How can I switch broadband provider?
Switching to another broadband provider is easy. Our guide shows you how to switch while avoiding penalty charges and other possible pitfalls.
Looking to switch broadband provider? If you’ve been with your current broadband provider for a while, it’s a wise decision to shop around. You might be looking to switch broadband to save money or because you’re looking for a faster broadband service. Or, you could be looking for a broadband service that allows you to ditch your landline. Whatever the reason, there are a few simple steps to switch broadband provider.
Can I switch broadband provider?
Switching broadband is simple but before you switch check your contract. Broadband contracts tend to last a while and terminating early means you might incur penalties. You might be able to switch early without incurring a termination fee if your provider introduced a price hike within the past 30 days, particularly if the increase is more than the rate of inflation, if you’re not receiving fast enough broadband speeds or if you believe your provider has otherwise breached your broadband contract. You can also cancel if your contract started less than 14 days ago, as you’re allowed a cooling-off period, but you’ll need to cancel in writing.
It’s worth checking with your current provider first to see if it will offer you a cheaper package. In most cases, if you are free to leave without paying a cancellation fee, it will offer a more enticing deal in an effort to keep your custom. If you quote a price available from one its competitors, you may find that your existing provider agrees to match it.
If it won’t, and any savings offset cancellation charges, you may still want to switch regardless of whether you’re in contract or not.
Compare broadband prices before switching
Always compare broadband prices before switching. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulations mean providers now have to include any landline costs within headline prices. However, broadband tariffs will vary according to speed. Do you really need super-fast broadband? Are multiple people using broadband at the same time? Do you only need broadband or do you want a bundled deal, which includes TV, too?
Work out what speed you need
Speed is a critical consideration when choosing your broadband package. Standard broadband packages in the UK use ADSL technology and transmit data over BT’s Openreach phone network. Speeds will vary according to how far you are from the exchange. Fibre optic broadband delivers broadband over plastic or glass fibre cables promising much faster broadband speeds.
So, should you fork out for fast fibre-optic broadband? If you’re a big household or stream a lot of video or music, play online games or regularly download large files then you’re probably looking at super-fast broadband. Most broadband providers have a postcode checker on their websites so you can check if it’s available in your area. The good news is coverage now extends to around 93% of households across the UK. This super-fast broadband offers a minimum of 24Mbps download speed, as defined by the UK government. Far fewer (approximately 2%) can receive fibre direct to the home. Virgin Media is the only company to own its own fibre optic network with average download speeds of up to 362Mbps, the UK’s fastest.
Limited vs unlimited plans
The majority of broadband packages are unlimited so you can download as much as you want without hitting a cap and incurring extra charges. To choose a limited package you’d need to be using the Internet a very small amount, maybe an hour or so each day to browse the web, but no video streaming, music streaming or online gaming. You might save money with a capped or limited broadband package but it’s unlikely to save you much and we’d recommend unlimited broadband for peace of mind.
You can buy other services with a broadband package
Bundled deals, which include TV and landline, are available from a range of providers including BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media. You can save money by bundling TV and broadband together. Sky and Virgin Media offer packages that include premium channels, which are perfect for telly addicts.
Those who like to chat should shop around for broadband and landline packages.
How to make sure you get broadband value for money
The key to getting a good deal is to shop around. In July 2018 Ofcom proposed new rules, which means broadband providers need to tell you when you’re reaching the end of your minimum contract.
The regulator found an estimated 20 million customers were outside of their minimum contract period and more than 10 million were on deals including an automatic price hike at the end of that contract. Customers bundling landline and broadband services, for example, were paying on average 20% more when out of contract. But, before you switch call your current broadband provider: it might offer a deal to make you stay.
What to look for in terms of customer service
Customer service varies, although Ofcom’s latest report found 8 in 10 broadband customers were satisfied with their service overall. This is down from 9 in 10 on the previous year.
The report covers various elements of customer services including broadband speed, the likelihood of customers to recommend their broadband provider, number and type of complaints and how well the companies dealt with complaints raised.
How to switch broadband provider
Once you’ve chosen a broadband provider to switch to, it couldn’t be easier. You no longer need a migration authorisation code (MAC)to switch and in many cases you won’t need to contact the provider you want to leave in order to cancel.
If you’re switching between companies using BT’s Openreach network, it’s up to your new broadband provider to manage the switch for you. The new provider should let your existing provider know you’re moving. You’ll then receive notification emails or letters from both confirming the switch.
If you’re switching between cable networks, most likely to or from Virgin Media, you need to cancel with your old provider and the new provider to switch. You should try to coordinate a date for switching with both providers, to ensure you’re disconnected for the minimum possible time.
Possible pitfalls of switching broadband: Email accounts and landline numbers
Switching should be simple but there are a couple of things to watch out for. If you have an email account with your current provider, find out what will happen when you switch. If it’s going to be deleted, back up your emails to a free webmail account such as Gmail or Outlook.
Staying in your current home and switching? Your current provider should transfer your landline number to the new provider in line with Ofcom regulations. Ask your new provider to do this.
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