Cheapest broadband, phone & TV packages

by , Technology Researcher Broadband 05/12/2013
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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.

How to get the best broadband deal – our expert guide

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’

Rob Leedham profile imageWhile TalkTalk does offer the UK’s cheapest broadband, phone & TV package, the TV part of its deal is pretty negligible.

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

More on this

Save £100s by haggling for your TV, broadband and phone bill – we explain how
How to get a broadband discount – our handy guide
Speed up slow broadband – expert tips

64 comments

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Ann Conroy

My Sky subscription costs £185.88 per year! (Something to do with the move from O2 broadband, and this is for the first year only.) So your information is not totally accurate.

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craig m

if you sign up to virgin media with fibre broadband and you do not want to have a telephone line (perhaps because you only want to use your mobile line) then you do not have to have the line rental component shown in the graph.I presently pay £345 for an 18 month period. It includes a £7 per month reduction which would bring the total up to £471 for an 18 month period. It is very fast and snappy and has been very reliable. Certainly don’t see any reason to change this!

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ann y waun

Presumably the Virgin deal is ,as always, subject to living in a cabled area. I am really tired of getting offers through my door from them as our street is not cabled.

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Jab

Flat owners living in a Virgin cabled area are also deluged with “join now, free connection” mailings, but are likely to find that, if their block hasn’t had a communal connection put in at the time of construction (surely something Virgin should have records of) they’ll point you to the small print at the bottom of all documents that starts “In a small number of cases…”

Worse, they’ll do this only after your order has been processed.

And if owners jointly enquire about retrofitting a communal connection….suffice it to say that the “free connection act now” bit doesn’t work.

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Roger L

Unlimited fibre optic broadband is great IF you are in the cabled area. Thus your comparison is not very reasoned for those of us limited to a phone line connection. When investigating Virgin get this message :

Sorry, your home isn’t in a Virgin Media area

We’ve checked your postcode and unfortunately we can’t bring you any Virgin Broadband, TV or home phone services.

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Ken townend.

Not long ago you were praising Plusnet. Now you do not metion them. Any reason why?

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Vince

This is about packages with TV – PlusNet do not do TV. If you don’t want TV then PlusNet are the best in my opinion. £30 plus for TV rubbish is too much for me – use Freeview or Freesat.

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Stephen Luk

Probably because they are now part of BT, but without the ‘Home hub’s'……………..????

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Colin Mills

I’ve just moved house to a non-virgin road and faced a pretty steep cancellation charge despite the fact that they offer an ADSL alternative. Interestingly, an ex Virgin employee commented that Virgin will refuse to make some of these connections as it would pull their average speed down, so caveat emptor. Virgin’s client service was appalling during this period (obviously they knew they had lost a customer and got their hands on the cancellation fee!) Plusnet, tho a bit scatty, were by far the best of the rest, and for fibre/telephony I would definitely recommend them.

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Don B

Understand that some areas of UK still cannot get Free View, but Free Sat is normally available. Why would anybody want to pay over the odds for TV that can be obtained for free. Understand that if you want special channels you have to subscribe, but I am content with the excellent broadband service that I receive from PlusNet at a fraction of the prices quoted in this survey.

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Dan R

Isn’t PlusNet owned by BT?

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Margaret Walker

I think it is. I’ve been with PlusNet for about 3 years, and they are far and away the best I have had. Competitive prices and proper Yorkshire call centre too!!

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john

plusnet are good providing their router works. I have problems with mine, a cheap thomson, and have to reset this on average three times a week. when I complain I am told they will do nothing unless i sign for another 18 momth contract. I don’t call this good service.

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Michael

I always recommend plusnet to my friends, I’ve been with them for about 4yrs now and found they have an excellent back-up service. I have never found any problems with supply of routers etc. Their prices are competitiveI and most of all I like the idea of a call centre in Sheffield.

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Isabel Phillips

I would also recommend plusnet but not after today. My monthly charge doubled without warning when I contacted them and requested a hard copy to see why they declined and the person I contacted stated she had no time to read out any phone numbers to find out why my bill which had an average of #30.00/month should of jumped to #60.00

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Robbie Wills

I have the Talk Talk TV broadband line rental. I was previously on the Tiscali package and when it came to uprading to the newer platform, I negotiated a deal whilst ditching line rental from BT. I got free line rental for 12mths, free national calls under 1hr per call, free international calls EU/USA/Australia under 1hr per call, Broadband unlimited usage (tho speed quality is definately debateable), TV package plus entertainment with youview box which records freeview 2 channels. Downside is where the tiscali format allowed me to record sky, fox, syfy etc in entertainment pack the youview box doesnt allow this …. all for £21.99 for first 12mths then the next 6mths add in line rental, there were also some discounts in the 1st 3mths. I live se1 london and had i had fibre optics available, i would have negotiated with virgin in preference. Sky and BT far too expensive !!! I dont believe this market is fairly competitive when it comes to tv/phone & broadband as very few residents would have all players to choose from depending on the infrastructure!!!!

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Pete Walker

In the area around Kingston upon Hull the service is provided by Karoo which has been mentioned once when it was advised not to use even though it is the ONLY provider of landline broadband. No other provider is prepared to come to the area because they cannot compete but this fact never gets mentioned. I find it offers a very fast and reliable service

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A Moody

Did someone say that TalkTalk offer the cheapest deal? I am with Primus Saver and this service
is miles cheaper than all of the services such as: Virgin-TalkTalk-BT or Sky, who I regard all of
these to be rip-off broadband services. They will promise you anything to get you signed up for
there services.

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Roger Neal

I’m very happy with my shareholder deal for BT Infinity 2 product with all calls and unlimited broadband @ £26 monthly plus annual line rental. I get BT sport free, including HD as I was an early signer, and have Youview box for about £50 (500gb) and BT vision for £5 monthly.
Shareholder deal requires ownership of just one share I understand.
After a slightly shaky, start service has been really quite good, with a change of modem, router and pair to improve connection.
If that’s too much have a look at PlusNet, and just why wasn’t it included?

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Jane H

When it comes to broadband I’m firmly in the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp. It’s too crucial to risk problems. I’m with PlusNet (although it was Globalnet when I joined it, centuries ago) and although it’s definitely not the cheapest, I don’t seem to get any of the problems I read about in the consumer press every week.
My broadband is reliable and fast; the guys on the end of the helpline (whom I rarely need to contact) are helpful and efficient and they speak English; I don’t get any frightening btinternet-type episodes in which I send spam to all my friends and lose half my contacts in the process; and I’m not in a bundle where any difficulties immediately threaten three services at once. I’m happy to be boring and to pay for peace of mind. (I’m probably tempting fate now…)

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Roger M

Price isn’t everything. Our broadband is very reliable (BT) and fast even though using overhead telephone cables in the countryside, while others I know complain about their links breaking down.

PS
Why is there a link to Armenia on this web page?

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Easi2export

I’m not that well versed in this subject matter and therefore read the whole Article with both great interest and in anticipation that it may well yield a potential cost saving – I currently use BT despite finding their approach to Customer Service far from satisfactory.

However, on reading many of the comments posted to date it would appear that an awful lot has been left out of the Article! For example how does Mr Leedham justify not including Plusnet in his analysis?

I’ve come to expect better from WHICH!

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daxiboy

Having been with Waitrose /John Lewis /Plus Net /Greenbee which are all the same company as such ,I have nothing but praise for them Customer service is far more important than justa cheap deal people who think cheapest is best often get caught out I tried Talk Talk a few years ago for my telephone as they said we will save you money . 2 months later I found to my horror that it was costing me more the grass is not always greener

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Drywsdad

Customer service and quality and reliable service means as much to me as cost.
We’re lucky to be in a cable area so we have got full choice from all providers.
We pay £43 a month for TV with TiVo included up to 60 broadband phone line rental and free landline calls and 0870 calls 24/7.
Has Which? Done a survey on customer satisfaction with internet providers? Cheap n cheerful us not always best!

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Tim H

I looked at switching to Plusnet as it advertises an attractive price of £2.75 per month for first 12 mths. When I came to place my order the price shot up to £9.99 per month rising to £16.99 after 12 months. No reason is stated on the web site or in the legal T’s and C’s. I contacted Plusnet and was told that the price was higher because I am in a “Market 1 Area”, a term I had never heard before. Whilst Plusnet have been awarded a number of accolades, I consider this to be misleading and Mis-Selling and Which needs to review its PlusNet status. Has anyone else had this issue?
At least Zen, who I am with at the moment, has a transparent pricing policy.

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merlin

Yes I am with PlusNet and have been a loyal customer for at least 5 years plus and saw the tempting offer of 2.75 per month for New customers and thought it might be worth contacting them by phone to obtain a reduction on the 34.00 – 38.00 pounds each month I pay at present for Value broadband and all calls phone package . I was informed I am in a ‘special area’ and have to pay more ( noticed John Lewis charge the same price whatever area you happen to live in so why this variation not sure} and do not qualify for cheaper price , on offer as only for New customers , approx. £4.00 could be taken off but only if I changed from a monthly rollover contract to 18 mths. So much for rewarding loyal customers, also the second Customer Service person was very rude and abrupt in her manner when I mentioned this,I declined their offer . Shortly after this an email from them told me there would be and increase in the amount I will have to pay each month from Sept. Once I would and very often did recommend PlusNet but now am going to change if only for customer service in 2014- still looking around.

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richard

I have TalkTalk Fibre. (gets 28Mb consistently, (more than they promised for my line). I have anytime calls, and anytme international calls and free calls to mobiles. That is exactly what I want, I don’t want anyones catchup TV because I have a Humax box. I cannot get this cheaper anywhere else, and TalkTalk ias been 100% reliable, and their customer service is good. For movies, I have Netflix (around £5/month), and can watch it and Google movies and youtube on my TV via a $35 Chromecast.

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Marion

How much is your Talk Talk package please?

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richard

36 ukp/month after a bit of haggling.I have been a TT Customer pretty much since they started in my area qaa out of contract so had some leverage.

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James Edwards

I want to know who provides the internet service for the last 3 posters. They are so fast they have travelled back in time or does Which not change the clocks like the rest of us?
Posted 5.43 pm by my watch.

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Drywsdad

We’re with Virgin media and have no complaints or inclination to change, when we recommend them we get £50 off our bill and our Friends get £50
A lady said earlier if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it, we think everyone should be entitled to better faster and more reliable service at a fair price with no hidden extras or clauses.

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Robin

The cheap deals are fine but if you live in a rural area they are not available to you so products such as bt infinity are not available, instead we have to put up with slower broadband speeds and pay more for the privilege! I used to be with talk talk but found that their service was poor, slow and when I inquired was told that I was an SP2 customer yet was expected to pay top rates for a broadband speed that was only at best 1.5 mb. I switched to bt although not perfect is quicker and now get around 3.5 mb although I am told we should receive up to 15 mb even though less than half a mile from the exchange!

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John M

I have been with Plusnet broadband/evening and w/ends phone since moving from Freeserve many moons ago, they have been very good other than slower speeds at peak periods.My main gripe is my monthly costs seem to get higher and higher due to my ever increasing costs due to phoning mobiles from home phone.
As anyone cancelled their phone package and just bought a cheap mobile to replace their home phone ?.

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Joan Elwine

Why no mention of telecomplus (utility warehouse)?

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Tony Kennedy

Like others I might be tempted by Virgin Media but for some reason my whole village is set up for Cable (even the 3 houses opposite) but when it was originally installed they missed out the three houses including mine on the even numbered side. I also get fed up of mail asking me to sign up, yet they cannot be bothered to wire up just 3 houses within 100 mtrs of the main box and 15 mtrs from the house opposite. Does not say a lot for the service they offer. I live in Cherry Willingham, Lincoln.

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Paul

I personally think we are all being charged too much for this service and believe that there should be a lower cost for line rental if you do not use it. (Ie phone line for calls)This is just a way of making more money!! I am with virgin and they have just anoussed that they will be charging customers more than £4 exstra a month from the end of January. Richard Branson SHAME ON YOU! I will be canceling my contract ASAP !!

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ross

I would not use TalkTalk if they gave it to.me for free. It’s all great until something goes wrong and you have to contact customer services, which in my opinion is the worst I have ever experienced. I had numerous calls of over ninety minutes resulting in not only getting nowhere but actuallywruw making the problem worse. I left them incurring a financial penalty which I was happy to pay to be free of them.

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ross

I would not use TalkTalk if they gave it to.me for free. It’s all great until something goes wrong and you have to contact customer services, which in my opinion is the worst I have ever experienced. I had numerous calls of over ninety minutes resulting in not only getting nowhere but casually making the problem worse. I left them, incurring a financial penalty which I was happy to pay to be free of them. In the end my new provider paid the penalty on.my behalf.

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Austen Raine

This comparison is irrelevant to many people living in rural area.
In these areas the broadband connection comes down BT’s ageing infrastructure which is incapable of providing speeds adequate to maintain broadband and TV.
It then doesn’t matter which broadband provider you are with.

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meronzouk

There is no mention of service. I’ve been with Virgin Media since it was Comcast. Their free service for TV and computer related problems is free, handled with patience and effective. Do the other brands offer this? As a way of reducing costs one can gain a massive discount by paying up front for the telephone component. My only current grouse is that my account is about to be increased by £4.50 per month for additional TV channels not of my choice nor wanted. Perhaps I can negotiate or get some freebies to compensate.

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Paul

Meronzou k, like you,I also think that increasing our monthly payment for what they call exatra Chanel’s is totally wrong. If this sort of percentage increase was put on our energy bills there would be a public out cry, it would be on the news and in the papers so why do we allow broadband surplyers to get a way with it !!
U

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Figgis

I’m a Talk Talk customer for phone and broadband only. I have no desire to have a TV package from them or BT as I am mostly content with Freeview. The only other TV I’m interested in is golf coverage from Sky as they have the rights to broadcast, in the UK, almost all the golf around the world. For that privilege I am expected to pay a vast sum of money which covers all sports, a basic TV package and a HD channel fee if I wish to take advantage of my HD TV feature. I do not have an alternative to Sky except watching the small amount of golf coverage on BBC. Perhaps I may be interested in TT or BT TV when they start competing with Sky for golf tournaments. I shall not hold my breath though.

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Melville

For about four years I had Post office telephone and broadband, living in rural Scotland. Their customer service was excellent, replacing non working modem with next day delivery. Free evening and weekend calls, at an affordable cost.
I would not advise anyone , ever, to use Talk Talk, who will lie their heads off about the totally useless promises they make, and then never keep.. No broadband for three weeks, and then they tell you that it is not their problem, it is your computer that is broken.!
Independent checks show that it is a Talk a talk problem, and they still ignore the problem.
Six weeks of talking for hours and hours with mindless idiots, I cancelled my contract with Talk Talk, and moved across to Post Office tel/broadband and the problems stopped.

Talk Talk are useless !

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David C

Has anybody else noticed BT’s stealth price increases:

‘free’ 1571 is £1.75p per month from 4 jan 2014

‘free’ caller id is now called BT Privacy and is bundled with TPS registration – looks like BT is pretending it’s a service they provide.

Recently I also found that net protect was no longer included in my broadband package, that 200 texts were no longer included -I could go on!

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Figgis

Is it legal for BT to bundle a free TPS registration service with a chargeable service. Will some customers be misled and think they have to pay for to register with TPS?

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Jimg

Not the best of comparisons, seeing as though sky is only a 12 month contract (very rare these days) so tied in for less…

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Janet Hudson

Utilitiy Warehouse not included in this article. Utility Warehouse has supplied me with gas
electric, broadband and telephone which I think is a great deal, maybe you could incorporate these bundles in the future. Regards Janet Hudson

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Giles Trumpet

Just signed up to EE broadband (cuz I have an Orange mobile so get a discount) and am looking forward to leaving BT …. very nearly went to PlusNet, simply because of the prices, and also considered TalkTalk, but, thankfully, others I spoke to beforehand changed my mind ~ and reading some of these comments makes me feel glad I avoided both ! Time will tell IF I’ve made a good move ….

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Enrico

Following a phone problem (July) which was fixed, my broadband broke down and the next three months were hell with Talktalk. Visit after visit from engineers, two replacement routers, wiring, 5.5 hours of ‘strained’ overseas phone calls, three wasted days with missed appointments, until it was finally announced (as I had maintained) that the problem lay in the exchange 1.3 miles away. The “faults manager” – in Lancashire – admitted the declaration should have been made “months ago” (small consolation to me). They made a small compensation but I live in fear of more of those phone calls to ‘fault helpline’. I am considering changing but have made no decision yet but the above submissions have been helpful.

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Tommy Agar

I just want broadband so the TalkTalk deal is good for me.

I can use the free minutes on my mobile for phone calls, I don’t need a TV licence as I use Apple TV
and don’t watch in realtime, so I actually save a great deal.

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Steve Threlfall

I have talktalk, my broadband is free unlimited download. my line rental about 10 pounds a month, paid in advance. unlimited phone calls all day. Cost per month £25. I have free view and freesat, which gives me iplayer etc by using a humax box and telephone connection. My wife follows cycling and snooker which comes by Eurosport for £1.99 a month. I live 5km from the exchange and get 3megs which does not quite give HD all the time. Fibre to the box will halve the distance, and is supposed to be available from 13th Dec, needless to say there is no sign of Openreach, so I am not holding my breath. I think talktalk is good value, to have broadband, freeview,freesat, eurosport all phone calls and line rental for £27/month. I have to spend £145 for a licence, which is a rip off for the poor television programs available, but that is another story.

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mickyloo

Just had a letter from Virgin telling me prices are going up by £3 per month so I immediately checked out BT prices which took ages on their website. I currently get a 20mb service that never drops out or dips below 19.5 and BT could not guarantee that or offer anything similar – either 16 or 38mb. Did not bother to convert and looking at the comments above they are putting up prices by stealth which is something Virgin have already done ie I already pay for caller display. The whole market is a mess of dodgy tariffs just like mobile phones and in my opinion the regulator is ineffective and next to useless if you add in their inability to do anything about 08 numbers and nuisance calls even when registered with TPS.

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dewkavanagh

I’m a city-dweller, but still tied to BT’s aging and unreliable infrastructure, so the fancy packages don’t apply to me. I’ve been with Zen for many years and am very pleased with them–excellent customer service, and NO contract. I’ve been tricked too many times in the past to take out a contract and pay for things I don’t use, and/or have the prices increase. I have a pay-as-you-go phone (that I bought) as well, a Freeview/ recorder for TV, and PO phone with free calls to the US on weekends. Paying separately is still cheaper for my needs that any package I’ve seen quoted, and I can switch providers whenever I like.

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