considerations of shared housing and the best packages to choose if you enjoy gaming. It also features ten hand picked broadband deals that are especially suited to student households and looks at the strengths and pitfalls of using mobile broadband for student use.

Read the Student Broadband Guide

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Eclipse

Eclipse offer new residential Fibre Optic deals

Posted on in Features

Eclipse Internet have introduced a range of new Fibre Optic deals for home users, with download speeds of up to 40Mb and upload speeds of 2Mb. For £5 a month, customers can upgrade to 10Mb upload speeds. Usage allowances range from 10GB to unlimited.

Eclipse Internet Home Fibre 10GB - £21.50 per month
Eclipse Internet Home Fibre 20GB - £25 per month
Eclipse Internet Home Fibre 50GB - £29.50 per month
Eclipse Internet Home Fibre 100GB - £37 per month
Eclipse Internet Home Fibre Unlimited - £59 per month

Installation (worth £100) is currently free on 24 month conracts, with a free router (worth £50) for both 24 and 12 month contracts.

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