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Although a reliable broadband connection is essential for most UK households, issues can arise during broadband contracts. Whether your Internet connection isn’t as fast as expected or your needs have changed, there are many reasons to switch broadband providers. However, the prospect of cancellation fees, problems when switching Internet providers, and waiting to switch may be off-putting. Thankfully, it’s much easier to switch broadband providers than you may expect. It doesn’t need to be expensive either – as there are many ways to avoid early cancellation fees. Once you switch providers, you’ll be able to enjoy faster speeds, more reliable Internet access, or lower bills, depending on your deal.
Last updated in: November 2022
If you’ve got concerns about switching, Broadband Plans can help. Our comprehensive guide will address your questions, and we can save you money by highlighting the cheapest deals. We’ll even handle the switching process for you – free of charge.
Why should I switch broadband providers?
There are many reasons to switch broadband providers. Switching is an opportunity to move beyond the frustrations or limits of your current broadband plan. Making this decision can vastly improve your broadband experience, so it’s worth looking into.
Here are the main reasons to switch broadband providers:
|Reason for switching||Explanation|
|Slow broadband speeds||Broadband that can’t keep up with your household’s demands can be very limiting and frustrating.|
|Frequent connection issues||An inconsistent and temperamental broadband connection can cut off your Internet access at crucial moments.|
|Paying too much||You can often get an Internet connection of the same quality (or better) if you switch broadband providers.|
|You’ve found a better deal elsewhere||Finding a deal with better value from another supplier could motivate you to switch broadband providers.|
What are the benefits of switching providers?
If you think carefully about switching and secure a better broadband deal, you’ll enjoy a range of benefits. These may vary depending on the deal you choose, but common advantages of switching include:
- lower monthly bills
- higher Internet speeds
- better customer service
- access to faster connection types, e.g. full fibre broadband
- more reliable Internet access.
Although many customers are looking to pay less for broadband services, upgrading to a pricier contract can also have benefits. This might include access to TV or streaming services in addition to broadband.
Can I save money by switching broadband providers?
Yes, absolutely. If you switch broadband providers, you can find a cheaper deal than you’re currently getting. On average, UK broadband customers could save £170 per year on their Internet bills. The potential savings can vary between deals, but it’s definitely possible to reduce your costs by switching.
However, you should also consider the costs associated with switching. Installation fees and other one-off costs may affect your overall savings. There’s also the issue of early cancellation fees – which can make switching expensive if you’re far from your contract’s end date.
How to switch broadband providers
The switching process can seem daunting, but thankfully, it’s usually straightforward.
Step-by-step guide on how to switch broadband providers
If you’re looking to switch broadband providers, you’ll be glad to know that it’s usually a simple process. To get the best deal, carefully follow the steps below.
Check your contract terms with your current provider
Before you can switch broadband providers, you’ll need to exit your existing broadband contract. Although it’s possible to exit at any time, ending your contract before its minimum period expires will result in early cancellation fees. These charges can be very costly, especially if you cancel long before your contract’s agreed end date.
However, it’s possible to avoid these charges if:
- you’re still within the 14-day cooling-off period after starting your existing contract
- your broadband speeds are below the minimum speeds your provider guaranteed
- your provider has notified you of an upcoming bill increase within the past 30 days
- you’ve got a genuine complaint or your provider hasn’t resolved an issue you’ve raised.
Find out what broadband deals are available in your area
When searching for broadband deals or new providers, you’ll need to check that they’re available in your area. Some providers may not offer broadband services to your location – especially if you live rurally.
It’s also important to note that full fibre broadband connections won’t be available everywhere, as the rollout of this technology is still underway. You can avoid disappointment by entering your postcode on your preferred provider’s website before shopping for deals.
To check broadband availability between UK providers, simply use Ofcom’s postcode checker.
Consider what broadband speed you will need
To find a broadband deal that keeps up with your lifestyle, you’ll need to think carefully about your household’s Internet usage. The table below explains how your household size and online activities affect the minimum broadband speeds you’ll require:
|Type of user/household||Usual online activities||Required speeds||Suitable connection type|
|One-person household/limited Internet users||Checking emails, casual web browsing||10-20Mbps (megabits per second)||ADSL|
|Larger households or families/frequent Internet users||Multiple people online at once, regular social media use, streaming||30-70Mbps||Fibre|
|Households with over five people/gamers or HD streaming users||Many people online at once, HD/4K streaming, online gaming||70+Mbps||Fibre/full fibre|
|Best value for money|
|Most reliable Internet connection|
|Best customer service|
|Provider||Deal||Breakdown of costs||Contract length in months||Average download speed||Broadband type||Phone line included?||Notes/bonuses|
|Shell Energy||Fast Broadband||Monthly: £17.99
|NOW Broadband||Brilliant Broadband||Monthly:£18
|Direct Save Telecom||Unlimited Broadband||Monthly: £18.95
Which broadband provider has the fastest broadband?
Virgin Media is considered the best provider overall in terms of fast Internet speeds. Using its own network, its plans include impressive broadband speeds – especially its gigabit broadband deals, which deliver average speeds of 1.13 gigabits per second (Gbps). Although this service isn’t available everywhere yet, it’s becoming more widely available across the UK.
Here are the fastest deals from Virgin Media:
Which broadband provider has the best coverage?
Across UK broadband providers, you can expect UK-wide coverage. This is because most providers, including Sky, BT, and Plusnet use the nationwide Openreach infrastructure – which covers almost all UK homes and businesses.
However, Virgin Media uses its own network, and its coverage is generally limited to towns and cities. The same applies for smaller full fibre providers, which also use their own infrastructure.
You can check coverage between providers with Ofcom’s broadband coverage checker.
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When should I switch broadband providers?
As switching broadband providers can involve early cancellation fees, it pays to know when it’s a good time to switch. However, there are circumstances in which you can change providers without facing fees when you leave:
- You’ve had your current broadband plan for longer than the minimum contract period.
- Your provider has contacted you in the last 30 days to notify you of an upcoming monthly price increase.
- There is an unresolved issue with your broadband service, despite you contacting your provider about it.
- You’re within the 14-day cooling-off period, which begins once you’ve signed up with your existing provider.
- Your broadband speeds are lower than the minimum speed advertised when you purchased your plan.
If any of these circumstances currently apply to you, you can switch broadband providers for free at any time. Customers who have a few months left of their existing plans could save money by waiting until their contract’s end date, therefore avoiding early exit fees.
Is it possible to switch broadband providers mid-contract?
Yes – you’re able to switch broadband providers whenever you like, but doing so may incur early cancellation fees. This is because your existing broadband plan is tied to a specified contract length, which may be 12, 18, or 24 months. It’s possible to cancel your plan and switch broadband providers at any time, but doing so before the minimum period of your contract has passed will result in early exit fees.
Broadband mid-contract price rises
Unfortunately, your broadband provider may raise your monthly prices at any time, including in the middle of your contract.
Fortunately, mid-contract price rises offer a chance for customers to switch broadband providers without facing early cancellation fees. Your provider will notify you about its planned price hikes 30 days in advance, and you can cancel for free in the 30-day period after being notified.
However, this isn’t always possible due to your provider’s terms and conditions. You may have already agreed to accept inflation-related price increases when you signed, preventing you from cancelling for free. (Note that this doesn’t apply if the price increase exceeds what’s specified in your contract’s terms and conditions.)
Switching providers at the end of your broadband contract
When you’re close to the end of your existing broadband contract, you can prepare to switch providers – without facing early cancellation fees. The end of your broadband contract is the best time to switch, as you’ll be free to switch broadband providers easily.
Common concerns related to switching broadband providers
Today’s broadband customers rely on constant and reliable Internet access – so the prospect of switching providers can be daunting. Here are customers’ most common concerns about switching broadband providers.
Will I lose service during the switch?
When you switch broadband providers, you may experience a very brief service interruption during the switch. You may lose Internet access for just a few minutes.
Your new broadband provider will tell you when the switch will happen, allowing you to plan around any temporary disruption to your Internet access.
How long does it take to switch broadband?
Generally speaking, your new broadband service should be ready a couple of weeks after you’ve signed up with your new provider. This can vary, especially if you need an engineer to install your new connection.
Can I keep my landline phone number if I switch?
Thankfully, you can switch broadband providers without losing your existing home phone number. You’ll get the opportunity to keep your number when you sign up to a new deal, and your provider can simply transfer it – even if they use a different network.
If your provider doesn’t offer to transfer your landline number when signing up, it’s best to call its team to ensure you can retain your number.
Will I lose my email address when I switch?
Many broadband plans include email addresses for customer use. Unfortunately, if you use an email address linked to your provider, switching can affect access to your inbox.
Providers’ approaches to their previous customers’ email addresses can vary:
- BT and Plusnet will make you pay to access your emails after you end your contract.
- Sky won’t delete your email address unless you don’t use it for six months.
- TalkTalk will delete your email address one year after cancellation, but Virgin Media will do this after 90 days.
To avoid the inconvenience of losing your email address when switching, it’s best to transfer your emails and contacts to a free service, such as Gmail.
Do I need to cancel my broadband before switching?
If you’re switching between providers on the Openreach network, such as BT, Sky, or TalkTalk, there’s no need to manually cancel your existing plan. Your new broadband provider will do this for you, so you don’t need to contact your current provider about leaving.
However, if you’re switching between networks, you’ll need to contact your current provider before switching. For example, if you’re switching from a provider using the Openreach network to Virgin Media, which has its own network, you’ll need to contact your current provider. You’ll have to do the same if you’re switching to or from an independent full fibre broadband network.
Will I need a new router?
Yes – broadband routers are usually designed to connect to specific networks. This means you can’t use a router from your old supplier to connect to your new provider’s network.
When you switch broadband providers, your new provider will deliver a new router. This may incur a one-off fee for the provided equipment. You’ll need to connect this router to your home’s Internet access point on the day you switch to your new network.
Some providers may require you to return your old router when your contract ends, but often, they’ll let you keep it – so dispose of it responsibly! However, if you’ve cancelled your broadband contract early, you may need to return this equipment.
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👌 How easy is it to change broadband providers?
If you’re keen to switch broadband providers, you’ll be relieved to hear that it’s an easy process. You just need to compare broadband packages, and once you’ve found the right deal, simply contact your chosen new provider. Usually, they’ll take care of everything – including cancelling your existing broadband contract. Once the switch is organised, all you need to do is plug in your new router and get connected.
✂ Should I cancel my broadband contract before switching providers?
Usually, you won’t need to cancel your existing broadband contract – instead, your new provider will do it for you.
However, if you’re switching between providers that use separate networks, you’ll need to contact your existing provider to cancel first.
⌛ How long does it take to switch Internet providers?
It usually takes about two weeks to switch broadband providers. This means you can access your new broadband connection roughly two weeks after signing up with your new supplier.
📞 Can I keep my email and phone number if I switch broadband providers?
You can usually keep your landline phone number when switching providers. However, providers often have different approaches to email addresses. Some providers will let you use your email address for free, but others may charge you – or delete your email address a few months after switching.
Updated on 30 Oct, 2022
Broadband Specialist & Copywriter