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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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".
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."
We've all been there. You seek out the best value broadband service; it all goes swimmingly for a few months; and then - Blam! - a letter lands on your doormat telling you that the price is going up.
Mid-contract price rises are the worst part of any broadband deal, and they're mostly unavoidable. But if the increase is larger than you're expecting you don't have to accept it. Depending on how much extra you're being asked to pay, and whether you knew about it before you signed up, you may have options.
Let's take a look at what you can do when your broadband supplier puts up their prices.
Are broadband suppliers allowed to put their prices up?
Nobody likes it when prices go up, but sometimes broadband providers are indeed allowed to start charging you more. In fact, in a lot of cases you'll have agreed to it. Here are the three main scenarios where you might encounter price hikes.
1. Your minimum contract period has ended.
To attract new customers, most broadband suppliers offer a bonus price that covers the minimum contract period, normally between six months and two years. When this period ends your broadband service will continue, but the price will shoot up by sometimes more than 50 percent. You can easily end up paying an extra £20 a month. What's worse, if you stick with this package you're likely to see annual price hikes way above average. To put it simply, when your minimum contract period ends you must start shopping for a new deal. And make a note of the date it ends, too, so you don't forget.
2. Your contract terms specify allowed price hikes.
On a variable deal, your provider will state in the contract that they can bump the price by maybe five or ten percent after a certain time. As long as they stay within this agreed amount, it's fine. But here's the thing: information on agreed price increases can't be hidden away in the small print where you might miss it. Everything you're agreeing to should be made clear before you sign up.
3. Prices go up in line with inflation or tax rises.
Providers can put up their prices if tax rates go up, or to keep in line with inflation. You can only leave penalty free if the price hike goes above the 2.5% allowed for inflation. Even fixed-price deals can be hit by this, as long as it's stated in the contract terms, so be sure to check the small print.
Other mid-contract price rises
Price rises aren't just limited to the ones that are written in your contract. Broadband providers might still jack up their prices for any number of reasons. Perhaps they want to bring you in line with their revamped pricing structure. Maybe they're improving the service, like making it faster. Or maybe they just need more money.
Whatever, you don't have to accept these increases. If it wasn't what you signed up to you have the right to cancel your contract without paying a penalty.
What needs to happen when the price goes up?
When your ISP decides they want to hit you up for a little extra cash, they must inform you in writing 30 days before the new prices come into effect. Make sure you keep an eye out for the letter or email because the timing is really important.
If you're eligible to leave mid-contract you will need to inform your provider during this 30 day period. If you wait longer than that you're effectively accepting the new prices and are stuck with them until your deal ends.
How you can cancel your contract without penalty
So, you've received a letter telling you that your broadband prices are going up, and by a larger amount than what you agreed to. You now have the right to find a new supplier, and you won't have to pay a termination fee even if you've got still got months left on your deal.
What you need to do is inform your provider of your plan to leave. Send them a letter or email, or give them a call to start the process in motion. Make sure to mention that you're leaving because of the price rise. You must do this within 30 days of receiving the letter informing you of the price rises. This is a legal right, so you shouldn't face any obstacles.
What are your options?
When you tell them that you're leaving, your provider might offer you a deal to get you stay. If you're happy with the service you've been getting then by all means try and negotiate for the best deal you can get. But remember, it's easy to switch broadband providers these days. Don't assume that staying with your old provider is the simplest option.
At the same time, start looking for a new package. Use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals in your area. Providers reserve their best deals for new customers, so you should be able to save a heap of money over what you're currently paying. You can also use these prices if you decide to haggle with your existing provider instead.
Price rises are going to hit all of us eventually. But you can minimise the risks while shopping for a new deal. Some suppliers, like TalkTalk and Plusnet, are starting to offer more fixed-price deals. You can also pick up some fantastic introductory offers, with very low prices over the first year.
We're living in a golden age of TV. There's never been so many incredible shows to watch, and never so many different services to watch them on.
There's a bewlidering array of choices, and it presents you with a bit of a problem. Sign up to just a few channels and you might not able to get all the programmes you want; sign up for them all and you'll end up paying a fortune.
So what's the best way to make sure you don't miss all the unmissable new shows? Do you need Sky or can you stream instead? Should you pick Netflix or NOW TV? And what's the cheapest way to watch live Premier League football?
In the search to get all the channels you want, it's so easy end up with a lot more than you actually need. That's a waste - and completely unnecessary.
Our new in-depth guide to getting the best value TV services cuts through all the confusion. Whether you want boxsets, live sports or the hottest new movies, we'll tell you how to get it for the best possible price.
We'll show you:
The best way to catch prestige shows like House of Cards, The Crown and Game of Thrones, and how to find great deals on streaming services.
How you can save up to £100 a year on Premier League football by streaming with NOW TV instead of getting it direct from Sky.
How to put your old Sky dish and box to work and get access to 150+ free satellite channels.
Where to find the most - and the cheapest - HD movies, TV and sports.
And this is only the start. The sheer range of TV options available to us all today is as vast as it is exciting. If you're still trying to figure out which services are right for you, and how you can spend the least amount of money to get them, check out our TV guide now.
For many universities Freshers Week is underway, meaning that term starts soon. If you're returning to your student house or about to move in to a new house share, now's the time to snap up those last minute student broadband offers!
If you'll be sharing your internet connection with a group of friends then superfast broadband is a must have, and in most areas that means fibre-to-the-cabinet services, like TalkTalk Faster Fibre.
You'll need that faster speed if you're planning to watch streaming video services like iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Video or NOW TV - especially if your housemates will be streaming at the same time as you. Then add online coursework submission, gaming and cloud storage like iCloud, DropBox and OneDrive, and fibre broadband begins to look like an essential for your student house.
For just £30 a month you'll get unlimited fibre broadband with an average download speed of 36Mb*, the price is fixed for the entire length of the 12 month contract and there's no upfront cost if you already have a phone line installed.
If you need higher download speeds, you can opt for the Speed Boost for only £2.50 extra per month and gain an average download speed of 63Mb*.
* Speeds only available in fibre-enabled areas. Average speeds are based on those achieved by 50% of customers during peak hours of 8pm to 10pm. Your broadband speed will vary depending on factors such as your location and distance from the street cabinet (your exact speed estimate will be given at point of sale). Use our postcode checker to find what speeds are available in your area.
** Choice of £100 voucher available to new customers when your purchase TalkTalk Faster Fibre for Students or Faster Fibre with Speed Boost for Students through Broadband.co.uk via our exclusive giftcloud voucher sign-up page before 27th of September 2018. Orders completed through webchat or via telesales are not eligible. You must provide your email address. It will take up to 90 days from purchase for your voucher code to be emailed. Further terms and conditions apply, click through for full details.
For just £37.50 a month for the first 9 months (then £56.50 for the remainder of the 18 month contract), you can get the TV and Sports package plus a Faster Fibre broadband connection with free activation* when you sign up online!
The TalkTalk TV package with Sports Boost gives you access to:
8 Sky Sports channels including Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports football and Sky Sports F1
FREE TV box
80+ Freeview channels, with 15 in HD
On Demand, including iPlayer, ITV Player and All4
Rent the latest blockbuster movies from only £4
TV Select, with 15 of the nation's favourite channels, including 6 Sky channels
Personalise your package by adding extra channels like Kids TV and Sky Cinema on a flexible one month contract
The Faster Fibre broadband package comprises of:
Average download speeds of 35Mb*
Totally unlimited download allowance
Free WiFi Hub, twice as fast as the old Super router
Guaranteed fixed price for the length of your contract
Only pay for the calls you use, though phone packages are available if needed, with the option to add mobile calls for just £7.50 a month
* Offer only available in fibre-enabled areas. Broadband speed will vary depending on your location (your exact speed estimate will be given at point of sale). Average speeds are based on what 50% of customers can achieve during peak hours of 8pm to 10pm. Use our postcode checker to find what speeds are available in your area. You need to connect your TalkTalk TV Box to the internet and your TV aerial. Post and packaging fee of £9.95 applies. Offer ends 2018-08-16.
With Summer in full swing the new academic year may seem far away, but if you're starting or returning to university then you'll want to make sure you're all set up for broadband in your new digs. As a student broadband is going to be vital, from planning your social life and streaming TV or gaming in your downtime, to the things important to your education, like research, communicating with your tutors and submitting coursework.
Getting your internet connection set up may seem daunting, but don't worry, it's pretty simple really. BT have broadband deals designed exclusively for students, with shorter than standard contract lengths so you're not paying a penalty to cancel early when the university year is over. With unlimited downloads and fast fibre speeds, everyone in your student household with all their devices is catered for.
Superfast Fibre 2 Unlimited - for if your household needs a little bit extra, with average speeds of 67Mb for £40 a month*, just £5 more a month
Both packages are on a 9 month contract and come with unlimited monthly usage, the BT Smart Hub, unlimited UK weekend landline calls, and free access to over 5 million UK wi-fi hotspots when you're out and about.
If your student housing isn't in a fibre-enabled area, don't worry. You'll be offered the standard broadband package with average speeds of 10Mb. You'll still get the rest of the benefits above for just £25 a month*.
TalkTalk's low-price offers on broadband are now even better with their new WiFi Hub.
The WiFi Hub, worth £120, can be selected at the point of purchase instead of the current TalkTalk Super Router. It offers several improvements over the older model, including:
Simple set up - the hub comes pre-configured, so you only need to plug it in and switch it and you're good to go
Twice as fast - the WiFi connection on the new hub is twice as fast as the Super Router
Connect more devices - the Super Router allowed you to connect 1-4 devices, this has been increased to up to 9 devices on the WiFi Hub
Stable connection - the hub uses advanced technology that helps break through interference, making the connection more stable throughout the home
Smart WiFi - the hub recognises connected devices and adjust the signal to give them the best speeds for their needs
Of course, you'll be wanting a broadband package to go along with this fantastic WiFi Hub, and TalkTalk have some great offers on right now. Sign up before the end of the 13th of July and get a TalkTalk fibre deal from just £22.50 a month on an 18 month contract! Your chosen package will come with:
Fast, totally unlimited broadband with speeds with speeds averaging at 35Mb, or 63Mb* if it's available in your area
Guaranteed fixed price for the full 18 month contract
FREE activation when you sign up online
Phone packages are available on all deals with the option to add mobile calls for just £7.50 a month
If fibre isn't available in your area yet you can still get TalkTalk's standard Fast Broadband package. For just £17 a month on a 12 month contract you can get speeds that average at 11Mb* along with the other features available with fibre packages.
You could also throw a TV package into the bundle, as TalkTalk offer TV options* with all their broadband packages. You'll get the benefits that come with broadband, along with:
80+ Freeview channels, with 15 in HD
On Demand, including iPlayer, ITV Player and All4
Rent the latest blockbuster movies from only £4
TV Select, with 15 of the nation's favourite channels, including 6 Sky channels
Personalise your package by adding extra channels like Kids TV, Sky Cinema and Sky Sports on a flexible one month contract
Or you can go with TalkTalk's TV Plus package* and get extra features, such as:
* Broadband speed will vary depending on your location (your exact speed estimate will be given at point of sale). Use our postcode checker to find what speeds are available in your area. TalkTalk TV or TV Plus box required, cost £25. You need to connect your TalkTalk TV Box to the internet and your TV aerial. Offer ends 2018-07-13.