Internet and TV bundles of joy

Switching from standalone services to a broadband, phone and TV package can save you money, but the choice is bewildering

Use a fixed telephone line from home, hooked up to the internet and like to watch the odd bit of satellite TV? If that's you, the chances are you are one of the millions of households that get access to all three from one provider under a "bundled" telecoms package.

According to Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, since 2005 (when bundling services became possible), the proportion of consumers with bundled services has steadily risen so that almost 60% of UK households now have one. However, as the number of packages available has proliferated, the choice has become increasingly confusing.

Telecoms providers such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk, and Plusnet all offer a number of packages offering broadband at various speeds, inclusive UK landline calls at various times of day (some include 0870 and 0845 calls too), and, in many cases, paid-for TV channels.

To make things even more complicated some deals have download limits while others are "unlimited" and some packages come with half-price introductory offers, free credit and/or high street shopping vouchers.

"More recently, providers have tended not to market bundles as 'discounted' or do not offer the services individually," said a spokesperson for Ofcom. "This makes it increasingly difficult for consumers to know whether their package is in fact cheaper."

However, experts say that a bundle is still the way to go if you want to save money. "Switching from standalone services to a bundle can save you over £200 a year," says Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at

So how can you find the best deal when there are so many choices? We look at what you can get for your money at various price brackets.

Under £20 a month

If you're on a tight budget, you are better off buying a bundle with phone and broadband and relying on Freeview for TV. Freeview is subscription-free and has more than 50 digital channels.

Guy North, marketing communications director at Freeview, reckons many people pay for TV channels they don't watch or need. "By researching and shopping around, they will find that over 95% of the most-watched programmes are available subscription-free, making considerable savings for households in the long run," he says.

Most new televisions come with Freeview built-in, but if you want a box that allows you to record and pause TV shows it will set you back about £75.

If you're looking for a cheap broadband and calls package, Everything Everywhere offers 14Mb broadband, unlimited downloads and free calls at evenings and weekends for £5 a month. Line rental at £14 a month is on top, bringing the monthly cost to £19 – but subscribers get £30 credited to their account, meaning that the first year costs £198. However, unlike other providers which generally offer their best deals to new customers, you'll need to be an existing Orange, T-Mobile or EE customer to be eligible.

Sky offers unlimited 14Mb broadband and Talk Weekends at £5 a month for a year, after which the price rises to £10 a month (but you're free to switch). Line rental is £14.50 on top, bringing the monthly total to £19.50 and the annual total to £234. Customers joining via also get a £25 M&S voucher.

Some providers, including Sky, offer customers a further discount if they pay a year's line rental up front.

Cheaper, but with a monthly download limit of 10GB, is Plusnet which charges £2.99 for the first six months for 16Mb broadband and evening and weekend calls to UK landlines (including 0870 and 0845 numbers). After six months the cost rises to £5.99 and line rental is £13.99 on top. This mean the first year will cost £221.76.

£20 to £35 a month

Virgin Media is offering 30Mb broadband free for six months then £14.50 a month on an 18-month contract. Line rental is £14.99 a month on top, bringing the monthly price after the six-month offer ends to £29.49 and the first year cost to £266.88.

If you want TV included with a bundle in this price bracket, TalkTalk offers 14Mb broadband and free day, evening and weekend calls. A YouView box is included which gives you access to Freeview channels and allows you to record, pause and rewind TV. It's £15.50 a month plus £14.95 line rental, bringing the monthly cost to £30.45 and annual cost to £365.40.

Another option is BT's 16Mb unlimited broadband deal, which includes weekend calls. It's free for six months then £16 a month. Line rental of £15.45 on top brings the monthly cost after six months to £31.45 and the first year cost to £281.40. BT Vision TV packages start from £5 a month on top of the broadband deal; new customers receive a £25 Sainsbury's gift card.

£35 a month upwards

If you want paid-for TV channels such as Sky 1, Sky Living and Sky Atlantic, it starts to be more expensive.

Sky offers Sky Entertainment, Broadband Lite and Talk Weekends for £21.50 a month plus £14.50 line rental on a 12-month contract, meaning an annual cost of £432. New customers get a £25 M&S voucher. However, it doesn't include unlimited broadband – the monthly download limit is just 2GB on the 14Mb service.

Much better value is Virgin Media's Essentials collection which includes 30Mb unlimited broadband plus TiVo and offers more than 90 channels. At the moment it's £13 a month for six months, followed by £26 a month, plus £14.99 line rental. With £60 credit for new customers, the first year costs £353.88. Customers have to sign an 18-month contract.

If you can afford to splash out more, another option is a BT Infinity deal. Delivering up to 76Mb, it uses fibre optic broadband, the same technology as Virgin Media's super-fast services.

BT Infinity 1 is the cheapest option, with download speeds up to 38Mb but there is a 40Gb download limit each month. It's £9 a month for three months then £18 a month. Monthly line rental of £15.45 brings the monthly cost to £33.45 and a £25 activation charge brings the first year cost to £399.40. Unlimited BT Infinity deals start from £23 a month.

Premium channels

If you really want to blow your telecoms budget, then add Sky Sports or Sky Movies. BT Vision customers can get either Sky Sports 1 or Sky Sports 2 for £15 a month (on top of their BT Vision subscription) or £20 for both.

Sky charges £21 for the Sky Sports Collection (Sky Sports 1,2,3,4, F1), Virgin £25.75 and TalkTalk £30.

Sky Movies costs an extra £16 on Sky, £14.50 on Virgin Media or £15 on TalkTalk. Sky also offers Sports and Movies together for £29 a month.

If you're just an occasional sports fan, the good news is you soon won't need a Sky Sports subscription to watch Sky Sports channels. From the spring BSkyB will be offering pay-as-you-go access for £9.99 a day via its new internet TV service, Now TV. The service targets viewers who want to watch a one-off event such as a Formula One grand prix, an England cricket match or Masters Golf.

You can compare TV and broadband bundles with Guardian's Money Deals service


Emma Lunn

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Sky-high charges, but broadband customers trapped in lockdown
Trying to cancel a contract is near impossible with providers incommunicado

Anna Tims

14, Jun, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Openreach and BT errors see customers charged tens of thousands to connect
Householders in some rural areas are being told they must hand over vast sums of money if they want broadband to be installed

Anna Tims

25, Jan, 2016 @7:01 AM

Article image
Household bills: loyalty doesn’t pay … and it’s the elderly who pay the price
Switching supplier after years seems counterintuitive. But that can cost the most vulnerable customers £200 or more a year

Harvey Jones

24, Mar, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Fast broadband speeds not guaranteed by living in city centre, figures show

Research shows slowest area in London includes Barbican, next door to the City of London, while fastest is Charlton in Greenwich

Juliette Garside, telecoms correspondent

27, Mar, 2013 @8:38 PM

Article image
Battle of the broadband providers sees Plusnet offering unlimited package

Plusnet's £2.50-a-month deal the latest of string of broadband offers as providers cut prices to increase market share

Harriet Meyer

16, Dec, 2013 @7:00 AM

Article image
Broadband has proved vital: but that's no reason to pay over the odds
During lockdown it has become a lifeline for both work and play … but 8.7 million customers could cut their costs

Shane Hickey

02, Aug, 2020 @8:00 AM

Article image
TalkTalk tops Ofcom phone and internet complaints table
Virgin Media draws least grumbles in landline category, while provider 3 is mobile service with most dissatisfied customers

Mark King

21, Apr, 2011 @10:58 AM

Article image
No 'peace' for internet users accusing BT of empty promises over broadband speeds
The firm’s Infinity deals are advertised as a simple way to get unlimited superfast access. But the reality can be very different

Anna Tims

07, May, 2017 @12:24 PM

Article image
TalkTalk loses another 50,000 customers

Broadband and TV provider has lost 170,000 customers since November 2010, but revenues remain stable at £422m. By Juliette Garside

Juliette Garside

07, Feb, 2012 @10:07 AM

Article image
BT Sport v Sky: battle kicks off to win sports TV fans

BT has spent £1bn in a bid to woo customers to its football and rugby coverage. So how do you sign up to BT Sport and what will you pay if you do?

Miles Brignall

02, Aug, 2013 @2:20 PM