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How to switch broadband

Nick Baker, Broadband and TV expert
Written by Nick Baker, Broadband, TV, gaming and mobiles expert

4 April 2022

Switching broadband is a lot easier than you think. Our switching guide should answer all of your questions so that you can change providers with ease.
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Switching broadband might sound complicated, but more often than not all it takes is a few clicks and filling in a few details and you're all set. In many cases you won't even need an engineer to get you set up on your new broadband deal.

So if you are searching for faster, cheaper or more reliable internet, here are a few things you should know about switching providers:

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Quick guide to switching broadband packages

1. Check your postcode

Enter your postcode on Uswitch to see what home broadband is available in your area.

2. Compare broadband packages

Browse the different broadband deals available and find one that suits you best.

3. Select the right deal for you

Click on your chosen broadband package and make the purchase on the provider's website.

Why should I switch broadband providers?

Take a few minutes to browse broadband deals in your area and you'll be glad you did.

It usually takes no more than an hour of admin to switch broadband, and that'll be an hour well spent if it means you get a better broadband deal for the next one or two years.

Am I out of contract?

man switching broadband

If you’ve been with the same broadband provider for over a year, then ther's a good chance you’re paying much more for your monthly broadband than you did when you first signed up.

It’s common practice for providers to offer attractive prices when you first switch to them, but then increase your monthly prices drastically as soon as your contract ends.

So your monthly bill will almost definitely have increased significantly if you've been using the same service for more than a couple of years.

If you’re still in contract with your provider, it is possible to switch, but cancelling your contract within your minimum term might incur an exit fee.

In this case, it might be better to compare home broadband deals now to get an idea of what's available, but switch later on when the additional fee doesn’t offset your savings. Just know that some of the monthly prices and discounts shown could change by the time you get around to switching.

The exception to this rule is when a provider increases your prices above the rate of inflation — or outside its terms and conditions — while you're within the agreed contract. In this instance, you would have 30 days from the day you received the notification to cancel your contract with them and switch to a new broadband provider.

However, many providers now include price increases in the terms & conditions of their contract when you sign up. This would mean that even if your provider increases your prices higher than inflation mid-contract, you still would not be able to switch.

Find out which broadband providers and mobile networks increase your prices halfway through your contract, and which ones let you switch if they do.

Have I got the cheapest broadband in my area?

Depending on how long you've been with your current provider, you may not have the cheapest home broadband deal anymore. A lot can change in a year or two, and broadband services and packages are constantly changing. A new broadband provider might be available in your area, or a new service or seasonal deal that wasn't available when you last switched broadband.

If you're out of contract, or coming to the end of your contract, you should regularly compare broadband deals in your area and see if you could switch and save.

See cheap broadband deals near you

Have I got the fastest internet in my area?

couple moving home switching broadband

There are more benefits to searching for a new broadband deal beyond getting a cheaper price.

Superfast fibre broadband is now available to over 95% of the UK, so if you’re on an old copper ADSL contract, you could probably be getting at least three times faster speeds, and quite likely at a similar or even lower price to what you're currently paying.

Take a look at our ultrafast broadband page so explore some of the fastest broadband connections in the UK.

In contrast, you may have services on your package that you no longer need, such as paid TV subscription or landline calls. With the boom in online streaming services and unlimited minutes on your mobiles, you might find that you hardly use them any more.

If so, you could reduce the number of services you’re paying for from your broadband provider in order to save money.

You can keep your landline phone number when you switch provider

In much the same way that you would transfer your mobile number over when you switch to a new contract, your current home broadband provider should allow you to keep your landline number when you move to a new provider, as per Ofcom regulations.

Your new provider doesn’t have to accept your request to transfer over your number, but it’s typically in their best interest to do so. To make sure you can take your landline number with you, ask your new provider if they’re able to make this transfer when you’re arranging the switch.

Here's a guide on how to contact your broadband provider if you'd like to get in touch with its customer service team swiftly.

You can usually keep the same email address if you switch

The popularity of free email services like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo has grown significantly in recent years. However, there are still those that access their provider’s email services instead.

The option to keep access to your email address, unfortunately, depends entirely on your provider. For the most part, providers tend to leave email accounts alone, but it would be a good idea to check with your current provider about this before you switch.

If you’re able to keep your email account, you'll still want to set up auto-forwarding on the account you're not going to use any more and create a new account to receive your email.

Get more information on how to keep your email address when you switch internet provider with our dedicated guide.

How long does it take to switch internet provider?

man using his computer at home

Although there’s no mandated time you have to wait, the general rule of thumb to connect a new service is two weeks. But that doesn't mean you'll be offline for two whole weeks while the switch is prepared.

You should only expect to spend roughly 30 minutes offline while the switch actually takes place. But if your new connection needs an engineer visit, it may be a little longer while they install it for you.

Some broadband providers can take up to six weeks to organise an installation, while others can get you set up in less than a week. Additionally, when cancelling with your current provider, you're usually required to give 30 days' notice, so be sure to plan accordingly.

If you’re transferring an entire broadband bundle or changing the type of your broadband connection — for example, upgrading from a copper ADSL connection to Virgin's cable broadband — this can take longer. Reason being, your new set-up may need to be physically installed and your downtime during the switch may last a couple of hours.

The process is still an easy one, though. Once you sign up with a new provider, you should be able to set an installation date that’s convenient for you. From there, you can coordinate the contract cancellation date with your current provider to keep the time you’re offline to a minimum.

elderly couple switching broadband

How to switch broadband providers

In most cases, the process of switching providers is seamless. Plus, they can do almost all the legwork for you, including cancelling your current broadband contract.

Broadband providers like BTSky, NOW Broadband, Plusnet, EE and TalkTalk all operate on the same network, so switching between them is very straightforward.

However, you might have to factor in more time if you’re switching to a provider that runs on a different network, like Virgin Media, Hyperoptic or Openreach's full fibre connection.

Ready to switch internet provider? Here are the three simple steps to switching broadband:

1. Check your postcode for available broadband packages

Despite superfast fibre broadband being available to 96% of UK premises, it’s still worth checking to see if you have access to certain packages and speeds.

Much faster networks are growing rapidly across the country, so you might have access to a ultrafast, or even gigabit, broadband speeds.

If you enter your postcode into our postcode checker you'll be able to see search results for the best broadband deals in your area.Broadband in my area

2. Compare home broadband packages

The best broadband package is the one that’s best for you, so take into account your usage habits and budget when you compare what’s on offer.

Does your household really need superfast broadband speeds over 100Mbps? Do you want to bundle digital TV in with your broadband and landline? And for that matter, do you actually need a landline?

There are plenty of options out there, and the best broadband package is going to be the one that suits you.

3. Select the best broadband deal for you

Once you’ve chosen the broadband deal that suits your needs best, simply click through the steps to automatically notify your provider that you want to switch.

This process is typically handled entirely by your new provider from this point on. They will cancel your contract with your old provider and set up the new start date for your contract.

The exception to this rule has been when switching to providers on a different networks, the most common being Virgin Media. However, Ofcom recently set out a new policy to ensure the new provider does all of the admin here too.

You will receive a confirmation in writing from both new and old providers confirming the switch. Your new provider will confirm your subscription details, including prices and contract end date. Be sure to keep this confirmation and note down when your contract expires in order to avoid unnecessary price hikes after your fixed-term ends.

The confirmation from your old provider will need to detail which services are affected by you switching and if there are any charges that you are liable for.

If you change your mind while the switch is being processed, you're still free to cancel without any penalty. But only if you do so within 14 calendar days of the start of the new contract.

For those people who may struggle to access important documents in a standard format, it might be worth asking the potential new provider what format important documents will be provided in. Companies have a legal requirement to make reasonable adjustments to make their services accessible to customers with disabilities. For example, providing paperwork in a Braille, audio, or email alternative.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People further lays out the provisions of The Equality Act 2010.Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch, offers some sound advice for would be switchers. Doku explains:

"The secret to saving money on your telecoms bill, is just to be aware of what you're paying each month. End of contract notifications now give you a perfect snapshot of both current and future spending, and should be the trigger to check what's going on in the market."

Doku continues:

“Two years can be a lifetime in technology, so there could be better value deals available when your contract nears its end - simply check, compare your bill to what's out there, and make the switch. Be sure to see whether the new provider is up to the coverage and connectivity standards you're on right now, and feel free to haggle with your current provider to see if they can improve your deal if you wish to stay put."

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