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Updates related to the home broadband provider EE.

Laptop and phone

Are broadband bundles or standalone deals right for you?

Posted on 2019-04-11 14:01 in Features EE Hyperoptic TalkTalk NOW Broadband BT Sky Virgin Media

Is it better to get your broadband, TV and phone services as part of a single bundle from the same provider, or should you shop around for the best standalone deals?

Is it simply a question of convenience versus flexibility? And does one work out cheaper than the other?

Let's take a look.

What kind of bundles can you get?

There are three types of broadband bundle. Where providers offer more than one you might see them described as triple or quad-play providers.

Broadband and call bundles

Most broadband services need you to have a traditional phone line, the price of which will be included in your broadband bill. Many providers - even some of the smaller ones - make the most of this requirement by offering you a call plan as part of a bundle. You can add off-peak, Anytime or International calls for a few extra pounds a month. If you don't add a plan the price for any calls you make just gets added to your bill.

Even some providers who don't require a landline will still offer you call bundles, and that can work out cheaper even if you don't intend to use them. For example, Virgin Media's broadband with phone options are cheaper than just standalone broadband for the offer introductory period of. After this, it goes up by £2 a month, but you always have the option of ditching the phone portion at the end of your minumum contract, or some people might consider the extra £2 worth it for extra piece of mind in an emergency. Of course, this isn't always the case, as with Hyperoptic who charge more for a phone bundle than they do for a standalone product. But it's worth investigating to see whether a potential provider requires a landline or not, and if you can make a saving by getting calls bundled in.

Broadband and TV bundles

Broadband and TV bundles are the next most common types of deal. These are generally restricted to the bigger name providers like Sky or BT, and can give you access to premium TV channels that show Premier League football or the latest movies. But beware, they aren't all like this. Some TV bundles, such as the basic TalkTalk or Virgin TV deals, don't offer many more channels than you can get with Freeview. You get a set-top box that lets you record or pause shows, but doesn't include any pay TV channels unless you choose to upgrade. Take a look at our guide on the cheapest ways to get pay TV for the full lowdown.

Broadband and mobile bundles

The other type of deal you can get is a broadband and mobile bundle. Again, these are rarer. Your options are split into two groups: either money off your bill, or a bonus added to your mobile plan, usually in the form of a bigger data allowance. The good thing about the latter is that you can add it to an existing plan if you're already a customer, without needing to take out a new deal.

How do the prices compare?

So how do the prices of bundles compare to buying all your services separately? And do they work out cheaper? Well, it's complicated. When you compare like-for-like services, bundles will usually give you a decent saving. But if you're willing to make compromises on what you need, they might not be the best option.

Here's an example. Let's say you want to sign up to Sky TV.

As of April 2019 you can get Sky Entertainment with 63Mb Fibre in a bundle from Sky for £42 a month. By contrast, if you took the cheapest fibre deal with an average 63Mb speed, from TalkTalk, plus the same Sky Entertainment package from Sky it would cost you a total of £47 a month. It's the same story for different speed broadband, and when you add more TV channels the gap increases further.

Bundles are cheaper when you compare like-for-like services. But - and there's always a but - it isn't quite as simple as that.

If you take that 63Mb TalkTalk Fibre plan and add a NOW TV Entertainment Pass instead of the Sky subscription, the monthly price plummets to just £33. In fact, add the NOW TV plan to Sky Fibre and it works out £7 a month less than the Sky bundle.

What gives? The important thing here is to compare the small differences in the services you're getting. NOW TV is cheaper and gives you the same channels you get through Sky, but it's also a far less premium service. You can't use it to record shows, access red button services, watch 4K broadcasts, or plenty of other things.

In summary: if you want the full monty, a bundle will almost always be cheaper. But if you're willing to shave off some of the extras, you might be able to make savings by buying separately.

Are bundles right for you?

Money aside, the big selling point of bundles is convenience. A bundle gives you one contract, one bill, and one customer service department to deal with. In most cases you'll be able to renew at the same time, too. And you could argue that getting all your services from the same provider will give you more leverage when it comes to negotiating the best deal. The more you pay, the keener they'll be to keep you.

But buying standalone deals has its merits, too. You get more choice, for a start, since there aren't many triple or quad-play broadband providers. And more flexibility, which lets you pick up a faster broadband package than your chosen TV provider can offer, for example. Plus, there's the possibility of taking shorter deals. Sky TV comes with an 18 month contract, Virgin 12 months, and NOW TV just 30 days.

Call plan bundles are the easiest to decide upon. Lots of us don't even have phones plugged into our landlines anymore, so don't need them. But if you make a lot of landline calls - especially international calls - then go for it.

For TV, make sure you know what you want before you sign up. For the full pay-TV experience a Sky or Virgin Media bundle will work out cheaper. If you just want a few extra channels, like from NOW TV or the handful of premium channels offered by BT, a standalone deal might actually work out better.

And as for mobile, keep an eye out for indirect savings. Sky TV customers, for instance, are automatically eligible for unlimited free calls and texts, which means they only need to pay for a data plan. The cheapest they offer is just £6 a month - almost certainly less than you're paying at the moment. EE give 5GB of mobile data to their broadband customers each month. This won't show as a saving on your broadband bill, but is likely to enable you to switch to a much cheaper mobile plan and make your savings there instead.

The main thing is to know what you need and how much it will cost you separately. The you can compare it to how much an equivalent bundle will set you back. Use our comparison tool to find your perfect broadband bundle to get started.

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Broadband compensation

Automatic compensation for loss of broadband service goes live from today

Posted on 2019-04-01 16:56 in News TalkTalk Zen Plusnet BT EE Sky Vodafone Virgin Media Hyperoptic

A new voluntary code introduced by Ofcom goes into effect today. This scheme means that the broadband providers who have signed up will have to reimburse customers in the event of their broadband or landline phone service being down for longer than two days. Here's what you need to know.

The compensation you can expect

  • Delayed repair following loss of service - if a fault takes longer than two days to fix, you can expect £8 for each day after that period that your broadband is not repaired
  • Missed appointments - if the engineer does not turn up or your appointment is cancelled with less than 24 hours of notice, you can expect £25 per missed appointment
  • Delays with the start of a new service - if your broadband does not go live on the agreed date, you can expect £5 for each day of delay, including the missed start date

Homes and small to medium businesses who choose to use residential broadband are eligible for compensation on this scheme, and you should only need to report the fault for compensation to be paid out automatically.

To qualify for compensation, faults must not be of your own making (for example, your problem is down to your own wiring and equipment, you shove a spade through a vital cable on your property, or you're not at home for an engineer visit). You're also due compensation in the event of extreme weather causing problems and third-party incidents that contribute to the delay of repairs.

The providers taking part

Originally BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen signed up to the agreement back when it was proposed in 2017. Since then EE, Hyperoptic, Plusnet and Vodafone have also signed up, accounting for more than 95% of broadband and landline customers in the UK. While most of these providers will be participating in this scheme from today, Hyperoptic and Vodafone will start automatic compensation later this year, and EE should be ready to do so next year.

Find more information in Ofcom's press release.

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BT with choice of tech and a £120 BT Reward Card

EXPIRED: Offer roundup: grab your vouchers and tech treats here!

Posted on 2019-03-01 19:17 in News Offers Expired EE John Lewis TalkTalk Plusnet BT

The first of the month usually has broadband providers dusting off some good offers, and today is no exception. Take your pick from the great deals below!

BT have a very tempting offer this week. Not only can you bag a BT reward card on most packages, if you opt for a fibre product you also get a choice of an Amazon Echo, a Fitbit Charge 3 or a Samsung Tablet A 10.1 - worth up to £179! Superfast Fibre is £29.99 a month and comes with an £80 reward card or, if it's available in your area, you can get Superfast Fibre 2 for £39.99 a month with a £120 reward card.

If you’re not looking from fibre from BT, their standard Broadband with Weekend Calls is only £24.99 a month and comes with a £50 reward card, though sadly no tech extras. TV packages with these rewards are also available.1

Plusnet's offers have been updated as of the 6th March. Those who sign up for their Unlimited Broadband package for £19.99 a month will get a £50 reward card, and if you go with Unlimited Fibre Extra for £26.99 a month you'll get a £60 reward card£65 reward card for those who sign up for their Unlimited Broadband package for £18.99 a month, and a £50 reward card if you go with Unlimited Fibre Extra for £27.50 a month.2

TalkTalk’s Fast Broadband package is only £17 a month and comes with a £60 voucher. This offer is only available through the link in this blog post.3

John Lewis have several e-gift cards on offer, depending on the package you opt for. Broadband Unlimited is £20 a month and comes with a £35 e-gift card, Fibre is £28.50 a month and comes with a £50 e-gift card for and Fibre Extra is £35 a month and comes with a £75 e-gift card.4

EE have a Double Data Boost on all their broadband packages. If you have a mobile calling plan with EE you can increase your mobile data allowance by 10GB instead of the usual 5GB boost. Your broadband packages options are Standard Broadband for £21 a month, Fibre Broadband for £27 a month, or Fibre Plus for £31 a month. TV packages are also available.5

 


All offers available to new customers only unless otherwise specified. See respective landing pages for full terms and conditions and details of how to claim rewards.

1. All BT products are on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase from month 19, see website for out of contract prices. BT reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers ends midnight ending 14th March.

2. Standard broadband products are on a 12 month contract, fibre products on an 18 month contract. Connection fees may apply. Prices increase at the end of the offer period when your contract is up, see website for out of contract prices. Plusnet reward is a pre-paid Mastercard of the specified amount. Offers ends midnight ending 12th March.

3. TalkTalk Fast Broadband is on a 12 month contract. Vouchers are a choice between Amazon.co.uk, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster. Offer ends midnight ending 15th March.

4. Offer is on an 18 month contract, John Lewis will contact you before this is up to inform you have price rises from month 19. E-gift card can be redeemed at John Lewis or Waitrose. Offer ends midnight ending 5th March.

5. Offer available to existing mobile customers. All EE products are on an 18 month contract. You will be contacted before your contract is up to inform you of price rises from month 19. Data should be added to your mobile account. Offer ends midnight ending 28th March.

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Ofcom

Ofcom implement new Voluntary Code of Practice for broadband speeds

Posted on 2019-02-28 18:23 in News Daisy KCOM Lothian Broadband XLN Telecom Sky BT Virgin Media TalkTalk Plusnet EE

From tomorrow, 1st March 2019, a new Ofcom Broadband Speeds Code of Practice goes into effect to promote Fairness for Customers in the broadband market. The previous home broadband Code has been in force since 2015, but last year's changes to the advertising of broadband speeds have prompted a series of improvements.

The key changes to the Code are:

  • More realistic speed estimates - Providers need to advertise speed estimates that are relevant, and must display an 'average speed' that at least 50% of their customers can get during peak hours, between 8pm and 10pm.
  • Tell you your minimum guaranteed speeds at point of sale - Before you commit to buying, you should be told the minimum dowmload and upload speeds you can get, so you know what to expect, whether you have an actual speed problem, and if you have the right to terminate your contract.
  • Improving your rights to leave your contract early - Providers will have 30 days to fix your speeds, and if they're unable to do so they must offer you the right to downgrade or to terminate your contract without penalty. This now includes customers on bundled packages, such as landline and TV services.
  • These rights apply to all cutsomers regardless of the technology - Previously the rules only covered customers on standard broadband over copper landlines, or 'part-fibre' Fibre to the Cabinet products. Now they apply to 'full fibre' Fibre to the Premises/Home technologies as well, including services that use the Openreach (BT Group) telephone network and Virgin Media's cable network.

The updated Code remains voluntary, so Ofcom won't have the power to force all broadband providers to comply. However, most of the major providers have signed up, in fact Ofcom believes Code complaint providers currently serve around 95% of home broadband customers.

Many of the smaller providers haven't signed up on the basis that the implementation of the technologies needed are too impractical and costly for them to make it viable at this time. The principles of the Code have also been criticised by one small provider. It should also be noted that, although the Code applies to all sales from 1st of March onwards, Ofcom won't be testing the compliance of the rules until 2020 to give the signatories time to implement the changes.

The providers who have signed up for the new 2019 Voluntary Codes of Practice are:

  • BT
  • Daisy
  • EE
  • KCOM (Hull Area)
  • Lothian Broadband
  • Plusnet
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
  • XLN

BT, Daisy, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have also signed up for this to cover Business customers, with KCOM and XLN sign expected to be compliant in the near future.

For more detailed information you can read Ofcom's consumer guide to the new Broadband Speeds Codes of Practice or the full Better Broadband Speeds Information: Voluntary Codes of Practice statement.

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Broadband compensation

Get automatic compensation when your broadband goes down

Posted on 2018-12-13 16:07 in News EE Zen Plusnet TalkTalk Sky BT Virgin Media

You could be in line for compensation next time your internet goes down, following an agreement involving some of the UK's biggest broadband providers.

A voluntary code introduced by industry regulator Ofcom states that, from early next year, providers will have to reimburse customers if they lose broadband or landline phone service.

So far, BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Zen Internet have signed up to the agreement. Plusnet and EE have also indicated that they may join.

What you'll get

Under the plan, customers will receive £8 per day in compensation when their broadband goes down and the fault takes longer than two days to fix.

In addition, there will be £25 compensation when an engineer misses a scheduled appointment, or cancels within 24 hours.

Plus, customers will receive £5 per day when new services they sign up for do not start on time.

Homes, and small and medium businesses are eligible.

There are some caveats. You won't get compensation if you're the cause of the problem, like if you damage the wiring in your home or are out when the engineer arrives. Most faults are also likely to be fixed inside two days, so you could still experience disruption without being compensated for it.

Openreach are also involved in the scheme, since most faults occur on their network (apart from Virgin Media, who use their own infrastructure). They have said that they won't compensate the broadband suppliers in the event of force majeure events like flooding, leaving the onus on the suppliers themselves to foot the bill in those instances.

After a consultation in Spring 2017, Ofcom published their judgement in November 2017, giving retail and wholesale providers a 15 month deadline by which automatic compensation had to be in place. This means that the very latest we can expect to see the system working is mid-February 2019.

Your consumer rights

The agreement is the latest in a line of measures designed to the experience of broadband users, and ensure we're all getting value for money.

You can already exit your deal early and without penalty in the event of mid-contract price rises, or if the service you're receiving is simply not up to scratch. And the process to switch broadband is also now much simpler than it used to be.

You can find all the information you need on these subjects and more in our guide to your broadband consumer rights.

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Stay safe online

PC Security: 5 things you need to do to stay safe online

Posted on 2018-11-29 13:52 in Features Sky Plusnet Virgin Media Vodafone BT NOW Broadband John Lewis EE TalkTalk

As we spend more and more of our lives online - managing our money and doing our shopping - we're more likely to encounter problems. Viruses, scams and other cyber-crimes are continuing to become more common. So what's the best way to stay safe online? Let's take a look.

1. Install anti-virus software

Anti-virus software is a must if you use Windows (less so for Macs, Chromebooks, phone and tablets). It doesn't just protect you against viruses you can get though email attachments or dodgy downloads; it protects against all malware - any software designed with malicious intent. This includes nasties like spyware that steals your passwords, and ransomware, which locks down your computer unless you pay up.

Free anti-virus software from your broadband provider

A lot of the best broadband providers give you a free, or cheap, anti-virus subscription as part of their deal. If yours is on this list, make sure you take them up on the offer:

  • BT: with BT you get the McAfee powered BT virus Protect. You can install it on two or up to 15 machines, depending on your package. You also get Web Protect, which checks websites you visit are safe, and True Key, a secure password manager you can install on five devices.
  • EE: EE Home Broadband gives you a year's subscription to Norton Security Premium for up to 10 devices. After that it costs £39.99 a year, half the normal price.
  • Plusnet: Plusnet Protect, from McAfee, is free for Unlimited and Unlimited Fibre Extra customers. On the standard Unlimited Fibre deal you'll need to pay an extra £2 a month for your virus protection. You can install it on up to seven PCs.
  • Sky Broadband: on one of Sky's Unlimited deals you get a 12 month free trial of the McAfee Internet Security suite for up to three PCs. On the limited packages you get three months. Once the trial is up you can keep it going for £3 extra a month.
  • TalkTalk: with TalkTalk you get HomeSafe, an award winning online security package. This combines some virus protection and parental controls. It isn't a full anti-virus tool, though.
  • Virgin Media: Virgin Media Security is worth £39.95 a year, but is free to all Virgin Media broadband customers. It gives you full anti-virus coverage for up to three PCs.
  • Vodafone: with Vodafone you get a free six month sub to F Secure SAFE anti-virus package for up to five devices. After that, you can subscribe for £39.99 a year - half the normal price.
  • NOW Broadband: with NOW you get the Broadband Buddy service. This helps to protect you against malware-infected sites, but isn't a full anti-virus package.
  • John Lewis Broadband: John Lewis offers a full subscription to the Bullguard security package for Windows users.

If your supplier isn't on the list, there's loads of free anti-virus tools you can get instead. Bitdefender and Avast are among the most highly rated.

Malware isn't just a concern for those who browse the murkier reaches of the internet. Perfectly benign, mainstream websites can become compromised, and even ads can be crafted to try and do bad things without you even needing to click on them.

2. Keep your software updated

It's so tempting to turn off automatic software updates. They always pop up at the worst possible time, and if it happens to be a Windows update you can write off the next half hour waiting for it to finish.

Except, software updates are really important. Especially the Windows ones.

They don't just bring new features or improved performance, they make your computer more secure. Bugs in software can create the kind of security risks that malware thrives upon. Not only do they allow the malware into your system, they can also enable it to spread from one machine to another.

Updates shut down these vulnerabilities. At the very least, don't turn off updates to Windows or your web browser, such as Google Chrome. Better still, allow all your apps to update as they need to.

3. Learn how to recognise online scams

Malware is designed to exploit weaknesses in computer systems, but the truth is the weakest points of all are us, the users. You can lock down your laptop but it won't stop someone trying to trick you into handing over your passwords.

Phishing scams, as they're called, have moved on a lot since the days of the Nigerian prince who wanted to send you tens of millions of dollars. They're now a whole lot more sophisticated and difficult to spot. And it isn't just online that you need to be wary. You might get a text message purporting to be from your mobile network, or you could get a scam call from your broadband provider.

So, how do you spot scams? Here's a few tips:

  • Spelling and grammar mistakes in emails are a dead giveaway. Also, does the email greet you by name or a generic title?
  • Beware of emails demanding urgent action. Scammers try to scare you into responding, like telling you there's been a security alert on your account, or you're overdrawn, and you must log in to fix it.
  • Be wary of links in emails. Don't assume that the link is going to take you where you think it will.
  • Or just don't click links at all. Instead of clicking a link to one of your online services, manually type their address into your browser instead. Or pick up the phone and give them a call.
  • If it sounds suspicious, it probably is. If you didn't buy a lottery ticket, you didn't win the lottery.
  • Don't assume a fancy website means that a site is reputable. This is a rule to follow when shopping online, too.

Anti-virus software and web browsers will help you to sniff out phishing scams. What better reason to keep them up to date?

4. Use better passwords

We all know the importance of using strong passwords and not re-using them. But it can be difficult, since strong passwords are so much harder to remember. There are three things to try to make your life easier:

  1. Think in terms of passphrases instead of passwords. A sentence of eight random words is easier to remember - and type - than a password of eight random characters, but it's just as hard to crack.
  2. Consider using a password manager. Don't save your passwords in your web browser, use a dedicated password manager instead. This saves all your logins under a single, more secure password. With BT Broadband, the True Key offers exactly this feature and is worth trying out. Alternatively, take a look at LastPass or 1Password, both of which are free.
  3. Use two factor authentication. A large and growing number of services offer two factor authentication. When you log in you need to enter both your password and a second, unique code sent to your phone via an app or text message. It's a lot more secure.

5. Keep an eye on your privacy

Finally, keep an eye on how much information you're sharing online. If you use social networks you're probably sharing a lot more than you realise. Check the Privacy section in Facebook and other services to lock them down, and make sure your kids do this, too.

And speaking of kids, most broadband providers offer some form of parental controls that you can use to manage what people can see, or how long they can go online. These are worth setting up, but remember that they are by no means foolproof.

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2018 Black Friday Deals

EXPIRED: Rounding up the Black Friday broadband deals for 2018

Posted on 2018-11-23 20:15 in News Offers Expired BT Shell Energy TalkTalk NOW Broadband Virgin Media EE Hyperoptic Plusnet

If you're switching broadband and plan to take advantage of a Black Friday offer, then let us help you with a round-up of the home broadband deals that are available to you over this sale weekend (and beyond).

The availability of some of these deals will depend on where you live, so be sure to use our postcode checker to see what's available in your area.

BT's Black Friday offerings include reduced-price broadband and reward vouchers ranging from £70 to a whopping £140, depending on the package you opt for. Packages are on an 18 month contract with truly unlimited broadband and weekend calls on most deals. There are various broadband and TV combinations, with offered speeds averaging at 10Mb for standard broadband up to 67Mb on Superfast Fibre 2. Offer ends at midnight on the 26th of November.

EE's offer drops the monthly price of your broadband, and gives EE mobile customers a boost to their data allowance. The normal offer is 5GB, but for Black Friday that's been increased to a very tempting 20GB of mobile data. Prices start from £20 a month, with average speeds at 10Mb for standard broadband, 36Mb for Fibre and 67Mb for Fibre Plus. All EE broadband deals are on an 18 month contract, come with truly unlimited downloads and no activation fee, and Anytime calls are available for an extra £5 a month. Offer ends at midnight on the 4th of December.

First Utility are offering a discount that makes their packages some of the cheapest on the market. You can get a deal from £16.99 a month with average speeds of 11Mb on standard broadband, 35Mb on Fibre and 63Mb on the fastest Fibre product. All packages are on an 18 month contract with no activation fees, truly unlimited downloads and a range of call packages. Offers end at 2pm on the 6th of December.

If you live in a Hyperoptic-enabled area, then you can get some excellent hyperfast deals from them, and you don't even need a landline (though there are call options available should you need them). Reduced prices start from just £15 a month, and as Hyperoptic are a full-fibre provider then your expected speeds should be pretty close to their advertised average speeds of 30Mb, 150Mb and 900Mb! All of Hyperoptic's offers come on a 12 month contract, are truly unlimited and have no activation fees. Offer ends midnight on the 5th of December, and be sure to use the BLACKFRIDAY code at checkout to take advantage of the offer.

NOW Broadband's sale includes money off your broadband and comes with the Anytime call package for free (which usually costs an extra £8 a month). Prices start at £18 a month, and average speeds are 11Mb for standard broadband, 36Mb for Fibre and 63Mb for Super Fibre. They've also added extra Broadband and TV combos, so you can now get your choice of broadband with a discount on both the Sky Cinema and Sky Sports passes, as well as the existing offer on the Entertainment pass. All offers are on a 12 month contract, are truly unlimited and the only upfront costs to pay are £9.99 for postage and packaging for the inclusive router. Offer ends midnight on the 6th of December.

Plusnet have a £75 reward card available on their broadband plus phone bundles, as well as reduced monthly prices. Grab a deal from £18.99 a month with average speeds of 10Mb on standard broadband, 36Mb on Fibre and 66Mb on Fibre Extra. All of their Black Friday deals are on an 18 month contract with a fixed price guarantee, are truly unlimited with no activation fees and offer a choice of phone packages. Offer ends midnight on the 27th of November.

TalkTalk have reduced the price of all their packages for Black Friday, with prices starting from just £17 a month and TV packages are available. Average speeds are 11Mb for standard Fast Broadband, 36Mb for Faster Fibre, and 63Mb for the Faster Fibre speed boost. Fast Broadband packages come on a 12 month contract, with the rest on 18 months, and all come with fixed price broadband. Some packages have no activation, while others do come with TV box costs. Offers end at midnight on November the 29th.

Virgin Media have some select offers on for Black Friday, with their lowest ever prices for VIVID 100 plus phone package at only £25, the Full House TV bundle with VIVID 100 at £45 a month, and the VIP TV bundle (that has all the bells and whistles) with VIVID 350 at £75 a month. As Virgin provide their services over cables installed to your building, average speeds can surpass their advertised speeds. Virgin's deals are all unlimited, on a 12 month contract and come with Weekend calls included. There's also a £25 activation fee. Offers end midnight on the 26th of November.

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Ofcom

Ofcom fines EE and Virgin Media £13.3 million for overcharging customers

Posted on 2018-11-16 17:05 in News EE Virgin Media

EE and Virgin Media have been fined £13.3 million by Ofcom for overcharging customers who wanted to leave their contracts early.

After an investigation into early-exit fees, the regulator ruled that the two providers had left nearly half a million customers out of pocket by billing them too much for attempting to leave their deals before they'd expired. They also failed to make properly clear how much people would have to pay to leave.

Ofcom rules allow broadband providers to charge customers who want to leave their deals before their agreed minimum contract length has ended. However, the rules stipulate that:

  • providers must make it clear exactly how much early leavers will be charged to exit their deals in a "clear, comprehensive, and accessible form"
  • you mustn’t be charged for any saving that the provider makes from not actually having to supply you the service for the rest of your contract
  • the charges cannot be so high that they discourage users from switching providers

EE

EE has been fined £6.3 million. Over a six year period, around 400,000 EE mobile and broadband customers were overcharged to the tune of £4.3 million. This happened because EE calculated its exit fees based on the full price of a deal, rather than the discounted price customers were actually paying.

The company has refunded £2.7 million to customers it has been able to identify. Ofcom says a further £1.6 million is yet to be returned. As a result of the investigation, EE says it will conduct a thorough review of its systems in order to fully comply with the rules in future. Contact EE if you think you might have been affected by this.

Virgin Media

Virgin Media has been fined £7 million. For almost a year, Virgin charged exit fees that were higher than their customers had agreed to when they signed their contracts. As a result, almost 82,000 people were overcharged nearly £2.8 million. This averages out at £34 per person, although some 6,800 paid over £100 more than they should have.

Virgin Media says it has refunded or made donations for 99.8% of affected customers, and will make further charity donations if they can't track down the rest. The company has now reduced its early-exit charges by an average of 30 percent, and applied an extra reduction to the charges paid by customers who have to end their deals after moving house. However, the company also says it will appeal the fine, describing it as "excessive".

Ofcom's view

Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s Director of Investigations and Enforcement, said: "EE and Virgin Media broke our rules by overcharging people who ended their contracts early. Those people were left out of pocket, and the charges amounted to millions of pounds. That is unacceptable. These fines send a clear message to all phone and broadband firms that they must play by the rules, in the interests of their customers."

Ofcom has been working to make it easier to switch broadband providers. As well as enforcing these rules on early-exit fees, they've simplified the switching process, and also made it possible to leave your contract without penalty in the event of unexpected mid-contract price rises. If you want some more advice on broadband exit fees, then Citizen's Advice have compiled a useful guide for consumers.

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money

Loyal broadband customers pay £113 more than those who switch providers

Posted on 2017-04-12 13:46 in News EE Virgin Media Sky BT TalkTalk

Loyal customers who stick with their broadband provider end up paying on average 43% more than if they had switched.

Research by Citizens Advice has cast a light on the way the major providers hike their prices once a contract has ended. Customers who choose to keep their existing deal instead of shopping around find themselves paying an average of £113 extra each year in what has been dubbed a "loyalty penalty".

Citizens Advice analysed the cheapest broadband deals from the UK's five largest suppliers. They found that Virgin Media was the only one that did not bump its prices at the end of the initial contract period. The other four saw increases of as much as 67%.

  • BT - the price rises from £24.49 to £40.99 after 12 months. An increase of 67%, amounting to £198 per year.
  • TalkTalk - the price goes from £20 to £25.50 after 24 months. An increase of 28%, or £66 per year.
  • Sky - after 12 months the price rises from £18.99 to £28.99. An increase of 53%, or £120 per year.
  • EE - the price rises from £21 to £28.50 after 18 months. An increase of 36%, amounting to £90 extra per year.
  • Virgin Media - the cheapest deal is £32.25 per month for 12 months. The price doesn't rise at the end of the contract.

The report found that more than a third of customers didn't realise that prices could go up once their contract had ended. It also found that customers stay on the same deal for an average of four years, which ends up costing them as much as £594 extra.

Those over 65 or on lower incomes were significantly more likely to stick with a deal for more 10 years.

Time to switch

The study highlights the fact that it's more important than ever to shop around for the best broadband deal. Our Ofcom-approved price comparison service helps you find the best and cheapest packages available for your postcode.

Switching broadband providers is easier than you might expect. In most cases, your new provider will handle all aspects of the switchover. You should experience no loss of service, and you won't even need to inform your old supplier that you're leaving. Read our guide to switching broadband providers to see how the process works. 

Citizens Advice is calling for greater clarity in how providers advertise their services, and also to inform customers by text when the fixed price comes to an end.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said, “People often choose their broadband deals based on the price that works for them - but our evidence shows that many do not realise the price will rise after the end of the fixed deal. The government has rightly put energy firms on warning for how they treat loyal customers - the actions of broadband firms warrant similar scrutiny. Extra protections for vulnerable consumers are also a must.”

The moral of the story is clear: loyalty doesn't pay. Once your contract is up, find a new provider. There are some incredible deals to be had on both standard and fibre broadband, and if you're lucky you might even bag an awesome free gift at the same time.

So don't delay. Click here to visit our postcode checker and you can start saving money today.

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Sky Q Hub

Why getting a new router can speed up your broadband

Posted on 2016-11-22 11:35 in News Features Virgin Media Origin TalkTalk Zen EE Vodafone Plusnet Sky BT

If you find broadband speeds confusing, you're not alone. What speed broadband providers advertise and what you actually get are rarely the same thing. The ASA has recently announced that it will be taking steps next year to bring clarity to the entire issue.

But that's a way off. In the meantime there are steps you can take to ensure you achieve speeds closer to what you were expecting.

You may not know that your Wi-Fi router can have a massive impact on the internet speeds you get throughout your home. Since the provider supplies the router we tend to assume that they're automatically good enough. But that isn't always true - sometimes they're old or slow, and not capable of handling a superfast broadband connection.

In these cases, upgrading to a more powerful router can help speed up your broadband dramatically.

How a new Wi-Fi router can help

Let's start with the technical bit.

The performance of a router is determined by the wireless standard that it uses. The best modern routers use the latest standard, called 802.11ac. It's the fastest available, and it runs on the 5GHz band which is clean and interference free.

802.11ac superceded the 802.11n standard. This is much slower - perhaps half or even a third of the speed - and it commonly runs on the 2.4GHz band which is much more prone to interference from other electrical devices in your home. As a result, the signal is not just slower but it gets much weaker the further it travels.

The router as a bottleneck

Many broadband providers supply an N-rated router with their packages, and it may not be up to the job. Tests show that 802.11n routers have a real world top speed of 50-100Mb, at close range. At a distance of 20 metres, and with a few obstacles like walls and floors in the way, that speed can be slashed in half - or worse.

So, if you've got a high-end fibre package and are getting speeds of 50Mb or more, then an N-rated router simply won't cut it. Your broadband is faster than your router, and the router becomes a bottleneck. Even on an entry-level fibre deal, with speeds of 25Mb, you'll be pushing it. You might find you get good speeds downstairs, but that they fall off sharply in the bedrooms.

In both cases, upgrading to an AC-rated router is likely to give you a major speed boost. The exception is standard broadband. Here, the speeds top out at 16Mb, and in practice are usually somewhat slower. An N-rated router should be able to handle this.

An easy way to check if you're affected is to use our free Speed Test tool. Stand next to your router and run the test on your laptop. Then head to the furthest corner of your house and run it again. If there's a major discrepancy in your results then it could be a sign that you need to upgrade your router. (Or it could mean you need to find a better position for your router.)

Do you need a new router?

You can see why a slow router can mean you don't get the broadband speeds you were expecting. So do you need to upgrade?

When you're shopping for broadband deals, all our comparison tables have icons to show what kind of router you're getting. Click the More Info button to see whether there's an option to upgrade to a better router when you sign up.

What router do you get?

  • Many of the major providers now supply AC-rated routers with all their packages. This includes TalkTalk, Vodafone and Virgin, while Sky also provides the new Sky Q Hub if you are a TV customer.
  • BT, Plusnet and EE supply 802.11ac routers with their fibre packages, and N-rated routers with standard broadband. BT offers a paid upgrade for standard broadband customers, but the other two don't.
  • Origin customers get an N-rated router, and need to pay at checkout to upgrade to a faster AC-rated unit.

If you've been with a provider for some time it's possible you're still using an older N-rated router and aren't getting the fastest possible speeds from your broadband. In this case it's worth checking with the provider to see if they'll swap your router for a newer model for free. Some may give you one in exchange for you signing a new contract. Just make sure you know exactly what you're getting, and that you aren't charged or placed on a new contract without knowing.

Lastly, a handful of providers, including Plusnet, Zen and Origin, allow you to use own router, so you can shop around and check independent reviews to get the best model for your needs.

The router is a frequently overlooked part of the broadband service. It's natural to assume that broadband problems are the fault of the provider, but the reality is that if your router is too slow you can easily be cutting your internet speed in half without even realising.

Give your router a quick check now to see if you would benefit from an upgrade.

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