How can you tell if you’re overpaying for broadband?

It’s often difficult to identify if you’re overpaying for broadband, but studying both your bill and your typical usage can provide useful pointers

Saturday, 13 March, 2021

In these uniquely stressful times, broadband is both an essential service and something we have little time to focus on.

Over the last year, the internet has provided us with our only methods of shopping, socialising, studying and working.

As such, it’s something we can’t live without.

Yet the challenges of juggling work, leisure and childcare from homes we never intended to spend so much time in has made renewing and renegotiating broadband contracts a low priority.

It’s far easier to stay with your existing ISP, even if that means you might be inadvertently overpaying for broadband.

The sums don’t add up

According to a recent survey by advice portal Broadband Savvy, 31 per cent of UK broadband customers are paying for services they’re not fully utilising.

It’s been calculated that these people could save almost £100 a year on average by switching provider – a figure Which? also settled on following detailed analysis in late 2019.

And while everyone needs a broadband connection, many people don’t need the level of connectivity they’re currently signed up to.

The research indicated 47 per cent of consumers don’t actually know how much bandwidth they need, while a quarter choose new deals which were similar to old ones even if their needs are different.

More worryingly, one in eight respondents guess what their broadband requirements are (or might be in future) prior to choosing a provider and a plan.

If you don’t want to fall into one of those categories, these are the steps required to avoid overpaying for broadband…

Check please

To ensure you’re not overpaying for broadband, take some time to study your recent bills.

Have they gone up unexpectedly? Is there anything you weren’t expecting to see? Have you incurred ad hoc charges for overseas calls or exceeding data allowances?

Look beyond the headline figures to see what else you’re paying for.

It might be possible to reduce your expenditure by downgrading a broadband connection speed – 300Mbps is unnecessary if multiple people aren’t trying to watch Netflix simultaneously.

If your online activities don’t extend beyond web browsing and email, an ADSL connection would be perfectly satisfactory.

That’s not in the contract

Which? have previously reported that 8.8 million broadband customers in the UK are currently out of contract.

In other words, an introductory deal has now ended, placing them on a (usually more expensive) standard tariff.

Yours might have expired without you even realising.

Even the longest broadband contract only lasts two years, and some ISPs offer a maximum 12 or 18-month period.

If this applies to you, the good news is you’re free to switch ISP at any time without incurring termination fees, or owing any costs over and above a standard 30-day notice period.

Never have I ever…

Studying a broadband contract may reveal things you didn’t even realise you were paying for, and have no intention of using.

This might include additional data, mobile phone SIM cards or premium TV channels.

If these are no longer needed (or never were in the first place), contact your ISP and ask if they can be removed.

However, this may not be possible mid-contract.

Consider whether these added-on services provide any benefit, and if not, ensure your next broadband deal doesn’t include them.

There’s no point wasting money on things you don’t need, and even ‘freebies’ tend to be incorporated into a broadband contract’s ongoing costs somewhere…

Neil Cumins author picture

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Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!