IF you signed up to a new broadband contract during lockdown, you might need to start shopping around for a different deal. 

Uswitch says tens of thousands of people are set to see their broadband bill rise by as much as £354 a year.

Many broadband contracts last for 18 months, meaning you lock in a set price for that period.

But after your deal ends, it’s likely your monthly bill will shoot up. 

That means anyone who signed up to a new broadband contract at the start of lockdown in March 2020 is about to come to the end of their deal.

More households than usual moved to a new broadband deal last March. Uswitch said switches were up 21% in the month. 

A sudden spike in the number of people working from home and being schooled from home meant there was a greater need for better internet connections.

Catherine Hiley, broadband expert at Uswitch, said: “Lockdown was the first time that most of us had to work from home, socialise with friends and family on video calls, and stream endless hours of content. And it didn’t take long for people to realise their broadband was not up to scratch.

“18 months later, many of these deals are coming to an end, and it’s important that you don’t get caught out as you face being shifted onto suppliers’ more expensive standard tariffs.”

Some 67% of those who switched were looking for faster internet speeds, signing up to deals promising more than 60Mbps.

Mbps, or megabytes per second, indicates the speed of your connection – the higher the number, the quicker it is. 

If your deal is coming to an end, now is the time to shop around for a better offer. 

Uswitch estimates that if your contract ends and you roll onto your broadband provider’s standard tariff, it could cost you an extra £354. 

For many households across the country, it’s the latest in a string of price hikes. 

Millions of people have already seen their energy bill rocket in recent weeks as small suppliers have gone bust and the energy price cap was increased on October 1. 

Rising inflation and shortages in shops have also seen food prices increase and petrol climb to an eight-year high of £1.36 a litre. 

Switching broadband provider is just one way to save money – here's our tips on how to cut back as the cost of living crisis starts to bite.

How to get a better broadband deal

Uswitch says customers coming to the end of their broadband deal could save around £159 by switching to a new tariff, while some Virgin Media customers could save an hefty £354 a year. 

If you have the Virgin Media M100 Ultrafast Fibre Broadband & Phone deal, you’ll currently be paying £26 a month. But this will nearly double to £51 a month once the deal ends.

Moving to the Vodafone Superfast 2 Broadband deal, would bring your monthly outlay down to just £21.50. 

As well as saving money, some customers switching to a new broadband provider could get extra perks such as a reward card or voucher.

Hiley added: “Deals from TalkTalk and Virgin Media were some of the most popular 18-month contracts with consumers last year, so if you’re with one of these firms, check your paperwork.

“If you receive your end of contract notification, or think your broadband deal is ending soon, do a comparison online to see what better prices and speeds you could be getting.” 

Uswitch has rounded up some of the current best buys on the market. 

The regulator, Ofcom, is currently considering new rules that would make switching quicker and easier. 

Its research has shown that 43% of people are put off from switching their broadband supplier because they think it will be too time-consuming. 

But switching isn’t that hard. You first need to check when your current deal ends as switching before it expires could mean you’re liable for exit fees.

Next, use a comparison site to find a new broadband deal that is available in your area. 

You can choose from different contract lengths – they’re usually 18 or 24 months – and the connection speed you want. 

Then you’ll need to contact your new provider, which will arrange the transfer with you, and agree a start date for the new tariff. 

Don't forget, you can try haggling with your current supplier for a better price too.

One money saving expert told Martin Lewis how she managed to shave £740 off her annual bill by haggling with Virgin Media.

We've also previously looked at how you can get compensation if you've been impacted by internet outages.

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