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How to switch broadband provider

All the info you need on how to change your broadband provider

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with utilities. Sure, your broadband provider may have put its prices up a few times, but if your internet still works fine, why bother switching?

Well, for one, you could be massively overpaying. And, although it can seem like a chore to change, doing so could save you hundreds of pounds. These days, it’s actually very simple to switch.

Why should I switch broadband provider?

If you've had your broadband deal for quite a while, you might not be getting the most for your money. These days there's far faster coverage available in more areas, so if for example you weren't able to access fibre-optic broadband in the past, you may find that it's now in your area. If you want to check which broadband deals are available near you, just head over to our handy comparison tool.

Not only that, many providers tend to increase their monthly prices after the initial contract period, meaning you could be overpaying for slower speeds than you might otherwise get with a different deal.

Are there costs involved in switching?

The main cost of a new broadband package will be set-up fees. This one-off charge could include the price of a router, installation, an engineer coming over, connection and postage. 

Sometimes providers will offer this as a free incentive to join them, if not the most you'd typically expect to pay is about £60.

How long does it take to switch?

Most suppliers can get you up and running in two to three weeks. But it does depend on your individual circumstances, provider and location. That said, once you've signed up to a new provider you should be able to set an installation date that works for you, giving you plenty of time to cancel your existing contract and minimise the risk of being offline.

Our switching support service team are always available to help you out, and are happy to talk through any issues. You can contact them on 0800 781 2981.

Will I lose service during the switch?

You shouldn't be without broadband for more than a few hours. Although it could be longer if you're switching to or from a cable connection.

Read on for some of the most frequently asked questions and answers about changing your broadband service.

Do I have to wait for my current contract to finish first?

Before you decide to go with a new provider, make sure you check your current contract. Have you completed the minimum term? If not, you could be hit with substantial exit penalty charges that'd wipe out any savings from switching. 

In some cases you might be able to avoid paying early termination fees if you end your contract early. For instance, if your provider has increased your bill by more than the rate of inflation, you can cancel without paying a penalty, as long as you do so within 30 days of being informed of the price rise.

Even if you're outside your minimum contract period, your provider may well offer you a cheaper deal or added extras to keep you on their books. If they can't match the deal you've found, you're free to move on.

My email account is with my current provider… can I keep it?

Keeping your email address is up to your provider. Some will let you keep your account – perhaps for a fee – and some might delete it.

If you're planning to keep your email address, it's a good idea to set up auto-forwarding on your old account and create a new one to receive emails.

Can I keep my landline phone number if I switch?

If you're not moving house and are simply switching providers, your current broadband supplier should allow your landline number to transfer to a new company. Make sure you ask your new provider whether they can do so before you commit.

Will an engineer need to visit?

It's unlikely you'll need an engineer round when switching provider.

In some circumstances, a visit might be needed if you live in a new house, there's no existing line or you're investing in fibre-optic for the first time. On signing up, your new provider should let you know whether you need an engineer to stop by.

What do I need to do to switch?

There are three main steps to take on your journey to a new broadband provider:

1. Check your postcode

Pop it into our comparison tool to find the best package available in your area.

2. Compare deals

Have a think about what's important to you – an ultra speedy connection? Unlimited data? TV and phone included? Check out our guide, how to choose broadband, to help you pick the right package.

3. Contact the new provider

Once you've figured out the best broadband package for your needs, get in touch with the supplier.

The switching process now depends on who you’re currently with and who you want to join. Every major broadband provider, with the exception of Virgin Media, is on the BT Openreach network. If you’re using a provider on the Openreach network, then the new supplier will tell your old provider and cancel your contract. However, it’s always worth double checking this with the customer care team.

If you’re moving to Virgin Media, which runs its own network, you’ll have to contact your current provider yourself to cancel your contract and to request a MAC (Migration Authority Code) that you may need at a later stage. You’ll also have to contact Virgin Media to connect you.

Your current provider will switch off your internet, so to minimise the pain of losing connection, we’d recommend coordinating timings of the old contract ending and the new one starting.

And if you suddenly have a change of heart about switching, you can cancel free of charge within the first two weeks of the start of the new contract. So, if you think you’re ready to switch providers and want to find the package that’s right for you, head over to our comparison tool to check out our best broadband deals.