How to choose a broadband bundle
But they can also offer three times the confusion. You'll be tied in for 12 months so it pays to get it right, so here's what to consider when taking out a broadband bundle.
To avoid paying for more than you need, or getting stuck with slow speed or stung with charges when you exceed your download allowance, figure out what you need from your broadband. Do you just email, check Facebook and surf the net? Or do you download music and watch shows on channels such as iPlayer and 4onDemand?
A low user will only need a basic service, so there's no point paying for more, while higher level users should take advantage of unlimited download deals. If you're not sure how much you're using, use a download monitor, like the one at broadbandchoices.co.uk, over the course of a month to track your usage.
Packages and providers offer slightly different combinations of channels, so it's important to consider what you really like to watch, and factor in the cost of additional channels such as Sky Sports and movies because this will bump up the cost.
Consider what else you want from your TV. If you want to go for high definition television, Sky is pretty hard to beat, whereas if it's video on demand you're after, Virgin Media might be better.
Phone line rental
You can't get broadband without having an active phone line, yet line rental is often not included in the headline bundle price advertised by providers. This can seem a little misleading when comparing deals, so it's crucial to look out for it and factor it in to the overall monthly cost. Basic line rental including free evening and weekend calls tends to cost around £12 a month across most deals, and increases if you want to include extras such as cheap international calls.
An additional monthly cost like this is more important than the freebies some providers are offering at the moment, like £25 vouchers for M&S and John Lewis, so don't let them sway you into taking out a more expensive deal.
The packages available will depend on where you live, so enter your postcode into one of the comparison sites, such as uSwitch.com, Moneysupermarket.com or Broadbandchoices.co.uk, to find the best deals in your area.
Some packages have introductory prices for the first few months of the subscription. You know the drill, the low price sucks you in then you're stuck with the regular rate for the rest of the contract.
Read the small print to find out standard prices after any discounted periods and work out the cost over 12 months to see if it really saves you any money. Also look out for penalty charges or download constraints if you exceed your limit, and whether you have to pay an additional fee to the provider or BT for a phone line.
In additional to the monthly cost of your package, remember to factor in initial start up costs when comparing deals. Example charges include a set up and connection fee, and the cost of a router or hub, plus the cost of a Sky or HD box.
Sign up online
Many internet service providers offer additional discounts and incentives if you sign up online instead of over the phone. Price comparison sites also often have special deals negotiated with providers, so compare bundles between both ISPs and these sites.
Haggle with your existing provider
If you're unhappy with the price or service from your current provider, it's worth speaking to them before you switch. They'll want to hold onto your business so they might be able to offer a better deal that will save the hassle and disruption of switching providers.