How ethical is your broadband provider? As organisations continue to uncover the environmental impact of our large data centres, consumers are thinking more carefully about the policies of the brands they work with.

One study into the energy efficiency and sustainability of the internet found that massive data farms and centres throughout the world currently account for 2% of our global greenhouse emissions.

While it’s safe to say that we all rely on efficient broadband connections, and we always want to save money with a new broadband deal, is it time to pay more attention to the companies that are giving something back?

In this article we’re not only going to look at how you can save money, but also examine what the major providers are doing to give back to society.

How to save money on a broadband package

Before we look at the ethical behaviour of broadband service providers, here are a few general tips that can help save money on a new broadband package. 

Look out for special offers…

It’s a highly competitive market which means that you can find some fantastic special offers on broadband. There are deals with discounted pricing, free setup and free gifts including shopping vouchers and pre-paid credit cards. The best place to start is to enter your post into a broadband comparison site to compare deals in your area.

…but consider the overall cost

When comparing broadband offers work out the overall cost for the entire contract term. Combine the monthly fees, setup costs and any other expenses, then minus the freebies to get an idea of just how much it’s going to cost over the term. In some cases you may find it’s better to go with a provider that has a lower monthly price rather than the one with the alluring free gifts.

Choose the right broadband speed

It’s tempting to go with the broadband service that offers the highest download speeds and armfuls of extras but not everyone needs the very fastest connection available. High speed fibre optic broadband is best for family or shared homes with multiple users, or for those who are planning on doing lots of downloading while streaming HD video and running their own servers. But if there’s just one or two of you in the house and it’s largely being used for web browsing, social media and Netflix you can save money with a cheap ADSL service.

Get multiple services from the same provider

If you want broadband, phone and TV it’s usually cheaper to get it all from the same provider. You’ll probably get some free extras, and it simplifies bill payments and budgeting. Some providers can even offer mobile phones and SIM cards, potentially saving even more money.

Switch regularly

It’s common to find broadband deals that offer discounted prices to new customers for the initial contract term. That’s great for the first 12, 18 or 24 months but the price will increase after that time. However once the contract is up, you are free to switch to another provider and once again take advantage of a discount period. Though it is always worth speaking to your existing ISP before doing this as they may be willing to offer you a deal to stay.

Exploring ethical broadband providers

Companies like Google have already invested in renewable energy strategies – pledging to power all of their servers with renewable solutions in the future. As for your standard internet service providers, each of the big players seem to be taking their own approach to ethics.

There are of course many other broadband providers out there, but these four represent the vast majority of broadband subscribers in the UK. 

BT: “MyDonate”

BT MyDonate, or simply “MyDonate” as it’s known to most, is a non-profit fundraising service created by BT to help them drive their own ethical initiatives. The giant telecommunications company launched MyDonate in 2011, as part of their attempt to show the community that they’re willing to give something back.

According to BT, they pass 100% of all the donations that customers and investors make to the site through to the charity, excluding any debit or credit card charges. What’s more, they don’t take any subscription fees or commissions. With MyDonate, you can register to give money to your favourite charity in minutes. In 2015,  MyDonate reached over 8,750 charities – making it one of the most popular platforms for giving in the UK.

Sky: Bigger Picture

Sky claim that their focus isn’t just on broadband and television, but the “bigger picture”. Today, they’re helping to inspire people to get more involved with the needs of the environmental world, with various rescue and charitable initiatives. For instance, the Sky Rainforest Rescue program was launched in 2009 with WWF, to help protect a billion trees in the Amazon rainforest. 

More recently, Sky also introduced the “Sky Ocean Rescue” campaign, to inspire people across Europe to help protect and clean the planet’s oceans. Since life depends on the health of the oceans, Sky feels that it’s important for everyone to do their part. 

Virgin Media: The Scope Partnership

Virgin Media are giving something back by partnering with the disability charity, Scope. To help offer support to the 11 million people throughout the UK suffering  with a disability, Virgin have joined forces with scope to offer guidance and support to thousands of individuals in need of additional help. Through projects based on cutting-edge technology, Virgin believes that they have the power to give voices to disabled individuals and help them unlock the independence they crave. One of the primary focuses of the Scope and Virgin partnership is to give parents with disabled children a way of connecting with each other across the country. They believe that sharing experiences will help the community to grow stronger and more informed.