How to switch broadband providers with ease

Switching broadband providers is easier than it has ever been. We answer common questions on how to switch without incurring fees.

Can you switch broadband? The simple answer is “yes”, and it is easier than it used to be thanks to changes in regulations from Ofcom. However, there are some important questions to consider, including will I incur fees, how can I switch broadband, and how do I know I am getting a better deal? We answer all of these questions and more.

Is it easy to change broadband provider?

Changes to Ofcom regulations in 2015 mean you no longer require a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) in order to switch broadband providers. It should now take only a single phone call to switch from one broadband provider to another if you’re switching to the same type of provider (ADSL to ADSL).

Broadband switching: gainer-led

In this instance, the switch follows what is known as a “gainer-led” process. This means that your new provider – the broadband provider to which you’re switching – is in charge of making the switch for you. Contact a new provider and sort out the package that’s right for you. The new broadband provider will let your old provider know you want to switch. You should receive written communications from both providers. More often than not, the old provider will write trying to persuade you to stay, but if you’re confident you’re getting a better deal, stay firm. Once you have switched broadband, you have a 14-day cooling-off period.

Broadband switching: Cease and re-provide

However, the process for switching from ADSL to cable broadband (for example, if you were switching from BT to Virgin Fibre) is more complex.

In these cases, you need to follow something called a cease and re-provide. Here, you need to contact your current provider and tell them you want to switch. You will then need to call the new provider and tell them you’d like to sign up. You’ll receive notice from your old provider and a contract from the new one. It’s up to you whether you try and co-ordinate the end of the old contract and the start of the new one or overlap services. If you’re a homeworker, you might want to overlap to make sure you’re not without a service for any length of time.

Can I change broadband if I have bundled TV?

Where you’re switching your broadband provider and your landline provider (unless you’re looking to ditch your landline), you can still use the gainer-led process.

For those who have additional services, such as a TV service, you will need to contact the provider and ask for a cancellation. If your TV service is separate from your broadband and you’re moving to a bundled deal, make sure you cancel the TV service separately.

How long does it take to switch broadband providers?

There’s no rule here, but generally, it’ll take a couple of weeks to switch broadband providers, although it can take up to six weeks. It’ll be quicker the easier it is. Upgrading from ADSL to cable can take longer because new equipment needs to be installed. Once you have signed up to someone new, you should be able to agree on a date that suits you. The actual switch over should only take a half an hour or so.

Can I leave my current broadband provider?

Before you switch broadband providers, there are some things you need to check. The first thing to check is whether there’s a minimum contract. Switching within the minimum contract means you might have to pay a cancellation fee, although it’s possible these cancellation charges might be offset by the savings of switching to a new provider.

When you contact to your current broadband provider to tell them you’re leaving, it’s common that they will offer you a discount to try and keep your custom, especially if you are out of contract. Mention a deal that one of its competitors are offering and your existing provider may be able to match it. It’s then your choice whether you’d prefer to remain with your current provider or switch.

How can I find a better broadband deal?

It’s important to switch to a better deal. What you choose depends on your needs, but there are some standard things you should consider.

  • Unlimited broadband. Fixed deals are few and far between as most people want to be able to download as much as they want, but check you’re getting an unlimited deal.
  • Broadband speed. ADSL broadband tends to be slower than fibre optic and may only give you speeds up to 10Mbps. Faster fibre optic deals are available from a range of providers and may be necessary if you’re doing a lot of downloading, video streaming or music streaming. You might also need a faster connection if you’re in a household that has a number of connected devices.
  • Best broadband price. Since it’s easier to switch broadband, shop around because companies are having to work harder to get, and keep, your business.
  • Contract length. These vary but 18-month contracts are pretty standard these days, although you’ll find shorter and longer terms.

Can I keep my email address when I switch broadband?

This depends on your provider. Plusnet offers a mail-only package for customers who cancel their email but want to keep their email address. However, with many others, including Sky and Virgin Media, you’ll lose your account. Check with your existing provider. It’s worth setting up a free webmail account such as Gmail or Outlook and transferring your messages over.

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