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Broadband for the elderly

Written by Max Beckett, Broadband Expert

19 May 2020

Broadband is crucial for just about everyone in the UK. It’s what we use to stay connected with loved ones, keep up to date with the news and keep us entertained when we’re at home. This rings true not just for younger people, but for the elderly too. Being able to connect to the internet is essential for most these days – regardless of age – but many of the standard broadband plans available from major providers aren’t suitable for pensioners. If you’re a pensioner looking for a broadband package that suits you, read on to find out about special deals designed with your needs in mind.

Elderly woman on laptop

Broadband for pensioners – why get it? 

Broadband is important for pensioners to not only stay in touch with friends and family — internet access for elderly customers can also be an extra safety measure and a way to get immediate support or assistance if needed.

It is safe to assume that generally, many pensioners wouldn’t intend on using the internet in quite the same way as a lot of younger people, and wouldn’t require the same high speeds and high data caps. As a result, there are some specialised deals available tailored to pensioners whose internet usage would be significantly lighter than the average customer.

Is there free broadband for pensioners?

There are providers who will offer discounted broadband for pensioners, but there aren’t currently any options offering free broadband to the elderly. In the past, BT offered free dial-up internet to seniors as part of the BT Pensioners Discount but this service ended during the industry shift from dial-up to broadband. Despite this, there are still a number of broadband options available to pensioners that are highly affordable. 

How do I choose the best internet for seniors? 

The broadband requirements for many pensioners could differ greatly from other households. While larger households or those with young children may opt for more all-inclusive packages that offer high-speed connection alongside TV and entertainment packages, these may be too exhaustive for the needs of many pensioners. 

Speeds

It’s important to think about what you’d be using your internet for when deciding what plan is best for you. If you’ll only be using the internet for casual browsing, sending the occasional email and using social networks like Facebook, it’s likely you’d be just fine with the lower speeds and data limits offered in pensioner-specific broadband plans.

However, if you’re going to be using the internet for more heavy-duty tasks like watching movies or television online using services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer, it may be worth exploring higher speeds. 

Most high-speed options like full fibre ultrafast connections will be both overpriced and over-performing for a home comprised of a single elderly individual or a couple. That’s not to say that TV and broadband deals might not be an excellent fit, but overall a standard speed of around 40Mbps should be more than enough. 

Most average-sized UK households would opt for fibre broadband with speeds around 35-45Mbps. 

Usage limits 

Many standard broadband plans are offered with unlimited data. Whenever you do anything online – you’re using data. Lighter tasks like browsing the web or sending an email won’t require much data at all, while bigger tasks like video games or television streaming require a lot more. 

You may think opting for unlimited broadband is not worth the investment for casual users, but keeping on top of your usage can also be more admin work and a bit of a nuisance. Most suppliers only offer unlimited broadband and it’s advised you go for it, if only to avoid the sometimes very high fees that come with breaching your limit. You can, for example, rack up the cost of an unlimited months usage in a single week this way. 

Will broadband interfere with my Telecare alarm?

If you have a Telecare alarm or another kind of alert device, you’ll need to ensure that it is compatible with whichever broadband provider you choose, as these systems are connected using your phone line. For example, there are eight specific alarm models that are compatible with NOW Broadband. 

You shouldn’t worry about your broadband interfering with your alarm system, so long as you let your provider know about your alarm ahead of installation – your provider will make sure your alarm’s connection is always prioritised.  

Are there any dedicated broadband for pensioners offers?

There are a few providers who offer broadband packages that are designed specifically for, and available exclusively to pensioners, the vulnerable, and other customers receiving certain benefits:

POP Telecom 

Average speed: 11Mbps

POP Telecom, a relatively unknown internet service provider, has a special broadband deal for older customers called the POP Telecom Over 60 Plan. 

  • Anytime calls

  • Price fix

  • Extra customer support

  • Unlimited broadband

  • Free router

  • Line rental included

This is a basic broadband package that also includes anytime calls. A price guarantee means that prices will never rise in the midst of your contract period. You’ll be able to get extra customer support from POP Telecom if you choose this plan.

BT Broadband

Average speed: 10Mbps

There are a number of discounts and special offers available to those who sign up as a BT Pensioner. One such offer is the BT Basic + Broadband plan, which is designed for customers with limited resources, including the elderly. 

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

  • BT Virus Protect and Parental Controls, 

  • Access to over five million BT WiFi public hotspots

  • No installation charges

  • Free BT Home Hub router (P&P to be paid for)

BT Basic + Broadband is available to those on Pensions Credit, as well as those receiving a number of other benefits. 

Virgin Media Talk Protected

While not a broadband plan, Virgin Media will freeze line rental charges for elderly or disabled customers on the Virgin Media Talk Protected calling plan.

  • Pay the same price for calling for each month you’re a Virgin Media customer

  • Can be bundled with one of Virgin Media’s standard broadband offerings

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

  • Free engineer visits 

  • Vulnerable customers are always prioritised when it comes to fixing faults

  • Elderly customers will always be consulted ahead of an engineer visit 

  • Choose a family member or friend to manage your account on your behalf. 

Other plans suitable for pensioners 

While they may not be tailored specifically for elderly customers, there are many standard offers from major providers that would be perfectly suitable. Post Office Broadband, for instance, offers unlimited ADSL broadband with a speed of 11MBps for cheaper than Pop Telecom’s Over 60 plan. It may not have all of the same pensioner-focused services and features, but with 24/7 customer support and easy set-up, this would still be a great option for pensioners. 

TalkTalk is another example of a broadband provider offering cheap broadband contracts that would be suitable for older customers. For example, you can get unlimited ADSL broadband with average download speeds of 11Mbps for a similar price to Post Office, and for just a few pounds more you can upgrade to fibre speeds.

What is the best broadband for the elderly?

As is the case with any broadband user, the best plan for you will depend on your personal habits and circumstances, regardless of your age. While pensioners can benefit from some tailored deals, these are often quite limited in terms of speeds and data allowance, so if you’re a little more internet-savvy, and you go online regularly for things like video-calling your loved ones and catching up on TV on-demand, then these pensioner-specific deals wouldn’t be the best. 

Having said that, providers like Post Office Broadband and TalkTalk offer extremely 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 fortunately there are plenty of options available to keep elderly users connected.