There a many suppliers and providers of services for telephone, mobile phones, TV and internet. The tariffs and options are complex and varied and it can be difficult to understand which is the right deal for you.

Telephone line rental

Home telephone lines are known as landlines and can be rented from a supplier for a small monthly charge.

British Telecom was privatised in the 1980s, and began offering line rental on a wholesale basis, thus allowing other providers to use the BT phone line network. However many people still pay their line rental to BT every 3 months or so, unaware that they could be getting this line rental for free - or at least heavily discounted from other providers.

You can have any combination of your calls and/or line rental with a company other than BT and, although probably not the most cost effective solution, it is possible to have your line rental with one company, your calls with another and your Broadband with another.

It practice though you will probably find that you will get the best deal if you sign up with one company to provide all three services.

To complicate the issue, with the onset of digital TV, the telephone and broadband packages of the major companies have been extended to include various TV packages.

Telephone line rental options

There are two home phone line rental options:

  • BT landlines
    You can rent a telephone line directly from BT and use the BT network for making and receiving calls or you can rent a telephone line from another supplier utilising the BT network and either pay one bill direct to your new supplier to cover both your line rental and your calls, or continue to pay BT for your line rental and pay your new supplier for any calls you make.
  • Cable landlines
    The cable network is currently owned and operated by Virgin Media and cable landlines are available to around 65% of UK households.  If you live in a cable area you will need to get a cable connection installed in your house for a small installation charge. If you do not live in a cable area then you will not be able to have a cable landline.

Home phone tariffs

With a home phone line, you can choose between different calling plans and tariffs. Each supplier has its own range of plans but they generally fall into four types of tariff:

  • Basic line rental 
  • Evening and weekend
  • Anytime 
  • Weekend calls

Check with your supplier the detail of each tariff they offer with particular reference to what is and isn't include in free calls, including "08" numbers and calls to mobile phones. Some anytime calling tariffs may include discounted rates for calls to mobile phones. Also consider what time of the day or week you make most of your calls, particularly if you are at work all day during the week. If you make a lot of international calls you can reduce the cost by using a secondary supplier that offers the cheapest call rates for the country you dial most often.

Choosing  a home phone provider

A complete guide to what options are available and how to choose a home phone provider ae avilable a the following links:

Mobile phone providers

The majority of people own a mobile phone and there are a multitude of handsets and tariffs offered by the mobile service providers.

There are four major UK mobile network suppliers:

  • Three
  • O2
  • Vodafone
  • EE

There are other networks with different names but they all use one of the major networks.

Check your signal by entering your postcode to using Ofcom's Mobile Coverage Checker.

Guides to what options are available and how to choose a mobile phone provider are available at the following lins:

Using your mobile abroad

A guide to using your mobile phone abroad is available from Ofcom.

Stolen or lost handsets

Immobilise is a website supported by the Home Office dedicated to registering mobile phone details. You can register your mobile phone for free on the Immobilise website. This means the police are more likely to be able to return your phone to you if it’s lost or stolen. (You will need your IMEI number.)

If your handset is stole or lost:

  • Report a lost or stolen phone to your network provider immediately and get the IMEI number from them if you don't know it - you can call 08701 123 123 if you don't know your network's customer service number. Your network will block the phone, making it useless to the thief.
  • You should also report a lost or stolen phone to the police as soon as possible, giving the mobile phone number, type of handset and IMEI number.

A detailed guide "What to do if your mobile phone is lost or stolen" is available fron Citizens Advice.

For a complete guide to mobile phone security and protecting your mobile phone and data, click here.

To protect your mobile phone against criminals on bikes and mopeds click here.

To find out more about mobile phone fraud click here.

To find out about the law on, and penalties and consequences of device use whilst driving.click here.

To find out how to make a 999 call to the police if you're in danger and can't talk on the phone click here.

Broadband and Internet

The majority of UK homes are connected in some way to the internet

This can be by using:

  • A dial-up modem (Narrowband)
  • BT Broadband via a router (wired or wireless)
  • Cable Broadband via a router (wired or wireless)
  • Mobile phone provider via a dongle, mobile router or 3G or 4G mobile phone (see next section below)

Superfast Fibre Broadband, or Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), is the UK’s most common type of broadband. It uses fibre to connect our exchange with your local cabinet, and copper wires to connect the cabinet with your home. Fibre optic broadband works by sending information as pulses of light through individual optical fibres and gives much faster connection speeds than the traditional BT landline, which transmits down copper wires.

Ultrafast Full Fibre Broadband (also known as FTTP) runs a fibre optic cable straight from the exchange to your door so there’s no copper cable or sharing with your neighbours giving speeds up to 25x faster than standard fibre.,

Cable broadband utilises fibre optic technology as does BT Infinity which is becoming available in selected areas of the uK.

For a detailed guide to broadband and options follow this link.

Check your broadband availability by entering your postcode using Ofcom's Broadband Coverage Checker.

Help to choose an internet provider can be found at the following links:

follow 

A current list of Top 10 Broadband Packages is availble from uSwitch.

Mobile Broadband

Mobile broadband enables you to using the internet in the same way as home broadband, but through a mobile network.  The advantage of using a mobile phone network is, unlike your home broadband, your internet connection moves with you.

Currently there are three options for accessing the internet on the move and cater for your mobile internet access needs:

  • SIM card - via your phone, tablet or iPad
  • USB Dongle - via your laptop
  • Wireless mobile broadband (MiFi) - for any wireless devices

The SIM card and Dongle option allow access to the internet for a single device whereas the pocket sized MIFI unit can handle access for multiple Wi-Fi devices, (up to 20 depending on the model).

The volume of internet traffic is limited by your mobile data plan but "unlinited data" plans are available from major mobile providers.

A complete guide to using mobile internet is available at this link.

Tethering

On most smartphones, there's an option to use your phone as a mobile hotspot - basically a little wireless modem or router. This is known as tethering. A complete guide to mobile tethering is available at this link.

TV Services

All TV services in the UK are digital. There are many of options on offer for receiving digital TV and which is the right one for you will depend on how many channels you want to watch and how much you want to spend.

For a complete guide what options are available and how to choose a TV provider, follow this link.

A guide to the best TV packages is available from uSwitch.

Home phone bundles

Several suppliers offer "digital bundles" where other services, such as broadband and digital TV, are packaged in with home phone for one set monthly fee. This is not only convenient in having to only deal with one supplier but also cost effective because suppliers offer savings to encourage you to stay with them for longer. Sometimes introductory offers such as free installation, discounted fees for the first few months and cash back are also on offer.

Things to consider when choosing a bundle are:

  • How much is the line rental?
  • Does the call tariff  suit your needs?
  • Is the data allowance sufficient for your needs?
  • What are the penalties for exceeding your data and call allowance?
  • Taking into account the introductory rates or discounts does it work out cheaper over the length of the contact to source the services separately?

For a complete guide what options are available and how to choose a digital bundle, follow this link.

MoneyHelper provide a guide to making sure you are getting the best deal on your telephone and broadband available at this link.

Ofcom approved Price Comparison sites

The Office of Communication, commonly known as Ofcom, is the Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.

The Ofcom price accreditation scheme logo is awarded to websites that have had their price comparison services put through a rigorous independent audit.

To view the price comparison websites accredited by Ofcom follow this link.

A guide "How to get cheaper TV packages" is available from StepChangeMoneyAware.

Problem with your phone, TV, mobile or broadband service?

For a guide to your rights and how the law protects you and ensures you are not treated unfairly by a company including how to sort out billing problems, follow this link.

For information on how to make a complaint about a service, click here.

For information on how to make a complaint about a TV, radio or on demand program, click here.

For information on how to make a complaint about any other issue including:

  • Scams and frauds
  • Low income tariffs
  • Premium rate services
  • Payphones fault
  • Payphones removal
  • Data protection
  • Debt collection
  • Internet
  • Recording calls

follow this link.

Nuisance and Threatening Calls, Parental Controls and Other Issues

For a range of downloadable guides including how to handle nuisance calls and messages, how to handle abusive and threatening calls and parental control for mobile phones, follow this link.

Offensive internet sites

There is no central body that monitors or approves content or activity on the internet before it goes online. This means that some content may be against the law or it may upset people or cause other problems.

Compehensive information and guides, including reporting inappropriate material and parental controls, can be found at:

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