If you are searching for faster, cheaper, or more reliable internet, here are the main things you should know about switching providers.
According to a recent Uswitch customer satisfaction survey, the most common reasons for switching broadband include price (and price rises), internet speed, connection reliability and customer service.
Although there’s no official length of time, the general rule of thumb to connect a new service is two weeks. But that doesn't mean you'll be offline for two weeks while the switch is ongoing.
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 — it can take longer. This is because 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.
In most cases, the process of switching providers is seamless and your new provider will do most of the work for you, including cancelling your current broadband contract. Broadband providers like BT, Sky, NOW Broadband, Plusnet, EE, and TalkTalk all operate on the same network, so switching between them is very straightforward.
However, if you're switching to or from providers with their own network – Virgin Media, Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, etc – you may need to cancel your contract yourself.
Check your T&Cs, but most providers require at least 30 days' notice. So, to avoid paying twice, schedule your start date with your new provider about a month in advance if you can.
Some providers do charge a set-up fee or have start-up costs, usually to cover the cost of equipment. These can include things such as Wi-Fi routers, TV set-top boxes, or if you need a new line installed – for instance, when upgrading to full fibre or moving to a new network like Virgin Media or Hyperoptic.
That being said, set-up fees aren't as common as they used to be, with very few attached to Uswitch broadband deals.
The only other costs you might incur when switching broadband are any cancellation or outstanding fees from your previous provider. But if you're out of contract and can time your switch right, there won't be too much to pay.
If you want to change broadband service before the initial term of your contract is up, you'll likely have to pay an exit fee. This will often be fairly substantial and is likely to cancel out any savings you'd make by switching early.
The exception to this would be if your provider raises its prices above what's stated in the terms of your contract, or is unable to provide you with the services you signed up for. This could be the case when moving home and your provider isn't available at your new address. If that's the case, get in touch with your old provider ASAP, as they might make you provide plenty of proof that you're moving.
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.
Here's how you can find a provider that matches what you need the closest.
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 ultrafast broadband speeds over 100Mbps? Do you want to bundle digital TV with your broadband and landline? And for that matter, do you actually need a landline?
Customer service and reliability are significant factors to consider when choosing a new broadband provider. You can check out in-depth reviews for all the major UK broadband providers to see how they compare and how satisfied customers are with their products and services.
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.
Thinking of switching your broadband provider? Take a look at our latest broadband deals:
Find out all about the different broadband connections available in the UK, and which ones would be best for you and your household.Read our different types of broadband guide
How does fibre-optic broadband work? Which fibre broadband package is right for me? Do you need a phone line? Take a look at our guide.Read our fibre broadband guide