All about switching broadband

  • Save money by switching broadband
  • Improve your broadband speed
  • Choose from free gifts with a new contract

How to switch broadband provider

The introduction of new rules applied in 2015 by Ofcom governing broadband switching has made moving from one broadband provider to another very simple.

Switching broadband can save you a huge amount of money over the course of a 12 or 18 month contract and the gain in speed by moving from a standard ADSL broadband contract averaging around 10Mbps to a Virgin Media cable contract averaging 362Mbps is simply incredible.

Read all about what is involved in switching broadband and you will see how simple it is for you to get broadband bliss.

Switching broadband checklist

Before switching your broadband to another better deal there are some points that you need to consider prior to starting the process.

Check your current contract term

Most broadband contracts have a fixed minimum term so if you want to move to another broadband provider you need to consider where you are in your process. If you have gone past your minimum contract period you would be free to switch without a penalty for leaving early. If you are in the middle of your current broadband contract there may be a cancellation fee to allow you to switch to another broadband provider.

Depending on the savings on a new broadband contract it may make it worthwhile switching broadband even if there are some penalty charges. Get your notepad and pencil out and work out the cost savings.

Take into account your current housing situation

If you are renting a property there may be a stipulation in your tenancy agreement that prevents you from switching your broadband to another company without permission first.

Current broadband provider extras

A perk that is offered as a free extra by most broadband providers is the use of a personal email address. If you switch provider you will lose access to this email address so if it is used widely bear in mind whether the disruption of moving to a new email address is worthwhile or not.

Also if you use your home landline for calls you need to consider whether you want to port your current phone number over to the new landline provider or you don’t mind if you get a brand new phone number.

Get the best broadband deal

Provided that you’re in a position to move your broadband, the next stage is to search for the best broadband deal that suits your requirements. Take into account aspects such as monthly cost, whether there are installation or equipment costs, the speed of the broadband line, whether you get unlimited or capped data, the length of the contract and any extras that you might want to bundle into the contract such as TV or inclusive landline minutes.

Some new broadband contracts offer a set period of discounted monthly fees. For example, the first 6 months are heavily discounted with the prices for the remainder of the contract term at the higher standard rate. Work out the combined cost over the course of the contract to see whether you are getting the best deal possible.

We provide you with a wealth of information that will help you make your decision so head over to the page that suits your requirements best and compare the latest deals.

After you’ve subscribed to your new broadband contract…

Depending on the type and company you have elected to contract with you will often need to arrange for an engineer visit to install your equipment. If you take out a Sky TV and broadband bundle you will need to have a Sky dish installed so bear in mind that this will need to be located externally on your property. Similarly with Virgin Media you may need a Virgin engineer to visit your property to set you up on their infrastructure.

Cancel your direct debit

Finally once you have switched broadband completely and the service from your old provider has ceased remember to cancel your direct debit to your old provider. This will help to prevent you being accidentally charged on an ongoing basis by your old provider.

Switching broadband provider

Switching broadband has become much easier over time with much of the process arranged between the old and new broadband companies leaving you to choose the best new deal and little else.

But to understand the switching process in more detail bear in mind that there are two processes that will be used as part of the switch. Depending on which broadband provider you select you will use one or the other. These are “gaining provider led process” and “cease and re-provide process”.

Gaining provider led

When switching broadband under a gaining provider led process you would need to select and order your new broadband contract and the new provider will process the transfer on your behalf. The new provider will contact your old provider and tell them of your intention to transfer your broadband over to them – you do not need to contact the old provider and cancel as this is done for you.

Both the new provider and old provider will contact you with details of the transfer which will include a summary of the services that will be affected, those that won’t be affected and any early termination fees should there be any.

Cease and re-provide

The cease and re-provide process relates primarily to moving to or from a cable broadband provider (such as Virgin Media) from a BT Openreach line (BT, Sky, EE, etc) or any other broadband service  change where a seamless migration of service isn’t possible due to a change in the type of line provided – you as the consumer will be involved in the switching process more than you would be during a provider led process since there is no established way to transfer between incompatible products/line types.

You will need to stop the service at the old broadband provider and start the service at the new provider by contacting both parties and arranging the transfer.

It is possible for you to overlap the old and new services so that you don’t have downtime or you can attempt to co-ordinate the ending of your old services with the start of the new service.

Advantages of switching broadband

Since the new Ofcom regulations of June 2015 were implemented switching broadband has been easier than ever. There are no longer migration codes that need to be supplied and if you are switching to a broadband provider using the same infrastructure (most broadband providers use BT Openreach) the process will be provider led with very little input required from the customer so there is no reason not to switch broadband.

These are common advantages of switching broadband:

  • Switching broadband will usually save you money. As competition gets increasingly fierce among competitors there are often special deals to be had on new customer contracts. Also look out for free gifts such as a Mastercard or Visa card loaded with £50 or £100 in cash as an incentive to taking out their broadband deal
  • If your current broadband speeds are poor or your broadband line is unreliable you could choose an alternative provider that has better service levels and broadband speed in your area. Use our broadband speed checker to see what your current download and upload speeds are
  • Customer service at your current provider may be lacking. There are a number of broadband providers that have UK based customer service teams – notably Plusnet
  • You could get much improved broadband speeds by choosing a cable provider such as Virgin Media. If Virgin provides services to your postcode area you could increase your current broadband speed significantly. Use our broadband availability checker to see if Virgin Media is in your area
  • When switching broadband to a provider like Sky or Virgin you could take out an entertainment bundle that would see you receiving broadband and hundreds of TV channels covering sports, entertainment, documentaries, moves and more. In addition 100’s of on-demand TV programmes and box sets on catch up
  • Changing your broadband from a capped to an unlimited broadband contract will offer you with piece of mind and could save you money if you regularly go over your permitted data allowance
  • Your old broadband contract may have been a lengthy 12 to 18 month minimum term contract. There are now much shorter broadband contracts that you can take out ranging from 9 month student broadband deals to 30 day rolling broadband contracts Short broadband contacts give you the flexibility to cancel with no early termination fee charges at very short notice

Changing broadband provider FAQ


Are there any hidden costs to switch broadband?

If your current broadband contract has a minimum contract term and you are still within the minimum term you may have to pay an early termination fee to move to the new provider. Your old provider will document to you what the fee will be.

Your new provider may or may not have an installation charge so check the details on their website. There can also be small post and package charges that are incurred when they send out their broadband router.

The alternative to unlimited broadband is a contract that incorporates usage caps so you need to make sure that each month you stay within the agreed usage limits or you will likely be liable for extra data charges.


Can I cancel my new broadband contract?

Regardless of the method used to switch broadband you are within your rights to cancel the contract with your new provider without being charged provided that it is within 14 calendar days of the date the new contract was entered into.


How long will it take to get my new broadband live?

This will depend on which provider you are moving from and moving to as well as whether there are any unforeseen problems with the move. For example a standard move from TalkTalkSky or BT to Plusnet would take 5 days if a Plusnet engineer installs a phone line, or if a phone line already exists then the landline and broadband switch would take 10 days.

If you have previously been connected to Virgin Media then a reconnection to their service can be very speedy. If your property has not previously had Virgin Media services before but you are in the service range then an engineer will need to attend which can take up to 14 days.


Will an engineer need to visit?

In the vast majority of cases it isn’t necessary for an engineer to visit. There are some circumstances in which you should expect an engineer to visit such as if you have not got an existing landline, if you are taking out a Sky TV package as part of the broadband deal and if you have selected Virgin Media as your broadband provider.


Will there be any downtime associated with switching broadband?

Technically there is no reason why there should be more than a few minutes of downtime if a switch if being made between two broadband only providers. If the switch involves moving broadband and landline then there can be a couple of hour’s downtime while the updates are being made at the local exchange.

There is more potential for extended downtime when a switch is being made to or from Virgin Media (who use their own infrastructure), however, because they use a separate infrastructure to the vast majority of other broadband providers there is no reason why the broadband from the old provider and Virgin Media can’t overlap so you would basically have both services live at the same time for a short period to avoid downtime.


If I switch broadband can I keep my landline phone number?

According to Ofcom guidelines if you are staying in the same home when you are making the switch of provider you should be given the option of retaining the same home phone number. So if this is important to you make sure you make the request that you port the same number over to the new company.


Will I lose the “extras” provided by my old provider?

A broadband contract will typically include freebies such as Internet security features, etc. which will cease when your contract ends. If you make use of an email address provided by your broadband company this may also stop working when you move broadband providers – you should check with them before making the switch.

Some providers will allow you to continue using the email address but if they say it will stop working you should take steps early to avoid disruption such as getting a new email address and setting up an email forwarder to the new address as well as informing your important contacts about a change of email.