If you’re not already bundling your home telecoms services, perhaps it's time you joined the millions of people who have already added digital TV and home phone to their broadband package. Bundling with one company could save you over £200 a year.
Internet, phone and TV packages - choosing the best bundle for you
All four providers have different advantages over their competitors. BT offers a great value TV service - through which you can access pay-as-you-go on-demand shows - and has the largest network area, covering areas of the UK that many other providers do not.
Sky is well-known for the exclusive television coverage offered by its satellite TV service, TalkTalk utilises the newest digital TV platform as part of a package that gives good value for money and Virgin Media has consistently fast broadband speeds and an extensive catch-up TV service.
- Broadband speeds - Virgin Media (www.VirginMedia.com) and BT (www.BT.com) both offer broadband packages with speeds of up to 100Mb and beyond. Virgin Media consistently ranks highly in communications regulator Ofcom's broadband speed tests and performed well across the board in the broadbandchoices customer satisfaction awards 2012, being highly commended for its quality, reliability and speed of activation. BT's fibre broadband, BT Infinity - which is already available in large parts on the UK - is rapidly being rolled-out across the country and will be available to two-thirds of the UK by 2014, giving it unrivalled coverage across the UK.
- TV channels - Sky (www.Sky.com) and Virgin Media offer the biggest selections of channels in their packages. Sky has over 60 high-definition (HD) channels, as well as Europe's first dedicated 3D TV channel, Sky 3D. Virgin Media has an extensive on-demand offering, including BBC iPlayer direct to your TV, while Virgin Media TiVo enables you to record up to three programmes at once. BT TV offers YouView, a TV service that combines "live" digital TV channels, catch-up TV and on-demand content, as well as a whole host of interactive services. BT TV is a good budget option if you take the basic TV package, but you need to have a BT phone line and a minimum connection speed of 2Mb to get the service. However BT's TV packages all include BT Sports channels (BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN) for free which include 38 live Premier League matches. TalkTalk's (www.Talktalk.co.uk) TV service TalkTalk Plus TV is also based on the YouView service. Subscribers can pause and rewind live TV as well as customising their TV service with a range of TV Boosts.
- Phone rates - Most packages come with inclusive calls on weekends, weekends and evenings, or anytime. Choose a plan which reflects how you use your phone. If you make most of your calls on your mobile, a cheaper weekend-only plan could work for you. However, if you love to talk and spend lots of time using your home phone, an anytime plan may work best.
- Line rental - You will also have to pay line rental with these providers. This can vary quite widely from provider to provider, but among the these four providers the difference in line rental price is usually less than £1.
Remember, cheaper doesn't always mean better - you should think about what your main priorities are.
Broadband & Phone & TV deals
Monthly cost: £10.00
(for 6 months)1st year cost: £153.00
Monthly cost: £9.00
(for 6 months)1st year cost: £162.00
Monthly cost: £13.00
(for 9 months)1st year cost: £195.00
Monthly cost: £5.00
(for 6 months)1st year cost: £211.95
|speed up to 14 Mb||speed up to 30 Mb||speed up to 30 Mb||speed up to 16 Mb|
|Up to 82 channels||Up to 57 channels||Up to 134 channels||Up to 80 channels|
Call TalkTalk on
0800 049 7843
Call Virgin Media on
0800 098 8203
Call Virgin Media on
0800 098 8203
Before you choose a new provider, you'll need to find out exactly what is available in your area. Virgin Media's TV service and superfast broadband are only available in its cable network area, which cover just over half of the UK.
BT, Sky and TalkTalk have greater coverage, with BT covering 99% of the UK. However, with BT your connection speed needs to be at least 2Mb to support its digital TV service - use the broadbandchoices broadband speed tester to see what speed your connection is.
Sky can provide a connection to 98% of the UK, but if you are outside of Sky's own network area - which covers around 83% of the country - your package will cost you more.
TalkTalk covers around 86% of the country's households, and is looking to extend its network coverage to 93% of the UK. You'll need a minimum broadband speed of 3Mb to use the provider's digital TV service, and 5Mb to be able to add TV Boosts such as extra channels and on-demand services to it.
Is it better not to bundle?
When it comes to bundling broadband, phone and TV, you might be worried about the cost of calls as BT, Sky and Virgin Media don't offer the most competitive rates.
If this is the primary consideration for you, then TalkTalk could be the provider for you, as price wise, it's very hard to beat its call costs when it comes to big bundle providers.
For those on a tight budget, a free-to-view provider like Freeview (www.freeview.co.uk) is the obvious option to consider. The range of channels is not as extensive as with the paid digital TV services, but since the analogue TV signal was switched off in 2012, it's the cheapest way to continue watching TV as you only need to make a one-off payment for the set-top box - there is no monthly subscription.
As with all such deals, you really need to take your needs into consideration. Don't get a service you won't use just because it seems like a good deal unless it is cheaper to have it than not - after all, no matter how good the deal, it's still a waste of money if you don't use what you're paying for.
What's the future for bundling?
If you love the idea of bundling and want to take it to the next level, then Virgin Media can offer the ultimate in bundling. As well as offering broadband, home phone and digital TV, Virgin Media also supplies mobile broadband and mobile phone packages.
BT Wi-Fi, BT's wireless internet network, and Fon, its shared Wi-Fi community, means that BT customers can connect smartphones, tablets and laptops to the internet when out and about, using a combination of BT mobile broadband and inclusive wireless broadband minutes.
No matter what the next stage in bundling is, we are unlikely to turn our backs on bundles any time soon, as the ease of dealing with a single provider and the savings that can be made appeal to many of us.
Use the broadbandchoicesbroadband comparison calculator to compare bundles available in your area and find the right deal for you.
If you're looking for a bundle that doesn't include digital TV, read the broadbandchoices guide to bundling home phone and broadband.