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Best quad play deal: BT vs Virgin Media vs TalkTalk vs EE

Following BT’s re-entry into the mobile market we’ve taken a look at the best quad play deals – that’s broadband, home phone, TV and mobile – on the market. 

BT’s entry-level SIM-only deal sees you get 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data for £5/month, provided you’re a BT Broadband customer. That’s seems like an insanely good deal for a fiver, but how does it stack up to the other offers out there? 

More to the point, seeing as you have to take BT Broadband to get this, how does this measure up as part of a quad play bundle? 

We took a look at the cheapest four-way deals going from BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and EE and crunched the numbers. 

Best quad play deal: BT vs Virgin Media vs TalkTalk vs EE

Best quad play deal – BT

We’ve got all the details on BT Mobile’s price plans hereWhile BT hasn’t tailored any quad play bundles to go right now, here’s how the cheapest broadband, TV and home phone package works out with that basic BT Mobile SIM-only deal bolted on. 

BT’s cheapest broadband, TV and home phone bundle costs just £5/month, not including line rental which is charged at £16.99/month. 

For a total of £21.99/month, you’ll get a basic broadband service providing download speeds of up to 17Mbps and a 10GB data allowance. 

You also get BT’s TV Starter service. This gives you access to the same channels you’d get on Freeview, plus  BT Sport channels in SD for free. You’ve got the option to go HD for an extra £3/month and you can also throw Sky Sports and Sky Movies into the mix if you wish. 

TV Starter includes a driveless BT TV box. This means you can’t actually record anything on the box itself. That said, there is a time buffer that lets you pause live TV for up to 14 minutes. Free evening and weekend landline calls are thrown in for good measure. 

As it’s a YouView-based product, you get streamlined access to BBC iPlayer, Netflix, 4oD, UKTV Play, ITV Player and a host of other free on-demand services. 

BT’s £5/month Mobile 500MB deal gives you 200 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of data and unlimited use of BT’s WiFi network. 

So in total, you’ll be paying £26.99/month for this quad-play bundle. There’s a one-off £35 activation fee for the home broadband and, if you want a BT Home Hub 5 bunged in for free, there’s a £6.95 charge for postage too. 

TV Starter + Broadband Extra + Evening & Weekend Calls with BT Mobile 500MB (12 month contract)

  • Broadband: Up to 17Mbps, 10GB download cap
  • TV: 70+ channels, inc. BT Sport, free YouView box (no hard drive)
  • Phone: Free calls to UK landlines at evenings and weekends
  • Mobile: 200 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of data, unlimited BT WiFi
  • Bundle Cost: £5
  • SIM-only cost: £5
  • Line Rental: £16.99
  • Installation Cost: £35
  • Misc Costs (postage etc): £6.95 (only if you take BT Home Hub 5)
  • Total Monthly Cost: £26.99

Best quad play deal: BT vs Virgin Media vs TalkTalk vs EE

Best quad play deal – Virgin Media 

Check out all of Virgin Media’s Big Bundle prices for 2015 hereVirgin Media’s entry-level four-way bundle, The Big Easy, costs £43.99 in total – nearly double what you’d pay for BT’s cheapest triple-play deal. 

But for that extra cash you get an up to 50Mbps broadband service with unlimited downloads, a basic TV service, Virgin TV M which gives you over 60 channels plus a TiVo box. This lets you record up to three programmes at once and store them on the hard drive (up to 250 hours of SD TV and 125 hours of HD). You can also remotely manage recordings on your TiVo box and stream shows with the TV Anywhere apps for iOS and Android

Like YouView, you can get BBC iPlayer, 4oD, ITV Player, Demand 5 and Netflix on TiVo as well as Spotify. 

Unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines are also included with the Big Easy as standard. 

The SIM-only aspect of the Big Easy is perhaps not as good – while you get 250 minutes and unlimited texts, you only get 250MB of data, half of what you’d get from BT Mobile. 

Virgin Media Big Easy with £5 SIM-only deal

  • Broadband: Up to 50Mbps, unlimited downloads
  • TV: 60+ channels, free TiVo box (500GB drive)
  • Phone: Free calls to UK landlines at weekends
  • Mobile: 250 minutes, unlimited texts, 250MB of data
  • Bundle Cost: £22
  • SIM-only cost: £5
  • Line Rental: £16.99
  • Installation Cost: £49.95
  • Misc Costs (postage etc): n/a
  • Total Monthly Cost: £43.99

Best quad play deal: BT vs Virgin Media vs TalkTalk vs EE


Best quad play deal – TalkTalk 

How does TalkTalk Box Office compare to things like Blinkbox and Sky Box Office?TalkTalk’s Plus TV bundle gives you up to 17Mbps ADSL broadband service with unlimited downloads along with anytime calls to UK landlines. 

You also get TalkTalk Plus TV, which comes with channels like Sky 1, Sky Living and Sky Sports News for no extra cost. Thanks to the 350GB hard drive, you can record up to 200 hours of programmes in SD and 80 in HD.

Like BT TV, TalkTalk TV is a YouView-based platform. This means you get BBC iPlayer, 4oD, ITV Player, Demand 5 on tap along with other on-demand services like UKTV Play, Quest OD and Netflix

You’ve also got the option to rent movies from TalkTalk Box Office and sign up for Sky Sports and Sky Movies. 

A TalkTalk Mobile SIM, giving you 100 minutes, 250 texts and 200MB of data for 18 months is also bunged in free of charge. 

TV Starter + Broadband Extra + Evening & Weekend Calls with BT Mobile 500MB (12 month contract)

  • Broadband: Up to 17Mbps, unlimited download cap
  • TV: 70+ channels, free TalkTalk TV box (350GB drive)
  • Phone: Free calls to UK landlines at evenings and weekend
  • Mobile: 100 minutes, 250 texts, 200MB of data
  • Bundle Cost: £18.50
  • SIM-only cost: n/a
  • Line Rental: £16.70
  • Installation Cost: £50
  • Misc Costs (postage etc): £6.75 (only if you take free router)
  • Total Monthly Cost: £35.20

Best quad play deal: BT vs Virgin Media vs TalkTalk vs EE

Best quad play deal – EE 

Read our review of EE TV here and see how it compares to the restEE TV is a free digital TV service that’s only available to EE mobile and broadband customers. 

The cheapest EE TV bundle will set you back £25.70/month, for which you’ll get a basic ADSL broadband service (top download speeds of 17Mbps, unlimited downloads), weekend landline calls. 

EE TV is a digital terrestrial TV service, meaning you get the same channels as you’d get on Freeview.

On demand and interactive services including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Demand 5, Wuaki.tv, Dailymotion BBC Sport, BBC News and BBC Connected Red Button are present and correct. Netflix isn’t yet available on EE TV. 

While you don’t get the option to add Sky Sports and Sky Movies channels on EE TV, you can now get Now TV, which lets you stream all of the premium Sky content including shows from Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living and more. 

A unique feature of EE TV is Replay, which automatically records the last 24 hours of programmes from your six favourite channels, giving you more time to catch up. While on paper you get a 1TB hard drive, it’s worth noting that the drive is partitioned to allow for Replay to work. 

The cheapest EE SIM-only deal will set you back £9.99/month which will net you 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 250MB of data. In our tests, we found that roughly half – 500GB – of the hard drive was actually available for recording purposes. 

Altogether, you’d pay £35.69 for EE’s cheapest quad play bundle. 

TV Starter + Broadband Extra + Evening & Weekend Calls with BT Mobile 500MB (12 month contract)

  • Broadband: Up to 17Mbps, unlimited downloads
  • TV: 70+ channels
  • Phone: Free calls to UK landlines at weekends
  • Mobile: 250 minutes, unlimited texts, 250MB of data
  • Bundle Cost: £9.95
  • SIM-only cost: £9.99
  • Line Rental: £15.75
  • Installation Cost: n/a
  • Misc Costs (postage etc): n/a
  • Total Monthly Cost: £35.69

Best quad play deal: How do they all compare?

Here’s how everything compares in terms of set-up fees plus how mucn you can expect to pay per month and what, in the simplest terms, you get for your cash. 

  BT Virgin Media TalkTalk EE
Top download speed 17Mbps 50Mbps 17Mbps 17Mbps
Download limit 10GB unlimited unlimited unlimited
TV channels 70+ 60+ 70+ 70+
TV hardware YouView box (no drive) TiVo box (500GB) YouView (350GB) EE TV (1TB)
Phone Evening & Weekend Weekend Evening & Weekend Weekend
Mobile 200 mins, unlimited texts, 500MB 250 mins, unlimited texts, 250MB 100 mins, 250 texts, 200MB 250 mins, unlimited texts, 250MB
Total set-up costs £41.95 £49.95 £56.75 n/a
Total Monthly Cost £26.99 £43.99 £35.20 £35.69

As we said earlier, the 10GB cap that comes with the cheapest BT deal doesn’t give you much room for manoevre if you want to do more than check emails and social media. For this reason, we’ve compiled a separate table, including information of BT’s cheapest unlimited broadband bundle. 

Best quad play deal with unlimited broadband

BT’s second bundle up on the rung combines an unlimited ADSL broadband service (up to 17Mbps) with weekend landline calls and the TV Essentials service. 

The TV aspect of the deal gives you the same channels as TV Starter, but gives you a YouView box with a 500GB hard drive. This lets you record TV (up to 250 hours of SD TV and 125 hours of HD), while giving you access to the same catch-up services. All three BT Sport channels in SD are also thrown in free, along with access to the BT Sport apps. 

Combined with BT’s £5/month Mobile 500MB deal – 200 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of data, unlimited BT WiFi – and the standard rate of line rental (£16.99/month), this £18 bundle will see you paying £39.99/month. 

Here’s how that breaks down, plus a table to show how it stacks up with the rest. 

  • Broadband: Up to 17Mbps, unlimited downloads
  • TV: 70+ channels, inc. BT Sport, free YouView box (500GB drive)
  • Phone: Free calls to UK landlines at weekends
  • Mobile: 200 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of data, unlimited BT WiFi
  • Bundle Cost: £18
  • SIM-only cost: £5
  • Line Rental: £16.99
  • Installation Cost: £35
  • Misc Costs (postage etc): £6.95 (only if you take BT Home Hub 5)
  • Total Monthly Cost: £39.99

 

  BT Virgin Media TalkTalk EE
Top download speed 17Mbps 50Mbps 17Mbps 17Mbps
Download limit unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
TV channels 70+ 60+ 70+ 70+
TV hardware YouView box (500GB) TiVo box (500GB) YouView (350GB) EE TV (1TB)
Phone Weekend Weekend Evening & Weekend Weekend
Mobile 200 mins, unlimited texts, 500MB 250 mins, unlimited texts, 250MB 100 mins, 250 texts, 200MB 250 mins, unlimited texts, 250MB
Total set-up costs £41.95 £49.95 £56.75 n/a
Total Monthly Cost £39.99 £43.99 £35.20 £35.69

BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and EE: Traffic management policies

Something worth considering when shopping around is an ISP’s traffic management policy. Such policies are often in place to stop heavy downloaders abusing unlimited services and adversely afecting network performance for everyone else. 

BT and TalkTalk don’t slow down or prioritise any types of Internet traffic on its network, even at peak times. 

Virgin Media has, since February 2014, removed peak time download restrictions, but it continues to slow P2P traffic. Uploads are also subject to restrictions at peak hours (4:00pm-11:00pm weekdays, 11:00am-11:00pm on weekends). 

EE doesn’t throttle heavy users at any time of day, but its current policy states that P2P and Newsgroup traffic is slowed down at peak times, while VoIP and gaming traffic is prioritised. EE defines peak hours as 4:30pm-1:00am on weekdays and 1:30pm-1:00am on weekends. 

 

 

 

 

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