Dear Dominic, I’m looking for a cheap home phone and broadband bundle, but can't decide between TalkTalk and Plusnet. Can you help?
Steph, via email, 14 September 2009
Our expert says...
Plusnet Broadband (www.Plus.net) and TalkTalk Broadband (www.TalkTalk.co.uk) are two of the lowest-price broadband bundle providers on the market - so if you're looking for a cheap broadband provider, these are both great choices.
Plusnet's cheapest standalone broadband package starts at just £6.49 a month for customers living in one of its local loop unbundled (LLU) areas. Add its Value package to a home phone bundle, with Plusnet line rental at £12.99 a month, and you get a total of £19.48 for customers in a "low cost area".
And TalkTalk isn't far off either. Its Essentials broadband and home phone package costs £6.50 a month, which added to its line rental at £14.50 a month, gives you a total of £21.00.
Both providers also have occasional promotional offers which can reduce your monthly charges by up to half for a set period.
However, it's not just about price.
TalkTalk vs Plusnet broadband
When it comes to the technicalities of broadband, TalkTalk (www.TalkTalk.co.uk) does come out on top. It offers a higher download allowance on its basic package, and even the option to double your download allowance.
TalkTalk's broadband comes with a set download allowance of 40GB a month - far more than Plusnet's 10GB. As a TalkTalk customer you can also buy rolling monthly Boosts to double your download limit to a massive 80GB a month.
TalkTalk's broadband connections offer download speeds of up to 14Mb.
On the other hand, Plusnet's (www.Plus.net) Value package comes with a 10GB monthly download allowance and additional usage is charged at £5 per 5GB - however, any usage between midnight and 8am does not count towards your monthly allowance. This is fine if you're a light user, or carry out the majority of your online activity after midnight, but for non-night owls, or for those of you who want to download music and movies, or watch the latest episode of Eastenders on the BBC iPlayer, then chances are, you'll need a higher download allowance - or you could end up being charged for exceeding your limit.
Alternatively, Plusnet offers 60GB download package. However, this starts at £11.49 a month, pushing your monthly cost up to £24.48.
Inclusive home phone calls
There are two things that you need to consider when looking at home phone charges; inclusive minutes and out-of-bundle call costs.
Here you need to look at how you use your home phone to assess what kind of service you need.
As standard, TalkTalk (www.TalkTalk.co.uk) offers unlimited evening and weekend calls to UK landlines. You also get free calls to 0845/0870 numbers in the evenings and at weekends.
Again, you can buy monthly Boosts to add anytime UK landline calls, reduce the cost of calling mobiles, or add 500 minutes of calls to landlines and mobiles in 100 international destinations for a monthly fee.
Plusnet's (www.Plus.net) standard home phone package comes with inclusive evening and weekend UK landline calls, as well as calls to other Plusnet customers.
You can also upgrade to anytime UK landline calls with a 25% discount on international calls.
Out-of-bundle home phone calls
If you're going to make any calls that aren't included in your home phone allowance, you'll need to know how much this is going to cost you. Unless specified, costs are for daytime rates on chargeable calls.
|Provider||Daytime UK landline||Evening UK landline||Mobile call - O2||International landline call - India||Call connection fee|
|Plusnet||7.5ppm||Inclusive||12.5ppm||24.5ppm||12.5p connection fee|
|TalkTalk||7.95||Inclusive||12.26ppm||28.6ppm||13.5p connection fee|
As long as you use a copper wire ADSL broadband connection, you'll have to pay for your line rental. Plusnet does offer cheaper line rental than TalkTalk, at £12.99 a month, compared to £14.50. However, if you're taking a bundle, you will be considering the full monthly cost of your deal.
There's more to broadband than just high speeds and low costs. You also need to take into account the kind of service that you'll receive.
Although both Plusnet and TalkTalk made appearances in the BroadbandChoices.co.uk customer satisfaction awards 2011 - Plusnet performed well across the board, including coming third overall, behind O2 Broadband (www.O2.co.uk) and BE (www.Bethere.co.uk). TalkTalk was recognised in the Value for money category for Bundled Services.
Plusnet has received a host of other awards over the years, and while TalkTalk got off to a rocky start, it has made huge gains, investing millions of pounds in its customer service.