Who offers the UK's cheapest broadband deal?

broadband phone

BROADBAND providers are no longer allowed to advertise the price of broadband without also including the price of line rental, as a result we no longer see "free broadband", but that doesn't mean it's not available.

Rules established by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in September 2016 set out that where broadband requires a fixed line the price displayed must include the cost of both the broadband and the line rental parts.

Previous to this it was common to see broadband being advertised for £1.99 or even for free. Now it's rare to see prices below £18.

However, despite this, providers are still heavily discounting the price of broadband for the length of the minimum term, including deals from Sky, Plusnet, TalkTalk and the Post Office.

In this guide we'll reveal the UK's cheapest broadband provider, and we'll also look at who is offering fibre broadband the cheapest too.

The UK's cheapest broadband deal

Currently the cheapest broadband deal available in the UK is being offered by the Post Office, with their up to 17Mb unlimited package costing just £19 per month for the first 18 months.

This price includes line rental with weekend UK calls and setup is included at no extra charge; that's activation and a wireless router to get online.

Post Office Broadband

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This is the cheapest deal over the longest period: 18-months. Both TalkTalk and Plusnet offer a deal cheaper in price, but that only lasts for 12-months - meaning that while customers can switch at this time, the "go to" price will kick in sooner if customers don't switch.

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront cost Monthly price
post office broadband Unlimited Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 17Mb
18 months Free £19
for 18 mths,
then £28
origin broadband Broadband Up to 17Mb
12 months Free £19.49
for 12 mths,
then £29.48
talktalk Fast Broadband Up to 17Mb
12 months Free £18.95
for 12 mths,
then £25.50
Plusnet Unlimited + Line Only Up to 17Mb
18 months Free £18.99
for 18 mths,
then £27.98
Sky Broadband Unlimited + Talk Up to 17Mb
12 months £19.95 £18
for 12 mths,
then £28.99
BT Unlimited Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 17Mb
18 months £9.99 £23.99
for 18 mths,
then £40.99

In addition, with the exception of BT, the other deals don't include any inclusive calls, so the Post Office is arguably better value considering the home phone service too.

Compare more prices on cheap broadband here.

Actually the cheapest

Comprehensively, the actual cheapest broadband deal is currently offered by Origin broadband - but only when customers pay for their service a year in advance.

Package Contract term Monthly price Paid in advance Equivalent monthly
Origin Broadband 12 months £19.49
for 12 mths,
then £29.48
£154.99 £12.92

While a number of providers offer pay upfront line rental, Origin are the only ISP offering a pay upfront deal on broadband, and it does make it astonishingly cheap.

To get the deal, customers should follow the signup process but then 'deselect' the pay monthly package to find a list of options including the pay upfront deal.

However, we'd urge caution: Origin broadband is fairly new to the market and they've fallen prey to the same problem TalkTalk faced around five years ago.

Their prices are cheap and as a result they've taken on many customers in a short space of time and now they're struggling to cope and those customers are complaining.

The cheapest fibre broadband deal

Of course cheap broadband tends to be found on standard "up to 17Mb" broadband deals. But larger households; families or sharers; or people who regularly watch films online or do a lot of gaming, may want to consider a fibre service instead.

Fibre broadband is more expensive, but even entry level deals offer speeds up to 38Mb - and due to the difference in the technology used to deliver the service, real world speeds are generally faster too.

Luckily many providers now resell BT's Infinity fibre broadband service, meaning competition has driven down prices of the service.

Plusnet are currently offering the UK's cheapest widely-available fibre broadband - offering up to 38Mb unlimited fibre and line rental for just £22.99 per month for 18 months.

The deal carries a £25 setup charge.

TalkTalk also offer an up to 38Mb unlimited fibre service for £25 per month for 18 months - slightly more expensive than Plusnet, but there is no setup fee.

Plusnet's deal is still cheaper overall because £25 setup spread over 18 months is £1.39 a month. Whereas the increase monthly charge by TalkTalk is £2.01 more.

Package Broadband Contract term Upfront cost Monthly price
Plusnet Unlimited Fibre + Line Only Up to 38Mb
18 months Free £22.99
for 18 mths,
then £32.98
talktalk Faster Fibre Up to 38Mb
18 months Free £25
for 12 mths,
then £27.50
origin Fibre Up to 38Mb
18 months Free £25.99
for 18 mths,
then £32.48
post office broadband Unlimited Fibre Broadband + Weekend calls Up to 38Mb
18 months Free £28
for 18 mths,
then £36
ee Fibre + Line Only Up to 38Mb
18 months Free £29
for 18 mths,
then £35

Compare more prices on fibre broadband here.

Technically speaking, Hyperoptic are currently offering the UK's cheapest fibre - but they're only available in selected buildings in 21 cities. If you think this may apply to you our full guide to Hyperoptic is here.

To really nab the best deals however, it's also worth knowing a little more.

Here are five secrets those paying the least for their broadband and calls know - and that everyone else should know too.

1. The cheapest broadband where you live

Some "cheap broadband" providers only offer their cheapest deals to customers who live in the most competitive areas where broadband provision costs the least.

Customers living in more rural areas can find they aren't eligible for the advertised prices - and the prices they are offered can often be more than if they shopped around for the cheapest broadband where they lived.

Both Plusnet and Origin Broadband work on geographical pricing. John Lewis on the other hand is a resold version of Plusnet but its prices are available wherever a customer lives.

Our cheap broadband comparison offers the ability to search providers by postcode and prices are displayed for that area.

2. Pay upfront

Line rental has become the most expensive part of a broadband and calls deal - with BT now charging £18.99 per month.

Many providers offer a pay upfront deal, often called "Line Rental Saver", which allows customers to make one lump sum to cover their line rental subscription for a year in advance.

Paying upfront in this way usually brings the cost of line rental down from an average of £19 per month, to around £15 or £16 - that's a saving of up to £48 over the year.

Here are the broadband providers offering pay upfront line rental:

Line rental Paid in advance Equivalent monthly
bt £18.99 £205.08 £17.09
ee £18.50 £189 for 12 months
£283.50 for 18 months
plusnet £17.99 £185.88 £15.49
post office £16.99 £179.88 £14.99
virgin media £19 £196 £16.34

As mentioned, budget provider Origin broadband also offers a pay upfront option on broadband too. Bringing the price of its service down incredibly low.

Package Contract term Monthly price Paid in advance Equivalent monthly
Origin Broadband 12 months £19.49
for 12 mths,
then £29.48
£154.99 £12.92

3. Bundling calls

Its now fairly impossible to save money by trying to take broadband and line rental from separate providers. Providers want customers to take multiple services and this is heavily indicated in their pricing.

Most broadband providers require a home phone line, however Virgin Media don't and as such people who really don't need a home phone may want to consider broadband without a phone.

However, as the table below shows, the savings aren't as great as we might expect.

Package Broadband Contract terms Upfront price Monthly price
virgin media Vivid 100 + Talk Weekends Up to 100Mb
12 months £20 £34
for 12 mths,
then £45
virgin media Vivid 100 Up to 100Mb
12 months £20 £32
for 12 mths,
then £38

Providers who require line rental are increasingly removing any inclusive calls - so that high monthly charge only covers the cost of having a phone in the house, not for making any calls.

At the time of writing, for example, one 60 minute landline call made during at the weekend with Sky would cost £7.07 (11.5p/min + 16.9p connection). That one call is almost twice as expensive as the cost of upgrading to Sky's Evening and Weekends Extra call plan, which costs £4 a month.

Similarly, be cautious of bundle deals which only offer inclusive weekend calls, as BT, EE, and Virgin Media do as standard, for example.

More providers now charge a flat rate for non-inclusive calls, whatever time of day or day of the week they're made, and as the example above shows it doesn't take much to run up a serious monthly bill.

Spending a few pounds extra each month to add inclusive evening calls, or even anytime calls, might end up cheaper than going without.

This is particularly true for those who, for example, often make overseas calls: here is our guide to the cheapest international calling plans.

It used to be possible to save money off the monthly cost of the phone and/or broadband, or earn rewards for paying it every month, via some loyalty schemes, but these are now rarer than hen's teeth.

What some people will be able to do is earn cash back for paying their bills as normal - a couple of banks offer this perk as we explain here.

4. Bundling pay TV: if you need it

The more services we take from the same provider the more money we can save overall. However, in the case of pay TV it really comes down to whether we need it.

Pay TV can often be the most expensive part of a broadband bundle and customers are limited to Sky, Virgin, BT and TalkTalk.

Strictly speaking, to save the most money, customers are best placed to take a cheap broadband and phone deal, and cut back on a TV subscription by looking into streaming services such as Netflix instead.

However it's possible to compare TV and broadband bundles by price here.

5. Take out a contract

Most of the cheapest deals are offered on longer-term contracts of at least 12 or 18-months. It's uncommon to see 24-month terms on broadband.

However, of the providers that also offer rolling 30-day contract terms for those who know they only need broadband for a short while, they usually charge more per month and come with higher upfront fees too.

6. Haggle or switch regularly

Most of the cheapest broadband prices are introductory offers - and while they generally now last for the length of the minimum contract - if customers don't switch or negotiate a new deal the price they're paying will increase.

Many providers will negotiate cheaper deals for existing customers who are willing to sign a new minimum term. So don't be afraid to ask.

Alternatively, people should compare prices again and switch to another introductory offer to keep costs down.

7. Cheapest isn't necessarily best

When we look at reports of customer service and broadband reliability it's rarely the very cheapest providers offering the best service.

Both Sky and Virgin Media consistently score the best in customer service reviews and have the lowest complaints figures according to Ofcom.

Sky do offer some cheap deals, but neither provider would be considered "budget", in comparison to Plusnet, TalkTalk or Origin.

Ending up with a service that drops out frequently or takes a long time to resolve problems could be more frustrating than saving a couple of pounds a month.

Read our guides for more information on the best broadband for customer service and which broadband provider is most reliable.

8. Super cheap: pay as you go or free wi-fi

Not for everyone, but for those who only need an occasional connection it's even cheaper to make use of free wi-fi instead of taking out a home subscription.

Even pay as you go mobile broadband with 4G speeds has become a tenable way to get online and customers only need to pay for what they use, which could be ideal for very light users.

Finding free wi-fi

Thousands of cafes and pubs across the UK offer free wi-fi to their customers, including Starbucks, McDonalds, Wetherspoons, Walkabout and Pret a Manger.

However, it's worth considering that shelling out for a few coffees a week to use these connections could soon add up... and possibly cost more than getting a landline and broadband contract.

We've covered this more in our guide to the UK's wi-fi, but sites such as free-hotspot.com can also help people find businesses that offer free wi-fi in their area.

VoIP calls

Those looking to cut down on call costs may also want to consider free VoIP services such as Skype and Sipgate.

Users need to download the same software as each other - it's almost always free from the service's website. Then it's simply a case of choosing a username, finding our friend's username, and hoping the internet connection on both ends is fast enough.

From setup to speaking it takes just a few minutes and, as long as users don't exceed their data allowance, it's totally free.

There's more in our guide to making cheap international calls here.

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