First there was TalkTalk's so-called 'free' broadband – at a cost of £20.99, plus £30 connection fee – that bundled together internet connection, line rental and phone calls.
Then there was Orange, linking its mobile-call packages worth over £30 to a 'free' broadband service.
My own ISP, PlusNet, has also joined in the fray, but to its credit doesn't pretend that broadband is for free. It simply bundles like TalkTalk and offers services at various prices – also starting from £20.99.
My landline calls from home are minimal, but I could still save a few pounds a month by switching, so I have been researching my best deal – bearing in mind that my wife's family live in New Zealand and we've just had a baby. Chat alert!
TalkTalk is cheapest, but I expect this service to be masively over-subscribed, and I'm not sure that the tech support will be strong enough or reasonable at £2 a call.
I'm happy with the service from PlusNet, so am willing to pay a little extra for its better package. It also doesn't tie me into a long contract, as TalkTalk does. I'm free to walk in a month, rather than a year and a half. If TalkTalk's service stank, I'd be scuppered.
Sky high, or low
But then along comes Sky, with its deal (announced today).
I subscribe to Sky's top deal - all the sports, movies, etc - and use Sky+, so am ripe for Sky's broadband appeal. The deals on offer are good - 16Mbps connection and "unlimited" (with unexplained asterix) downloads for just £10 a month. You also get a free wireless router (not a pathetic modem, as with TalkTalk) and some security features.
Good deal. Enough of a good deal for me to consider changing ISP... except that when I registered (just minutes after the deal was first announced) I got the following message:
"Thank you for registering your interest in Sky Broadband. The good news is that we believe that your phone number is in an area where we hope to be able to offer Sky Broadband Base, Mid and Max in the future."
Great! Hang on... when you mentioned the "good news" I presume you mean there's also some bad news...
"We're really sorry to tell you that, due to the popularity of Sky Broadband in your area, we are temporarily unable to offer the Base, Mid and Max products to you. We are working hard to create more space for Sky customers on the network, and it shouldn't be too long before we can have you up and running."
But I must have been one of the first people to register! I suspect that Sky isn't ready to offer its service to very many people at all if I fail to qualify - registered within minutes, and live in central London, near an exchange. The same long delays are also expected for TalkTalk. Another reason to stick with my ISP.
"Thank you for patience."
Patience? I wanted the 16Mbps connection. You think I'm patient?