Are You A Virgin Media Customer Looking For A Better Deal?

virgin price rise 2022Are you a Virgin Media customer looking for a better deal following their price hike announcement?

Virgin have announced that on the first of March they will be increasing the prices of their broadband packages across the board, affecting people both in current contracts and those who have been with Virgin for more than 18 months and continue to pay their legacy pricing.

If you’re in a contract reports suggest that you could end up paying £56 per year more for your data, while those who never changed after their contract expired could face increases of up to 45% depending on what package they were on when they were in contract.

Virgin put a price freeze on their broadband prices in 2020 to help people adjusting to Coronavirus as we all needed to use broadband for work, school, entertainment and news, but this increase is the second since then. Because Virgin doesn’t have an annual price increase clause in its contract there is a way out if you’re affected by those price increases and you’re not happy. Virgin are giving their customers until February (some reports say the fifteenth, some the eighteenth, so we’d suggest acting before the fifteenth to be on the safe side) to cancel their contract without incurring a cancellation fee. Read more

Top Tips for Shopping in the Pre-Christmas / Black Friday Sales

Aerial, satellite dish, installation, home entertainment, TV hanging, TV mounting, TV wall hanging, smart home, smart home automation, smart home security, security, security devices, home security, home security camera, house alarm, business alarm, business security, home automation, environmental control, smart lighting, smart lights, smart home system, cable installation, fibre optic installation, fibre installation, fibre repair, fibre optic repair, fibre data, fibre broadband, wireless data, wireless broadband, internet service provider, isp, wireless internet service provider, wisp, worthing, arundel, angmering, hove, littlehampton, south coast, sussex, UK,Because an actual ‘Black Friday’ isn’t really a thing in the UK many shops and online retailers are currently engaging in “Black Friday Month” with ongoing discounts on many selected lines. Unfortunately many of those lines were previously available at the same low price before the promotion began, they’re selling unpopular products which won’t move otherwise, or in the case of some tech goods, they are so old that there is little or no software support left.

So, before you rush out onto the high street, or start prefixing all your searches with ‘Black Friday’ hoping to get all your Christmas shopping done on the cheap, check out these top tips for finding the real bargains, and avoiding spending good money on bad products.

*1* Research the products before you buy.

Buying something just because it looks handy, and it’s cheap doesn’t necessarily make it a bargain. Would you want it at full price? A low price might be mitigation, but look at product reviews, customer reviews and feedback on sites like Amazon and Ebay before making your decision.

*2* Never heard of it? Don’t touch it!

Generic brands aren’t market leaders for a reason. Cheap copies of established technology are likely to be made from inferior materials, lack the performance, or cut corners on security or software. You might think you’re going in with your eyes open, it’s dead cheap so you don’t expect it to last for ever, but if you’re looking at IoT connected goods, as so many are today, you could be bringing a Pandora’s box into your home, plugging it in, and switching it on before opening it. Read more

New £10m Fines To Ensure Smart Home Devices Are Secure

secure Smartwatch Photo courtesy of Smartpixel.netThe British government are showing how seriously they are taking smart home security by introducing laws to protect consumers from poor smart products.

With many generic manufacturers using apps which are vulnerable to hacking or scanning and Black Friday deals which see some less scrupulous retailers attempt to sell off old tech which has a very limited period of ongoing software support, (as well as offering “deals” on goods which have been the same price for weeks prior to the sales) the government is putting responsibility for basic security protocols onto shops and makers by ensuring that insecure devices are not put up for sale.

Manufacturers, importers and retailers will face fines of up to £10m if they fail to comply with the requirements. While that seems like a huge fine for what is to many simply a software issue, it demonstrates how seriously security for consumers is being taken. It also reflects the size of the market in smart home devices, as only a fine this size can act as a deterrent for businesses who continue to make or sell substandard home automation. Read more

How Changing Broadband Providers Always Gets You A Better Deal*

broadband speed, ISP, internet service provider, wireless data, fibre broadbandThe benefits of switching broadband provider, energy, and phone company can’t be overstated. Many suppliers offer outstanding deals with new contracts, but have standard contracts which are so bad they almost appear to penalise customer loyalty. You don’t get discounts which are available to new sign-ups, the customer service you receive is often rubbish, and in the case of broadband customers, despite paying more than newer customers you’re stuck with an old router which was never top of the line in the first place, meaning that you simply aren’t getting the speeds new customers do.

Shopping around means that you’ve putting yourself in line for those great deals. Many broadband providers depend on complacency and laziness among the majority of their customers. If it’s too much of a faff to shop around for a better deal, and when you find one, it’s difficult to get out of your contract, or migrating over means losing your phone number unless you pay a fee, then you’re likely to stay with them despite a better deal being within reach.

But if you’re out of your minimum contract period and you’re just paying a rolling fee to keep getting data, why not see what other deals are out there? Better prices, brand new hardware and better customer service are all ripe for the picking! Read more

Briant Broadband’s Quick To Understand Internet Jargon Buster

internet, broadband, data, computer, Just as with any industry, we internet service providers are prone to using jargon which we understand perfectly, but most of our customers wouldn’t. So if you find yourself staring blankly while people talk about their ISPs, Mbps, and FTTPs this glossary should help you make sense of what is going on, and also help you make better, more informed decisions the next time you’re shopping for a new internet data package.

Broadband: It may seem obvious, or it may not, but broadband just means a lot of data which is always available. You may remember when we used to have to use dial-up modems to access the internet. It was painfully slow and inconvenient since it would mean that the phone line was tied up the entire time you were on the net. Broadband means being able to instantly access the internet without interruption or inconvenience.

Cookies: By now everyone’s heard of cookies, but many still don’t know what they are or what they do. Cookies are little bits of data which you load onto your computer when you visit a site. They can handle a number of different processes which you’d find annoying if they didn’t. Cookies help websites remember who you are, so, for example, if you use Facebook from the same computer you don’t have to log in again every time you visit. Cookies also keep a record of things you’ve shopped for, which is why you’ll often keep seeing adverts for things you may have already purchased. Read more

Can You Make Your Kitchen ‘Smart’ Without Brand New Appliances?

Modern white kitchen with white marble counter top and pendant lighting.Smart devices around the home are a boon, of course, but they can be especially helpful in the kitchen. The oven that already knows how to cook the perfect chicken, the fridge which you can peer into to see if you need milk while you’re actually in the dairy section of the supermarket, and the bin which updates your shopping list when you throw packaging into the recycling certainly make keeping ahead of the housekeeping easy.

But can you do it without investing in brand new white goods?

If you’re refitting your kitchen with a raft of new appliances it is certainly tempting to buy those which have all the Smart Tech available already installed: Fridges with built in cameras, ovens which are programmed to know the cooking times of all your favourite meals, along with cameras and sensors which know when your roast has reached the perfect shade of brown, even bins with barcode readers which can order grocery deliveries for you because it knows you through your rubbish.

But what if your budget doesn’t stretch that far? Or you want to Smarten up your kitchen, only you don’t want to junk all your old appliances just yet? Can you get the same usability without buying the latest goods? Read more

World’s Great and Good Victims of Cyber Security Data Heist

Information is rapidly becoming one of the most valuable assets we have. Businesses, governments and criminals all seem to be keen to get their hands on our data, either to find out what we think, influence what we think or not really caring what we think, so long as they can use the information they have about us to fleece us out of our savings.

The more we find out about Facebook the more it makes us wonder how safe we are online. When an innocuous site which is meant to let us keep in touch with our friends and family is accused of being instrumental in spreading hate speech, fake news and propaganda, and are giving as much as 5 times more value to Angry reactions than Likes, Loves or Care reactions, meaning that other users and group members are much more likely to see posts that cause fury than they are to see those that are touching or simply agreed with.

But this isn’t a blog about the ongoing tribulations that Facebook, aka Meta is currently experiencing. Rather this is a blog about data being taken and used as a hostage to blackmail retailers who depend on discretion to attract their customers. Read more

Smart Doorbell Owner Receives Fine For Neglecting GDPR

ring, ring smart doorbell, smart doorbell, access controlMost of us either get on with, or are completely oblivious to our neighbours. When we get home after a hard day’s work we’re not really interested in hearing from the people next-door’s kids or from the student flat across the street at half past two on a Sunday morning.

 

Most of us like a quiet life where we live in mutual, amicable ignorance of our neighbours. We say ‘hi!’ or nod in recognition and go on about our day. So keen on avoiding any kind of friction are we that we make accommodations for our neighbours, because letting things slide is SO much easier than the awkwardness and potential for embarrassment that confronting them over their inconsiderate behaviour presents.

However, this week a county court had to decide in the case of a neighbour who’s Smart doorbells overlooked a neighbour’s property. And because he wasn’t neighbourly, he now faces a maximum fine of up to £100,000.

He probably won’t have to pay that much, but there are other things he should have done before it ever got to the county court. (The fact that it was a county court means that no legal precedent has been set, so if you own a Smart doorbell you won’t need to be hiring a solicitor just yet!)

The case revolved around an audio-visual technician in Oxfordshire who installed Smart doorbells and some dummies as he wanted to deter thieves from returning to his property after it was broken into. He set one to watch from the front door, covering the street and the approach to his house. Others were pointed at a shared parking space, the drive leading to that car park and a portion of his neighbour’s property, including a window. The neighbour who brought the case brought it on the grounds of harassment, nuisance and breeching data protection legislation. And it was mostly on not fulfilling his obligations as the data controller that the defendant lost his case. Read more

Starting Out With Smart Home Tech? A Smart Plug Is Your Easiest In

smart plugOne of the handiest and easiest Smart Home devices to set up is the Smart Plug. Because it’s either off, or on, it’s easy to get to grips with and will allow you to familiarise yourself with the principles of how Smart devices work. This week you’ll be connecting your smart plug, next week you’ll be securely installing and enjoying a complete Smart Home environment!

They’re handy because they allow you to control all the little devices you have around your home which wouldn’t normally be smart or be controlled remotely. So if you have floor lamps, desk fans, electric heaters, or a radio or TV which you’ve had for years but don’t need to be replaced, you can at least make them on-and-offable via a phone app, smart speaker, or home hub.

Each Smart Plug manufacturer is different, but the idea behind the settings on your new Smart Device remain the same, so if your device isn’t exactly the same, you should be able to figure out how to get the same results from your device notwithstanding.

Step 1, Download The Smart Plug App

First of all, it needs something to connect to, so download the plug’s user app to your phone or use a universal app which can detect and control any number of different Smart Home devices. Once you’ve got the software choose ‘add a new device’ from the menu and you’ll be offered a range of different items which can connect via the app, all other devices that the manufacturer makes. Choose the Smart plug and then plug the plug into the wall. The plug will tell you, usually via a blinking LED that it is in pairing mode. The app on the phone should detect this as well and you can now connect them. Once the smart plug is connected to the app you will be asked to give a name to the device. Don’t call it ‘Smart Plug’ but instead call it the object you want to control, and remember whenever you unplug the device, unplug the Smart plug to, or things will get VERY confusing! (You’ll likely have to pair your Smart Plug to your app each time you remove it from the socket, so best to decide where you want everything to stay before you start installing a raft of new Smart Plugs!) Read more

Looking For a Luxury Lifestyle? Try Living In A Smart Home!

Touch sensitive digital heating control panel mounted on a light coloured wall.Smart Home Technology offers a level of convenience and control which most home-owners haven’t seen for over a hundred years, when it was common for the affluent to have housemaids and servants living in the house. Instead of having people hovering around waiting for your commands, now we have technology such as Smart Speakers, Home Hubs and a slew of other devices which can all be controlled from a central station or an app on your phone or computer.

But at what cost? All that convenience which is afforded by connectivity comes at a price. If privacy is a big deal to you then the thought of having devices which have been shown to use recordings of consumers without their permission always listening is anathema. If you shop regularly online, or pay bills over the phone, as many more of us are doing all the time, then the thought that your data or conversations could be stored and shared, revealing your financials and personal information would put you off of investing in any kind of Smart device. Read more