You don’t need to put up with an overpriced, slow internet connection. These days, switching your internet is hassle-free and quicker than ever. Find out how easy it is to switch broadband providers, cut your bills and get a much faster, better service.
- Why should I switch broadband?
- How much do I save when I switch?
- Switching broadband: step-by-step
- Switching while in contract
- Other things to consider when switching broadband
Why should I switch broadband?
For most people, the two main considerations are connection speed and cost. Did your broadband provider give you a discounted rate for the first year but then after that your price went up? Maybe you’re tearing your hair out because your download speed can’t keep up with your TV viewing habits. If so, you could easily upgrade to faster broadband. Or perhaps your current plan only lets you download a certain amount of data and you want to change to unlimited broadband instead.
If any of this sounds familiar it’s time to reconsider your options and look for a better deal. Not only is the whole switching process much more straightforward than it used to be, home broadband availability and connection speeds have also improved enormously in recent years. However, according to an Ofcom report from May 2019 2018, despite all these changes a huge number of households are still paying for slow internet when they could have a better service at no extra cost.
How much do I save when I switch?
Depending on your circumstances, you could save £5-£25 a month (£60-£300 a year) when you change broadband providers.Keep an eye out for different tricks to cut your bills; for instance, it often works out cheaper in the long run to pay line rental upfront for a year instead of paying every month.
Broadband bundles often include a phone service, so maybe you’re paying a few pounds a month extra for evening and weekend calls that you don’t really need. While you generally still need a landline to get a broadband plan, it's most likely that you don't actually use the phone any more.
For lots of people these days, making calls on the home phone is a thing of the past so cutting that add-on from your bill could save you even more. Replacing landline calls with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) could be a cheaper option to look out for when switching broadband.
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Switching broadband: step-by-step
- Think about what you need from your broadband service
What’s your typical household broadband usage? Do you want a bundle with phone calls and TV included? What about changing the type of broadband connection you’ve got; you can choose from ADSL, cable or fibre broadband? Is superfast fibre-optic broadband important for your household? Are you willing to commit to an 18-month or two-year contract to get a cheaper deal? Decide what you want and how much you can spend to get the best broadband for your home.
- Compare broadband packages
Keeping in mind the needs of your household and your budget, it’s essential to compare as many broadband deals as possible. When comparing broadband, the most important things for you are likely to be the monthly cost, length of contract and the average connection speed. Think about any set-up fees that you might have to pay too, especially if you need to have a new phone line installed or if you’re moving to or from cable broadband.
- How long does it take to switch broadband?
It depends on what you’re switching from and to, and sometimes it depends on your postcode. For most people it’s a straightforward switch between two providers on the same network (i.e. the former BT telephone network, now called Openreach); this takes a couple of weeks to get the paperwork done and then you switch over on a date that you agree with your new provider.
On the day of the switch, there will be between a few minutes and a couple of hours of interruption to your phone and internet service, but generally the whole process takes place seamlessly at the telephone exchange. All you have to do is plug in your new router and you’re up and running.
However, the switch might take longer for people who are moving between providers operating on two different networks, for instance, if you’re moving from Virgin Media cable broadband to fibre-optic broadband or vice versa. This is because you will need to have a visit from an engineer to install some equipment.
- Do I need to cancel my broadband before switching?
Once you’ve found the right package for you, at the right price, you can simply go ahead and sign up to the new provider. In most cases, you won’t even have to contact your old provider to tell them you’re leaving since your new broadband supplier does that for you. If you are switching from a bundle that includes a TV package check with your new supplier if you need to take responsibility for informing your old provider about your decision to move.
When your switch is to or from cable broadband you will need to contact your old provider to tell them you’re leaving and you will be able to agree on a suitable installation date with your new provider. Plan your cancellation date and installation date carefully to avoid leaving yourself without internet access during the changeover.
Switching while in contract
Switching broadband provider before the end of your contract usually means having to pay a cancellation fee to the provider you are leaving. The charge for leaving a broadband contract early is often over £100 so check the terms of your existing contract carefully before you switch, otherwise you might end up out of pocket.
In some cases you can avoid paying an early termination fee. You would need to demonstrate that there has been an unreasonable increase in the price of your service, or prove that the service provided is not up to scratch, for instance when the download speed is much slower than what was promised.
For more information about download speeds and upload speeds, see our guide to how to get the fastest broadband you need for your home.
Other things to consider when switching broadband
- Keeping your landline number
Keeping your landline number shouldn’t be a problem; just tell your new provider you want to keep your number and they will take care of it. They'll need to know what your number is, though, so have a quick read of our guide to finding your landline number before you start comparing broadband plans.
- Email accounts
Something else to think about is whether you want to hold onto any email accounts you have with your old provider. Depending on the provider, you might be able to keep your email account without having to do anything, some may charge a fee while others may delete your account.
Right to cancel your broadband switch
If, for whatever reason, you change your mind about your new broadband deal, you have the right to cancel the new contract up to 14 days after you agree to the contract. This 'cooling-off' period is standard across the industry so you have the same right to cancel regardless of which internet service provider you switch to.
- Getting a better deal with your current broadband supplier
Your old provider doesn’t want to lose you as a customer. It’s worthwhile giving them a call to tell them you’re planning to change providers and they could offer you a better deal than the one you’re currently on, especially when they realise you’ve done your research and you know what else is on offer from other companies.
In that case, with minimal haggling and no fuss, you could land yourself a bargain. If they don’t come up with a cheaper deal for you, then you know what to do - get switching!