New data points to 1 in 6 homes struggling to afford their broadband packages as the burden of home-schooling continues for thousands of families across the UK.
And although Hyperoptic together with 37 local authorities, as well as some of the largest telecoms’ companies including BT, Vodafone, Sky and O2, are joining together to offer free high-speed broadband to families across the UK, it seems the help can only go so far; and a mere temporary solution.
Broadband deals for low-income families
Despite broadband being considered a basic utility, nay even a basic human right, you would think there would be schemes to help low-income families get online. But there isn’t. The closest there is to that in the telecoms world is BT Basic, which is a means to get a very cheap phone line should you qualify (it’s means-tested).
Beyond that, it’s going to come down to finding the best possible deal, so you are at least spending as little as possible.
Although many suppliers offer what they call ‘low cost’ broadband deals, there is only one supplier in the UK that specifically offers anything at all for families or individuals on low incomes – and it’s not broadband. BT Basic is a low-cost telephone service for people on specific means-tested benefits. Those means-tests are:
- Income support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pensions Credit (Guaranteed Credit)
- Employment and Support Allowance (Income related)
- Universal Credit (and are on zero earnings)
What is the cheapest broadband option?
There are three ways of getting broadband into your home: ADSL, cable, and fibre. The ADSL option will usually be the cheapest, though not always if there’s a special deal on. Although it won’t reach the ultra-high speeds of fibre or cable, ADSL (usually around 10-11Mbps) will easily be fast enough for browsing the web, sending, and receiving emails and even streaming music and movies.
You will find that you’ll have to take a landline phone connection with any ADSL deal. This is simply because of the way that ADSL is connected to your home. This means that you will also get some landline phone costs included in your ADSL deal. You should make certain to check on those phone costs too.
What to look for when buying broadband?
First, before you even think of signing a deal with a broadband supplier, always look at what is called the ‘total contract cost’ not just the monthly cost or the total first year cost. The total contract cost shows you the minimum you will pay for the length of time you’ll sign up for. If that total contract cost isn’t quoted, you should ask for it.
The quoted total monthly cost won’t include the setup/installation costs or any additional connection charges. Don’t use the total monthly cost to budget for your internet connection.
Also remember that the total yearly cost is definitely not the same as the total amount you’ll pay if you’re tied into an 18-month contract. In all cases, with ADSL connections, using the included landline is not free unless explicitly stated, and charges can pile up. So, you should make sure you know if, and how much, you are being charged for the following:
- Line rental – Whether you make calls or not, you will always have to pay for line rental but remember that this also covers the cost of the physical internet connection.
- Local call charges – Ideally these should be free
- National calls charges – Ideally these should be free too
- Calls to mobiles – You will be charged for these calls
- International calls – You will be charged for these calls
- Calls to international mobiles – You will be charged a lot for these calls
- ‘Other calls not included in your package’ – This looks vague because it is. It can cover things like calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers for example
All those costs might look worrying if you’re on a low income. Remember that you don’t have to use that landline, so you’ll only incur the line rental cost each month.
Will my credit history stop me getting cheap broadband?
Most broadband suppliers will carry out credit checks on you before offering a contract. If your credit history (you may also see this written as ‘credit rating’) is poor, you may be rejected. Don’t despair, you can still get broadband at home. There are options for PAYG and ‘no contract’ deals available. The no-contract choice usually ties you to a month-long contract which rolls over. Beware though that both PAYG and monthly/no contract deals usually come with hefty setup costs ranging from £30 to upwards of £50 and can cost more than similar contracted deals.
Some broadband providers do no credit checks at all. Right now, those are NOW Broadband, Plusnet, and Direct Save Telecom. If you’re really worried about your credit score and want a contract deal, you should check what they have to offer first and foremost.
Can I get broadband for free?
The short answer to this one is: No, you can’t get free broadband. There are no free deals in the UK no matter where you look. If you are offered or see a deal that claims to be free, check the small print – you will end up paying one way or the other.
What tends to be hidden in the details of the advertising for broadband that seems to be free are things like: charges for the delivery and installation of your router, connection charges, call charges using the bundled landline phone. So, be sure to read any terms and conditions, and look at all the details at check-out before you check-out.
Finally, if any of the details are not clear and obvious to you, remember that you can ask for all charges related to the broadband deal to be explained to you by the supplier. If the supplier can’t or won’t do this, it’s best for you to move on. There are plenty of broadband suppliers available.
You can view the full guide here: https://broadbanddeals.
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