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There are many "cheap deals" out there. Broadband providers announce them all the time to lure in new customers. For example, Tesco announced a £2.50 a month broadband deal. Who wouldn't be taken by that?
Of course, the savvy internet service seeker will check out the recent polls to see who is being voted the best, right? Well there are a lot to choose from. BT won this poll for fastest broadband, Plus.net won this poll for best customer service, and Talk Talk "won" the most complained about poll.
Then you've got the problem of which provider is best in your area. Apparently London has the worst 3G but Wolverhampton has the worst line speeds. Cornwall's broadband development was voted best project of the year.
Then you've got security to think of. Talk Talk claimed they were the most secure network to go with ... until the Advertising Standards Agency made them stop saying that. And O2 got in to trouble for showing their customers phone numbers to the website owners of websites the customer visited using their phone.
You can't even trust the company's own adverts because and of course, Talk Talk have been slammed for misleading adverts too.
Looking for the best deal? If you're looking for a cheap internet connection, there are lots of broadband deals around. However, you need to look behind the headline figures and compare broadband deals because they all offer something different. What appears to be the cheapest broadband deal isn't necessarily the best option in the longer term. Here are a few past and present examples of what comparison sites are not always able to show you and some insight in to how broadband providers get away with advertising one price that seems great, only to let you down when you try to get it:
As of November 2009, AOL seemed to be the cheapest home broadband deal, with a price of £4.99 for various broadband offers. All had a maximum 8Mbps download speed, a 10Gb monthly limit and varying phone call deals. These prices applied for the first three months only, going to full price thereafter and with a connection fee in some cases. You also pay an additional monthly fee if you don't take the phone deal, which shows the cost of the free weekend and evening calls is less that the income from calls at other times.
Virgin Media came in next at £5 a month for its base fibre optic offering with free wireless router and weekend phone calls, unlimited downloads and a speed of up to 10Mbps. Ordering online also gave free installation and the first three months free. However, the £5 price goes up to £14 after three months and you need to take their line rental at £11 a month, although this is no more expensive than elsewhere. Boosting the download speed to 20Mbps takes the price to £10 for each of the first three months and £20 thereafter, while paying a further £8 a month gets you 50Mbps. As with AOL, if you don't take the phone deal, you pay more.
PlusNet had a value package with a 10Gb limit and 8Mbps maximum speed. BE offered a similar deal but with unlimited downloads. Talk Talk's deal covered broadband and phone, with an 8Mbps speed limit, 40Gb cap and free weekend and evening calls. You could pay extra for 'boosts' to line speed and phone calls. O2's headline price only applied to existing phone customers and was more for the rest while BT's £7.78 price went up to £15.65 after three months.
There are a lot of cheap packages around, some of which include unlimited broadband. The reason for them is competition, with suppliers fighting for your business and offering cut price deals to get it. However, you need to check carefully for the best broadband deals. Compare what's included and if you really need it. Look out for additional set up costs and the length of the contract, which may vary from one to 18 months or even more. Also, look for internet offers because you might get more freebies if you order online.
It's probably best to compare costs over a period of at least a year to identify the best deals, since this will take account of set-up costs and reduced introductory terms. Be careful if you buy a cheap broadband package because it might not give the performance and features you need. Cheap packages are OK but if you're a heavy user and breach the download limits regularly, you might pay more in the long term. Also, bear in mind these are all home broadband deals so, if you're a business user, you need to look elsewhere.