Free broadband

Tuesday 26th February, 2013 By
Free broadband

TalkTalk was the first provider to offer free broadband back in 2006 with a raft of other providers quickly getting in on the act. However the offers disappeared just as quickly and it is only Sky that continues to offer a 'free' broadband package...

In this guide:

Is it really free broadband?
Any catches?
Are there any other freebies available?
Broadband with a free connection

Is it really free broadband?

Of course nothing is really free. But since most households are already paying for their line rental, as well as the cost of digital TV or home phone calls, a 'free broadband' offer could save you money, simply by cutting out the additional cash you would have to fork out each month for your internet connection.

But money isn't the only thing that you need to take into account.

Free broadband got off to a poor start and a subsequent bad rap. Following the launch of its free broadband offer, TalkTalk (www.TalkTalk.co.uk) was so inundated with subscriptions that it was unable to connect many people for weeks at a time, and connection speeds for both TalkTalk and Orange's (now EE) (www.Orange.co.uk) own free broadband offering were poor. These providers no longer offer free broadband.

However, Sky (www.Sky.com) was far more successful in its free broadband launch, having learnt from TalkTalk's previous mistakes. Plus, it offers speeds of up to 14Mb broadband on its free tariff.

Currently Sky is the only provider to offer free broadband for more than a short time, however this is only available to Sky TV and phone customers as part of a bundle.

Other providers often run special offers that mean your broadband will effectively be free for the first few months of your contract.

Any catches?

Sky's free broadband package only comes with a distinctly limited usage allowance - so if you are anything other than a light internet user these packages are unlikely to be suitable for your needs.

It's also important to remember that when you get a free add-on, you might not always get the highest quality service, however, this is not the case with Sky which has won a number of awards for its reliable broadband service.

Michael Phillips, managing director of Broadbandchoices, said: "Free broadband has come a long way since TalkTalk first launched the concept.

"But remember that it's not just about cheap broadband. You need to think about how you will use your broadband. If you only need it for very light activities like checking emails and online banking, Sky's free Everyday Lite package, with its 2GB limit, would be fine. However, if you want to download movies and music, or stream iPlayer, you'll need a higher download allowance - and free broadband is unlikely to offer this.

"But free broadband isn't the only way to keep costs down - there are many reliable, low-cost deals around too," he advised.

Are there any other freebies available?

TalkTalk's free broadband revolutionised the market, spurring a host of competitors to offer not only free broadband, but also free laptops. Vodafone (www.Vodafone.co.uk) and AOL (www.AOL.co.uk) even offered free games consoles at one point.

These days 'free' laptops have been replaced by 'free' tablets, which are offered by some providers when you take a mobile broadband contract with them. Others offer tablets for massively discounted upfront fees, however with both free and discounted tablet offers, you should be aware that over the course of the contract you will paying for the cost of the tablet and some. The benefit is that this approach allows you to spread the cost of your tablet over two years rather than paying for it all upfront.

Mobile phone operators like EE (formerly Orange) (www.EE.co.uk) and O2 (www.O2.co.uk) who have branched out into the broadband market have also taken advantage of their considerable customer bases by offering discounts to their existing mobile customers who sign up to a mobile broadband package.

Broadband with a free connection

Although there are fewer free broadband packages around these days, you can still save a bit of money by looking for a broadband package without a connection fee.

Broadband providers regularly run special promotions offering free connection so it's worth looking around for deals currently being offered. However, don't be blinded by the headline promotion costly monthly payments might make a package more expensive in the long run.

Compare broadband providers by first-year cost with our comparison service. That way you'll know about any special deals on offer and will be able to find a package to suit your needs - and your pocket.

"When choosing your new broadband package, compare prices and then weigh costs against the kind of service that you want. There's no point saving on a service that you can't use in the way you need," concluded Phillips.

Cheap broadband deals

Sort by
First year cost
Primus Saver Broadband + Phone Unlimited Broadband & Weekend Calls (Exclusive to Orange/T-Mobile/EE mobile customers) Plusnet Essentials + Weekend SimplyBroadband
Monthly cost: £2.00
(for 6 months)
1st year cost: £16.00
Monthly cost: £2.00
(for 12 months)
1st year cost: £24.00
Monthly cost: £1.99
(for 12 months)
1st year cost: £29.87
Monthly cost: £3.50
1st year cost: £42.00
speed up to 16 Mb speed up to 17 Mb speed up to 16 Mb speed up to 16 Mb
Eve & wknd calls inc. Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc. Pay as you go
Go Call Primus on
0800 036 0391
Go Call EE on
0800 072 4137
Go Call Plusnet on
0808 178 5954
Go Call TalkTalk on
0800 049 7843



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