Regular Broadband-related news and comment from the team.

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TalkTalk TV Plus

EXPIRED: Grab a great value broadband deal in TalkTalk's 25% off Big Broadband Sale!

Posted by Edd Dawson on in NewsOffersExpiredTalkTalk

If you're looking to refresh your broadband deal along with your regular Spring cleaning, then why not take a look at TalkTalk's latest low-price offers?

Sign up before the end of the 17th of May and get a TalkTalk fibre deal from just £25 a month on an 18 month contract! Your chosen package will come with:

  • Fast, totally unlimited broadband with speeds of up to 38Mb, or 76Mb* if it's available in your area
  • Guaranteed fixed price for the full 18 month contract
  • FREE activation when you sign up online
  • Upload speeds increased from 2Mb to 10Mb
  • Phone packages are available on all deals with the option to add mobile calls for just £7.50 a month

Fibre not available in your area yet? Don't worry, TalkTalk have you covered with their Fast Broadband package. For just £18.95 a month on a 12 month contract you can get speeds of up to 17Mb* along with the other features available with fibre packages.

Want to throw a TV package into the mix? 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:

  • Record up to 180 hours of live TV
  • 7 Day catch-up
  • 30 extra entertainment channels

If you're already a TalkTalk customer, you can also upgrade to a Fibre package or add a TV package easily!

Interested? Head on over to TalkTalk to get started!

* 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 2018-05-17.


Man using computer

How to spot if you've been contacted by a broadband phone scammer

Posted by Edd Dawson on in Features

Phone scams are unfortunately common these days, and many people fall victim to them as the scammers can be very convincing and catch vulnerable people unawares. Most people are aware of financial bank scams, or people claiming to be from Microsoft saying there's a problem with your PC so they can get you to install malicious software. Similarly, broadband customers are reporting that they're getting contacted by scammers claiming to be from BT Openreach, and that there is something wrong with their router.

It's easy enough to make sure you're not caught out by this, and we've got some information to arm yourself with so that you can stay safe.

BT Openreach will never contact you directly out of the blue

BT Openreach don't provide internet service directly. They're responsible for running and maintaining the phone/broadband network and aren't directly involved with the public. If BT Openreach need to be involved then it's to do with needing to fix faults on the line, and your Internet Service Provider will deal directly with them. In the case of a faulty router, BT Openreach wouldn't be involved at all, as it's either you or your provider who supplied the router.

Your ISP is also highly unlikely to contact you out of the blue like this

If there are problems with your individual router, your ISP won't know about them, and you'd need to contact customer support to report a problem yourself. In the event a problem is discovered with a batch of routers, your ISP would make an official statement on the matter, most likely this would be via the email registered to your account, or via letter.

If there was a genuine problem with your router

There are simple checks to be done before you even get to checking the router itself, such as replacing cables or filters. These are basic first steps that all staff will ask a customer to run when they are contacted.

You won't find any information by running some random command on your PC. For example, 'perfmon' is a common command scammers ask you to run, which is related to the performance of your PC, nothing to do with your router or your internet speeds. You'd need to access the router directly to get useful information, usually by putting the local IP address to it into your internet browser (such as

There are some simple things to do to check if a scammer has contacted you

  • Ask them who your ISP is - they either won't know, or if your ISP is BT, the anwer should not be BT Openreach. Genuine BT customer support staff all know this.
  • Ask them what model your router is - odds are they'll give you a generic answer of 'BT Hub' because they have no way of knowing. If there's a problem as they claim, then they'd know that information.
  • Ask them how to access your router to find the information - they have no good reason to insist you run checks on your PC.
  • Take note of the number that called you, and do a Google search for it - usually the first results will reveal it is a known number used for scams. If it's a number associated with your ISP, that will be obvious in the search results.

Remember, it's always better safe than sorry when it comes to phone scams

If you're really unsure of whether it is a scam or not, say you'll contact your ISP customer services directly and hang up. If the call is genuine, then the caller will have your security interests at heart and won't mind you hanging up to run checks to verify that they're legitimate.

If you do contact your ISP directly, be aware that some scammers keep the line open so they can pretend to be the company you're trying to contact. It would be a good idea to contact your ISP with a different phone (such as your mobile) or use other methods of contact, such as live chat online, or call someone you know to clear the line first.



Our enhanced broadband Speed Test tool shows how fast your internet really is

Posted by Andy Betts on in AnnouncementsNewsFeatures

Is your broadband up to speed? Is it delivering what you hoped for when you first signed up? Or should you be switching to a faster provider? Our newly enhanced broadband Speed Test tool has all the answers.

Already used by over 400,000 people every month, the Speed Test service is the quickest and best way to get the true picture of how your internet is performing. This completely free tool now boasts upgraded features that make it better than ever.

With the Speed Test you can:

  • test your download and upload speeds
  • compare your results to the best speeds available in your street
  • save and view your entire test history, using our new Facebook integration feature

Having access to your test history enables you to judge the performance of your broadband over time, and also to identify any patterns or trends in the speeds. It isn't uncommon for internet speeds to drop during peak hours as more people go online. By running the test on different days, and at different times of day, you can quickly spot any problems. Our results page also highlights faster services available in your area. If you're ready to switch providers, or upgrade to fibre broadband, you'll know what your best options are.

In addition, you can carry out speed tests on various devices in different parts of your house. If you're experiencing slowdown in particular rooms, it may be because the Wi-Fi signal is being blocked or does not reach far enough. If you find that you're having this problem, we've got a guide that can help.

We also collate all the results to determine the industry's best and worst performing providers. We update our performance chart every month so you can clearly see which companies are worth your business, and which should be avoided.

To carry out a Speed Test, just click here.

Test your broadband speed today

Getting started with our broadband Speed Test couldn't be simpler. It takes just a couple of clicks, and the whole process lasts barely 20 seconds. It runs from within any web browser, and it works on your phone, too. You can use it to test both Wi-Fi and 4G speeds.

Visit the Speed Test page (1). Enter your postcode if you want to compare your results to other services in your area (or you can leave it blank if you prefer). Now just click Start Test.

The entire process lasts about 10 to 20 seconds (2). It's a good idea to carry out the test when you aren't using the internet for anything else, so pause any downloads, and disconnect videogames and streaming services until it has finished.

Once done, you'll see your results page (3). The first screen shows your upload and download speeds, compared to those achieved from other providers in the same postcode.

To see the rest of your results, all plotted on a similar chart (4), click Login with Facebook to see your full history, then follow the onscreen instructions. With regular tests you'll be able to build up a complete picture of how your broadband is performing, whether it is meeting expectations, and whether you'd be better off switching to a new provider.

If you do decide to switch, our Buyers' Guide provides an Ofcom-approved comparison of all the standard and fibre broadband offers available to you right now. It's constantly updated, and completely independent. You can be confident that we will always point you toward the deal that's right for you.


TalkTalk TV Plus

EXPIRED: Time's running out on the UK's best value TV and broadband deal!

Posted by Andy Betts on in NewsOffersExpiredTalkTalk

We've got an exclusive offer from TalkTalk that's only available through, but you only have until the end of Thursday to take advantage!

Sign up before the end of the 15th June to get the TV Plus with Fast Broadband package for just £23.75 a month. That's only £3.75 more than you'd pay for the standard broadband and phone deal. It comes with a 12 month contract, and there are no extra costs to pay: the price includes line rental, there's no setup fee, and you even receive a FREE TV Plus box.

Better still, the deal is not just for new customers. Loyal TalkTalk customers can also take advantage of this incredible offer by adding TV Plus to their existing service.

TV Plus with Fast Broadband is an amazing value, highly flexible deal. So what exactly do you get?

  • Fast, totally unlimited broadband with speeds up to 17Mb*
  • Free TV Plus box (normally £50) — pause, rewind and record up to 180 hours of TV
  • Free connection
  • Guaranteed fixed price for the full 12 month contract
  • Six entertainment channels from Sky, including Sky 1 and Sky Sports News, plus up to 80 Freeview channels
  • You can personalise your package by adding extra channels like Sky Cinema and Sky Sports on a flexible one month contract

Also included is a free TalkTalk Mobile SIM card, and the option to add both mobile and landline call packages.

This fantastic exclusive offer ends in less than a week, so don't delay, sign up by the end of Thursday the 15th June or miss out on big savings on internet and TV!

Head on over to TalkTalk to get started!

*  Package advertised with broadband speeds of up to 17Mb, this 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. This TV offer does not apply to Fibre products. You need to connect your TalkTalk TV Box to the internet and your TV aerial. Offer ends 2017-06-15.



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

Posted by Andy Betts on in NewsEEVirgin MediaSkyBTTalkTalk

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.


Man using computer

EXPIRED: How to avoid BT and Sky price rises - penalty free!

Posted by Andy Betts on in NewsFeaturesExpiredSkyBT

BT and Sky have both announced that they're hiking up their prices once again - but you don't have to pay them. Under Ofcom rules, any unexpected price rises mean you can quit your contract early without paying a penalty fee.

BT's price increases are all in the region of an inflation-beating 5-6% on standard and fibre broadband deals. They include:

  • Standard broadband: a £2 per month increase from £33.99 to £35.99 for the "all-in" deal including line rental, as of 2nd April
  • Fibre broadband: a £2.50 per month increase from £39.99 to £42.49 for Infinity 1, and £51.49 to £53.99 for Infinity 2, as of 2nd April
  • BT Sport: will cost £3.50 per month via BT TV from August (it was previously free). Via Sky TV the price goes up from 2nd April by £1.50 per month if you have BT Broadband, or £1 per month if you don't
  • Calls packages: also increasing across the board from 2nd April

Sky's price rises are mostly limited to line rental, but customers on older deals will also see increases:

  • Line rental: up 9% from £17.40 per month to £18.99 from 1st March
  • Older broadband and TV deals: will rise on average just under £3 per month from 1st March. The exact amount will vary depending on what deal you're on

How to cancel your broadband contract without penalty

If you aren't happy about the proposed price increases then you do have options. Ofcom states that you can end a contract without penalty if there's a price rise you weren't warned about when you first signed up.

If you're still within the minimum terms of your contract (eg. you're six months into a 12 month deal), you must tell your provider of your intention to quit within 30 days of being informed of the price rise. Both Sky and BT began informing their customers toward the end of January, so move quickly if you want to switch.

If you're outside the minimum terms of the contract (eg. you signed a 12 month deal 18 months ago), you're free to leave at any time regardless.

Switching broadband providers is likely to be your best option for saving money. The best deals are almost always reserved for new customers. Our postcode checker shows what packages are available in your area.

And what if you're happy with your provider? You can, of course, try haggling. You can sometimes get a better deal if you're willing to enter into a new contract. Even so, it's still worth arming yourself with information on the best broadband deals so you know what you're asking for. And if no offer is forthcoming remember the golden rule of haggling — always be willing to walk away.

Use our postcode checker now to find the best broadband deals in your area. Also take a look at our guide to switching broadband providers. The process has been streamlined recently, and is probably a lot easier than you expect.


Sky Q Hub

Why getting a new router can speed up your broadband

Posted by Andy Betts on in NewsFeaturesVirgin MediaOriginTalkTalkZenEEVodafonePlusnetSkyBT

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.



Broadband speed advertising: What you need to know

Posted by Andy Betts on in News

The way broadband speeds are advertised is set to change, in response to a call by the Advertising Standards Agency.

New independent research carried out on behalf of the ASA has confirmed what we've long suspected: there's widespread confusion about all aspects of broadband speeds. The ASA was concerned that this could prove to be misleading.

The research found that:

  • Speed is an important factor for a significant number of consumers when choosing a broadband package
  • Understanding of broadband speeds is low overall, with many consumers not knowing what speed they need
  • Most consumers believe they will receive the advertised speed, or close to it, when in practice most won't

A recent report from the BBC's Watchdog also highlighted the problem of misleading speed adverts. Broadband providers are currently able to advertise packages with speeds up to a certain level, so long as 10% of their customers can achieve that level. The vast majority of customers will get slower - and often considerably slower - speeds.

Analysis of speed test results shows that the typically advertised 'up to 17Mb' figure may not even meet these standards - most providers' customers have a top 10% speed closer to 15Mb or, in some cases, 14Mb. Across rural areas, the top 10% speed for products advertised as 'up to 17Mb' is just short of 10Mb.

A period of consultation is underway, ahead of a likely change to be announced in the Spring of 2017.

What you need to know about broadband speeds

Hopefully, the result of all this will be greater clarity, ensuring you know exactly what you're signing up for when you buy a broadband deal. We don't yet know what the solution will be, and in reality broadband speeds are quite complicated. Here's what you need to know.

How broadband speeds are advertised

The current rules state that headline speeds must only be attainable by at least 10% of customers, and must be preceded by the words 'up to'. There should also be additional qualification to help people understand any other factors at play. However, in practice the industry appears to have settled on an advertised speed roughly 2Mb higher than the rules show have allowed.

Broadband speeds are usually much slower than advertised

Use our free Speed Test tool to see what speed you're getting, and how it compares to what you were expecting. We also produce a monthly report showing the average download speeds for the main providers in the UK so you can see which are the best and worst performing.

It's impossible to advertise an exact speed

Even though the 'up to' claims may not be satisfactory, it isn't possible to advertise an exact speed instead. There are numerous factors that affect broadband speeds, to the extent that two houses on the same street with the same deal may get different levels of service.

The main factor that affects broadband speed

The biggest problem is the distance between your home and the nearest street cabinet (for most fibre broadband packages) or nearest exchange (for standard broadband). This is because part or all of the connection runs over copper lines, and the further the signal has to travel over these lines the weaker it gets. It's worse for rural areas, where these distances tend to be much longer, and the rural infrastructure is also less likely to have been upgraded to anything newer or faster.

Virgin is not affected by this

An exception to this is Virgin Media, which uses its own cable network, as well as smaller fibre-to-the-property providers, which bring the connection direct to your home rather than your nearest street cabinet.

Other things that slow down your broadband

There are many other factors at play, too. Smaller providers may slow down during peak hours because they don't have enough bandwidth to service all of their customers at maximum speed. Some providers may have traffic management policies in place to restrict speeds on the heaviest users. Your Wi-Fi router could also be a problem. Many providers supply cheaper, older technology routers that slow down over longer distances or are unable to deliver the full speed of your broadband connection.

How you can improve your broadband speed

It's possible to speed up your broadband in several ways. These include making sure your router is positioned in the best place in your home, and potentially upgrading the router to a faster model. For more tips check out our 12 tips to boost you broadband speed.

What broadband speed you need

The speed of broadband you need depends mostly on two things: how many people will be using your connection, and what you're using the internet for. A small household just using Facebook and the web can get away with a slower package. A large household with people watching Netflix and play games online will need something much faster. Read more in our guide to what broadband speed you need.

Use our free Speed Test tool today to find out fast out how fast your broadband is.

Comments's all-in prices

Our revamped comparison tables make it easier than ever to find the best broadband for you

Posted by Andy Betts on in AnnouncementsNews

Finding the cheapest broadband deal is now easier than ever thanks to our new price comparison tables.

Our revamped listings help to bring much needed clarity to broadband pricing. They now show exactly how much a package will cost you each month, as well as the total amount you'd pay in the first year. In addition, we clearly outline any upfront costs you'd need to pay for things like equipment or installation - the exact kind of things that so often get hidden in the small print.

Broadband pricing has often been complicated and confusing. Our enhanced comparison tables bring greater consistency to the way different providers' offers are presented. By default, packages are sorted by the first year cost - which includes any setup fees - so you'll be able to see exactly how much you would pay in the first 12 months of any deal.

Greater clarity in pricing

Back in May, the Advertising Standards Authority teamed up with Ofcom to announce new rules designed to make it simpler for consumers to compare broadband packages and gave providers until the end of October to comply. It said that product listings needed to stop separating broadband and line rental charges, and give greater prominence to contract length and up-front costs.

We fully support the new guidelines at Our purpose is to help you find the best broadband deal at the best price, and we've long argued that greater consistency and clarity was needed in the way that deals were advertised.

With the rules now in effect, we've overhauled the way we present pricing information to you. These are the main changes you'll find:

  • Full monthly cost - All packages now show the total price you will pay each month, even if the provider is still separating out broadband and line rental charges. You'll always be able to compare like-for-like.
  • Full first-year cost - Find out how much a package will cost you in the first year, once introductory offers have been accounted for, and including any additional upfront costs you may need to pay. If you'll receive promotional cashback or account credit during the year, this is deducted from the total. (Vouchers and other rewards aren't included.)
  • Upfront cost - Say goodbye to hidden fees. Any extras like setup, equipment, or delivery charges are now shown as a single all-in total beneath the monthly price. (If you need a new telephone line, additional prices may apply, see More Info or click Go to site.)
  • Broadband-only deals - Those packages that are sold as broadband-only but still require a phone line - so you need to shop around and pay someone else for separate line rental - are now either shown on their own Broadband-Only tab for the associated provider, or are clearly marked as needing separate line rental.
  • More info - Hit the More info button to get a full breakdown on each package. This includes the all-in price and how this compares to what's advertised (in cases where the provider still presents differently), along with details of telephone line requirements and what else you get with the package.

Ready to switch broadband providers? Use our postcode checker to find out which deals are available in your area.


Logging into Facebook on a MacBook

Data limits: Are they right for you?

Posted by Andy Betts on in FeaturesBTPlusnetSky

We're all keen to shave a few pounds off our monthly bills, so when we're shopping for broadband and find an entry level package that looks the same as the more expensive alternatives, it can prove pretty tempting. Many broadband providers - from the industry's biggest and smallest names alike - offer these. They can be extremely cheap, but they come with pretty hefty restrictions.

Sky make a compelling offer with their cheapest fibre deal. It gives you the opportunity to upgrade to the benefits of fibre broadband and get it completely free for the length of the contract, while paying only line rental. Except there's a catch - you're limited to 25GB of data each month.

BT's lowest priced fibre deal also comes with a 25GB limit, and their cheapest standard broadband just 12GB. Many other providers also impose limits on their most affordable packages, ranging from 100GB down to a paltry 5GB.

Not only do these limits restrict how you can use the internet, they can also prove more expensive in the long run. Exceed your limit on BT, for example, and you'll pay £1.80 for every additional gigabyte you use. The price can rack up quite quickly.

Now, this doesn't mean you should avoid data limited packages outright. For lighter users in smaller households they might be ideal. Just make sure you know how much data you will be using before you sign up.

How much data do you need?

The amount of data you use depends what you do online. Casual browsing, shopping and banking, email and Facebook are not especially data intensive. If that's the extent of your web use, and there's only a couple of people in your household, then you might be okay with a data limit.

Anything media-related, on the other hand, eats through data rapidly. Here's a rough guide to how much data common apps use:

  • Netflix - the TV streaming service Netflix uses around 1GB of data per hour for standard definition, and 3GB per hour for HD. For BBC iPlayer, you can expect to use 2GB per hour of HD viewing.
  • Sky TV on demand - On-demand downloads through your Sky box will also count towards your data allowance - even if you use Sky broadband. A typical movie will use 1.5GB of data for SD and 4GB for HD.
  • Music streaming - The Spotify music streaming service uses around 115MB per hour at the highest quality setting.
  • Gaming - Tests have shown that online video gaming can use anywhere between 20MB and 200MB, depending on the title. Stream your gameplay over the Twitch service and you'll use up to 1.6GB per hour.
  • Video calls - Skype can use between around 200-600MB per hour for video calls, although it can be lower depending on the quality of the connection.

And then there are the numerous other things that will burn through a data allowance. Regular updates for your laptop, phone and games console, for example, stretch to several hundred megabytes or more. They may be mandatory, and they may even happen in the background without you realising.

Uploads count, too. use iCloud or OneDrive for your files, back up your important files to DropBox or Google Drive, share your holiday snaps on Facebook or Google Photos, or upload funny videos to YouTube or Snapchat, and that's another chunk of your data gone.

A false economy?

A cheap broadband deal with a monthly data allowance can be tempting - why pay any more than you need to, right? But it can prove to be a false economy, and you certainly shouldn't choose one in the hope that you'll be able to ration your usage.

Some providers, like BT, will start charging the moment you exceed your limit. Others, like Sky, will allow you to go over once every six months, before automatically upgrading your broadband to their more expensive Unlimited package. And in some cases, the difference between limited and unlimited isn't even all that great. At the time of writing you can get an unlimited fibre deal from Plusnet for just £25 more per year than Sky Fibre.

If you're only a light internet user, going online to pay bills and the like, then the cheapest, limited deal may suffice. For everyone else, you'd be better off steering clear and picking the best unlimited deal that suits your needs.

Use our postcode checker to find your best broadband deal today.