SSE Broadband Buyers Guide - Is SSE right for you?
Can I get SSE?
SSE are best known as an energy provider but their broadband services are available to everyone. You don't need to be an energy customer, and you also don't need to be located in the regions covered by their energy services.
SSE broadband is available wherever there's a BT telephone exchange. In some areas SSE may make savings by using their own equipment installed in the BT telephone exchange, but these savings are shared with all customers. The same standard broadband prices and features are available wherever you live.
SSE Fibre to the cabinet services are also available, to get these both your exchange and street cabinet must have been upgraded to support fibre. This covers more than 95% of UK homes.
You can find out which SSE Broadband products are available where you live with our postcode checker.
What packages are available?
SSE offer standard ADSL and Fibre broadband packages:
- SSE Unlmited Broadband - standard broadband with average speeds of 11Mb
- SSE Unlmited Fibre - the entry level fibre deal with average speeds of 35Mb
- SSE Fibre Plus - the fastest fibre broadband deal with average speeds of 63Mb
In all cases, the packages are on 18 month fixed price contracts and come with line rental. If you don't have an Openreach (BT exchange) telephone line already you'll need to pay to have one installed, this costs an additional £60 one off charge. In areas where SSE install their own equipment in telephone exchanges (LLU), you may be liable for a £36.91 one-off line conversion charge depending on the provider you're switching from.
Under the default package you pay only for landline phone calls that you make, but if you use your phone a lot you can add one of three calls packages◊. These are for Evening & Weekend Calls, Anytime Calls (calls to all UK landline and mobile numbers apart from 09 numbers), and Anytime Plus, which adds calls to 35 countries.
The deals offer unlimited usage rather than being 'truly unlimited'. This means that you can download and upload as much as you like. Although SSE have a traffic management policy in place to slow down connections making excessive use of the services, this is unlikely to affect most people. The policy primarily targets peer-to-peer file sharing traffic, and prioritises essential traffic like video calls, gaming and general browsing.
The speed available to you will vary based on various factors including the time of day (speeds are likely to be slower at peak times like evenings when lots of people are online), the wiring in your home, and the distance from your nearest telephone exchange or cabinet, with speeds decreasing the further away you are. You can find out how close you are to your nearest exchange by using our postcode checker.
Which package should I choose?
If you're interested in a budget provider like SSE, it's likely that cost effectiveness and value for money are important factors to you.
The SSE packages are largely no-frills offerings without much in the way of extras to entice you. This means that your main choice will be based on what speed of broadband you need.
Of the three packages that SSE offer, Unlimited Broadband is the slowest and most affordable. With an average speed of 11Mb it's good enough for casual use, preferably in smaller households. If your usage doesn't extend much beyond shopping, browsing and Facebooking then it should be plenty. It should also be able to handle streaming of services like Netflix or NOW TV on one device, but if you need more it may struggle.
That said, do remember that the quoted 11Mb speed is only an average, so there's no guarantee that's what you'll get. Make sure you get a speed estimate before you sign up (and if it's less than, say, 6Mb then streaming might be off the table).
If you have a larger or more demanding household, or if you'd just prefer a faster service, then you should go for one of the fibre options. The middle Ultimate Fibre deal should be fast enough to allow several people to stream TV, play online games, or download large files at the same time. The faster Plus plan is the best choice for the most demanding households who live their lives online.
Again, you should get a speed estimate before you make your choice. If you're looking at the top-end Ultimate Fibre Plus plan but your estimate shows you won't get speeds much better than you could get on the middle deal, it might not be worth paying the extra money.
In all cases, keep an eye on any upfront fees that might be added if you don't have a BT line or are in an area where SSE have installed their own equipment in the nearest telephone exchange.
For each plan there's the choice to add a calls package. Your decision here depends simply on whether you make many landline calls, and when you make them. If you prefer to use your mobile then you might be better off sticking with the default option of just paying for calls as and when you make them.
Points to consider before you choose
- Is low price the most important factor for you?
- Is having the best, reliable high-performance wireless router important to you?
- How often do you use your landline to make calls and at what times of day?
- Are you a heavy user of streaming video or a heavy downloader?
- Would you prefer a provider that can offer extras like a premium TV service as part of the same bundle?
- Do you need the higher speeds offered by a fibre connection and is your exchange and street cabinet set up to support this?
What do I get when I sign-up?
It's always good to know upfront what you'll get when signing up with an ISP so you know what you can enjoy for free, or to budget for any extras you may want.
- Reliable wireless router - SSE Broadband customers receive a free, easy to set up, wireless router when they sign up to help manage their connection. The Technicolor DWA0120 high-performance router, with its strong signal, security and transfer speeds, uses both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency with band steering technology for optimal performance. You can even share media content with your connected devices via a USB drive.
- SSE Rewards - Sign up to SSE broadband and you'll get access to their Rewards scheme. This gives you benefits for events at The SSE Arena, Wembley and The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, including access to tickets before they go on general sale, upgrades to SSE lounges, and competitions and prize draws.
- SSE Security Suite† - The SSE Internet Security Suite includes antivirus, firewall and parental controls, free during the 18 months of your contract, then an extra £2 per month. Users must download the application to receive these benefits, the subscription may be cancelled at any time.
What are the benefits of SSE?
The benefits offered by an ISP may be what seals the deal in your decision to buy a package from them.
- Wide coverage - SSE broadband is available anywhere there's a BT telephone exchange. You don't need to be an SSE energy customer to sign up.
- Fixed price promise - One of SSE’s best selling points is their fixed price guarantee. Only changes to VAT or another relevant tax or levy can increase the monthly cost within that period.
- 60-day Happiness Guarantee - If you aren't happy with any part of your deal, and SSE have been unable to fix the problem, you can leave without penalty in your first 60 days.
- Free connection - There are no connection charges or delivery fees for most customers. The exceptions are if you need to have a BT line installed, or if you're in one of SSE's LLU areas where you may be liable to pay a one-off conversion charge should you be switching from a non-LLU provider.
What are the drawbacks of SSE?
Let's face it, not everything can be perfect, and even the best deals may have a downside.
- Few extras - SSE offer a free router, Internet security software and a Rewards scheme with their broadband packages, but lack the extra incentives many other providers offer. However, this more 'no frills' approach means they are able to concentrate more on the provision of your broadband and phone services.
- No short contracts - All of SSE's packages are on 18 month contracts.
- Limited information - There's very little detailed information on the SSE website about telephone support opening hours and the typical ADSL headline speeds. We would usually recommend that customers research these before signing up to a provider, though SSE should provide you with information about what speeds your line can support during the sign-up process.
† Internet security suite includes antivirus, firewall and parental controls to restrict internet access to minors. Customers have to pro-actively download the application to benefit from these features. Subscription can be cancelled any time by contacting SSE's customer service line. After the 18 month initial term, the subscription price is £2 per month.
◊ Inclusive Talk calls are for (i) local and national numbers beginning 01, 02 and 03 and (ii) 0845 & 0870 numbers. Excludes indirect access numbers and dial-up internet access. Inclusive calls are free up to 70 minutes. Any call duration over 70 minutes will be charged. Redial before 70 minutes to avoid charges. Fair use policy applies - maximum 1,000 minutes or 150 calls a month; whichever you reach first. If either of these limits is exceeded SSE will charge for these calls at the equivalent rate for non-inclusive periods. Daytime calls mean from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday; Evening calls before 7am and after 7pm Monday to Friday; Weekend calls midnight Friday to midnight Sunday. For more information about call charges, see the Call Charges and Tariff Information PDF available from SSE product pages.