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40% off Now TV box packs in Black Friday sale

Friday 27 November 2015 10:33:19 by Andrew Ferguson

NOW TV launched its new set-top box that offers both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity earlier in the year and the sales mean you can pick one up for £14.99 along with a bundle of passes, rather than the standard price of £24.99. The 40% off sale ends at 23:59 on Monday 30th November 2015.

The content bundles on the NOW TV site are 2 days of Sports passes or 2 months of Sky Movies or 3 months of the Entertainment pack. For those who already have a NOW TV subscription you can still buy the hardware packs and add the coupon codes to your existing account.

Amazon appears to have a wider range of bundle options available i.e. four months of Sky Movies plus box for £19 or six months of Entertainment for £19, which works out cheaper than buying the same period of passes individually each month.

50GB extra data on Vodafone Pay as you Go big bundles

Friday 27 November 2015 10:08:06 by Andrew Ferguson

Order a free SIM from Vodafone with a top-up before the end of 30th November 2015 and you will get 50GB of extra 3G/4G data. If you order a £20 or higher top-up you will also get a choice of a £10 Gift Card.

The cheapest top-up is £10 which gives you unlimited UK texts, 150 minutes of UK calls and 500MB of 4G data, the sale adds an extra 50GB of data that will expire at the end of the 30 days the top-up is valid for. £15 gets you an extra 100 minutes of calls and 1GB data plus the 50GB of free data. A £20 top-up means 500 minutes of UK calls, unlimited texts, 2GB of 4G data the bonus 50GB and a £10 gift card.

Free broadband and £100 Amazon vouchers with Hyperoptic

Friday 27 November 2015 09:56:55 by Andrew Ferguson

Hyperoptic who specialise in fibre to the building solutions for apartments has joined in with the Black Friday sale spirit and is offering three months free broadband and a £100 Amazon voucher across its range of 20 Mbps, 100 Mbps and 1000 Mbps consumer products.

The offer runs out at the end of 30th November 2015 and applies to both the broadband + phone or broadband only packages, if you do pick a broadband + phone bundle the £16 voice line rental applies from month 1.

Five day long Black Friday sale over at TalkTalk

Thursday 26 November 2015 14:39:00 by Andrew Ferguson

The next provider to announce its Black Friday promotions is TalkTalk, their offers run until the end of 30th November 2015. For once there are no complicated vouchers, or cashback that needs to be claimed, but the standard broadband price offers have been supplemented by half price line rental for 12 months on the 18 month contract products.

  • Totally Unlimited Fibre FTTC/VDSL2 broadband is £5 per month for 12 months. Up to 38 Mbps downloads and up to 2 Mbps upload.
  • Simply Broadband unlimited ADSL2+ is free for the 18 month contract, just voice line rental to pay.
  • PlusTV with fibre broadband is £17.50 per month using the up to 38 Mbps download VDSL2 service. Includes YouView TV PVR with an extra 6 Sky channels including Sky 1 and free anytime calls to UK landlines. Also you get a free SIM with basic monthly allowance of 100 minutes of calls, 200MB of data and 250 texts.

The voice line rental at £8.85 per month for 12 months saves you £106.20 and thus represents a big improvement on the usual £50 shopping vouchers that TalkTalk run.

Spending Review and Autumn Statement - the impact on Broadband

Wednesday 25 November 2015 14:31:59 by Andrew Ferguson

The Spending Review and the Autumn Statement was a politically charged event and while the Chancellor George Osborne did not speak on broadband itself, economies from a digital revolution in the HMRC and online filing of returns hit at the effect the Government is hoping from vastly improved broadband speeds across the UK.

The full written statement that is now available online confirms that the spending of the £1.7 billion of public money to take superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017 will continue there was a small mention of a new broadband investment fund but as this is in the exploration stage no-one will be getting too excited.

"Competition between broadband providers supports the delivery of the fast and reliable broadband a modern, productive economy needs. Innovative approaches to supporting the market will help deliver ultrafast speeds to nearly all premises. The government will explore setting up a new broadband investment fund, to support the growth of alternative network developers by providing greater access to finance. The fund would be supported by both public and private investors, and would be managed by the private sector on a commercial basis."

Extract from Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015

Improving access to finance if done in a way that is easily accessible could boost the number of alt-nets investing in FTTH/P infrastructure and with full fibre being very labour intensive it offers a classic trickle down approach. The ultrafast mention has no clarification of what constitutes nearly all premises, and it is worth remembering that part of the Virgin Media Project Lightning expansion to two thirds of the UK from just under half is underwritten by Government money and it is possible that if a need is seen for ultrafast to go to 90% or higher a similar funding system may be put in place for BT or others rather than the existing gap funding model.

With no mention of the broadband vouchers for the Universal Service Commitment (USC) it is likely that this may be devolved to the various local authorities for piecemeal announcement or may be lead by the DCMS nationally.

Our main disappointment is that nothing was mentioned in terms of allocation of funding for taking superfast beyond 95%, it may be that more analysis of the existing pilot projects is needed or if you want to take a negative view it may be that the 10 Mbps obligation (USO) may take priority.

Mobile broadband does get to see some £550 million set aside for use between now and 2020 to ensure the 700 MHz spectrum is cleared of its existing uses making it available for mobile broadband, whether that is 4G or 5G will depend on the development cycle of 5G. Announcing availability of money means that for example if there needs to be another digital TV help scheme to ensure people know about retuning or the need for new hardware as FreeView shifts downward the money will be available.

£75 cash back and 12 months free unlimited ADSL2+ from Plusnet

Wednesday 25 November 2015 11:32:22 by Andrew Ferguson

For those looking to move their ADSL2+ broadband to Plusnet things just became a lot more attractive price wise, as in addition to the existing 12 months free broadband there is now £75 cash back available for anyone ordering online before 1st December 2015.

The unlimited ADSL2+ service is based on a 12 month contract, with you just needing to pay the voice line rental at £16.99 per month, which the £75 cash back will soften. The line rental does not include any free phone calls other than to other Plusnet phone customers, but you can add various call bundles to avoid unexpectedly large phone bills.

After the minimum contract period the price of the ADSL2+ will rise to £9.99 per month, or if outside the Plusnet low cost area the monthly price will be £17.49 per month. Cash back should be claimed once you receive an email from Plusnet after the service is live.

Sale on BT Broadband and mobile products until 30th November

Tuesday 24 November 2015 09:12:24 by Andrew Ferguson

BT is the next of the large broadband providers to announce its Black Friday offers and while the pattern is very like their normal cycle there are some highlights for those who have been waiting for the best offers

  • BT Infinity 1 Unlimited Fibre Broadband (FTTC/FTTP) £10 per month for 12 months. £100 prepaid MasterCard.
  • Unlimited Broadband (ADSL2+) £5 per month for 12 months. £50 prepaid MasterCard.
  • BT TV Total Entertainment with BT Infinity 1 Unlimited. £23 per month for 12 months, £100 prepaid MasterCard. Includes UHD YouView set-top box with BT Sports Ultra HD channel and other premium IPTV channels.
  • Mobile 2GB 4G SIM £8/month for 12 months. Save £2/month in sale and also get a choice of a £20 iTunes or Amazon Gift Card. Add £5 extra if you are not a new or existing BT customer. SIM only deal includes 500 minutes of calls and unlimited text allowance plus the 2GB of 4G data each month.
  • Anyone buying a BT Broadband package can add the full BT Sport Pack on a 30 day rolling contract, rather than the usual 12 month contract.

Fixed line broadband deals require you to pay your voice line rental via BT Retail at £17.99 per month.

Correction Changes at 11:40am as the Love2Shop vouchers were not meant to be on the landing pages for the Black Friday sale offer (some BT pages had the offer, others did not), the £50 or £100 prepaid MasterCard offer still applies. Additionally the mobile with fixed line broadband bundles have now also updated on the BT website to reflect the Black Friday promotion of £2/month off the 2GB 4G SIM package and are also listing the prepaid MasterCard instead of the standard Sainsbury's Gift Card.

Black Friday deals from Sky

Monday 23 November 2015 14:57:24 by Andrew Ferguson

The build-up to Black Friday week means many may have put off making any decision to switch broadband, particularly after some good offers a year ago and we can now start to announce this years offers - with Sky first off the mark.

For new customers to Sky joining their Sky Broadband Unlimited service, the broadband is free for 12 months (pay just voice line rental at £17.40 per month) and you get to choose a reward in the form of a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 or a pre-paid MasterCard or Tesco e-Voucher to the value of £100. Offer ends 23:59 30th November 2015.

The TV packages also have a different promotion running of a choice of a free LG 32" TV or Samsung Galaxy Tab E tablet or LG Soundbar or £100 reward (choice of prepaid MasterCard or Tesco e-voucher. The monthly cost of the TV package is not discounted, but you are eligible for half price Sky Broadband Unlimited i.e. £5 per month plus voice line rental at £17.40 per month.

Business clusters in West Sussex line up for new broadband grants

Saturday 21 November 2015 11:59:15 by Andrew Ferguson

A new pilot project to provide grants for groups of businesses to get connected to better broadband has just launched in West Sussex with the grants available from 30th November 2015. Exact detail on who is eligible and what the grants cover is sparse but more detail should appear on the site on the 30th.

The grants are part of a fairly small £225,000 pilot and given the access summit was hosted by the South Downs National Park Authority it seems pretty clear the grants are aimed at rural business. West Sussex like many counties has seen farms diversify converting barns into clusters of offices and in the days of telephone and fax this worked great, but as faster broadband becomes a central part of business life some of these business courtyards may be struggling.

The existing West Sussex BDUK project has fairly good coverage stats with 91.1% able to get superfast broadband at 24 Mbps or faster (0.46% have access to Openreach native FTTP), there is a long tail 6.7% of premises connected to a fibre cabinet with speeds estimated at between 0 and 23.9 Mbps. Even with the existing fibre roll-out there are still 4% of premises with speeds under 10 Mbps and 0.8% under 2 Mbps and we would expect the grant to be targeting those areas.

Hopefully the grants will be tech neutral, give firms like Kijoma the chance to grab some cash and maybe improve coverage into dips in the land that otherwise don't have access to their fixed wireless network along with the other alternate operators and then of course the big bad BT Group which may well offer infill VDSL2 mini-cabs close enough to a cluster, or if the price is right deliver half a dozen native FTTP lines.

Progress report for Superfast Essex project

Friday 20 November 2015 11:07:48 by Andrew Ferguson

The Superfast Essex project is now within 12,000 premises of its original 87% fibre based broadband target with some 52,500 premises helped by the project to get superfast broadband. Our analysis of the premises passed indicates that with 85.8% fibre based coverage they may overshoot the original target - once you add speed qualifiers to the coverage the figure drops to 82.1% with access to broadband at 24 Mbps and faster.

The real news for those not able to get a 2 Mbps connection though is that the news letter confirms that the alternative technology will be satellite based, and this is even though parts of Essex have access to fixed wireless (though hopefully in those areas people will already be using the services to get above the minimum), the latest newsletter from the project describes satellite as an interim solution and that the cost will be subsidised by the project (detail later in the year) likely pricing can be garnered from pricing for the Suffolk and West Yorkshire areas, which at £37.90 per month for a 25GB usage allowance is hardly cheap and above the £25 BDUK affordability target, there is a £22.90 10GB allowance, but that is well below the average monthly usage on fixed line broadband, and then there is the installation and set-up at £124.75 to consider (apparently reduced from £499). We believe the £499 install cost would only ever apply if you had wanted to buy the satellite hardware outright, the majority pay a small rental fee instead e.g. Tooway Direct, £29.99/m for 10GB plus £6.99/m kit rental.

thinkbroadband calculation of current fibre, superfast and new USO broadband coverage in Essex and its component district councils - 18th November 2015
Area % fibre based % superfast
>24 Mbps
% superfast
(>30 Mbps)
(change since 4th August 2015)
% cable % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 10 Mbps USO
Essex County (combined) 85.8% 82.1% (+2.8) 81.3% 34.5% 0.7% 6.7%
Basildon 97.3% 94.9% (+1.9) 94% 59.9% 0.7% 2.8%
Braintree 71% 61.6% (+3.4) 60.4% 0% 1.9% 16.3%
Brentwood 88.8% 86.1% (+1.5) 85.7% 0.1% 0.8% 5.7%
Castle Point 97.9% 96.4% (+2) 95.1% 41.4% 0.4% 0.7%
Chelmsford 90.1% 86.4% (+1.8) 85.8% 46.5% 0.9% 6%
Colchester 85.6% 82.4% (+1.1) 81.7% 55.7% 0.1% 9.2%
Epping Forest 87.1% 83.5% (+0.9) 82.9% 65.2% 1.7% 8.7%
Harlow 98.5% 98% (+0.8) 98% 89.6% 0.2% 1%
Maldon 67.4% 61.5% (+15.9) 60% 0% 1.7% 16.5%
Rochford 92.2% 88.5% (+1) 87.7% 0% 0.4% 3.7%
Southend-on-Sea 97.1% 96.7% (=) 96.4% 59.7% 0.1% 0.3%
Tendring 83.8% 80.5% (+3.1) 79.7% 0% 1% 7.4%
Thurrock 95% 92.1% (=) 91.6% 70.5% 0.2% 3%
Uttlesford 58.4% 54.7% (+6.6) 53% 19.5% 1.4% 25.5%

Correction: We have not used the district council coverage tracker for sometime, and a bug was present that meant we did not always match households correctly to a district council. This only affected district councils and not the large authorities or constituencies that we usually feature in coverage summaries.

The two big movers are Maldon and Uttlesford with the latter district council area in desperate need for a lot more coverage since 1 in 4 are still under 10 Mbps.

The parts of Epping Forest due to get Gigaclear between now and October 2016 are mapped out on the Gigaclear website and while Epping Forest area has exceptional coverage already we are sure that those in the 1.9% under 2 Mbps will be clamouring for Gigaclear to arrive if they are in one of the lucky areas to be covered.

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