Can I get broadband without a minimum contract?
Signing up for broadband usually means agreeing to stick with the same provider for at least a year, but there are providers who are happy to sign us up to a broadband deal for a month at a time. Technically they do require us to agree to a minimum contract, but at around four weeks long they genuinely are "minimum terms".
With contracts of just a month long, there aren't any introductory offers. That does make them more expensive – but it's still possible to get broadband without a contract for about the same price or a little more than we could expect to pay for broadband outside the promotional period of a standard contract.
The shorter term the broadband deal we need, the more we should also consider set up costs. Some providers throw in their standard router for the cost of postage, but activation and set up fees vary from provider to provider. These can be checked in the table above by hovering over the "price details" section in the package price column, which will also show the total cost per month of each deal.
Read our full guide here to flexible broadband for more details on short term contracts.
Are there any cancellation fees?
People signed up to a minimum broadband contract of a year or more need their ISP to give them a reason to leave – a price rise, or service issues that can't be fixed, for example – or face the risk of early termination fees. With a short contract deal, however, once the initial month has been served, it can be just a matter of paying until the notice period is over.
Where we might expect to pay more is if we're cancelling the line as well as the broadband service, rather than transferring to a new provider. People who know this could apply to them should check for "cease of service" or cessation fees – not all ISPs charge them, and the price varies among those that do.
Also bear in mind that just as with some of the ISPs offering longer deals, some short term broadband contracts require us to return, or pay for, the equipment – so be prepared to send back the router.
Can I leave a longer contract provider early?
When we sign up to a normal broadband deal we agree to stay for the duration of the contract, whether it's 12, 18, or even 24 months long. It's perfectly possible to leave before then – but whether we'll have to pay to do so depends on why we want to go, and those conditions will be explained in the contract.
By law, if our ISP raises prices in a way they haven't explicitly told us about when we sign up, they have to give us at least 30 days' notice, and we can leave within 30 days of them telling us, without penalty. We can also leave without charge if there's a "serious problem" with our connection – very slow speeds, or ongoing technical faults leaving us without a service at all, for example.
Otherwise, leaving a longer contract before time can be an expensive business. Customers will be expected to pay what are known as early termination fees, which can be almost as high as the cost of keeping the service until the end of the contract.
Are short term contracts better value?
There's a certain amount of maths involved in working out whether a short contract broadband deal is better value than signing up for a standard deal. For people who know they're only going to need broadband at a particular address for a few months, there's no question – short term broadband is far better value than getting tied into a long contract.
No contract broadband deals are also popular with students for similar reasons. The cheapest standard deals all last longer than the academic year, and getting a month by month service means there's no need to pay beyond term time.
Go back up to the broadband deals