How does broadband without a contract work?

No contract broadband offers short term, or monthly rolling, minimum term contracts that enable customers to access a fixed line connection without tying themselves down for a long time.

Usually, if you wanted to cancel a broadband contract early, it would result in fees being charged to cover the cost of providing the service until the end of the minimum term.

However, no contract broadband deals allow customers to leave often with just one month's notice without any additional costs.

This added flexibility can come at a price however, with monthly rolling broadband plans usually coming with a higher setup fee or higher monthly charge.

For those who know they will be leaving their broadband provider after just a short period, no contract deals will usually always work out cheaper than paying early exit fees on long-term plans.

Contract-free broadband can be a helpful option for people in short term accommodation such as students, or households on assured shorthold tenancies of just six months that could need to move more frequently.

Who is no contract broadband best for?

Broadband without a long contract can be helpful for people who move regularly, or who need access to a reliable fixed line connection without the lengthy terms.

This can include:

  • Students in term-time accommodation, or those on 9-month tenancies
  • Households living in Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) of just 6 months
  • Households renting privately at the end of an AST, where their contract has become a monthly-rolling tenancy
  • People who move regularly for work, but need access to a reliable connection

No contract broadband deals offer a greater level of flexibility than standard broadband contracts, and will usually work out cheaper than paying early exit charges on a longer-term plan.

How long are broadband contracts usually?

Standard broadband contracts usually have a minimum term of 12 to 24 months, with the majority of providers offering 18 or 24-month plans.

Leaving standard broadband contracts early can be expensive because early termination charges are usually based on the amount of time left on a minimum term. So, if a customer were to leave after just 3 months, they could end up paying to cover the cost of providing the service for 21 months.

Customers who come to the end of their minimum term are generally referred to as 'out of contract', and this works in a similar fashion to a no contract plan, where they can then leave without notice at no extra cost.

It's worth noting however, some short-term broadband deals do require at least one month's notice to cancel the plan. These are also sometimes known as 30-day contracts.

Who offers no contract broadband?

No contract broadband deals aren't offered by all providers. However, the following is a list of broadband providers that do offer short-term deals of six months or less:

Not all of these providers will be available to everyone, especially Hyperoptic and YouFibre who run independent full fibre networks in select areas of the UK.

NOW Broadband and Direct Save Telecom are the most widely available no contract broadband providers, as they resell access to the Openreach network, which covers 97% of UK homes.

It's worth noting that while NOW Broadband charge a more expensive setup fee than Direct Save Telecom, they don't increase the monthly price of their no contract plan compared to their standard plan, so it works out cheaper overall.

Only Hyperoptic and YouFibre offer full fibre broadband without a contract, and availability can be limited, so customers may find they have to take a slower plan for the flexibility of a monthly rolling term.

Why don't more providers offer no contract deals?

While taking broadband on a rolling monthly contract can be a useful option for people, the higher upfront costs can make it prohibitively expensive, or simply less attractive, especially for those who are unsure when they may need to cancel.

Some providers, for example Virgin Media, used to offer monthly rolling contract options, but have since chosen to remove these deals from the market.

Longer-term deals mean providers keep customers for longer, and allow them a greater ability to budget their network income, which can be important especially during times of growth as we're seeing in the full fibre rollout right now.

Regulation around early termination charges by Ofcom has also limited the cost of exiting a contract early. This means, customers leaving just a few month's early may find the exit fee is cheaper than had they chosen a no contract broadband deal and paid more upfront.

NOW Broadband, Community Fibre, Hyperoptic, Direct Save Telecom all offer standard broadband deals on 12-month terms, which offers a little more flexibility than being tied down for 18 or 24-months.

Can I get a home phone line contract-free too?

Customers who take no contract broadband with NOW Broadband or Direct Save Telecom, will get a home phone line included in the monthly cost, on a pay as you go basis.

They can then add an inclusive call package for an extra monthly fee, whether that's an evening & weekend call plan, or an anytime call plan. Both NOW Broadband and Direct Save Telecom include both UK landline and mobile calls in their plans.

Hyperoptic and YouFibre customers will need to add a home phone line to their plan, which comes at an additional cost, although both providers include some calls for free.

Does short term broadband cost more?

While broadband without a contract will usually come with higher upfront costs, or a higher monthly fee in comparison to the 12 or 24-month version of the plan, short term broadband will usually work out cheaper if a customer needs to cancel early.

Early termination charges, while regulated, can be imposed by providers if a customer wants to exit their contract before the end of the minimum term. These charges are limited to the cost of providing the service, but can be charged for all months left on the contract.

For example, leaving a broadband provider six months prior to the end of a minimum term could cost as much as £172 based on a £29.99 monthly price. In comparison, paying a £30 or even £65 setup fee upfront for a no contract deal would be cheaper.

Find out more about how much it costs to leave a broadband contract early.

Can I get fibre broadband without a contract?

Both NOW Broadband and Direct Save Telecom offer superfast fibre broadband without a contract, and Hyperoptic and YouFibre offer full fibre connections on rolling monthly terms.

Superfast fibre is available across 97% of the UK and so most homes will be able to choose speeds between around 30Mb and up to 70Mb.

While full fibre broadband is still being rolled out, select areas will be able to access the independent networks of Hyperoptic and YouFibre who offer rolling monthly contracts on their full fibre plans.

Use our postcode checker above to find out which no contract broadband deals are available in your area.

How do I cancel my broadband deal?

Monthly rolling broadband contracts can usually be cancelled with just one month's, or 30-days' notice, however the exact terms of the deal vary between providers.

Some no contract broadband plans come with just a one-month minimum term, after which, the contract can be cancelled at any point without giving notice. Other deals, usually those named 'monthly rolling', may request a notice period of 30-days'.

Customers should check the exact terms of any broadband deal before signing up to ensure they know what the cancellation policy is, how much notice they need to provide, and whether any fees will be payable.

Can I just leave a longer-term broadband plan early?

While it's possible to leave a longer-term broadband deal early, it often incurs a penalty for doing so. This means it might not be cost effective in comparison to a no contract broadband deal, especially if a customer knows they will need to cancel early.

However, there are a few instances when it's possible to leave a broadband contract early without penalty, which include:

  • During the 14-day cooling off period at the start of a contract
  • If the monthly price has been increased by more than the rate of inflation, unless doing so is included in the contract itself
  • If the provider offers a specific exit guarantee if minimum broadband speeds aren't met
  • If the provider is in breach of contract and hasn't solved a connection or speed issue - however, this would need to be in writing and provable.

Ultimately, while there are situations when it's possible to leave early, most customers will need to pay fees similar to what would have been paid up until the end of the minimum term.

Customers who know they'll need to leave a broadband contract early, will likely save more overall with a flexible no contract broadband deal.

How do I choose the best no contract broadband plan?

Compare no contract broadband deals using the table above, which can filter the plans only available in a given postcode area.

It's possible to order the results by price, special offer value, broadband download speed, or contract length, and you can also filter results further by selecting home phone options and from specific providers.

Once you've decided on a no contract broadband deal that suits your requirements, click 'Get deal' to be taken to the provider's website where you can sign up for the deal online.

Are there any alternatives to contract-free broadband?

The two main alternatives to fixed line no contract broadband, include:

  • 12-month fixed line deals, cancelled early at a potential cost
  • Mobile broadband SIM only deals

Flexible broadband can be accessed through mobile wi-fi hotspot devices, or even tethering a mobile phone with a SIM only plan that includes a high data allowance.

4G and 5G mean mobile broadband can be a realistic alternative to fixed line broadband, and has the added flexibility of being able to take the device with you rather than being tied to a specific address.

Mobile broadband can cost more than fixed line broadband however, and coverage and speeds can also be more variable and less reliable. So, it won't be the best alternative for everyone, but it can be worth considering.

Read more about mobile broadband for the home, and compare mobile broadband plans.

Is flexible broadband worthwhile?

While some customers may have excellent reasons for wanting broadband without a contract, the truth is that there aren't many options available.

The entry of more independent full fibre networks into the no contract broadband market and the continuing growth of 4G and 5G services across the UK mean there may be more options for flexible broadband packages in the future.

For now, however, overall:

  • NOW broadband is the cheapest per month, although upfront fees might be prohibitive for some
  • If you're lucky enough to be in a Hyperoptic area, they're easily the fastest and cheapest for broadband without a contract
  • See if 4G or 5G mobile broadband is a viable alternative for your home

As the potential of 5G as a home broadband replacement is realised, the need for fixed home broadband might become a thing of the past - and there may be better deals for the horizon for those who want flexible home broadband contracts without sacrificing on speed or paying higher costs upfront.

No Contract Broadband Deals