It doesn't seem that long ago when you got your phone line and calls from BT, internet from a dedicated ISP and TV was limited to the terrestrial channels. Since then the telephone market has been opened up, TV has moved to cable and satellite with hundreds of channels and the number of ISPs has grown. Numerous acquisitions and mergers later, and everybody seems to sell everything. Here are the main package providers:
BT Broadband: As the telecommunications market has been opened up, the telephone side of the business has decreased due to more competition. The company still has the responsibility of maintaining and developing the UK's phone network but BT internet is an increasingly important part of its business... BT Broadband Reviews >>
Sky Broadband: The company started out as a satellite TV provider, merging with British Satellite Broadcasting in 1990 to form British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), although everything is marketed under the Sky brand. Since then, it has increased its TV offering, with several new channels, but also added... Sky Broadband Reviews >>
Virgin Media Broadband: Virgin is one of those brands that seems to be everywhere, mainly offering travel, entertainment and lifestyle products and services. The brand started in the 1970s with the launch of a record shop and now comprises more than 400 companies worldwide.
The internet service is ... Virgin Media Broadband Reviews >>
So it seems that telephone companies will sell you a phone package that includes TV and broadband. Sky offers a TV package that also has phone and broadband. And your ISP has a broadband package that has the lot as well. In effect, everything's got a bit blurred.
The good thing about this development is that there are so any suppliers with so many offers that, by shopping around and comparing what's available, you should be able to get the best price for what you need. Don't think of them as phone packages, TV packages or broadband packages anymore - they're simply a collection of services that often come down the same line to meet most of your entertainment and communication needs.
The bundling of services does add an extra layer of complication because you're no longer just thinking about broadband speeds and usage limits. You also have to consider the TV channels you're getting, when you can phone for free and the cost at other times, and try to get it all at a cheap price.
As with all these things, price isn't everything because the cheapest price usually gets you the lowest level of service. You have to assess what you really need for each element, avoiding the temptation to buy anything you won't use, and then choose the best overall price.
The bundling process isn't standing still and you need to be aware of what else is about. You can, for example, get a 'free' laptop if you sign up for a Vodafone mobile broadband deal and various mobile phone suppliers have similar offers. With the boundaries continuing to blur, it seems likely that the content of bundled offers may grow further.