This article was written in 2011 and may contain out of date information. Browse more recent articles.
Suppliers love legacy deals. The ones where you signed up three, four, maybe five years ago and you’re paying way over the odds for a sub-par service. Also known as grandfather deals, suppliers quietly suck money out of your account every month and hope you don’t find the time or inclination to do something about it.
Broadband is the classic legacy product. Not that long ago, most of us were just thrilled when something better than dialup became available so we signed up and paid up in droves. And loads of us are still on these granddaddy deals.
It’s the old inertia trap. You have something that kinda works, and you think getting something cheaper or better is going to be way more hassle than it’s worth. So you just stay put and keep on paying. Or maybe you think trying to untangle all those pesky megabits and gigabytes is going to put way too much strain on the brain.
Well, it shouldn’t really have to. Here’s our highly un-scientific list to help you make that leap to better broadband.
1. Faster cheaper deals are probably available – even from your current provider
Broadband has come a long way in the last few years. We’ve had Eircom roll out their Next Generation Broadband, UPC launched their Fibre Power and the National Broadband Scheme has been completed. Which means that it’s game on for the customer.
Here’s an example. If you’re an Eircom Broadband customer and your exchange has been upgraded, you could be paying €51.98 for unlimited 8Mb broadband with line rental and calls instead of €61.73 for 7Mb broadband with a 50MB usage allowance. But of course Eircom aren't going to ring you up and tell you to pay less for more - you're going to have to get that deal yourself.
And guess what? Competition is great too. You can do much better again if calls are not important to you. Another example, HomeVision has 8Mb unlimited broadband including line rental for just €38 per month.
2. Find out what speed your line can support
Lots of households have no choice but to go with DSL phone line based broadband. This is not a bad thing - DSL can be very fast and reliable - but don’t pay for more than you can get!
This top money saving tip may seem obvious, but it’s overlooked all the time. Customers are often sold or sign up to DSL deals that their lines can’t support. If you’re line can only manage 7Mb download speeds, then don’t pay for more! There’s no point in paying €69.99 per month for Eircom’s 24Mb unlimited usage deal when you can get HomeVision’s 8Mb unlimited deal for €38 per month. And they’ll both perform the same – except you can stop pouring money down the drain if you change.
3. Line rental
The home phone doesn’t see much action these days; so if you don’t need it, don’t pay for it. Line rental currently runs at €25.36 per month just to have a phone line that works in your home. That’s over €300 a year which is pretty darn steep when you consider that your gas standing charge is just €68 and you electricity standing charge is €104.
You do need a working phone line to make DSL broadband work and some households have no other viable options, but for many households there may be alternatives that could provide the same level of broadband service for much less cash.
4. Is your cable broadband capable?
If you’ve got TV cable running into your house – even if you don’t pay for cable TV - you may be able to get cable broadband.
UPC are the only player in this game, but that hasn’t stopped them from offering great deals. And they’ve been flinging cash at and frantically upgrading their network to nab customers off the DSL providers. The advantages to cable broadband are that it’s very fast, fairly reliable and UPC offer very high data allowances.
Our favorite UPC deal is one that they are very quiet about: 12Mb Fibre Power Broadband for just €25 per month if you have cable TV with them. Without TV, it’ll cost €32.75 per month. And you get a 120GB per month download allowance. For another tenner you can double that speed to 25Mb and get unlimited data.
5. What about Wireless?
Ah wireless. Champions to many, rogues to some! But with huge improvements to wireless technology, nationwide providers and very attractive price plans, wireless broadband is worth a look, even for those that have working wires running into to their homes.
For rural areas, companies like Ripplecom and Nova will do thorough coverage checks, and even send a man in a van out to survey your home before setting you up. Ripplecom will do 8Mb unlimited broadband for €39.99 per month.
In urban areas, companies like Imagine and Digiweb can provide wireless broadband without an antenna at levels and prices that reasonably compare to the DSL. Imagine will provide 7Mb unlimited broadband for €35 per month.
6. National Broadband Scheme
We have a National Broadband Scheme? Indeed we do! A whopping 80 million quid was allocated to it and it was designed to bring broadband services to areas that were not well served by commercial providers. Punters that are in NBS areas can get wireless broadband service with download speeds of up to 4.8Mb and a data allowance of 25MB for just €19.99 per month. And in plenty of cases (we’ve spoken to them!), people in NBS areas are paying 50 quid or more to a commercial providers for service that isn't as good when they could be paying less than half that on the NBS.
So, if you’re eligible, the NBS is just about the best deal in town. Three Mobile manage the scheme and you can find out if you are in coverage at: https://www.three.ie/nbs
7. Calls and bundles
Suppliers - especially DSL providers - really want you add calls to your broadband deal. There are all sorts out there offering local and national, peak and off peak and even mobile and overseas calls included in their deals.
This really suits some people – especially those with relatives in places like the UK and the US. With UPC for example, an extra €7 per month will get you what they call Freetime World and you can make free off-peak calls to 21 countries around the world including the biggies like the US, UK and Australia.
In some cases, Eircom will actually charge you more if you don’t take calls. Their 8Mb unlimited NGB deal is €55.35 without calls and is €51.78 per month with free nationwide calls and 30 minutes to mobiles. They’ll even give you a discount of €6.80 per month for the first six months and won’t charge you to reconnect your phone line!
Broadband is of course still all about what you can get first and what you want second. Although competition and improved networks are making for better choices nationwide. If you haven't checked for a while, it's well worth taking a look at what's out there, and we can help. Just check out our Broadband Comparison Service here.