Buyers’ guide: Broadband and TV packages
If you’re looking for the best value TV and broadband deals and offers in the UK, including an internet connection and phone line (and maybe either cable or satellite television), spending a little time looking at the Broadband Genie comparison tables can pay dividends. We’re here to help you pick the best broadband and TV deals.
There is a good spread of broadband internet tariffs available, with everything from cheap budget ADSL broadband packages through to top-end superfast fibre-optic bundles. Prices vary a lot, so there should be something for everyone. The high end offers provide unlimited downloads and all the sport and film channels you’d ever want. But if you're looking to save by getting the basics and combining your bills into one service, then TV and broadband deals can still be the best way forward.
If you don’t want TV included (for example, if you’re happy with Freeview), you might still want to specifically look for telephone and broadband deals. We’ll cover these below too.
What are TV and broadband packages?
A broadband and TV package does what it says on the tin: your internet and television services (and usually your landline) are handled by one company on one convenient bill. You’ll find several of the leading home broadband internet service providers will give you the option of singing up for broadband and TV bundles, with Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk and Sky leading the way.
The great thing about them is you simply pay one monthly price for these broadband and TV deals, so it streamlines the setup process and generally works out cheaper and easier in the long run. On top of that, there is a single point of enquiry if you need to talk to either customer services or tech support.
While you compare the deals and offers here, you may well see ISPs saying some services are 'free' as they’re bundled with the other products. Remember, the price is invariably factored in to the package somewhere, so be sure to read the small print. This is why we include the useful ‘effective cost’ column that takes everything in the tariff (from free months to setup fees) into consideration so you don’t have to do the maths.
Telephone and broadband deals
While it isn’t always necessary to look into telephone and broadband packages, it makes sense for the same reasons that the TV bundles do: If you get telephone and broadband together you will often save on your overall bill, while getting just one bill and having a single port of call for any customer service or technical support queries.
Another advantage is that it brings the non-TV suppliers into play – popular broadband internet suppliers such as O2, Plusnet and EE who are a little smaller in scale but high on service, value and/or other services such as mobile broadband. Not everyone offers telephone line rental, but if your chosen broadband supplier does it is definitely worth investigating. You may end up with slightly better call rates, for example.
Cheap TV and broadband
For the less heavyweight internet user, who only needs to dip into emails each day and also do a little bit of browsing on the web, then a smaller TV and broadband package will probably be more than adequate, and one of the lower download (or channel) limit services should still suit most peoples' needs.
Cheap broadband and TV packages can provide real value, but even then before you sign up for one make sure you’re really getting what you need – as well as real value. For example, with Freeview now offering a multitude of channels, is that bottom end Sky or virgin TV package really offering you extra channels you’ll actually watch?
On the broadband side, be sure that you’ll be getting a fast enough connection and a high enough monthly download allowance.
- Speed: This can be an issue in a household or business where you’ll be connecting multiple machines, especially if you intend to be streaming video services or doing a lot of online gaming. A Cheap end deal may not be able to cut it.
- Data allowance: Again, streamers and gamers beware – but also those planning on downloading large files (games, films etc). If you opt for a cheap deal and go over your monthly allowance, you may be hit with charges for the extra data you downloaded – and suddenly it’s not the cheapest option anymore!
On the plus side, if you do buy cheap TV and broadband packages you’ll find your supplier will be happy to upgrade you to a more expensive deal down the line. If you’ve opted for an expensive offer and want to downgrade, it might not be so simple – especially if you had some nice sweeteners thrown in.
High-end TV packages
If you can afford to pay a little extra, and live in the right area, high-end broadband and TV packages can be a real pull. If you’re willing to want to spend £60 per month or more you can enjoy fast broadband with unlimited downloads alongside more television channels than you can shake a stick at.
And there are other benefits to these top notch TV and broadband packages. These can range from free internet security and unlimited calls to free premium channels, including Sky Sports and movie channels. The sky (no pun intended) is the limit if you can afford to pay a premium.
But while it sounds really tempting, ask yourself this: are you actually going to use all these services you’re paying for? There are very few homes that currently actually make use of 100Mb broadband speeds, while you have to be a real sports or film nut to get a lot of value from the top-end television bundles that are available. Before you click through to buy, take a few deep breaths and think it through!
Comparing TV and broadband deals
You’ll find a wide variety of different pricing options. How much you pay will revolve around the length of the contract, any of the chosen TV options that are added to the bundle deal, along with the usual factors such as broadband speed and those differing data limits.
- Provider: Many are household names, but some of the providers here may be new to you. If you want more information about an internet provider, simply click its approval or reviews link to see how real customers who have used its services rank it.
- Price: This is the standard monthly tariff you can expect to pay for the bundle you choose.
- Contract length: This is how long you’re signing up for. You’ll tend to find longer deals (two years) will offer better value, as you’re rewarded for your loyalty. However, be sure you’re in a position to commit: might you be moving home, or may your circumstances change? It can be costly to renege on these long contracts – so read the small print!
- Max speed: This is how fast the broadband on this deal could be. Be sure to enter your postcode to make sure you’re seeing the deals that are actually available in your area. Also, if you are in an area only served by older ADSL speeds (less than 20Mb) your distance from the telephone exchange may be an additional factor: check directly with the provider before you buy to get an accurate speed analysis.
- Data allowance: Check your current supplier’s bills or website to see what you’re actually using right now. You may be paying for more data allowance than you need, which could really save you money on a new tariff.
- Effective cost: This is the monthly price when you take in any offers and setup fees. It can be very handy to check this, as a deal might be better than you think!
- Offers: Theses will be highlighted in red and are limited time only. Be sure to check the expiry date – if you wait to long, you might miss that perfect special offer!
As pricing structures change all the time, our comparison tables are amended constantly to ensure you are always seeing the latest and best deals currently available. Offers come and go too, so if you don’t see the perfect TV and broadband package this week be sure to pop back in a week or so to see what’s new on the market.
Cable versus BT Openreach
As you’ll see from our comparison tables, many of the major internet service providers offer these TV and broadband packages. However, when factoring in all of the considerations of your package – such as cost, speed, data limits and so on, it’s worth remembering that that if you want to switch between cable and BT Openreach services you could incur extra costs and work.
While the likes of Sky and TalkTalk have their own network infrastructures they still operate from inside BT Openreach’s telephone exchange and cabinet system that stretches across the whole of the UK. So, if changing between BT and Sky, for example, the switch over should be relatively straightforward.
If instead you’re moving between one of the BT Openreach services and Virgin Media’s cable service, it’s a different ballgame. Virgin has it’s own complete cable network, so if your house hasn’t had it installed before you’ll be looking at engineers running a whole new set of cables into your home.
(Note: If you are outside of Virgin’s cable network, which covers around 60 per cent of the population, it is still possible to pay for broadband via Virgin Media – you just won’t get its cable television of fibre services, but instead the offers it has through BT Openreach).