What's the best broadband deal for January 2021?
As of the week beginning the 11th of January 2021, our favourite broadband deal is:
EXCLUSIVE: Virgin Media M50 Fibre + Weekend Calls
|Speed (average)||Contract length||Setup fee||Cost/month||Offer||Ends|
|54Mb||18 months||£0||£26||£75 Bill Credit + £50 Amazon card||17/01/21|
Broadband deals change all the time, so check back regularly if you don't see something you like right now.
Of course, everyone has different requirements, and what's best for one person may not suit another. So how do you go about finding the best internet deal for you? Read on to learn how to compare broadband packages and pick the best deal.
How to choose the right broadband package
Comparing Wi-Fi deals can be daunting at first. There’s a vast range of providers and packages, a constantly shifting choice of special offers, and no small amount of technical terms to decipher. But armed with a little knowledge you can focus on the stuff that matters and ensure you get a broadband package that’s right for you.
Here's what to look out for as you compare broadband offers.
Speed is critical because it impacts what you can do with the connection, how quickly you can do it, and how many people and devices can use the broadband at the same time.
A small household of one or two people does not necessarily need fast speeds, whereas a busy family will probably be best off with faster fibre optic internet. But on the other hand, one person may have very demanding requirements and need the best speed possible.
The speed shown in broadband deals is an average figure; the actual performance will likely be different. When joining a provider, you should always be given an accurate speed estimate.
The monthly price is your fixed monthly cost, not including extras such as phone calls or TV package add-ons. The monthly price includes broadband and (when applicable) line rental, as well as TV services in the case of broadband and TV bundles.
Some offers have a cheaper monthly price for a period of time (often the first 12, 18, or 24 months of the contract), which then increases after the initial contract term. If you always want the cheapest broadband, switch at the end of your contract to take advantage of the latest special offers.
The amount you’ll have to pay when signing up for a home broadband package. Our setup costs include both activation fees (a charge for actually setting up the broadband) and any other one-off expenses such as postage for the Wi-Fi router. If you’d prefer not to spend anything you can find and compare broadband deals with no upfront cost.
Broadband deals are available on short term (one month, three months, and six months) agreements or, more commonly, longer contracts of 12, 18, or 24 months. You might also find student deals around August and September. Longer contracts are usually best value, but only if you’ve got no plans to cancel the service in that time; if cancelled early there will be an early termination fee.
The data limit restricts how much you can use the broadband each month before facing additional costs or service restrictions.
However, most home broadband deals are now unlimited. There may be some cheaper packages which have a monthly cap, but we do not recommend these as unlimited broadband is cheap and readily available.
Special offers and free gifts
Broadband offers are often available with free gifts such as shopping vouchers and pre-paid credit cards. You’ll also find exclusive deals that are only available from Broadband Genie.
These free gifts can be a very welcome addition to a package, but don’t let this sway your decision if the deal isn’t quite right, and always consider the full price after discounts.
A broadband bundle combining internet access with TV can be a way to simplify your bills and save a little money. If you’re already considering getting any of the services offered, then they can be good value. But if you’re not going to make full use of every part of the deal, then you might be better off getting the broadband by itself.
Phone line and phone calls
Any home broadband service using the Openreach (BT telephone line) network requires an active landline, and in almost all cases this is included in the monthly price.
If you regularly use the phone for calls, then it’s also worth getting an inclusive call bundle, rather than paying per call.
If you do not need a landline, Virgin Media offers broadband without a phone.
What type of home broadband can I get?
There are various types of home broadband, and which one you choose will determine the speed, cost, and choice of providers.
Availability varies with location, so your first step is always entering a postcode to see what’s on offer in your area, which you can do right now by entering your postcode here:
Broadband Genie postcode checkerWhy do we need your postcode?
ADSL, or standard broadband, is the most widely available and cheapest type of broadband technology. It uses the Openreach (BT line) telephone network so almost all homes can get access. ADSL offers speeds averaging around 10Mb, which is suitable for individuals or small households but relatively slow by modern standards.
Learn more: Guide to ADSL
Fibre optic broadband
Superfast broadband using fibre optic lines is much quicker than ADSL; most of the cheapest fibre services average around 35Mb which is more than three times as fast as the average speed of an ADSL connection.
However, coverage of fibre optic internet is more limited and as such fewer homes will be able to get this service, though it is still available to the vast majority of premises across the UK.
Virgin Media broadband
Virgin Media operates a national network separate from the Openreach telephone lines used by almost all other ISPs. It is much faster than many other providers, with speeds now reaching up to 516Mb. And Virgin can also offer broadband without a phone line.
But not everyone can get Virgin; at present, slightly more than 60% of premises are covered by the Virgin Media fibre network.
Learn more: Can I get Virgin Media broadband?
Alternatives to home broadband deals
Can’t get regular home broadband, or can’t find something that fits your needs? There are other services outside the mainstream options.
- Mobile broadband
The latest 4G and 5G networks can be faster than some fixed-line home broadband services, and a few providers (notably Three and EE) are offering mobile broadband deals for home. However, you must be able to get a strong signal to receive a fast connection, and if you can’t get a package intended for home use, you’ll find that it ends up being a lot more expensive and restrictive than regular home broadband.
- Satellite broadband
Satellite broadband can work anywhere in the UK, making it valuable in rural areas where no other service is available. But satellite broadband can be expensive, often has data limits, and suffers from very high latency. It’s a great last resort, but not worth considering if there’s any other alternative.
- Fixed Wireless Access
Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) uses long-range wireless transmissions to provide broadband without fixed lines. Wireless broadband can be reasonably fast and affordable, but it is a niche service and only offered by a handful of providers in specific locations.
What broadband speed should I get?
Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps, or Mb) or if you're lucky, gigabits per second (Gbps, or Gb). This number represents how fast you can transfer data. The bigger the number, the faster the broadband service. Faster speeds allow you to download files quicker, stream higher resolution video, and enable more people to share the connection.
But what broadband speed is right for you? As a general rule, allow 10Mb for each person using the internet, then double it for anyone who is regularly using the broadband for more demanding activities such as online gaming and high definition video streaming.
Will I get the average speed?
Broadband offers are advertised with an average speed - this is the rate achieved by 50% of the provider’s customers. There is a chance you’ll get something close to the average, but your connection could also be slower or quicker than average.
When you sign up for a deal, the provider will provide an estimated speed for your line, which is typically a lot more accurate.
Can I complain if my broadband is slow?
If your broadband speed is much slower than estimated, then you should contact the provider. They will have to investigate the problem, and attempt to fix it.
If they are unable to remedy the situation, you may have grounds for cancelling the contract without penalty. However, the speed will need to be significantly slower than quoted. For example, if you were told it would be 35Mb and you’re receiving 1Mb this would not be acceptable. But if it’s 30Mb, then the provider is unlikely to uphold any complaint.
Some providers are signatories to the Ofcom broadband speed code of practice, which gives you additional rights. If your provider has signed onto this, and it is unable to deliver the speed you expected, you can cancel for free or move onto a cheaper deal.
Do I need unlimited broadband?
Unlimited broadband is the best choice for most people.
Some of the cheapest broadband packages have a data usage limit; this restricts how much you can use the broadband each month. Exceeding the cap will result in extra charges or other penalties such as a reduction in speed.
But since unlimited broadband is so cheap and easily available, there’s generally no good reason to opt for a limited deal.
What home broadband bundle deals are available?
Bundling your broadband up with another service can save money and simplify your bill payments. But what kind of broadband deals are available, and should you choose one?
Should I get broadband and phone?
Almost every broadband provider will be able to offer you a broadband and phone package, in fact it may be the only option; many providers do not sell broadband without a phone line.
Because line rental is usually required, a broadband and phone bundle is usually referring to a package which provides inclusive phone calls in addition to the line rental. These can save a significant amount if you frequently use the landline for calls, but if you only have the phone line for broadband they aren’t worth paying extra.
Can I get broadband and TV?
Broadband and TV bundles are available from the following providers:
- BT TV bundles include a YouView box which provides access to Freeview channels plus optional premium content. All BT TV bundles include free BT Sport.
- EE used to offer a Freeview TV box but is now bundling an Apple TV 4K box with selected broadband packages. You don’t get access to live channels, but Apple TV offers a wealth of streaming content.
- NOW TV offers something a little different; it gives you access to selected premium channels (including Sky Sports and Movies) via a streaming box and viewing passes that you can purchase on a flexible monthly basis.
- Sky is famous for its premium satellite TV, which offers a massive choice of channels covering everything from the latest hit U.S. shows to niche interests.
- TalkTalk TV is a great budget option. You get a YouView box with recording, live pause and rewind features, and optional premium add-ons which you can change at any time without committing to a long contract.
- Virgin Media TV is Sky’s main competition, delivering a vast choice of content over its national cable broadband and TV network. Virgin also offers faster internet than most other providers.
Can I get broadband without a phone line?
Broadband without a phone line is available, but the term can mean different things.
It may apply to broadband only packages, which still require an active phone line but allow you to choose a separate phone provider. These kinds of deals are increasingly rare and not currently available from Broadband Genie. Most broadband offers can only be taken with line rental from the same provider.
It may also be used to refer to broadband deals with line rental, but without inclusive calls. You’ll find plenty of these kinds of packages on Broadband Genie, and we generally recommend these for anyone who isn’t going to use the landline for calls.
It is also possible to get broadband which doesn’t require an active phone line. Virgin Media has the best range of broadband without a phone line deals, though you can also get a 4G or 5G home package from Three or EE.
What providers are listed on Broadband Genie?
Broadband Genie lists deals from some of the best providers in the UK as part of our unbiased broadband comparison service. Compare broadband with us, and you’ll find offers from the following ISPs:
Frequently Asked Questions about broadband
What broadband is available in my area?
To find out what’s available in your area, enter a postcode into our comparison table to filter services by location.
For more help with broadband availability, visit our local broadband hub.
What is the cheapest internet deal?
Broadband deals change all the time. The quickest way to see the cheapest offer is to sort our comparison table by price. But don’t forget to take special offers into account too, as a nice voucher reward or cashback offer could make a big difference.
How do I compare broadband?
We’ve designed our comparison tables to make comparing broadband as easy as possible. In brief, follow these steps to compare deals:
1: Enter a postcode
2: Use the filters to narrow down the options.
3: Sort the table by important criteria - such as speed or price - to quickly find the best deal for you.
4: Click ‘Go’ on your chosen package to sign up.
How do I switch broadband?
Switching is now effortless. If you’re moving between Openreach network providers (which is most besides Virgin Media) you only need to sign up and the new provider will handle the rest. If you’re moving to or from Virgin Media then it’s a little more involved because you’ll need to contact the old provider to arrange for your existing service to end.
To find out everything you need to know about this topic, read our comprehensive guide to switching broadband.
Can I get broadband without a contract?
All packages involve signing a contract, but what you can get is a short term monthly deal which means you’re not committed for a long time. There are also specialised student broadband deals designed to fit into term times.