Out-of-contract customers are overpaying by £162 a year, the research claims (Image: SKY • BT • VIRGIN MEDIA • GETTY)
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Millions of broadband customers in the UK are overpaying for their internet connection, according to a new study. It found that an estimated 6.95 million households are out-of-contract with their current broadband deal and overpaying by an average £162 a year. The research, which was commissioned by comparison site Uswitch, warns those who are already overpaying for their broadband that they will feel a “double sting” as record-breaking price rises – due to spiralling inflation in the UK – are coming down the track.
Most broadband companies attract new customers with the promise of low monthly bills, free gifts, or both. However, these low prices are usually only guaranteed for the duration of the initial contract, which varies between 12-, 18- and 24-months, depending on the company.
After that, firms will increase the monthly cost – so you’ll be paying more for the same speeds and service. For example, Virgin Media is currently offering its M100 full-fibre broadband and free weekend calls for £25 a month. At the end of 18-months, that same package will cost £51 a month.
If it’s been a while since you switched broadband providers, it might be worth looking at our in-depth guide to the best broadband deals in the UK right now. When you switch to a new broadband supplier, you’ll be treated as a new customer again, which means you’ll be able to unlock the best offers. That could mean up to 24-months of discounted bills and, if you’re switching to Virgin Media, a shelter from annual price rises for the duration of that initial contract term.
Switching to a new broadband firm on Openreach’s network is really simple, thanks to new Ofcom rules (Image: GETTY)
For our money, the best broadband deal available right now is Vodafone’s Superfast 2 plan, which offers an average download speed of 73Mbps for just £19 a month. That should be more than fast enough to stream Netflix in the highest picture quality available (25Mbps minimum is recommended for 4K Ultra HD quality) while also streaming songs, podcasts, answering video calls, and setting up smart lightbulbs and doorbells.
There’s no upfront fee to worry about and, if you order this bundle from comparison site Broadband Genie instead of direct from Vodafone itself, you’ll be able to bag a £60 gift card for Amazon.co.uk for free. This will be emailed to you as soon as your brand-new broadband connection is up-and-running. For comparison, Plusnet charges £24.99 a month for 66Mbps speeds, BT charges £28.99 a month for 36Mbps speeds, Shell Energy Broadband charges £21.99 a month for 67Mbps, and TalkTalk charges £23.50 a month for 38Mbps.
Switching between providers who rely on Openreach’s nationwide infrastructure, like BT, EE, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Shell Energy, and Sky, is an incredibly easy process. Dubbed the “One-Stop” switch, you won’t even need to contact your current broadband provider to let them know that you’re leaving. Instead, your new provider will arrange the transfer for you. The date for the switch will even be arranged so that you’re not left without a broadband connection.
Unfortunately, these rules do not apply when switching from the Openreach network to providers with their own infrastructure, like Virgin Media, Giganet, Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, and more. Regulatory body Ofcom is looking to change the rules so that the same “One-Stop” switch process applies, but this change won’t be enforced until April 2023.
If you’re looking to move from BT Broadband to Virgin Media, for example, you’ll need to contact both providers separately to cancel your current package and organise the installation and set-up of your new internet connection. If the installation dates don’t line up, this could leave you without broadband for a while.
It’s worth remembering that – regardless of the broadband provider that you pick – you’ll always have a 14-calendar-day “cooling off” period during which you can cancel your request to switch broadband provider without being charged.