While new rules mean that broadband companies are required to give a more complete price including all charges when advertising their offerings, there are still several things to take into account which can at times leave consumers uncertain of how much getting new broadband or switching provider will cost them overall.
This is particularly true for new connections to buildings that do not have an existing phone line. However, there are several interesting options available, and this coupled with the greater transparency now enforced means that there are now more options and a more straightforward way of choosing between them.
Especially for those lacking an existing phone connection or those who travel a lot, mobile broadband can offer a great alternative to fixed line connections. This is especially true with the wider dispersal of 4G broadband. Most of the population will be able to get a very high speed connection for a reasonable price.
There are some setup costs, but these are generally lower than with fixed line broadband. You may have to purchase a modem such as a dongle which might cost around £10-£50, but in many cases will be free if you bundle it with other products or agree to a contract of a certain time period. There are other prices and charges to consider, such as roaming charges (which are being brought under control across Europe this year), but they can be sidestepped by being careful and aside from this there are no other up front costs to be too concerned about.
This is the standard for most homes and businesses – and involves the setup costs mentioned earlier in the event that there is no existing phone line available in the building. This would require you to spend around £130 and it will take around 15 days to get set up. On top of this, there will be a line rental of around £15 to pay per month.
It’s worth bearing in mind that long-term there is no need to stay with BT for your broadband services – even from the start you can sign up for a provider’s service that uses the BT network but uses the providers software and systems. The opening up of the BT network is part of a process called local loop unbundling, implemented in order to make the broadband market more competitive.
But there are alays a few more costs to consider with ADSL. You will often be able to get a free modem (also called a router) with your contract but if you have to pay for it then it will cost from £20-£180 depending on the model.
And of course there are the monthly charges to pay, which will vary depending on your subscription. Thanks to the new advertising rules mentioned earlier the total cost should be easier to calculate. And of course if you speak to a sales representative you should be able to get a lot of information easily.
Some other costs apply to nearly all types of broadband. There is often a cancellation fee which the providers use to recoup some of the costs spent on any free equipment or introductory offers. In many cases there will be a minimum contract period after which the cancellation fee will be waived. This is particularly true for bill pay mobile broadband, since the cost of the dongle or MiFi that comes with the start of the contract can be recouped by the provider quickly.
This minimum period is likely to be longer in the case of ADSL, Cable, or Fibre broadband types.
Connection fees are another cost to factor in – often waived, these fees are a one-off for starting the service.
And finally, there are always fair-use policies for nearly all broadband plans, which define how much you can download or upload. While some services are truly unlimited, most have caps, after which you will face limitations on your services, fees, or even cancellation of the service (although rare).
Cable and fibre rely less (or not at all usually) on the phone network, so there are no line rental charges to factor in. There are installation costs, which vary a lot since it can be required for you to get a complete new line from your home to the fibre exchange in the case of that service, but for cable the setup can be easier if there is an existing cable connection (for example if you have Virgin Media digital tv). There will be other charges in some cases – mainly relating to the hardware you might have to buy (such as a set top box for cable).
Overall fibre and cable show a wider range of variation in setup costs due to the relative novelty of the offerings, but in general should not be more than ADSL setup so this shouldn’t be too much of a concern.