TalkTalk claims its new Essentials package is the cheapest for broadband, phone and television. We test whether this deal is too good to be true.
TalkTalk claims its new Essentials package is the cheapest for broadband, phone and television. Costing just £22.90 per month (including line rental) it certainly looks like a good deal, but is it the cheapest?
To find out we compared the cheapest packages currently available from BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media.
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TalkTalk – cheapest for broadband, phone & TV
TalkTalk is as good as its word when it comes to offering the UK’s cheapest broadband, phone and TV package. Over the course of an 18 month contract, it’s £384.50 cheaper than Sky’s cheapest comparable deal. Plus, free weekend and evening calls come as standard too.
What’s the trick? Well the deal includes a YouView box that can rewind and pause live TV, but not record it. To get a better box you’ll have to sign up to a more expensive TV package. Plus, you’ll only receive standard Freeview channels with TalkTalk’s Essentials TV – Sky Movies (£15 per month) and Sky Sports (£30 per month) cost extra.
Read our full TalkTalk review
BT – catch up TV and access to BT Sport…sort of
BT’s TV Essential and Unlimited Broadband package is £214 more expensive than TalkTalk’s equivalent bundle. For that extra cash you get a YouView box that can record TV programmes but not much else. You won’t be able to watch BT Sport on your TV, although you can watch via the BT Sport app on your tablet or phone, and the broadband isn’t fibre optic. Most importantly, BT ranked bottom for broadband in our bi-annual internet service provider survey.
So, although the BT package offers slightly more than TalkTalk, for £214 extra it doesn’t necessarily offer a better deal. Apart from that YouView box…
Read our full BT review
Sky – more channels, more money
Sky’s website is very adept at hiding the true cost of its unlimited broadband, phone and bundle. You can get a cheaper deal with its £36.90 per month Lite broadband package, but that’s not comparable with what’s available from TalkTalk, BT and Virgin Media. All these offer unlimited broadband in their basic bundles – Sky charges an extra £7.50 for it. When you do add up the cost of Sky’s basic bundle, it comes to a whopping £801.20 over 18 months.
The benefit of paying more is that you do get access to 35 more TV channels offering a high standard of programming. That means Sky Atlantic (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire), Sky Living (Dracula, The Blacklist, America’s Next Top Model) and Sky 1 (Glee, Yonderland and The Simpsons) are all available to watch. If you don’t have a Netflix or Lovefilm subscription, it’s arguably worth the money.
Read our full Sky review
Virgin Media – faster fibre optic broadband
If you subscribe to Virgin’s bundle online as part of its current Red Hot Sale, your 18 month contract will come to £537.82 – this includes a £50 discount thrown in on top of everything else. This deal won’t be around forever so in the graph above we have listed the price without the discount.
While Virgin’s deal isn’t the cheapest, it’s probably the best in terms of bang for your buck. Virgin offers fibre optic broadband as standard instead of a slower ADSL connection. With BT and Sky scooping up more premium customers thanks to their extensive TV rights – Virgin is a better option if snappy broadband is what you’re interested in.
Which? expert verdict – ‘TalkTalk may be cheap, but you should pay more than its basic deal’
Most TVs already come with a Freeview tuner preinstalled. That means you probably already have access to the stations (all of which are free to air) in the TalkTalk package. Crucially, the Essentials TV, broadband and phone deal locks you into using a set top box that can’t record TV.
To get PVR from TalkTalk that can record shows, you’ll have to pay £30.90 per month for its Plus TV offer. This is £144 more expensive over the course of 18 months, but still £75 cheaper than BT’s equivalent TV Essentials package.
Personally, I like the look of Virgin’s current offer. Unlimited fibre optic broadband is a real boon when streaming BBC iPlayer and the like. Combined with a TiVo box, with 500GB storage space for TV and movies, it’s worth the extra £171 when compared to TalkTalk’s basic package.
As for Sky, if you’re going to pay that much for TV you may as well get it with all the sport and movie trimmings. These added extras are expensive but Sky offers value through its unique content – TV programmes and films you can’t watch anywhere else.
Rob Leedham, writer
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