With inflation soaring, this year's broadband price hikes could really impact your budget.
But you can dodge the rate rises and find the best broadband deal for your needs, if you switch smart.
We'll look at key questions to ask yourself, hidden fees to watch for, and tricks to maximise speed for your usage needs.
Here are our top tips to help secure the best broadband deal in 2023.
Making the switch
Always make sure your broadband deal does what you need it to.
Are you seeking the cheapest deal first and foremost? Do you need speed and high download limits for video streaming and gaming? Would you like a bundle deal that wraps up your internet, phone and TV in one?
Go for the cheapest if…
…you only need a basic broadband connection, and your home is near a telephone exchange.
Be aware that the deal will have a minimum term, so if you move or your priorities change, you’ll have to stick with your basic broadband until the term’s up.
Go for higher speed if…
…you are more than a basic browser and surfer.
If you like to watch movies, settle down with a Netflix boxset, or if gaming is your thing, you need a higher Mbps (megabits per second) rate.
You can use a broadband checker tool to see what speeds are on offer and decide if you really need to pay for a fast fibre broadband connection.
Keep an eye on contract length
Your circumstances could well change in the next year or so, and if you think that’s likely then it’s probably best to avoid getting tied up in a 24-month deal.
Many contracts are 12 to 18 months, but very short term and no contract options are also available.
Would a bundle work for you?
Bundle deals can be good value, as they offer your broadband and TV in one package.
Take a good look at what the bundle includes before committing though because you might find you’re signing up for lots of channels that you don’t watch.
Which providers look good in 2023?
As we’ve said, the best broadband deal for you depends on what you need from your service.
Here we pinpoint some providers who look to be offering strong deals in terms of cost, speed, no contract flexibility and bundles.
These are just the tip of the iceberg of course, but a good place to begin your search.
Good options for cheap broadband
As we write, Three is offering some very good value deals — the Three 5G Hub and 4G Hub packages, both available on a 24-month contract are worth investigating.
The very cheapest standard broadband deal is currently offered by Shell Energy at £18.99 per month for 11Mbps download speed on an 18-month contract.
NOW’s Brilliant Broadband offers 10Mbps for £21.99 per month over a 24-month contract. These are good prices, but download speeds might be slower than you need.
High Speed choices
To get high speed broadband, you need to be looking for full fibre connection, sometimes called ‘fibre to the premises’.
Three, Shell Energy and TalkTalk are all offering packages of 100Mbps or even more, for around £32 a month.
Most households don’t really need speeds this high, but they might be the right choice if you have lots of users or you love streaming.
TalkTalk offer Full Fibre 150 with 152Mbps for £29.95 a month on an 18-month contract, while Now have Super Fibre, with 63Mbps speeds for £21 a month on a 12-month contract. How much speed do you need?
Best of the bundles
There are lots of bundles available, and your best option is the one that provides the TV channels you want to watch regularly.
Some bundles offer more channels and faster speeds, but they tend to cost more.
Virgin Media’s Big Bundle is a good-looking package at the moment, giving a super-fast download speed of 246Mbps and over 100 channels for £29.99 a month over an 18-month contract.
TalkTalk provide Freeview and streaming with speeds of 38Mbps on their Fibre 35 & TalkTalk TV 4K box — it’s a decent choice if you want a bit of everything without spending too much.
Go no contract
Lots of providers will offer a no-contract or rolling one-month plan across various deals, but they tend to be more expensive.
They often charge a set-up fee for no-contract deals, which they don’t tend to do on longer term deals.
Virgin Media offers a one-month rolling plan across all its deals — but charges more. You do gain freedom and flexibility, however.
At the moment you could also get a rolling plan with Cuckoo’s Fast broadband, which delivers 67Mbps for £29.99 a month, or through Hyperoptic’s M50 Fibre Broadband.
This offer gives you a fast 158 Mbps for £35 a month.
What about termination penalties?
If you decide to leave your broadband contract before the agreed minimum term is up, you’ll usually have to pay a kind of exit fee, or termination penalty.
These vary between providers, but typically it will be based on the number of months remaining on your contract, plus the cost of any equipment provided, such as a router.
Leaving your contract early only really makes sense if your termination penalty is offset by savings on a new deal, your provider has agreed to contribute to the penalty or something has really gone wrong with your package and it’s not working for you.
Help if you’re struggling with rising broadband costs
Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has brought in rules that make sure telecoms companies treat customers fairly if they find themselves in financial difficulty.
If you’re struggling to pay broadband bills, because of rising prices or a change in your circumstances, get in touch with your provider straight away.
They may suggest switching to a cheaper broadband deal mid-contract, or perhaps a payment holiday or deferred payments.
With broadband price rises on the horizon and the cost of living high, it’s a sound idea to seek out a just-so deal for you.
Keep a firm focus on your priorities and compare the deals that look right — there’s certainly no shortage of choice.