Broadband for the elderly

Broadband has become crucial for numerous aspects of modern life. From staying in touch with loved ones through to enjoying the latest entertainment, internet connectivity is essential regardless of your age nowadays. Yet many standard broadband plans from internet service providers (ISPs) aren’t really designed for less tech-savvy older users, prioritising rapid download speeds and quad-play connectivity over simplicity and value.

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Broadband for pensioners 

Broadband isn’t just important for staying in touch with friends and family during periods of separation or lockdown. Internet access also provides an extra safety measure, and a way to obtain immediate support or assistance if needed.

Older generations tend to use the internet more sparingly than younger people, with less media streaming or social media activity. As a result, they may not require the same high speeds or unlimited data provision. That’s led to the creation of specialised deals from ISPs, specifically delivering broadband for the elderly.

Is there free broadband for pensioners?

The simple answer is no. In the past, BT offered free dial-up services to seniors as part of its BT Pensioners Discount, but this ended during the industry shift from dial-up to broadband. Despite the abolition of the BT Pensioners Discount, there are still some highly affordable broadband deals for people with limited connectivity needs. 

How do I choose the best package? 

The broadband requirements for one older client could differ greatly from the next. For instance, multi-generational households (or those regularly visited by children and grandchildren) may favour all-inclusive packages that offer high-speed connections alongside TV and entertainment packages. Meanwhile, people who split their time between different properties may prefer the freedom of no contract broadband.

These are two key factors worth considering:

1. Line speed

If you’ll only be using the internet for casual web browsing and sending occasional emails, the lower speeds and data limits offered by pensioner-specific broadband plans should be sufficient.

Most high-speed options like full fibre broadband will be both overpriced and over-engineered for a single elderly person or a couple with limited interest in going online. However, customers planning more bandwidth-intensive tasks (such as watching content through services like Netflix or BritBox) may be advised to look for a connection speed of between 25Mbps and 75Mbps.

2. Usage limits 

Any online activity involves data transfers, with a two-way information exchange constantly taking place between a connected device and remote data servers. However, browsing the web or sending an email will consume a fraction of the data needed to conduct video calls or enjoy catch-up TV services like the BBC’s iPlayer. The vast majority of standard broadband plans are offered with unlimited data, which is highly advisable from a consumer perspective. Monitoring usage on data-limited schemes can be a nuisance, and additional data tends to be very expensive. 

Will broadband interfere with my Telecare alarm?

If you have any kind of alarm or safety device connected using your phone line, you’ll need to ensure it’s compatible with whichever broadband provider you choose. For example, there are eight alarm models suitable for use with NOW Broadband. 

There shouldn’t be any interference, but always notify an ISP about an alarm prior to getting broadband installed, so they can ensure the alarm’s connection is prioritised.  

Broadband for pensioners offers

A few providers offer broadband packages available exclusively for pensioners, vulnerable people or customers in receipt of certain benefits:

POP Telecom 

Average speed: 11Mbps

POP Telecom has a special broadband deal for over-60s, bundling together line rental and an internet connection of up to 17Mbps. It additionally offers:

  • Anytime phone calls

  • Extra customer support

  • Unlimited data usage

  • A free router.

A price guarantee means monthly costs won’t rise mid-contract, while extra customer support is available from POP Telecom on this plan.

BT Broadband

Average speed: 10Mbps

As a former state monopoly holder, there have always been BT phone deals for pensioners to help keep older generations connected. BT Pensioners discounts in today’s broadband era see BT line rental for pensioners being offered alongside the company’s Basic + Broadband plan: 

  • 15GB data (enough for 30 minutes of browsing per day)

  • BT Virus Protect and Parental Controls

  • Access to over five million BT Wi-Fi public hotspots

  • No installation charges and a free BT Home Hub router (the only cost is P&P)

BT Basic + Broadband is available to recipients of Pension Credit, as well as households receiving a number of other benefits. 

Virgin Media Talk Protected

Virgin Media is willing to freeze line rental charges on broadband for pensioners or disabled customers signed up to the firm’s Talk Protected calling plan. Suitable for bundling with one of Virgin Media’s standard broadband offerings, this provides an interesting alternative to BT line rental for pensioners:

  • Pay the same price for calls for each month

  • Annual package reviews for vulnerable customers with a specially trained member of staff

  • Elderly customers will always be consulted ahead of engineer visits, which are free

  • A family member or friend can manage the account on your behalf. 

Other providers

While they may not be tailored specifically for elderly customers, some standard deals from major providers would be very suitable. Post Office Broadband offers unlimited ADSL broadband with a connection speed of 11Mbps. It may not have pensioner-focused services, but it does include 24/7 customer support and easy setup.

TalkTalk also offers cheap broadband contracts suitable for older customers. It markets unlimited ADSL broadband with average download speeds of 11Mbps for a similar price to the Post Office, with upgrades to fibre broadband speeds for a few extra pounds per month.

Are there cheap landline deals for pensioners?

There aren't many cheap landline deals aimed at pensioners. BT does offer low-priced line rental to those who qualify for pension credit through its Basic deal, which charges customers around £5 per month along with a £1.50 inclusive monthly call allowance. Apart from that, though, there aren't many options for line rental for the elderly.

What’s the best broadband for the elderly?

The best plan will depend on your personal circumstances and requirements, regardless of your age. While pensioners benefit from some tailored deals, these are often limited in terms of speeds and data allowances. These pensioner-specific contracts wouldn’t be suitable for internet-savvy OAPs who regularly video-call loved ones or watch TV on-demand. 

Nonetheless, providers like Post Office Broadband and TalkTalk offer affordable plans that would be great for senior customers, despite not being designed specifically for them. The internet is increasingly important in today’s digital landscape, and you don’t need to rely on BT phone deals for pensioners to stay connected nowadays.

Last updated: 18 March 2021