Sometimes you just want a deal where you're solely paying for broadband without any extras or fuss. But is it worth signing up to for everyone?
Broadband-only generally means a package where you’re simply paying for an internet connection without any extras.
Since almost every type of broadband connection requires a landline phone connection, though, in practice broadband-only deals often include a phone line and pay-as-you-go calls if you choose to use them. Some providers will sell you a broadband-only deal and let you keep your landline with another provider if you want to.
When you’re deciding which broadband package to go for, it’s important to consider how you and the other members of your household will use your internet connection. For example, do you use your landline a lot to make and receive phone calls? If you do, then you might want to bundle in extra calls with your broadband package as that could save you money in the long run.
Equally, if you’re looking for digital TV channels then it could be worth keeping everything in one place and going for a broadband and TV deal.
Here are some of the reasons why you might look for a broadband-only deal:
Are you one of the growing numbers of UK households who have all the minutes you need on your mobile phone plans and rarely use your landline?
If pretty much the only calls you get are from people trying to sell you things you don’t want, then you could be ready to get rid of your landline, which brings the added bonus of ending unwanted sales and nuisance calls to the house phone. Even though the majority of broadband-only deals include a phone line, you’re not obliged to plug an actual handset into this line.
If you’re happy with Freeview or streaming your shows and movies via subscription services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, then you might want to save yourself the extra cost of bundling in TV channels with your broadband deal. If this applies to you and your household, then a broadband-only deal could hit the spot perfectly.
If you’re set on staying with your current landline provider but can’t or don’t want to get your broadband services from them for any reason, then you’ll need to look for a provider that will sell you a broadband deal that you can use with your existing phone line.
Ofcom says many people could save at least £15 a month by bundling together their broadband and landline services in a package from the same provider, though, so it could be a no-brainer to switch your services together.
Mobile broadband gives you a portable broadband connection wherever you go via a dongle or MiFi. If you need your broadband to be portable or can’t get fixed-line broadband to your home, then mobile broadband might be for you. Mobile broadband deals truly are 'broadband-only' as you’re only buying broadband and no other services.
Virgin Media, which covers around 60% of UK households, is the only widely available provider that offers a true broadband-only package. You can choose from its M100, M200, M350 or M500 Fibre Broadband packages without a phone line.
Home internet deals from almost all the other UK providers, even those advertised as broadband-only, come with the cost of line rental included in your monthly charge. That’s because ‘line rental’ isn’t just for your landline phone.
Most UK broadband providers use the Openreach network, which means that most broadband packages are delivered either partially (fibre-to-the-cabinet) or wholly (ADSL) through the same copper phone lines as landline services. Line rental covers the cost of maintaining the line you need for your broadband and even some TV services, regardless of whether you make phone calls through it.
Since 2016, industry regulator Ofcom has required all broadband companies to show the full, inclusive cost of a broadband contract – they cannot advertise broadband and line rental costs separately. So ‘free line rental’ is really just another way of saying it’s included in the price you’ll pay.
The only broadband connections that don’t require you to have a landline are full fibre (like Hyperoptic) or cable broadband (like Virgin Media). You can get true broadband-only deals this way – but providers don’t have such wide UK coverage as the providers who use the Openreach network, especially Hyperoptic, which only serves a very limited number of towns and cities at the moment.
You might think that broadband-only would work out cheaper, especially if you make all your calls on your mobile and don’t use your landline. However, you won’t necessarily save money. Most broadband-only deals include pay-as-you-go phone calls, but obviously you don’t have to make any.
You’ll pay a few pounds a month less for Virgin Media’s broadband-only packages than its broadband and phone packages – but these all come with weekend calls included so it’s worth doing the maths to check you’ll actually save overall.
When you take into account that Virgin Media broadband isn’t the cheapest around (although it’s among the fastest), a no-frills broadband and phone deal could definitely cost you less. Therefore, if you’re on a tight budget, don’t automatically assume you’ll save money by removing your home phone.
The best way to find out the cheapest broadband-only deals you could get compared to those that include phone calls is to use our comparison page to check out the latest broadband-only deals available in your area.
Once you’ve decided that a broadband-only deal is the best way forward for you, you then need to decide what you want from your provider. By taking some time to consider the speeds and features that are important to you, you can make sure you choose the package and provider best suited to your needs.
Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The higher the Mbps, the faster your internet will be. Generally speaking, you’ll pay more per month for higher speeds, so consider how you’ll be using your internet to help you make sure you sign up to a broadband package that gives you enough, but not more, than you need.
It’s a good idea to think about what you and any other people you live with use your home broadband for. For example, how many people live in your household? Are you heavy internet users, regularly streaming live TV or downloading movies or music on multiple devices? Are any of the people in your household serious online gamers? Do any of you need to work or study from home? Do you catch up with colleagues, friends and family using video calls such as Zoom?
A lower-speed internet connection of around 10-11Mbps would suit you fine if you’re a small household with just a couple of devices and mainly use your internet for things like browsing the web, sending and receiving emails, sharing photos, catching up on social media and watching occasional YouTube videos. If you’re a large household with multiple devices such as TVs, mobile phones, laptops and tablets that will be connecting to your Wi-Fi, you’ll do better with a higher-speed connection of at least 30Mbps.
To help you decide on the broadband speed that would best suit your household, a music album would take 1 minute 40 seconds to download if you have 8Mbps speeds, and just 25 seconds at 32Mbps. A full DVD film would take one hour 15 seconds at 8Mbps, but 18 minutes 45 seconds at 32Mbps. For more detailed information about download speeds, take a look at this Uswitch guide to broadband download times.
When they’re advertising broadband deals, internet service providers have to display an average speed. This average is based on the speeds available to at least 50% of customers at peak times, which generally means between 8 and 10pm each evening. You should be aware that therefore the speed you actually get may be higher or lower than this.
To understand more about choosing the right broadband speed for your household, have a look at our guide to choosing broadband. If you’d like to know more about what Mbps means, take a look at our bits and bytes guide.
The type of broadband you choose will depend on what’s available in your postcode area, and how fast you and your household need your broadband to be.
ADSL broadband, also known as standard or non-fibre broadband, is the most widely available broadband. It is available in almost every part of the UK and is delivered to your home entirely through the copper wires of your existing phone line. ADSL broadband is usually straightforward to get installed and often works out cheaper than the faster, fibre broadband. With average speeds of around 10 or 11Mbps, ADSL broadband is most suitable for smaller households with light internet use.
Find out more in our guide to ADSL broadband.
Fibre broadband speeds can range between 30 and 1000Mbps (or 1Gbps). At least part of your fibre broadband’s journey to your home broadband router is via fibre-optic cables. This makes it not only faster but more reliable than ADSL broadband.
You can read more in our guide to fibre broadband.
Mobile broadband comes via the same UK-wide signals that serve our mobile phones. You can use one of the following routes to get online, and all are truly broadband-only deals as they come with no additional services.
A MiFi device connects to a mobile network and creates a Wi-Fi hotspot. This lets you connect a number of devices, such as tablets or laptops, to your MiFi internet at the same time. You can buy MiFi through pay monthly or pay-as-you-go deals, or buy it upfront.
Dongles plug into the USB slot of your computer or laptop. This then connects it to the internet through a mobile network and can be used anywhere you can get a mobile signal.
Just like SIM cards for your mobile phone but without calls and texts, you can use a data-only SIM to get online with certain iPads and tablets.
Find out more in our guide to mobile broadband.