Are you looking for a 12-month broadband deal? Find out whether this type of contract is right for you, find out how to choose what type of 12-month contract you need and discover which providers offer the best 12-month broadband deals.
When you become a broadband customer you always have to sign a contract with your internet service provider. A 12-month broadband contract means you’re tied in for a minimum of one year.
During this time, you won’t usually be able to get out of your contract without paying a cancellation fee. At the end of your minimum contract period, your provider will continue to provide your broadband service and usually start billing you out-of-contract prices for it. However from that point, you are free to shop around for a new broadband deal and move to another contract if you want to.
Broadband contracts normally cover periods of one month, 12 months, 18 months or 24 months. Contracts lasting 18 or 24 months can sometimes offer more competitive prices as you’re tying yourself in for longer.
There are several reasons why you may prefer to opt for a shorter contract – usually because you know that your personal circumstances are likely to change. Some of the big-name providers like BT, Sky and TalkTalk don’t offer 12-month contracts, and Virgin Media has just recently changed its broadband contracts from 12 months to 18 months, so you might find your choice is more limited if you decide this is the right length of contract for you. But don’t worry – you can still find some great 12-month broadband deals with well-known providers such as NOW Broadband, Plusnet and others.
Here are some of the reasons why you might look for a 12-month broadband contract:
If you’re a tenant in a rented home, you might not want to commit to more than a 12-month broadband contract if you expect to move on fairly quickly. Many landlords require a minimum tenancy agreement of 12 months and it makes sense to many tenants to have a broadband deal in line with this.
Generally, in rented houses, one person must be the account holder. They’ll need to take responsibility for paying your broadband bills and making sure everyone pays them their share.
There’s more information in our guide to broadband for shared houses.
If you’re a student, your decision-making will be similar to that of other people who live in a shared house – you simply won’t know where you’re likely to be living in a year’s time, so you probably won’t want to commit to a broadband contract longer than 12 months.
Some providers offer special deals to students, so it’s worth finding out what’s on offer. Make sure you consider the value to you of any gifts or extras that might be thrown in – don’t get hooked into paying more if you don’t want them. Take a look at our student broadband guide for more detailed information.
Many people like to switch broadband providers regularly to stay on the best deal available to them and therefore don’t want to be tied in for longer than 12 months. You can get some great deals this way, as providers compete to attract proactive customers.
However, make sure you also look at the deals available over longer periods each time your minimum contract is ending, in case one of these might suit you and your current budget better.
Do you expect to get a pay rise or be generally better off within the next year? Then you might think a 12-month contract is a good idea because you can then find a new broadband deal with faster speeds or add in other services like TV or premium channels.
This is good thinking – but some providers let you upgrade within your minimum contract period, so always check out the small print before signing a deal to see how quickly you might be able to add to your service.
If an improved, more expensive service such as a faster speed becomes available in your area during your minimum contract period, many providers will let you upgrade to this, too.
Other frequently asked questions from people interested in 12-month broadband contracts include:
You can cancel your broadband contract at any time, but expect to pay a cancellation fee if you want to leave within the minimum period of your contract.
There are a few specific situations where you may be able to cancel your broadband for free. For example, it’s allowed during the 14-day ‘cooling off’ period after your contract started, or if your provider increases your monthly charge by more than a little above the rate of inflation, or where your broadband speed is much lower than advertised and cannot be fixed.
You can find out more about how to cancel your broadband early in our guide
As mentioned above, not all providers offer 12-month broadband contracts. If you’ve decided this is the best option for you, though, you’ll still have plenty of choice.
NOW Broadband, John Lewis, Pop Telecom and Direct Save Telecom are among the providers who will do you a 12-month broadband deal. Most offer a choice of broadband speeds and phone call packages, if required, and you can also add TV into your 12-month contract if you choose a provider such as NOW Broadband.
So, you’ve decided that a 12-month broadband deal is the right choice for you and your household. The next step is to decide what you want from your provider, so that you can make sure you sign up to the best 12-month broadband deal to meet your needs.
For example, what do you use the internet for and how many people are in your household? Do you work or study from home? Do you catch up with colleagues, friends and family via video calls? Do you regularly stream live TV or do any of the people in your household enjoy playing games online?
The more people and devices that use your internet and the more they use it for activities such as video calls, live TV streaming and online gaming, the higher the speed you need to be able to enjoy these services without constant buffering and interruptions. If, on the other hand, you’re a small household who mainly uses the internet for things like email, occasional YouTube videos and checking social media, you’ll manage fine with a lower-speed broadband that may cost you less money.
Here are some questions that people frequently ask when deciding on the best 12-month broadband deal for them.
When you’re checking out the latest 12-month broadband deals available to you, you’ll see a range of different average speeds on offer from different providers. Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The higher the number, the faster your internet speed. Higher speeds can make a real difference when you want to download a lot of content such as Ultra-HD films, stream live TV, play online games or join video calls.
The faster your broadband speed, the higher the monthly cost, generally. Therefore, it’s important to do your research and find a broadband deal that will be fast enough for your household without you paying for a speed you don’t need. Remember, the average speed advertised in the deals is just that – an average. Half the customers in your postcode area must be able to get this ‘average’ speed, which means you have a 50/50 chance that the speed you get will be higher or lower than this.
ADSL broadband, also known as non-fibre or standard broadband, is available in almost every part of the UK. It is delivered via the copper wires of your existing landline network which means it’s generally easy to install and may be cheaper than superfast or fibre broadband. It can be slower than other broadband options. It tends to offer speeds of up to 10 or 11Mbps, which is still fast enough for the needs of many households.
Find out more in our guide to ADSL broadband.
Superfast, or fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) broadband tends to be faster and more reliable than ADSL broadband. Superfast refers to speeds of between 30 and 300Mbps, according to Ofcom, though some providers say it only reaches 100Mbps.
Part of its journey from your broadband provider to your home broadband router is via fibre-optic cables, but the final journey from the local street cabinet to your home uses the same copper cables as ADSL. The more fibre-optic cable in your connection, the faster your broadband speed will be.
You need a landline phone connection for most ADSL or superfast fibre broadband installations, but you don’t have to use it to make calls. Many UK broadband providers deliver their services via the national Openreach network.
That means installation is usually straightforward if you already have a phone line, especially for ADSL broadband that uses the copper wires of your existing phone connection. If you don’t already have a landline then you will generally have to have one installed as part of your package, even if you choose not to make calls on it – for example if you prefer to use your mobile phone to speak to people.
With broadband-only deals you pay just for your internet access. These deals are available as one, 12, 18 or 24-month contracts. They don’t include the home phone calls or TV services that many providers offer as part of your broadband package.
It’s important to realise that ‘broadband only’ usually means broadband with a phone line, as this is required to get internet connection by almost all providers. It doesn’t, however, include the cost of actually making phone calls. This can help keep costs down for broadband-only deals and means you’re not paying for services you won’t use, for example if you don’t want to make calls on your landline.
Broadband and phone deals, whether one, 12, 18 or 24-month contracts, give you broadband and a certain amount of phone calls included. The best deal for you depends on your household’s internet and phone use.
There are many different options available, depending on what speed of broadband you require, how much time you spend on the phone and the times of day or week that you prefer to chat, and where the people you call generally are, for example UK-only or overseas.
A broadband and TV package lets you combine your internet connection with a range of different television viewing options. You can opt for different types and speeds and a whole host of television choices, from basic cable or satellite channels to premium sport, movies and other streaming services. These packages are available as one, 12, 18 or 24-month contracts.
If you’ve decided that you’d rather not be tied into even a 12-month broadband contract, you may want to consider a rolling monthly contract or no-contract broadband deal. These give you the freedom to switch suppliers easily, but you may find you pay a higher amount for this privilege.