Switching broadband providers can help you get a better deal, faster speeds and a more reliable connection. Changing providers should be a quick and simple process, especially if you are out of contract.
How to change broadband provider in 8 simple steps
Here we run through the steps you need to take to get a new broadband provider, plus some common questions on how the switching process works.
Step 1: Check your broadband speed
Ideally, it is best to know as much as possible about your existing service before you begin to look for alternative providers. Checking your current internet download speed is the first step. You can do this for free.
You can work out what you need from your next supplier once you know how fast your current internet connection is. If you have a big household with a lot of users online at the same time, you may be surprised by the speed you are currently getting. If you have had the same deal for a long time, it may come as a shock how much faster your broadband could be. Find out more about what broadband speed is right for you in our article 'What broadband speed do I need?'
If you think you are already hitting the speeds you need, you can then prioritise the other areas that are important for you. Check out our article on the 'Best broadband providers in the UK' to find out who we rate for customer service, price, speed and more.
Step 2: Look at your current contract
Most broadband deals involve signing up to a multi-month contract, usually 12, 18 or 24 months. This means that you may already be tied into a long commitment with your current provider. However, your contract will also tell you the minimum speed your supplier is committed to providing. You should be able to leave your contract penalty-free if your broadband provider is consistently failing to help you reach that minimum speed. If you are coming to the end of your contract, you are in the perfect position to find a new broadband provider that can offer you a better deal.
If you are happy with your current provider, get in contact to make sure that you are not moved to a higher tariff when your deal expires.
Step 3: Check your postcode
Your postcode is key to which broadband providers can offer you a better broadband deal. Not every internet connection in the UK is the same, which means that some providers will be available in your area and some will not. If you want to know more about the different types of home broadband in the UK, read our article 'Which broadband is best?'.
You can find out what is available in your area by using a broadband coverage checking tool provided by Ofcom. This should give you an idea of the range of internet speeds that are available for your household.
Step 4: Choose your new deal
Use a comparison site such as Uswitch* to check which deals are available to you. Remember to look for any extra charges for installation and set-up and whether you'll need to pay for landline phone calls or rental. You may also find that some broadband providers offer extra rewards, such as a bill credit or a voucher. It is worth taking these into account when comparing broadband prices. £25 a month for a 12 month contract which includes a £120 voucher to spend at all major retailers, is a better deal than £20 a month for a 12 month contract with no voucher.
Keep in mind the speed you are being offered, as well as the price. Don’t be drawn in by cheap deals offering speeds slower than your minimum required speed. That saving will quickly turn to frustration if you cannot use your internet connection in the way you need to.
Step 5: Look up your new provider
All home broadband providers are not equal. Some providers are renowned for great customer service, speedy installation and quick response times. Regrettably, others can get a reputation for the opposite. Checking out reviews online can help give you an idea of who you are signing up with and what level of service you can expect. You can also take a look at Ofcom’s latest customer service survey to get an idea of how the major broadband providers are rated by customers. Red flags to watch out for include complaints of not receiving guaranteed speeds, being difficult to contact and a poor complaints handling process.
We have written full, independent reviews of the UK's major broadband providers to help you get a better understanding of what each can offer:
BT Broadband Review
Virgin Media Broadband Review
Sky Broadband Review
TalkTalk Broadband Review
NOW Broadband Review
EE Broadband Review
Vodafone Broadband Review
Plusnet Broadband Review
Step 6: Think about bundling your subscriptions
If you are already paying a broadband provider for a different service, you may be able to get a good deal by switching your internet over too. TV providers like Sky or NOW will likely be keen to sign you up to more services, as will mobile phone operators like Vodafone or Three.
Contact your chosen company and see what packages are on offer. Sometimes you may be able to bundle your way to a better deal than anything available online.
Step 7: Contact your existing provider
If the problem with your existing broadband deal is the price, switching is not the only way to get your costs down. Picking up the phone could be the simplest option, especially if you are happy with the service you are receiving.
Internet providers will want to keep hold of customers, especially if you also hold other subscriptions like TV or mobile. Is your custom worth a £5 a month discount? £10? There is only one way to find out! A change to Ofcom rules in 2020 means that phone, broadband and pay-TV providers have to warn customers when their current contract is coming to an end as well as what they could save by signing up to a new deal, so make sure you take advantage of this. If there is a deal being offered to new customers, you should be able to haggle your own price down to what is being offered to the general public.
Step 8: Contact your new provider
If you are confident that the right option is to switch, it’s time to contact your new provider. You can do this directly with the provider online, via a comparison site, or over the phone. Also, ask if your new provider can complete the switch, which means you won’t need to tell your existing provider you are leaving. Your new provider will let you know the transfer date and when your new service will be up and running.
How long does switching take?
Switching broadband providers should take up to two weeks, but that could stretch to longer if you need a phone line installed for other engineering work. Your old service should continue until your services switch over though, so there should not be an extended disconnection period.
Can I switch mid-contract?
You are free to switch broadband providers whenever you like, but if you switch while you are under contract you may need to pay an early exit fee. This cost can be pretty significant, so you should think twice about switching if you will need to pay your way out of your contract.
If you are not getting your guaranteed speeds, you should be able to leave for free under Ofcom rules. You will need to contact your provider and tell them to fix the problem first.
You can also leave for free if your bill goes up, unless a future price increase was included in your contract when you signed up.
Do I need to switch if I am moving house?
Whether you need to switch your broadband will depend on your provider, where you live and where you are moving to. Most providers cover large areas of the UK. If your existing provider covers your new address, you should be able to simply carry the service over. Your internet supplier should have a home moving service you can use to inform it that you are moving. You will need to find a new provider if your new address is not covered by your current provider.
Should I cancel my broadband?
You should only need to cancel your broadband if you are changing the type of broadband you receive, such as from mobile to fibre. You will not need to cancel if you are switching from standard broadband to fibre, or from one fibre or standard provider to another. Your new supplier will tell your old one that you're leaving.
Will I be charged to switch?
You may need to pay early exit fees if you are still under contract. There may also be charges for a new router and set-up fees. Make sure to check what fees your prospective new provider charges when you compare deals.
Will I lose my connection?
Changing broadband providers should not lead to any significant downtime, but it may depend on which service you are switching to. If your new connection requires engineering work, you may find there is some loss of connection while the work is carried out.
Will my landline number change?
There will usually be an option to change or keep your landline number when you switch.
Will I need to change my email address?
Whether you can keep your email address will depend on your provider. Some will let you keep yours for free, others for a fee and some will delete your email address when you change providers. Contact your internet supplier to find out what its policy is on email addresses.
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