Urban dwellers, particularly those living in London, are lucky to have almost every method to connect to the internet available to them.
In this article we’re looking at the budget end of the spectrum, who offers cheap broadband without the bells and whistles for the best price? If you need advice on switching providers, check this out. We’re going to take a standard London address in Brixton as our base to work from on the available packages – although readers from outside London should see similar deals too.
Beware of adverts!
Adverts can be wildly misleading, the best example of this is offering free broadband. The small print, however, will tell you that it’s only free when you purchase a phone line from the supplier. In recent weeks some suppliers have recognised this and are moving to an all in one billing approach.
We will look at the offerings from the main suppliers and focus only on what is needed to get you online in London, nothing else. We’ll be using the address of a standard property in Brixton, Central London.
Some suppliers will give you a broadband line, but also apply a limit on the amount of data you can use per month. Whilst this is not recommended for heavy streaming use, if you are just using your connection for email and browsing then this will be fine. We’ll note below any usage caps.
BT Broadband. Up to 17mb. £24.99/month with £9.99 upfront fee. £75 reward card. No usage cap.
Bt’s entry level unlimited broadband (no usage cap) actually works out at quite a good deal, but you have to go through a number of steps. The broadband connection is delivered down your phone line, so you must include the price of this in the package. For a total of £24.99 our address in Brixton is able to get a phone line with unlimited broadband, with speeds up to 17mb. There is an upfront fee of £9.99 to cover the BT Home Hub 4 router which will give you wifi connectivity across your house, but this is massively offset by the £75 BT Rewards card that you will receive. BT also give you some helpful add ons for free, including free UK weekend calls and access to their BT Wifi network across the UK. See BT’s deal with £75 cashback here.
Follow this link as it will sometimes have discounts that are not available on BT’s normal site.
Relish is a truly wireless broadband supplier, delivering internet connectivity to your property via a beefed up 4G connection. This is great for those that are concerned about waiting for install times as the 4G router is delivered to you almost immediately by an engineer on a motorcycle with no phone lines or coaxial cable to install. The problem that Relish has is their limited coverage – you must really be in Central London to get coverage.
Talktalk. Up to 17mb. £22.95/month with no upfront cost. No usage cap. Free sim card with minutes and data.
Talktalk have some great value entry level packages. For £22.95 per month you get a standard internet connection which is fine for browsing etc. Many folk will find the lack up upfront costs very appealing and, as an added bonus talktalk will give you a free sim card which gives you 500mb of data, 200 minutes and unlimited texts for free. Whilst not everyone will need this, those that have just moved to the UK and also need a cheap phone package may wish to go for this option. Follow this link to see details of this package and its availability at your London home.
Virgin Media Up to 50MB. £27.99/month with £14.99 activation fee. No usage cap.
Our address in Brixton, London is Virgin Media enabled. This is important because Virgin Media run dedicated copper lines to your property (see our explanation of the different types of internet connection here). As this technology does not run down the phone line, there’s no need to pay for a phone line in addition to your broadband connection. Virgin will supply you with their very competent wifi router. The real plus here is that this is a very fast line and very capable of streaming Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other online media. Follow this link to go directly to this package with Virgin Media.
John Lewis Broadband. 10-19.5mb £22.50 per month with £49.99 upfront fee. No usage cap
All of John Lewis’ broadband prices now include line rental in the advertised figured, which makes understanding their pricing much easier (see this article for more details). Our Brixton flat could receive a line up to 19.5 on the basic package from John Lewis. The phone line that comes with this broadband package gives you evening and weekend calls. What might be appealing about this broadband is that you only need to sign a 12 month contract and all support is in the UK. Go direct to John Lewis Broadband here.
Plus net. 10-17mb. £20/month with £56.98 upfront fee – £50 cashback. No usage cap
At the address in Brixton, Plusnet will deliver a broadband connection over the phone line, with speeds of between 10-17mb, which is perfectly fine for light usage. The killer with Plusnet is the heavy upfront fee of £56.98 which includes installation and the router fee, however at present this is offset by a £50 cashback offer which really brings you down to £20/month. There are no usage limits so it’s worth checking out the £20/month offer with £50 cashback to offset the initial fee (see direct link here).
Sky. 14.7 – 21.4mb. £22.40/month with £20 upfront fee. £50 M&S voucher. No usage cap
When predicting the speed available to our flat in Brixton, Sky give a range of 14.7mb to 21.4mb, which is faster than others are estimating. The broadband is delivered over the phone line so you’ll need one of them. The total monthly price for 12 months is £22.40, with a £20 up front fee. Once this is paid you’ll never have any usage caps and you also get access to Sky’s wifi network (which allows you to get online when you are out and about). The low entry fee makes this option quite appealing. If you are considering Sky TV, or want the few extra MBs out of the line then you may chose this over talktalk.
You may also consider not buying internet at all. Instead you may wish to just tether to your mobile phone. This uses the internet connection in your phone that you connect to from your laptop over WiFi. You must be careful here as you will use up your mobile data allowance quite quickly, but it can be a good option for light users. You will need a very robust 4G connection for this, so we recommend checking out EE as their mobile data network is the most robust in London.
Note: Supplier pricing changes regularly. Whilst we aim to keep on top of these changes you should always check with the supplier for current pricing. These prices are correct as of November 2016.